The Cultural History of Germans in Missouri, or: Oktoberfest in the Midwest! – Honors

3 credits


College of Arts and Science

(same as GERMAN 2510H). Have you ever been to an Oktoberfest in the Midwest or wondered why so many Missourians like Bratwurst? In this course we will seek to answer these and many more questions by delving into the cultural history of Germans and German immigration to the state from the nineteenth century to the present. The purpose of this course is to learn about the cultural history of the state and region and its connections to global histories. This course will speak to students interested in regional tourism and commerce; state and US history; German studies; international studies; refugee and migration studies; and more. We will explore the forces that shaped the lives of German immigrants and their descendants in Missouri: large numbers of German immigrants play formative roles in local and state governments; they are involved in transforming much of the landscape into farmland; they create a wide range of businesses, most notably the many breweries that blanketed the state; they found a variety of churches, settle in religious communities, and establish most of the early synagogues. They are involved in debates about the Civil War and in the build up to the World Wars of the twentieth century. The history of Missouri, in this sense, is part and parcel of both German and American history, and the goal of this class is to allow students to participate in writing it. This is not a typical course based on lectures and discussions. It is based on a joint effort to learn more about German Missouri with a strong component of project-based learning. Students will be encouraged to explore parts of the state and its history, and when applicable, to explore their own family backgrounds as immigrants. As a final project, students will do a history of a specific cultural object, working in tandem with Missouri Humanities and the German Heritage project. Anything used will be credited to students in the displays. This course is conducted in English. Prerequisites: Honors eligibility required.