GERMAN 378 - History of German Science
Winter 2019, Section 001
Instruction Mode: Section 001 is  In Person (see other Sections below)
Subject: German (GERMAN)
Department: LSA Germanic Languages & Literatures


Requirements & Distribution:
Waitlist Capacity:
May not be repeated for credit.
Primary Instructor:


German-speaking Europe’s contribution to the history of science is vast and complex. On the one hand, discoveries by Albert Einstein, Robert Koch, Sigmund Freud, and Max Planck altered the way we think about time and space, medicine and disease, human sexuality, memory, and cognition. On the other, experiments carried out by Nazi scientists such as Josef Mengele a.k.a. “The Angel of Death” count among the most debased and morally compromised in history.

This course explores the rich and troubling history of the sciences in Germany and Austria from the late nineteenth century to the present. Topics include the rise of scientific management, psychophysics, and psychoanalysis, scientific approaches to human sexuality, race and eugenics, science and technology during the Third Reich, the contribution of former Nazi scientists to the American Space Race, the development of the atomic bomb and invention of the computer, as well as contemporary discussions in Germany surrounding environmentalism, global warming, and the increasing politicization of scientific research.

In addition to examining primary scientific documents, we will pay careful attention to the ways in which fictional accounts, whether in literary texts or feature films, have helped shape scientific research and the public’s conception of it. Key works from this section of the course will include films by Fritz Lang, Alexander Kluge, and Özgür Yildirim, literary texts and science fiction novels by Franz Kafka, Gerhart Hauptmann, Paul Scheerbart, and Thea von Harbour, as well as the music of Kraftwerk and the Afrofuturists.

Course Requirements:

  • Active participation and regular blogging (40%)
  • One presentation during the semester, which involves preparing the readings for the session and leading a class discussion (10%)
  • Weekly response papers for each of the readings (20%)
  • A final essay dealing with one of the topics covered in class or a topic of the student’s own choosing. Alternatively, students may conduct their own experiment and write up the findings as part of their final project (30%)

Intended Audience:

Upper-level undergraduates and graduate students with interests in German history and culture and science majors. German language skills are not required.


GERMAN 378 - History of German Science
Schedule Listing
001 (LEC)
 In Person
TuTh 2:30PM - 4:00PM

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