Tuesday, June 16, 2015

German studies is the field of humanities that researches, documents, and disseminates German language and literature in both its historic and present forms. Academic departments of German studies often include classes on German culture, German history, and German politics in addition to the language and literature component. Common German names for the field are Germanistik, Deutsche Philologie, and Deutsche Sprachwissenschaft und Literaturwissenschaft. In English the terms Germanistics or Germanics are sometimes used (mostly by Germans), but the subject is more often referred to as German studies, German language and literature, or German philology.

Modern German studies is usually seen as a combination of two sub-disciplines: German linguistics and Germanophone literature studies.

German linguistics

German linguistics is traditionally called philology in Germany, as there is something of a difference between philologists and linguists. It is roughly divided as follows:

  • Old High German (Althochdeutsch) 8th â€" 11th centuries
  • Middle High German (Mittelhochdeutsch) 11th â€" 14th centuries
  • Early New High German (Frühneuhochdeutsch) 14th â€" 17th centuries
  • Modern German (Standard German, German dialectology) 18th â€" 21st centuries

In addition, the discipline examines German under various aspects: the way it is spoken and written, i.e., spelling; declination; vocabulary; sentence structure; texts; etc. It compares the various manifestations such as social groupings (slang, written texts, etc.) and geographical groupings (dialects, etc.).

German literature studies

The study German literature is divided into two parts: Ältere Deutsche Literaturwissenschaft deals with the period from the beginnings of German in the early Middle Ages up to post-Medieval times around AD 1750, while the modern era is covered by Neuere Deutsche Literaturwissenschaft. The field systematically examines German literature in terms of genre, form, content, and motifs as well as looking at it historically by author and epoch. Important areas include edition philology, history of literature, and textual interpretation. The relationships of German literature to the literatures of other languages (e.g. reception and mutual influences) and historical contexts are also important areas of concentration. The Penguin Dictionary of Literary Terms and Literary Theory: Fourth Edition (ISBN 0-14-051363-9) is printed in English but contains many German-language literary terms that apply cross-culturally in the field of literary criticism; quite a few of the in terms in the book originated in German but have since been adopted by English-language critics and scholars.

German teacher education

At least in Germany and Austria, German studies in academia play a central role in the education of German school teachers. Their courses usually cover four fields:

  • Linguistics of German (Sprachwissenschaft)
  • German language and literature of up to about 1750 (Ältere Sprache und Literatur)
  • German language and literature since approximately 1750 (Neuere Literaturwissenschaft)
  • Specifics of the didactics of teaching German (Fachdidaktik)

All universities offer specialized curriculae for school teachers, usually called "Lehramt Deutsch". In Germany, they are leading to a two step exam and certificate by the federal states of Germany cultural authorities, called the Staatsexamen ("state exam").

German media studies

In recent years, German has looked for links with the fields of communications, cultural studies and media studies. In addition, the sub-branch of film studies has established itself.

History of German studies

As an unsystematic field of interest for individual scholars, German studies can be traced back to Tacitus' Germania. The publication and study of legal and historical source material, such as Medieval Bible translations, were all undertaken during the German Renaissance of the sixteenth century, truly initiating the field of German studies. As an independent university subject, German studies was introduced at the beginning of the nineteenth century by Georg Friedrich Benecke, the Brothers Grimm, and Karl Lachmann.

University departments and research institutions

  • Department of German Studies, Brown University [1]
  • Department of German Studies, Cornell University
  • Department of German, Duke University
  • Department of Germanic Languages and Literatures, Harvard University [2]
  • Department of German, New York University, U.S.A. [3]
  • Department of Germanic and Slavic Languages, Pennsylvania State University, Pennsylvania, U.S.A. [4]
  • Department of German, Princeton University, U.S.A. [5]
  • German Program of the Department of World Languages & Literatures, University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, U.S.A. [6]
  • Department of German Studies, University of Arizona, Tucson, U.S.A. [7]
  • Department of German, University of California, Berkeley, U.S.A. [8]
  • Department of Germanic Languages, University of California, Los Angeles, U.S.A. [9]
  • Department of German Studies, University of Cincinnati
  • Department of Germanic Studies, University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, IL [10]
  • Department of Germanic Languages and Literatures, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign


