German studies
German studies is the field of humanities
The humanities are academic disciplines that study the human condition, using methods that are primarily analytical, critical, or speculative, as distinguished from the mainly empirical approaches of the natural sciences....

 that researches, documents, and disseminates German language
German language
German is a West Germanic language, related to and classified alongside English and Dutch. With an estimated 90 – 98 million native speakers, German is one of the world's major languages and is the most widely-spoken first language in the European Union....

 and literature
German literature
German literature comprises those literary texts written in the German language. This includes literature written in Germany, Austria, the German part of Switzerland, and to a lesser extent works of the German diaspora. German literature of the modern period is mostly in Standard German, but there...

 in both its historic and present forms. Academic departments of German studies often include classes on German culture
Culture of Germany
German culture began long before the rise of Germany as a nation-state and spanned the entire German-speaking world. From its roots, culture in Germany has been shaped by major intellectual and popular currents in Europe, both religious and secular...

, 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
Philology is the study of language in written historical sources; it is a combination of literary studies, history and linguistics.Classical philology is the philology of Greek and Classical Latin...

 in Germany, as there is something of a difference between philologists and linguists. It is roughly divided as follows:
  • Old High German
    Old High German
    The term Old High German refers to the earliest stage of the German language and it conventionally covers the period from around 500 to 1050. Coherent written texts do not appear until the second half of the 8th century, and some treat the period before 750 as 'prehistoric' and date the start of...

     (Althochdeutsch) 8th - 11th centuries
  • Middle High German
    Middle High German
    Middle High German , abbreviated MHG , is the term used for the period in the history of the German language between 1050 and 1350. It is preceded by Old High German and followed by Early New High German...

     (Mittelhochdeutsch) 11th - 14th centuries
  • Early New High German
    Early New High German
    Early New High German is a term for the period in the history of the German language, generally defined, following Wilhelm Scherer, as the period 1350 to 1650.Alternative periodisations take the period to begin later; e.g...

     (Frühneuhochdeutsch) 14th - 17th centuries
  • Modern German (Standard German
    Standard German
    Standard German is the standard variety of the German language used as a written language, in formal contexts, and for communication between different dialect areas...

    , German dialectology) 18th - 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

Literary studies 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 1500, while the modern era is covered by Neuere Deutsche Literaturwissenschaft. The field systematically examines German literature in terms of genre
Genre , Greek: genos, γένος) is the term for any category of literature or other forms of art or culture, e.g. music, and in general, any type of discourse, whether written or spoken, audial or visual, based on some set of stylistic criteria. Genres are formed by conventions that change over time...

, form, content
Content (media and publishing)
In media production and publishing, content is information and experiences that may provide value for an end-user/audience in specific contexts. Content may be delivered via any medium such as the internet, television, and audio CDs, as well as live events such as conferences and stage performances...

, and motifs as well as looking at it historically by author and epoch. Important areas include edition philology, history of literature
History of literature
The history of literature is the historical development of writings in prose or poetry which attempts to provide entertainment, enlightenment, or instruction to the reader/hearer/observer, as well as the development of the literary techniques used in the communication of these pieces. Not all...

, 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
Literary criticism
Literary criticism is the study, evaluation, and interpretation of literature. Modern literary criticism is often informed by literary theory, which is the philosophical discussion of its methods and goals...

; 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 media studies

In recent years, German has looked for links with the fields of communication
Communication is the activity of conveying meaningful information. Communication requires a sender, a message, and an intended recipient, although the receiver need not be present or aware of the sender's intent to communicate at the time of communication; thus communication can occur across vast...

s, cultural studies
Cultural studies
Cultural studies is an academic field grounded in critical theory and literary criticism. It generally concerns the political nature of contemporary culture, as well as its historical foundations, conflicts, and defining traits. It is, to this extent, largely distinguished from cultural...

 and media studies
Media studies
Media studies is an academic discipline and field of study that deals with the content, history and effects of various media; in particular, the 'mass media'. Media studies may draw on traditions from both the social sciences and the humanities, but mostly from its core disciplines of mass...

. In addition, the sub-branch of film studies
Film studies
Film studies is an academic discipline that deals with various theoretical, historical, and critical approaches to films. It is sometimes subsumed within media studies and is often compared to television 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
Publius Cornelius Tacitus was a senator and a historian of the Roman Empire. The surviving portions of his two major works—the Annals and the Histories—examine the reigns of the Roman Emperors Tiberius, Claudius, Nero and those who reigned in the Year of the Four Emperors...

