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The Department of German owes its international reputation to a combination of path-breaking research, award-winning teaching, and engaged students.  In addition to hosting our graduate program in German Literature and Critical Thought, our undergraduate major and minor programs, and our German-language program, the department interacts with a wide variety of disciplines, departments, programs, and clusters throughout the humanities and beyond.  Graduates of our PhD program have secured prominent positions and fellowships in North America, Europe, and Asia.  Our majors and minors combine their passion for German language, literature, and culture with kindred interests in numerous other fields of study.  And the students in all of our classes are eligible for an enticing ensemble of study-abroad programs, fellowships, stipends, and internships that, each in its own way, add an inestimable value to their educational experience.  We welcome inquiries into the full range of our departmental offerings.

Featured Stories


Congratulations to our new PhDs!

The Program in German Literature and Critical Thought congratulates our newest PhDs: Sorrel Dunn (CLS/German), with the dissertation "Natures of Color: The Literary Environments of Adalbert Stifter and Paul Scheerbart" (recipient of the 2023 CLS Dissertation Prize); Hector Feliciano (German), with the dissertation "Soteriologische Travestie. Eine Lektüre der Grenzen propositionalen Denkens anhand Hofmannsthals Der Schwierige"; and Ted Laport (German), with the dissertation "Education for All and None: Nietzsche, Benjamin, and the Problem of Learning." We applaud Sorrel, Hector, and Ted on their impressive accomplishments and wish them all the best for the future!

Friedman Kline Winner Eden Stargardt on her research

The German Department has been incredibly supportive of my research, and through the generous support of the Friedman-Kline Foundation and the Office of Undergraduate Research, in the last year I have had the opportunity to travel to Berlin twice to conduct research for my project.

My time in Berlin has allowed me to do archival research in several major institutions in Germany, including the Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin, the Staatliches Institut für Musikforschung, and the Deutsche Nationalbibliothek in Leipzig. After conducting my summer research, I was able to use my findings as the basis for my senior thesis through the German Department. I have worked closely with Professor Isabel von Holt, who is the department’s DAAD Visiting Assistant Professor, over the past year to develop my research skills, and she has not only advised me through the thesis writing process, but also has become a great mentor. 

My project focuses on the impact of the fall of the Berlin Wall on the orchestras within the city and aims to explain how the orchestra acts as a microcosm of German society during this period of transition. I have gathered archival materials that have helped me to better understand the role of the orchestra in the Wendezeit, as well as read about first-hand accounts of life in the orchestra during this time.

When the Berlin Wall fell on November 9th, 1989, a formerly-divided city was suddenly reunited – however, a distinct separation remained between who and what belonged to the former East and the West. There was a visible, public unification that was displayed through public celebrations, concerts, and performances; however, there were many difficulties in reunification. My research aims to explore the connection between the role of the orchestra and greater German society.


Professor Weitzman’s most recent book garnering positive reviews

Professor Weitzman’s most recent book, At the Limit of the Obscene: German Realism and the Disgrace of Matter (Northwestern University Press, 2021), has been garnering positive reviews in scholarly journals in the U.S., Germany, and Denmark. The book investigates the conflicted representation of matter and materiality in German-language literature from 1857 to 1926 through the fraught concept of the “obscene.” As Bradley Harmon writes in MLN: “keeping one analytical foot in the traditional modes of German realism while extending the other into new territory, Weitzman innovates the scholarly paradigm for how we address and interrogate a wide variety of contemporary entanglements with the multivalent notion of materiality.” Similarly, Alyssa Howards writes in Journal of Austrian Studies that the book “truly breaks new ground, expanding and complicating our understanding of realism and the task of literature to represent the material world.” Meanwhile, Roman Widder writes in Zeitschrift für Germanistik that Professor Weitzman “has produced a standard work with the potential to reorient the study of realism: away from the epistemological aporias of poetic realism and towards realism’s ethical and political implications.” Jason Groves addresses some of these implications directly, writing in German Quarterly that the book “exposes—in realist literature’s repeated relegation of gendered and racialized bodies to ‘mere matter’ in a way that accords all too well with past and present histories of subjugation and dehumanization—something that can no longer be whitewashed as an intellectual tradition nor be assimilated into the framework of a humanist enterprise.” Finally, Svend Erik Larsen writes in Orbis Litterarum that “Weitzman’s study [deserves] a full round of applause,” calling it a “[sign] of the productivity of realism as a literary movement in an ongoing transformation.”

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Kendall Clark and Danny Vesurai elected to Phi Beta Kappa
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