Professor Riegert joined the Kenyon College community in 2008. He enjoys teaching German language, literature and culture at all levels, and has taught advanced courses with topics such as "Love and Madness in German Literature," the representation of the Holocaust, the history of German film and German women writers.
Areas of Expertise
Nineteenth-century German-Jewish literature.
2005 — Doctor of Philosophy from University of Minnesota: Twin
1994 — Master of Arts from University of Minnesota: Twin
1989 — Bachelor of Arts from St. John's University
Courses Recently Taught
This is the first half of a yearlong course for students who are beginning the study of German or have had only minimal exposure to the language. The first semester introduces students to the German language in all four modalities: reading, writing, speaking and listening. The work includes practice in understanding and using the spoken language. Written exercises and elementary reading materials completed outside class serve as a basis for vocabulary-building and in-class discussion and role-plays. Students also write four short essays on familiar topics over the course of the semester. During the second semester, there is more advanced practice in the use of the spoken and written language and we use short fictional and authentic cultural texts to develop techniques of reading. This course includes required practice sessions with a teaching assistant, which are scheduled at the beginning of the semester. Students enrolled in this course are automatically added to GERM 112Y for the spring semester. Offered every fall.
This is the second half of a yearlong course for students who are beginning the study of German or have had only minimal exposure to the language. As in the first semester, the work includes practice of the German language in all four modalities — reading, writing, speaking and listening — in class, in scheduled review sessions with an apprentice teacher and using an online workbook. There is more advanced practice in the use of the spoken and written language. We develop reading skills through a variety of fictional and cultural texts, including a short book we read in its entirety. This course includes required practice sessions with a teaching assistant, which are scheduled at the beginning of the semester. At the end of the semester, students read their first book of fiction in German. Prerequisite: GERM 111Y or placement, or permission of instructor. Offered every spring.
This first-semester middle-level course is designed to develop German reading, writing and speaking skills beyond GERM 111Y-112Y. We use a grammar text for reviewing and expanding upon aspects of German grammar from the first year. We apply this review as we read "Tshick," a young adult novel in German by Wolfgang Herrndorf, and other short literary and journalistic texts; as we gain a basic understanding of films in the original German; and as we converse in German with a partner or in groups. These texts and films serve as a point of departure for short compositions as well. Keeping a diary in German also is an integral component of the course. This course includes required practice sessions with a teaching assistant, which are scheduled at the beginning of the semester. Students enrolled in this course are automatically added to GERM 214Y for the spring semester. Prerequisite: GERM 111Y-112Y or equivalent. Offered every fall.
This second-semester middle-level course is designed to develop German reading, writing and speaking skills beyond GERM 111Y-112Y. We use a grammar text for reviewing and expanding upon aspects of German grammar from the first year. We apply this review as we read short literary and journalistic texts, as we gain a basic understanding of films in the original German, and as we converse in German with a partner or in groups. These texts and films serve as a point of departure for short compositions as well. Keeping a diary in German also is an integral component of the course. Studying the novel "Der Richter und sein Henker" by Swiss author Friedrich Dürrenmatt is a special component of GERM 214Y. This course includes required practice sessions with a teaching assistant, which will be scheduled at the beginning of the semester. Prerequisite: GERM 213Y or equivalent. Offered every spring.