' Germania. The publication and study of legal and historical source material, such as Medieval Bible
The Bible refers to any one of the collections of the primary religious texts of Judaism and Christianity. There is no common version of the Bible, as the individual books , their contents and their order vary among denominations...

 translations, were all undertaken during the German Renaissance
German Renaissance
The German Renaissance, part of the Northern Renaissance, was a cultural and artistic movement that spread among German thinkers in the 15th and 16th centuries, which originated from the Italian Renaissance in Italy...

 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
Georg Friedrich Benecke
Georg Friedrich Benecke was a German philologist. In 1814 he became professor at the University of Göttingen. Benecke was editor of a dictionary to Hartmann von Aue's Ywain .- External links :...

, the Brothers Grimm
Brothers Grimm
The Brothers Grimm , Jacob Grimm and Wilhelm Grimm , were German academics, linguists, cultural researchers, and authors who collected folklore and published several collections of it as Grimm's Fairy Tales, which became very popular...

, and Karl Lachmann
Karl Lachmann
Karl Konrad Friedrich Wilhelm Lachmann was a German philologist and critic.-Biography:He was born in Brunswick, in what is now Lower Saxony....


University departments and research institutions

  • Department of German, University of Oxford
  • Department of German, University of Cambridge
  • Department of German, Duke University
  • Department of German Studies, University of Warwick
    University of Warwick
    The University of Warwick is a public research university located in Coventry, United Kingdom...

  • Department of German Studies, University of Cincinnati
    University of Cincinnati
    The University of Cincinnati is a comprehensive public research university in Cincinnati, Ohio, and a part of the University System of Ohio....

  • Department of German Studies, University of Arizona
    University of Arizona
    The University of Arizona is a land-grant and space-grant public institution of higher education and research located in Tucson, Arizona, United States. The University of Arizona was the first university in the state of Arizona, founded in 1885...

    , Tucson, U.S.A.
  • German Program of the Department of World Languages & Literatures, University of Arkansas
    University of Arkansas
    The University of Arkansas is a public, co-educational, land-grant, space-grant, research university. It is classified by the Carnegie Foundation as a research university with very high research activity. It is the flagship campus of the University of Arkansas System and is located in...

    , Fayetteville, U.S.A.
  • Department of Germanic Languages and Literatures, The University of Virginia
    University of Virginia
    The University of Virginia is a public research university located in Charlottesville, Virginia, United States, founded by Thomas Jefferson...
  • Department of German Language and Literature, Queen's University
    Queen's University
    Queen's University, , is a public research university located in Kingston, Ontario, Canada. Founded on 16 October 1841, the university pre-dates the founding of Canada by 26 years. Queen's holds more more than of land throughout Ontario as well as Herstmonceux Castle in East Sussex, England...

    , Kingston, Ontario
  • Jawaharlal Nehru University
    Jawaharlal Nehru University
    Jawaharlal Nehru University, also known as JNU, is located in New Delhi, the capital of India. It is mainly a research oriented postgraduate University with approximately 5,500 students and a faculty strength of around 550.-History:...

  • Department of German, University of California, Berkeley, U.S.A.
  • Department of Germanic Languages, University of California, Los Angeles, U.S.A.
  • Department of German Studies, Cornell University
    Cornell University
    Cornell University is an Ivy League university located in Ithaca, New York, United States. It is a private land-grant university, receiving annual funding from the State of New York for certain educational missions...
  • Department of Germanic Languages and Literatures, Harvard University
    Harvard University
    Harvard University is a private Ivy League university located in Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States, established in 1636 by the Massachusetts legislature. Harvard is the oldest institution of higher learning in the United States and the first corporation chartered in the country...
  • Department of German, New York University
    New York University
    New York University is a private, nonsectarian research university based in New York City. NYU's main campus is situated in the Greenwich Village section of Manhattan...

    , U.S.A.
  • Department of Germanic Languages and Literatures, University of Pennsylvania
    University of Pennsylvania
    The University of Pennsylvania is a private, Ivy League university located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States. Penn is the fourth-oldest institution of higher education in the United States,Penn is the fourth-oldest using the founding dates claimed by each institution...

    , U.S.A.
  • Department of German, Princeton University
    Princeton University
    Princeton University is a private research university located in Princeton, New Jersey, United States. The school is one of the eight universities of the Ivy League, and is one of the nine Colonial Colleges founded before the American Revolution....

    , U.S.A.
  • Department of Germanic Studies, University of Texas at Austin
    University of Texas at Austin
    The University of Texas at Austin is a state research university located in Austin, Texas, USA, and is the flagship institution of the The University of Texas System. Founded in 1883, its campus is located approximately from the Texas State Capitol in Austin...
  • Department of Germanic Languages and Literature, University of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, U.S.A.
  • Department of Germanic and Slavic Languages, Pennsylvania State University
    Pennsylvania State University
    The Pennsylvania State University, commonly referred to as Penn State or PSU, is a public research university with campuses and facilities throughout the state of Pennsylvania, United States. Founded in 1855, the university has a threefold mission of teaching, research, and public service...

