The Department of German Studies, originally called the Department of Germanic Languages and Literature, was first established with the founding of the University in 1861. In 1972, the name was changed to the Department of Germanics to reflect the more comprehensive nature of the program’s content and the development of a German Area Studies Program. In 2021, the name changed again to the Department of German Studies to make what we do more legible to our students and the community. The Department currently presents one of the largest programs offering advanced degrees in German in the United States and was ranked 12th in the most recent ratings of the National Research Council.
The Department offers two undergraduate programs leading to a Bachelor of Arts degree. The major in German offers training in verbal and written interpretation and analysis and is useful for any career that involves formulating and solving problems, especially for those with a particular interest in Europe and the German-speaking countries. The major in German Cultural Studies is designed for students who wish to hone their critical skills to analyze various aspects of culture and society, such as literature, film, art, architecture, and political and social institutions.
The Graduate Program (Master’s and PhD) offers a broad, flexible and integrated curriculum. Students gain in-depth knowledge of the language, literature, and thought of German-speaking Europe and develop critical and discursive skills through research and scholarly writing.
Students may participate in the Department’s study abroad programs in Vienna (see “Spring in Vienna”) or Berlin (see "Summer in Berlin") or in direct exchanges with German universities, among them Freiburg, Tübingen, Münster, and Berlin.
The German Studies faculty represents a diverse group of scholars working in the fields of German literature, linguistics, intellectual history, and cultural studies. Primary research areas encompass German literature and culture, including Medieval Studies, German Classicism, German Romanticism, Realism, Modernism, contemporary German and Austrian literature and culture, German/Jewish studies, history and theory of drama, literary sociology, history and theory of drama, film and cultural studies, historical and comparative linguistics, the environmental humanities, and various branches of critical theory. Recent honors for German Studies faculty include one Guggenheim fellowship, two Senior Alexander von Humboldt Foundation Research Prizes, one National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship, one American Council of Learned Societies Senior Research Award, one Senior Fulbright Award, one Lockwood Professorship, and one Hanauer Professorship among others.
German Studies organizes many events that attract a wide range of visitors to the University. Interdisciplinary conferences bring scholars to campus from across the US and Europe. Community events provide a venue for area residents to learn about and enjoy German culture. Our workshops around Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion topics link our work to social justice issues and demonstrate the relevance of what we do in a broader societal context. The Department also collaborates with the German, Austrian, and Swiss Consulates and the Goethe Institut to bring visiting artists and dignitaries to campus for seminars, public performances, and receptions.