  • German and Scandinavian Studies at the University of Massachusetts Amherst [12]
  • Department of Germanic Languages and Literatures, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI [13]
  • Department of German, Scandinavian, and Dutch University of Minnesota [14]
  • Department of Germanic Languages and Literatures, University of Pennsylvania, U.S.A. [15]
  • Department of Germanic Languages and Literature, University of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, U.S.A. [16]
  • Department of Germanic Studies, University of Texas at Austin [17]
  • Department of Germanic Languages and Literatures, The University of Virginia [18]
  • Department of Germanics, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington, U.S.A. [19]
  • Department of German, University of Wisconsin - Madison
  • Department of Germanic and Slavic Languages, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tennessee, U.S.A. [20]
  • Department of Germanic Languages and Literatures, Washington University in St. Louis, St. Louis, Missouri, U.S.A. [21]
  • Department of German, Yale University [22]
  • Department of German, University of Oxford
  • Department of German, University of Cambridge
  • Department of German Studies, University of Warwick
  • Department of German Language and Literature, Queen's University, Kingston, Ontario [23]
Czech Republic
  • Department of German and Austrian Studies, Charles University in Prague
  • Jawaharlal Nehru University India [24]
  • Department of German, National University of Ireland - University College Cork, Cork, Ireland [25]

"German studies" is taught at almost every German university. Some examples are:

  • Germanistisches Seminar der Universität Bonn, Institut für Germanistik, vergleichende Literatur- und Kulturwissenschaft, Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn [26]
  • Institut für deutsche Sprache und Literatur I & II, Albertus-Magnus-Universität zu Köln [27] [28]
  • Institut für Germanistik I & II, Hamburg University [29]
  • Germanistisches Seminar, Heidelberg University Faculty of Modern Languages
  • Institut für deutsche Philologie, Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich [30]
  • Germanistisches Institut, Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster [31]
  • Deutsches Seminar, Tübingen University Faculty of Modern Languages
  • Faculty of German Language and Literature, National and Kapodistrian University of Athens [32]
  • School of German Language and Literature, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki [33]
  • Department of Area Studies, Moscow State University [34]
  • Área de Filología Alemana, University of Salamanca [35]

See also

  • Sturm und Drang
  • New Objectivity
  • Germanisches Nationalmuseum
  • German Studies Association
  • Area studies
  • Delta Epsilon Phi Secondary German Honor Society in the US