This course examines the construction of national identity through the medium of film. For Germany, which historically looked to its writers to define its national identity, film became a very important medium for expressing this goal. In addition to a basic understanding of the terms and methods used in the formal description of film, this course provides students with the sociohistorical background to be able to understand and evaluate the role that films played in both shaping and reflecting German cultural ideals from the early 20th century through the present. The majority of films viewed in this course represent three distinct historical epochs: the Weimar period, which produced some of the greatest silent films ever made, such as "Nosferatu," "The Golem," "Dr. Caligari" and "Dr. Mabuse"; the Nazi period, which resulted in the artistically unequaled propaganda film "The Triumph of the Will," as well as examples of Hollywood-inspired Nazi propaganda films such as "Jew Süss"; and the post-World War II period, for which we view films made by members of the New German Cinema, like Fassbinder's "The Marriage of Maria Braun," Werner Herzog's "Aguirre: The Wrath of God," and "Wings of Desire" by Wim Wenders. Finally, we view a number of films that represent a reaction of sorts to the New German Cinema, such as the (anti-) war film "Das Boot," as well as recent works by female filmmakers such as Margarethe von Trotta ("Rosenstraße"), Dorris Dörrie ("Men") and Vaness Jopp ("Forget America"). This course is taught in English translation. Students majoring in film should contact the department chair regarding counting this course toward their major. No prerequisite. Generally offered every three years.
In this course, we explore a wide array of topics in contemporary German culture to provide advanced students with the opportunity to strengthen their abilities to write, read and speak German. Topics may include the impact of reunification on contemporary Germany, religious life and popular music. Students read excerpts from two German books on German culture and identity: "Typisch Deutsch: Wie deutsch sind die Deutschen?" by Herman Bausinger and "Die deutsche Seele" by Thea Dorn and Richard Wagner. We explore the topics of migration and citizenship, as well. Students develop fluency in German to perform linguistically and culturally appropriate tasks. The composition component seeks to improve the ability to write clearly and coherently in German. To foster these goals, the course also provides a review of advanced grammatical structures. This course can be repeated for credit up to 1.0 unit. Prerequisite: GERM 213Y-214Y or equivalent. Offered every fall semester.
This course is designed as an introduction to the study of German literature and culture beginning with the earliest writings by the Germanic tribes in the early Middle Ages and going through 1900. Students gain a greater understanding of German literary history and related social and philosophical trends. Other central goals include practice in the close reading of texts and acquiring a basic German vocabulary to do so. We read samples from various genres — drama, prose and lyric poetry. Authors and works to be studied may include the "Hildebrandslied," Walther von der Vogelweide, Martin Luther, Immanuel Kant, Ludwig Tieck, Georg Büchner (including Werner Herzog's film rendition of Büchner's "Woyzeck"), Karl Marx, Louise Otto-Peters, Gerhard Hauptmann, Karl May and others. GERM 321 is recommended. Prerequisite: GERM 213Y–214Y or equivalent.
This course provides an overview of various movements in German, Swiss and Austrian literature and film of the 20th and 21st centuries on the basis of representative textual and cinematic examples. Students gain a greater understanding of German literary history and related social and philosophical trends. Other central goals include practice in the close reading of texts and films and acquiring a basic German vocabulary to do so. We read samples from various genres — drama, prose and lyric poetry. Authors to be studied may include Arthur Schnitzler, Franz Kafka, Thomas Mann, Anna Seghers, Bertolt Brecht, Heinrich Böll, Ingeborg Bachmann, Barbara Honigmann, Uwe Timm and Judith Hermann. We also watch films such as "The Blue Angel" (1930, von Sternberg), "The Murderers Are among Us" (Staudte, 1946), "Berlin: Schönhauser Corner" (Klein 1957) and "Aguirre: The Wrath of God" (Herzog, 1972). GERM 321 recommended. Prerequisite: GERM 213Y-214Y or equivalent.
