Clinton Shaffer, Ph.D.

Associate Professor of German
On Faculty since 1996

Office: Wyngarden 202
Phone: (630)752-5791


Ph.D., German Literature, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 1996.

M.A., German, Middlebury College, 1985.

B.A., English Literature and German, Wheaton College, 1984.

About Clinton Shaffer

I have a passionate curiosity about everything German—history, literature of all periods (especially 18th century studies), politics, business, cinema, and the list goes on.

My current research focuses on the Generation of ’68, RAF terrorism (especially as portrayed in film and literature), German road films and their depiction of national and European identity, and the cinematic productions of the X-Filme Creative Pool (the folks who made Lola rennt and a host of other great movies). 

When I’m not in German mode, I love cooking, reading, biking on the Prairie Path, watching movies, organic gardening messing around with old typewriters, and doing anything and everything with my wife, Virginia, and my kids, Bill and Sarah.

Courses Taught

  • Accelerated Elementary German (GERM 103)
  • Agents of Change: Faith and the Social Order in German Literature and Film (GERM 494 - Senior Capstone)
  • Contemporary German Culture and Mores (GERM 341)
  • Christians, War, and Peace in Germnay (GERM 437) 
  • Crime Narratives in German Literature and Film (GERM 351)
  • Elementary German I-II (GERM 101-102)
  • German for Business and Economics (GERM 334)
  • German for Reading (GERM 372 / BITH 505)
  • Intermediate German (GERM 201)
  • "Other" Germans: Turkish and Minority Experience (GERM 431)
  • Parties and Political System of the Federal Republic (GERM 437) 
  • Survey of German Cinema (GERM 437)
  • Terrorism in German Literature and Film (GERM 351)
  • Translation Workshop (GERM 373 / BITH 506)
  • What is German? German Cultural Identity from Charlemagne to the Berlin Republic (GERM 343)

Tutorials and Small-Group Courses (course numbers vary): 

  • Advanced German Grammar
  • Art and Politics in Contemporary Germany
  • Attitudes in German Evangelicalism 
  • Bertolt Brecht: Lyric, Drama, Prose
  • Love and Gender in German Literature to 1850
  • Oswald Spengler's Der Untergang des Abendlandes
  • Political Dramas of Goethe and Schiller 
  • Readings in German Theology: Barth and Bonhoeffer 
  • Short Works of Thomas Mann 
  • Thomas Mann’s Der Zauberberg
  • Writing In/To Germany: Expatriate Memoirs

Membership in Professional Societies

American Association of Teachers of German (AATG)

American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL)

German Studies Association (GSA)

Modern Language Association (MLA)


Vicco von Bulow (aka "Loriot"): Comedy as a sociocultural force in post-war Germany

Baader Meinhof, the RAF, and German Terrorism

Crime Narratives in German Literature and Film

Eighteenth- and Early Nineteenth-Century Religious and Cultural Critique

German Hymnody (16th-18th centuries)

Contemporary German Politics and Church-State Relations

Papers Published and/or Presented

Scholarly and Pedagogical Publications:

  • Review of David I. Smith, Learning from the Stranger: Christian Faith and Cultural Diversity, CHristian Scholar's Review, XXXIX: 3 (Spring 2010).
  • “In loco parentis: Narrating Control and Rebellion in Robert Musil’s Die Verwirrungen des Zöglings Törleß,” Modern Austrian Literature. 35:3/4 (2002): 27-51. 
  • “Exclusive Inclusiveness: A Critique of the First-Year German Text Kontakte.” Language in God’s World (Nottingham, UK). 18 (March, 1998): 25-31. 
  • [co-author] Instructor’s Resource Manual for Spektrum. Grammatik im Kontext. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall, 1992. 196p. 
  • [co-author] Test Bank for Spektrum. Grammatik im Kontext. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall, 1992. 65p. 
  • “Ernst von Houwald.” German Writers in the Age of Goethe, 1789-1832, ed. James Hardin and Christoph E. Schweitzer. Dictionary of Literary Biography 90. Detroit: Gale, 1989. 183-187. 

Invited Lectures/Presentations

  • “Fatal Intersections: Terrorists and Their Neighbors in Recent German Film,” presentation to the Humanities Brown Bag Colloquium, Wheaton College, March 6, 2009. 
  • “Faith and Politics in Germany and the U.S.: Anecdotal Perspectives from a Wheaton College Observer,” presentation for a delegation of members of the European Parliament representing the Christlich-Demokratische Union (CDU) and sponsored by the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung, Wheaton College, April 28, 2008.
  • “Seeing With a Clearer ‘I’: Themes of Existence and Providence in Recent German Film,” presentation for the University of Illinois Graduate InterVarsity Christian Fellowship Chapter, Urbana-Champaign, Illinois; February 18, 2005. 
  • “Behind the Scenes of the Past: Reading History Through German Film,” presentation for Calvin College students, faculty, and community, Grand Rapids, Michigan; October 10, 2002. 

Recent Conference Presentations

  • "'Kasspatzen machen schlau': Kommissar Kluftinger's Visceral Romanticism." paper presented in a session on " Revolutionizing German-Language Crime Fiction" at the 2014 German Studies Association (GSA) Conference, Kansas City, MO; September 18-21, 2014.
  • "Crossing Borders, Transgressing Boundaries: Families and Values in transit in Recent Turkish-German Film,"paper presented at the 2014 North American Christian Foreign Language Association (NACFLA) Conference at Wheaton College, Wheaton, IL; March 20-22, 2014.
  • "'Opa...und jetzt sei ein bißchen gemutlich!': Loriot's Domestication of the Unquiet German Past," paper presented at the 2013 American COuncil on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL) Convention in Orlando, FL; November 21-24, 2013.
  • "'Ein Kaiser kann nicht im Lift fahren': Habsburg Nostalgia and The New World Order in Reinhold Schneider's Winter in Wien," in "Habsburg Nostalgia," Standing Panel of the Austrian Studies Association, Modern Languages Association (MLA) Convention, Boston, MA; Janury 3-6, 2013.
  • "On the Eve of (Self-)Destruction? Thilo Sarrazin and the Uses and Abuses of Christendom," paper presented at the 2012 NACFLA Conference, Westmont College, Santa Barbara, CA; March 23-24, 2012.
  • "All the (Dis)Comforts Of Home: Expatriates Writing in/To Host Cultures," paper presented at the 2010 NACFLA Conference, Anderson University, Anderson, IN; April 9-10, 2010.

Curricular Development Project

Redesigned existing German major and minor programs as interdisciplinary sequence in German studies. Completed: October, 2010. 

Recent Teaching Honors

Senior Teaching Achievement Award, Wheaton College, 2007-2008. 

Foreign Languages

German: near-native proficiency. 

Spanish: intermediate proficiency; reading knowledge 

Russian: basic proficiency; reading knowledge. 

French: reading knowledge. 

Latin: reading knowledge.

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