  • Atlas Deutsche Sprache [CD-ROM]. Berlin: Directmedia Publishing. 2004.
  • Hartweg, Frédéric G.: Frühneuhochdeutsch: eine Einführung in die deutsche Sprache des Spätmittelalters und der frühen Neuzeit. Tübingen: Niemeyer. 2005.
  • Die Deutschen Klassiker (CD-ROM).
  • Berman, Antoine: L'épreuve de l'étranger. Culture et traduction dans l'Allemagne romantique: Herder, Goethe, Schlegel, Novalis, Humboldt, Schleiermacher, Hölderlin. Paris, Gallimard 1984. ISBN 978-2-07-070076-9.
  • Burger, Harald: Sprache der Massenmedien. Berlin: Walter de Gruyter. 1984.
  • Ernst, Peter: Germanistische Sprachwissenschaft. Wien: WUV. 2004.
  • Hickethier, Knut: Film- und Fernsehanalyse. Stuttgart, Weimar. 1993.
  • Hickethier, Knut (ed.): Aspekte der Fernsehanalyse. Methoden und Modelle. Hamburg: Lit Verlag. 1994.
  • Hohendahl, Peter U. German Studies in the United States: A Historical Handbook. New York: Modern Language Association of America, 2003. Print.
  • Kanzog, Klaus: "Einführung in die Filmphilologie". Munich. 1997.
  • Muckenhaupt, Manfred: Text und Bild. Grundfragen der Beschreibung von Text-Bild-Kommunikation aus sprachwissenschaftlicher Sicht. Tübingen: Gunter Narr Verlag. 1986.
  • Prokop, Dieter: Medienproduktanalyse. Zugänge - Verfahren - Kritik. Tübingen: Gunter Narr Verlag.
  • Beutin, Wolfgang: Deutsche Literaturgeschichte: von den Anfängen bis zur Gegenwart. Stuttgart: Metzler. 1992.
  • Fohrmann, Jürgen and Wilhelm Voßkamp (eds.): Wissenschaftsgeschichte der Germanistik im 19. Jahrhundert. 1994.
  • Marven, Lyn: Body and narrative in contemporary literatures in German : Herta Müller, Libuse Moníková, and Kerstin Hensel. 2005.
  • Shitanda, So: "Zur Vorgeschichte und Entstehung der deutschen Philologie im 19. Jh.: Karl Lachmann und die Brüder Grimm," in Literarische Problematisierung der Moderne, ed. by Teruaki Takahashi. 1992.
  • Bogdal, Klaus-Michael, Kauffmann, Kai, and Mein, Georg (unter Mitarbeit von Meinolf Schumacher und Johannes Volmert): BA-Studium Germanistik. Ein Lehrbuch. Reinbek bei Hamburg: Rowohlt. 2008 ISBN 978-3-499-55682-1
  • Schumacher, Meinolf: Einführung in die deutsche Literatur des Mittelalters. Darmstadt: Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft. 2010 ISBN 978-3-534-19603-6


  • The Journal of English and Germanic Philology
  • Journal of Germanic Linguistics
  • German Studies Review
  • Muttersprache
  • New German Critique
  • Neues Curriculum
  • New German Review
  • Zeitschrift für deutsche Philologie
  • Zeitschrift für Germanistik
  • Germanistik in Ireland


  1. ^ See e.g. the left navigation at the web page of one oft the Cologne University German studies institutes at http://idsl1.phil-fak.uni-koeln.de/

External links

  • BUBL Link (UK-based) Catalogue of Internet Resources Concerning the German Language: http://bubl.ac.uk/link/g/germanlanguage.htm (well organized; covers many aspects of the language and the study of it)
  • http://www.library.adelaide.edu.au/guide/hum/german/german_net.html (University of Adelaide's categorized guide to German Area Studies online)
  • http://www.dartmouth.edu/~wess/wesslit.html (Dartmouth's German-Studies Web links, annotated and arranged by topic)
  • http://libadm87.rice.edu/ref/german.cfm (Rice University's guide to German studies, including printed literature and links to German newspapers and magazines)
  • http://www.germanistik.net/ germanistik.net (tries to get the user straight to the best sources of help; in German)
  • Germanistik im Netz - Erlanger Liste (The 'Erlanger Liste' is currently the largest collection of links to the various aspects of G***, including such archives, publishers, etc.; in German)
  • Literaturwissenschaft online ("Literaturwissenschaft online" Kiel University's e-learning site with live and archived lectures; free of charge; in German.)
  • Bibliographie der Deutschen Sprach- und Literaturwissenschaft ("BDSL Online" is the electronic version of the largest bibliography in the field of German language and literature studies. Access to report years 1985-1995 is free of charge.)
  • http://www.doaj.org/ljbs?cpid=8 (DOAJ Directory of Open Access Journals, Literature and Languages)
  • http://www.sign-lang.uni-hamburg.de/Medienprojekt/Literatur/9.med.analy.html (University of Hamburg site with media studies bibliography)
  • Categorical list of German Departments around the world
  • Departmental Ratings (USA)
  • http://library.csun.edu/lhansen/subject-germany (Directory of some German resources in libraries and research centers throughout California)
Library guides
  • University Library. "German, Russian and Slavonic Studies". UK: University of Leeds. 

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