German and German Studies Major and Minor

We offer a broadly conceived German studies program which encourages a comparative study of the German language and culture through its linguistic and literary history, systems of thought, institutions, political configurations, and arts and sciences.

Curriculum & Courses

Course offerings serve students with particular interests in German literature, literary theory and criticism as well as those interested in studying German and German-speaking cultures from the perspective of communication arts, film, history, history of ideas, history of art and architecture, history of religion, institutions, linguistics, mass media, philosophy, politics, urban anthropology, and folklore. Majors choose between a literature concentration or a German studies concentration, and thorough knowledge of German is a common goal for both. The objective of our language instruction is to teach students communicative skills that would enable them to function effectively in authentic conditions of language use, and to speak and write in idiomatic German. Major components of all German courses are the examination of issues that underline the cosmopolitanism as well as the specificity and complexity of contemporary German culture. We encourage many German majors to take courses in interdisciplinary areas, such as comparative literature, history, political science, philosophy, music, and feminist and gender studies, where they read works of criticism in these areas in the original German.

  • Major Requirements

    After the completion of the GERM H101-GERM H102 sequence (or its equivalent) the German language and literature concentration normally follows the sequence GERM H201 and/or GERM H202 (or equivalents at Bryn Mawr); GERM B209 or GERM B212, or GERM B213; plus additional courses to complete the 10 units, two of them at the 300 level; and finally one semester of Senior Conference or either an additional 300-level seminar in German or GERM B403 (Supervised Work) for double majors. 

    A German Studies major normally includes GERM H201 or H202; GERM H223 or GERM B245; one 200- and one 300-level course in German literature; three courses (at least one at the 300 level) in subjects central to aspects of German culture, history, or politics; and one semester of GERM H321 (Advanced Topics in German Cultural Studies). Bryn Mawr equivalents may be substituted. Within each concentration, courses need to be selected so as to achieve a reasonable breadth, but also a degree of disciplinary coherence.  

    No more than four credits will be awarded for work done beyond the Tri-College Consortium and UPenn, whether abroad or in the U.S.

    Senior Project

    All of our majors are required to write a senior thesis in German, or—if they are double majors—to produce a thesis in a related discipline that has significant overlap with their work in German. They typically take a 300-level seminar in fall and write a research term paper that often becomes the foundation for their senior project. In the spring semester they take the mandatory GERM H399/GERM B399 Senior Conference consisting of weekly meetings and discussions of thesis proposals and drafts with their advisor(s).

    Senior Project Learning Goals

    In writing the senior thesis, the student should demonstrate

    1. the capacity to conceive a theoretically informed and well designed research project
    2. the language skills to research and evaluate primary and secondary materials and to effectively synthesize these, and
    3. the analytical and methodological skills to produce an innovative and critically astute thesis.

    Senior Project Assessment

    The quality of the thesis is evaluated on the basis of the following criteria:

    • Originality of topic.
    • Mastery of analysis.
    • Familiarity with primary and secondary literature.
    • Creative application of relevant theoretical discourses.
    • Clarity of writing.

    Requirements for Honors

    Any student whose grade point average in the major at the end of the senior year is 3.8 or higher qualifies for departmental honors. Students who have completed a thesis and whose major grade point average at the end of the senior year is 3.6 or higher, but not 3.8, are eligible to be discussed as candidates for departmental honors. A student in this range of eligibility must be sponsored by at least one faculty member with whom the student has done coursework, and at least one other faculty member must read some of the student’s advanced work and agree on the excellence of the work in order for departmental honors to be awarded. If there is a sharp difference of opinion, additional readers will serve as needed.

  • Minor Requirements

    A minor in German and German Studies consists of six units of work. To earn a minor, students are normally required to take GERM H201 or GERM H202, and five additional units covering a reasonable range of study topics, of which at least one unit is at the 300 level. One upper-level course may be chosen with the approval of the department from the recommended electives for German Studies majors. Bryn Mawr equivalents may be substituted.

    No more than four credits will be awarded for work done beyond the Tri-College Consortium and UPenn, whether abroad or in the U.S..

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