Choosing to major in Germanic Languages and Literatures is a terrific way to become fluent in the language and culture of German-speaking lands and to tackle one of the richest traditions of literature and critical thought. After basic and intermediate courses, you will first develop your interests in current events, political history, and the history of culture. After this, majors typically go on to study complex and rich texts in poetry, fiction, and philosophy, as well as in economic and social theory. Many of the modern humanities and social and natural sciences were born in texts by German-speaking authors, and you will have many opportunities for careful study of these originary texts. Our majors are immersed in writers and thinkers such as Franz Kafka, Walter Benjamin, Friedrich Hölderlin, Immanuel Kant, Sigmund Freud, and Karl Marx, to name a few of the most well-known. Students also receive practical training in close textual analysis, the logics of literary language, the ethics of reading, and the discourses of knowledge and their critiques since the enlightenment. Other points of focus such as film, visual art, electronic media, music, and history are also encouraged.
Please look over the major requirements and write or stop by if you’d like to talk about becoming a major.
Paul North, DUS
Office Hours: Tuesdays 3:30-5:30
The major in German Studies covers a broad tradition of more than five centuries in Switzerland, Austria, Germany, and neighboring lands. Students gain deep competence in the German language while also reading great literature, analyzing distinctive artworks in many media, deducing intensive theories, and exploring political, linguistic, and cultural history. The German faculty works closely with undergraduates to develop their special areas of interest within these rich currents of German culture.
Majors in German Studies gain a solid grounding in German language through courses that emphasize listening, speaking, reading, and writing in interaction with authentic cultural materials. The curriculum also introduces students to the basic questions and methods of literary criticism, with a focus on rigorous reading practices for a wide range of works from different genres, disciplines, and historical moments.
German Studies courses are diverse in their topics and highly relevant to other fields of study today. Pioneers in philosophy, political theory, sociology, psychology, history, classical philology, the visual arts, architecture, and music wrote and thought in German, as did founders of the modern natural and practical sciences. Majors discover Kant, Goethe, Beethoven, Einstein, Freud, Kafka, Arendt, and many other thinkers and writers who laid the groundwork for modernity and still hold keys to understanding it.
Germany is the third-largest economy in the world, and German is spoken by over 80 million people worldwide. Students with a foundation in the language, literature, history, and intellectual revolutions of Germany are prepared to enter a wide variety of vocations. Majors have gone on to postgraduate study in Germany and the United States, and many have entered top-tier law schools and graduate programs. Recent graduates work in fields as diverse as environmental policy, journalism, arts management, consulting, and engineering, as well as in governmental and nongovernmental organizations and businesses.
Descriptions of the major in German Studies may also be found in the Bluebook (YCPS). Please refer to the YCPS for all matters pertaining to policies, regulations and requirements.