German studies

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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[edit]

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

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[edit]

The study German literature is divided into two parts:[citation needed] 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[edit]

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:[1]

  • 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)

Several universities offer specialized curriculae for school teachers, usually called "Deutsch (Lehramt)". 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[edit]

In recent years[when?], German[who?] 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.


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[edit]

  • Department of German, University of Oxford
  • Department of German, University of Cambridge
  • Department of German Studies, University of Warwick


Czech Republic
  • Department of Germanic Studies, Trinity College, The University of Dublin, Ireland[30]
  • Department of German, National University of Ireland – University College Cork, Cork, Ireland[31]

"German studies" is taught at many German universities. Some examples are:


See also[edit]



  • Atlas Deutsche Sprache [CD-ROM]. Berlin: Directmedia Publishing. 2004.
  • 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.
  • Beutin, Wolfgang. Deutsche Literaturgeschichte: von den Anfängen bis zur Gegenwart. Stuttgart: Metzler, 1992.
  • Bogdal, Klaus-Michael, Kai Kauffmann, & Georg Mein. BA-Studium Germanistik: Ein Lehrbuch. In collaboration with Meinolf Schumacher and Johannes Volmert. Reinbek bei Hamburg: Rowohlt, 2008 ISBN 978-3-499-55682-1
  • Burger, Harald. Sprache der Massenmedien. Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, 1984.
  • Ernst, Peter. Germanistische Sprachwissenschaft. Vienna: WUV, 2004.
  • Fohrmann, Jürgen & Wilhelm Voßkamp, eds. Wissenschaftsgeschichte der Germanistik im 19. Jahrhundert. 1994.
  • Hartweg, Frédéric G. Frühneuhochdeutsch: eine Einführung in die deutsche Sprache des Spätmittelalters und der frühen Neuzeit. Tübingen: Niemeyer, 2005.
  • 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.
  • Marven, Lyn. Body and narrative in contemporary literatures in German: Herta Müller, Libuse Moníková, and Kerstin Hensel. 2005.
  • 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.
  • Schneider, Jost, ed. Methodengeschichte der Germanistik. Berlin: De Gruyter, 2009.
  • Schumacher, Meinolf. Einführung in die deutsche Literatur des Mittelalters. Darmstadt: Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, 2010 ISBN 978-3-534-19603-6
  • 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.
  • Van Cleve, John W. and A. Leslie Willson. Remarks on the Needed Reform of German Studies in the United States. Columbia, SC: Camden House, 1993.



  1. ^ See e.g. the left navigation at the web page of one of the Cologne University German studies institutes at
  2. ^ "Department of German Studies - German Studies".
  4. ^ [1]
  5. ^ "Department of German - Northwestern University".
  6. ^ "Welcome! Willkommen! Добро пожаловать! Вітаємо! Witamy! — German".
  7. ^ "Department of German".
  8. ^ "German at the UofA - University of Arkansas".
  9. ^ "Department of German Studies - University of Arizona". Department of German Studies - University of Arizona.
  10. ^ "German Department, University of California, Berkeley". 8 February 2006.
  11. ^ "Home - Germanic Languages - UCLA". Germanic Languages - UCLA.
  12. ^ "Germanic & Slavic Languages & Literatures". Germanic & Slavic Languages & Literatures.
  13. ^ "Germanic Studies - University of Illinois at Chicago - UIC".
  14. ^ ATLAS - University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. "Home « Department of Germanic Languages and Literatures, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign".
  15. ^ "German & Scandinavian Studies - LLC - UMass Amherst".
  16. ^ "Germanic Languages and Literatures - U-M LSA Germanic Languages and Literatures".
  17. ^ "German, Scandinavian & Dutch Department".
  18. ^ [2]
  19. ^ "Germanic Languages and Literatures".
  20. ^ "University of Pittsburgh: Department of Germanic Languages and Literatures". 10 February 2008.
  21. ^ [3]
  22. ^ " -".
  23. ^ "Department of Germanics - University of Washington".
  24. ^ [4]
  25. ^ "Department of Germanic Languages and Literatures - Washington University in St. Louis".
  26. ^ "Welcome". Department of Germanic Languages and Literatures. Yale University.
  27. ^ "Department of Germanic Languages and Literatures". Department of Germanic Languages and Literatures.
  28. ^ "Department of German Language & Literature". 9 February 2006.
  29. ^ "Centre of German Studies". 4 April 2006.
  30. ^ "German - Trinity College Dublin". university.
  31. ^ "German - University College Cork". University College Cork.
  32. ^ [5]
  33. ^ "Germanistik Bonn".
  34. ^ "Institut für deutsche Sprache und Literatur II".
  35. ^ "German Language and Literature". 10 December 2005.
  36. ^ "Institut für Deutsche Philologie - LMU München".
  37. ^ Institut, Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster, Germanistisches. "Germanistik - Germanistisches Institut".
  38. ^ [6]
  39. ^ "Αρχική σελίδα".
  40. ^ [7]
  41. ^ [8][permanent dead link]

External links[edit]

Library guides