The German Program: Philosophy, Psychoanalysis, Affect Studies, and Social Psychology

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Fall 2018
Winter 2019
Spring 2019
OlympiaStudy Abroad
Olympia +
study abroad option
Credits per quarter

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Taught by

social psychology, gender and women's studies
aesthetics and philosophy, critical theory, psychoanalysis
writing, comparative literature, film and visual culture

This interdisciplinary program will integrate materials from philosophy and German Studies with social psychology and psychoanalysis. We will investigate the foundations of humanism in German thought; questions about the emergence of capital, industry, and the German nation-state in Europe; the notion of the modern individual in morality and ethics; the rise of fascism (both in the early 20th century and in its 21st century guises); and the social psychology of the individual (or self) within social context.

All students in the program will study the German language and many of our texts within philosophy will come from German-speaking authors such as Kant, Hegel, Marx, Freud, Adorno, Lewin, and Buber.

In fall our philosophical focus will be on the emergence of individualism in Kantian philosophy and Hegel’s radically historical and social rethinking about what it is to be a human, followed by Marx and Freud’s respective responses. Those historical anchors will be paired with reading the classic works in social psychology, a subfield of psychology that was largely developed by Kurt Lewin, a German Jew who fled Hitler’s Germany in the 1930s for the U.S. Early social psychological research focused on the relationship between the mass and the individual, asking questions about conformity, obedience to authority, groupthink, cognitive dissonance, persuasion, social judgment, stereotyping, stigma, and prejudice. This quarter will provide the theoretical and foundational bases in philosophy and social psychology for the winter and spring work.

In winter, our philosophical focus will shift to an examination of critical theory and translation studies, focusing on German-Jewish and German-Turkish studies. Our social psychological work will move toward investigating the social psychology of the Holocaust, examining the key questions about human nature that the Third Reich and the Shoah (or Holocaust) raised. We will look to the role of Jewish thinkers and writers in the German cultural context, as well as theoretical, experiential, and fictional attempts to understand the Shoah. A special focus will be on the work of Primo Levi, an Italian Jewish Holocaust survivor, whose work we will read and unpack to understand issues of German shame and guilt, highly social and moralizing emotions, through a social psychological lens. We will then turn to both primary and secondary work from and on contemporary German-Turkish authors and cultural influences. 

In spring students who elect to continue in the program will travel to Berlin (with excursions to surrounding German-speaking areas) for nine weeks of study abroad and language study. There they will continue to engage these lines of study, with an additional emphasis on Germany’s memorial culture, its emerging multiculturalism and contemporary politics, as well as Berlin’s unparalleled art, music, drama, and architecture. The trip will include a weekend in Prague and a final two weeks in Istanbul, Turkey.  Note: students enrolled in the fall quarter Nietzsche program who also study German language will be eligible to join this program in the winter and spring quarters and to join us for study abroad in the spring to Berlin.

Study abroad:

Students will have the option to go abroad in spring quarter for nine weeks of cultural and language study in Berlin, Prague and Istanbul (approximately $4000).

This offering will prepare you for careers and advanced study in: psychology, the humanities, and international studies.

Online learning:
  • Enhanced Online Learning - This offering requires access to web-based tools, but use of these tools does not displace any face-to-face instruction.

$90 in fall and winter for museums and events.

Scheduled for: Day

Located in: Olympia

2018-03-14This program is now open to students of all levels.
2017-11-16Vuslat Katsanis joined the teaching team.