Skip to main content


Our Programs and Curriculum


Our Department


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


Felix Garkisch's Travels to Bayreuth and Leipzig

Thanks to the generosity of the Friedman-Kline Foundation and their support of students like me who wanted to spend summer quarter in Germany, I was lucky enough to be able to stay for eight weeks with significant financial assistance in two cities in Germany, Bayreuth and Leipzig. Both cities were situated in culturally rich surroundings, so my time was of course brimming with all sorts of cool experiences, including seeing landmarks like the church where Bach once worked, learning about former East Germany, and of course trying both the national and local culinary specialties (Leipziger Lerche and Frankish Bratwurst remain favorites of mine). In addition to being immersed in the culture, I of course drastically improved my German-speaking skills, even after taking just one year of the introductory sequence at NU. Herr Ryder and the German Department at Northwestern helped find language programs that aligned with my abilities going into the program and my goals for continuing German when returning. On top of everything, I also became a more global-minded person through the countless meaningful connections I made with people from all around the world who participated in the courses I took. I wouldn’t trade this last summer in Germany for anything. I gained exactly what I wanted from it and so much more. So, if you’re even considering doing a summer study abroad, I strongly recommend Germany as a worthwhile option.

Intern or Study in Germany

“Thomas Mann: Democracy Will Win!”—a major exhibit at the University Library during the Winter Quarter

Beginning in late January 2023, the German Department at Northwestern is hosting the sole visit of a travelling exhibit to the Chicago area: “Thomas Mann: Democracy Will Win!”  The exhibit was created by the Thomas-Mann House in Los Angeles in commemoration of the series of lecture tours that Nobel Laureate conducted throughout the Unites States from the late 1930s to the mid-1940s.  The first of these tours began, in fact, at Northwestern, where more than 4000 people came to hear him articulate the fundamental basis for liberal democracy.  “It is a terrible spectacle when the irrational becomes popular,” Mann said in a speech at the Library of Congress in 1943, and he drew on his considerable powers of thought and expression to counter the sources of this spectacle through the confident motto: “Democracy will win.”  The like-named exhibit—which will be on the ground floor of the University Library from late January to the end of the winter quarter—is divided into two parts: the first charts the changes in Mann’s political views, while the second connects Mann’s mature political views to current situations in both Europe and the States.  An afternoon symposium on Thomas Mann’s advocacy of democracy during his years of exile will be held in Deering Library, room 208, on Friday, February 3rd.  For more information on the exhibit, see the prospectus created by the Thomas-Mann House. 

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.”

Spotlight on our Research


Read More

Thomas Mann Exhibition and Symposium


February 2nd | 2:00pm - 5:30pm | Deering Library 208

The symposium is conducted in conjunction with the arrival of the travelling exhibit produced by the Thomas-Mann House in Pacific Palisades (Los Angeles), “Thomas Mann: Democracy Will Win!” The exhibit will be on the ground floor of Northwestern’s Main Library from late January to mid-March. A small exhibit highlighting Mann’s connections with Northwestern will also be on display.

Tobias Boes (Notre Dame) - “The ‘Greatest Living Man of Letters’ Comes to Evanston: Thomas Mann and His 1938 Lecture Tour”

Meike Werner (Vanderbuilt) - "How far away was L.A.? Thomas Mann in Pacific Palisades 1942/43"

Veronika Fuechtner (Dartmouth) - “The Migrations of the Mann Family”

News and Events


Touring Multimedia Exhibition Thomas Mann: Democracy Will Win


The Department of German presents the touring multimedia exhibition Thomas Mann: Democracy Will Win, visiting the Northwestern Deering Library January 30th to March 30th.

Exiled to the USA during the Nazi regime, the German Nobel-prizewinning writer Thomas Mann was a powerful opponent of National Socialism and a committed champion of democracy. The current sociopolitical issues in Germany and the United States render his call for an active renewal of democracy “in thought and feeling” as relevant today as it was in 1933.



Upcoming Events


All Events

Latest News

Domenic DeSocio publishes in Monatshefte

All News

Back to top