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Scientific German--Writing Assignments for the Semester

You will write four essays in the course of the semester. The topics are described below. You should rewrite each essay within one week of getting it back; your grade for that essay will then be weighted 50% for the rewrite and 50% for the original. Click here to see the grading rubrics and the correction codes Stacy will use when grading your first draft.

Fundamental Advice

You will get the most out of writing the essays for this course by creatively using the language you have learned, and thus "making it your own." Applying what you have learned will "make it stick," whereas new words and phrases you look up are much less likely to "stick" in your mind after you have written the essay. Thus, you benefit much less from the additional work of looking them up, and you increase the potential for mistakes. When you write about a German text you have read, look for opportunities to express the ideas from the text more simply in your own words. Where that is not possible, integrate the language of the text as much as you can into your own language, so that you are actually practicing and thus learning how to use the new terminology you are taking from the text.

  • Click here for advice on writing in German without thinking in English.

Writing Assignments for the Semester [NOTE: Please give a word count for your essays!]

Invent an identity. There is only one restriction: you are a scientist. You can choose a real present or historical scientist and invent parts of his/her biography, or you can just "create" a personality from scratch. If you want to be a mad or corrupt scientist, be it. If you want to switch gender on yourself, fine. Any age, nationality, ethnicity. All fields of scientific or quasi-scientific inquiry are open to you: astronomy, biology, physics, psychology, medical research, etc., as well as astrology, numerology, alchemy, etc. Choose a century -- 20th will probably be easiest. If you want to be a 13th century alchemist trying to make gold, that’s okay, too, but take a good look at how the assignments are worded below and think about how you will be able to make this person interact meaningfully with contemporary scientific texts. Make yourself a complex, dramatic, and possibly disturbing person. Be dangerous or saintly or very, very strange. Acquire odd and intriguing habits. Then write a kind of biography in four essays over the course of the semester, as described below. Ideas/Resources:

Aufsatz 1: a 350-word autobiography [=Autobiographie], including a description of your research interests, a detailed description of your looks, including the way you dress and carry yourself, and perhaps a sketch of your childhood, including formative experiences ("the moment I realized that insects were my future.…")

Aufsatz 2: one letter (400 words) to a colleague or friend (remember you are still writing as the scientific persona you created for Aufsatz 1!). At least half of the letter should be devoted to a discussion of one or more German scientific articles you have read either in class or on the web or elsewhere: you should say what it was you read and how it is relevant to your work. If you write about an article we did not read in class, please include a link to the article, or a hard copy.

Aufsatz 3: an op-ed piece (400 words) - more info will be given in class

Aufsatz 4: an abstract [=Abriss] (250 words) of a scientific publication your chosen personality has authored (You can either make up an imaginary experiment or study, or you can base what "your" scientist "did" on something you read in class or on the web or elsewhere.)

Kothe-Hildner Prize for German 232

Each semester, a Kothe-Hildner Prize of $125 is awarded for the best essay by a student in German 232; $50 is awarded to the second prize winner, and $25 to the third prize winner.  Instructors nominate the best essays submitted for the regular essay assignments in their sections.

 

 



   
 

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