Heinrich Heine, Arthur Schnitzler, Franz Kafka and Paul Celan are considered among the greatest authors ever to have written in the German language — or, one might argue, in any language. They also were all Jews. In this course, we read short fictional texts and poems created over the last 250 years by these and other German-language Jewish artists. In addition, we examine a variety of treatises surrounding the origins of Germany's so called Judenfrage and the answers to the Jewish question given over time by important Jewish and non-Jewish thinkers such as G. E. Lessing, C. W. von Dohm, Karl Marx, Richard Wagner, Theodor Adorno, Jean Améry and Gershom Scholem. Even as we consider the meaning of the Holocaust's unhealable rupture in the German-Jewish encounter, the primary focus of the course is on the continuity and vibrancy of German-Jewish life and the variety of German-Jewish cultural expression during the period in question, including after the Shoah. Other possible authors include Moses Mendelssohn, Fanny Lewald and Karl Emil Franzos in the late 18th and19th centuries; Theodor Herzl, Joseph Roth and Else Lasker-Schüler in the early 20th century; Ilse Aichinger in the immediate postwar period; and Jurek Becker, André Kaminski, Maxim Biller and Doron Rabinovici in more recent times. Films by Ernst Lubitsch, Ruth Beckermann and Dani Levy also are examined. Prerequisite: GERM 325 or above, or permission of instructor. Generally offered every three years. \n
At the turn of the 20th century, Vienna was home to figures as diverse as Sigmund Freud, Gustav Klimt, Gustav Mahler, Leon Trotsky, Adolf Hitler and Bertha von Suttner, the first women to be solely awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. How do we explain the extraordinary cultural energy of the capital of the far-flung Austro-Hungarian Empire, which was itself on the verge of disintegration? The course first examines some of the tensions that characterized “fin-de-siècle” Vienna. These included a new urban modernism that confronted historicist architectural trends, the rise of mass politics and the disintegration of political liberalism, and the power of the Habsburg monarchy in Vienna vis-à-vis nationalist movements at the periphery of the empire. Against this historical backdrop, Vienna 1900 became home to a variety of modernist movements. We explore significant figures in literature (Schnitzler, Hofmannsthal, Musil), music (Mahler, R. Strauss, Schönberg) and the visual arts (Klimt, Schiele, Kokoschka, Otto Wagner, Adolf Loos). We investigate the psychoanalysis of Freud and the important role of the coffee house in cultural exchange. We ask ourselves, where are women in all of this? Finally, we examine the specific role Jews played in this cultural flowering, tracing the emergence of modern Zionism (Theodor Herzl) in a context of growing anti-Semitism. This seminar's readings and discussions are in German. Students who have completed GERM 321 should contact the instructor for permission. Prerequisite: GERM 325 or above, or permission of instructor. Generally offered every three years.
Taking the concept of borders and border crossing as a central theme, we consider how German-speaking countries have long been nodes of cultural transit and migratory exchange. The course further explores how migration challenges the borders drawn between nation-states and blurs the boundaries of identity, language, religion and culture. We examine the topic from a variety of perspectives, studying the history, politics, rhetoric and culture of immigration in Germany. The cultural aspect of the course will include literary and cinematic expressions of migration and immigrant communities. Of particular interest for this course is the influx of refugees to Europe and Germany during the years 2014-15, as well as the political changes that have come to Germany since then. Germany took on an outside role in responding to the refugee situation in the Middle East, accepting around 1 million refugees and asylum seekers. Though admirable in scope and aspiration, the events sparked an intense debate about the country’s ability to absorb and integrate such a large number of immigrants, fueling the rise of right-wing parties such as the “Alternative for Germany” and xenophobic groups such as Pegida. We contextualize these contemporary debates about the refugee crisis within longstanding discussions of migration and German identity. This advanced-level course taught in German may count toward all three major tracks in MLL. Prerequisite: GERM 325 or above or permission of instructor. Generally offered every two to three years.
This course presents an interdisciplinary inquiry into the destruction of European Jewry during World War II. How was it that in the 20th century, in the midst of civilized Europe, a policy of genocide was formulated and systematically implemented? We will examine the Holocaust within the contexts of modern European history, Nazi ideology and practice, the Jewish experience in Europe, the history of anti-Semitism and the psychology of human behavior. Data will be drawn from films, literature, art, memoirs, theology and historical investigations. An ongoing concern of the course will be the significance of the Holocaust in political discourse and in our own thinking as individuals. When a faculty member from religious studies, modern languages and literatures (German) or history is teaching the course, it counts toward the history, German or religious studies majors.