    , Pennsylvania, U.S.A.
  • Department of Germanic and Slavic Languages, Vanderbilt University
    Vanderbilt University
    Vanderbilt University is a private research university located in Nashville, Tennessee, United States. Founded in 1873, the university is named for shipping and rail magnate "Commodore" Cornelius Vanderbilt, who provided Vanderbilt its initial $1 million endowment despite having never been to the...

    , Nashville, Tennessee, U.S.A.
  • Department of Germanics, University of Washington
    University of Washington
    University of Washington is a public research university, founded in 1861 in Seattle, Washington, United States. The UW is the largest university in the Northwest and the oldest public university on the West Coast. The university has three campuses, with its largest campus in the University...

    , Seattle, Washington, U.S.A.
  • Department of German, Yale University
    Yale University
    Yale University is a private, Ivy League university located in New Haven, Connecticut, United States. Founded in 1701 in the Colony of Connecticut, the university is the third-oldest institution of higher education in the United States...
  • German and Scandinavian Studies at the University of Massachusetts Amherst
    University of Massachusetts Amherst
    The University of Massachusetts Amherst is a public research and land-grant university in Amherst, Massachusetts, United States and the flagship of the University of Massachusetts system...
  • Department of German, Scandinavian, and Dutch University of Minnesota
    University of Minnesota
    The University of Minnesota, Twin Cities is a public research university located in Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minnesota, United States. It is the oldest and largest part of the University of Minnesota system and has the fourth-largest main campus student body in the United States, with 52,557...
  • Department of German, National University of Ireland - University College Cork, Cork, Ireland
  • Department of Germanic Studies, University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, IL

  • Faculty of German Language and Literature, National and Kapodistrian University of Athens
    National and Kapodistrian University of Athens
    The National and Kapodistrian University of Athens , usually referred to simply as the University of Athens, is the oldest university in Southeast Europe and has been in continuous operation since its establishment in 1837. Today, it is the second-largest institution of higher learning in Greece,...
  • School of German Language and Literature, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki
    Aristotle University of Thessaloniki
    The Aristotle University of Thessaloniki is the largest Greek university, and the largest university in the Balkans. It was named after the philosopher Aristotle, who was born in Stageira, Chalcidice, about 55 km east of Thessaloniki, in Central Macedonia...

  • Department of Area Studies, Moscow State University
    Moscow State University
    Lomonosov Moscow State University , previously known as Lomonosov University or MSU , is the largest university in Russia. Founded in 1755, it also claims to be one of the oldest university in Russia and to have the tallest educational building in the world. Its current rector is Viktor Sadovnichiy...

  • Área de Filología Alemana , University of Salamanca
    University of Salamanca
    The University of Salamanca is a Spanish higher education institution, located in the town of Salamanca, west of Madrid. It was founded in 1134 and given the Royal charter of foundation by King Alfonso IX in 1218. It is the oldest founded university in Spain and the third oldest European...

See also

  • German literature
    German literature
    German literature comprises those literary texts written in the German language. This includes literature written in Germany, Austria, the German part of Switzerland, and to a lesser extent works of the German diaspora. German literature of the modern period is mostly in Standard German, but there...

  • Sturm und Drang
    Sturm und Drang
    Sturm und Drang is a proto-Romantic movement in German literature and music taking place from the late 1760s through the early 1780s, in which individual subjectivity and, in particular, extremes of emotion were given free expression in reaction to the perceived constraints of rationalism...

  • New Objectivity
    New Objectivity
    The New Objectivity is a term used to characterize the attitude of public life in Weimar Germany as well as the art, literature, music, and architecture created to adapt to it...

  • Germanisches Nationalmuseum
    Germanisches Nationalmuseum
    The Germanisches Nationalmuseum is a museum in Nuremberg, Germany. Founded in 1852, houses a large collection of items relating to German culture and art extending from prehistoric times through to the present day...

  • German Studies Association
    German Studies Association
    The German Studies Association is an international organization of scholars in history, literature, economics, culture studies, and political science who study Germany, Austria, and Switzerland...

  • Area studies
    Area studies
    Area studies are interdisciplinary fields of research and scholarship pertaining to particular geographical, national/federal, or cultural regions. The term exists primarily as a general description for what are, in the practice of scholarship, many heterogeneous fields of research, encompassing...

  • Delta Epsilon Phi
    German National Honor Society
    The German National Honor Society or Delta Phi Alpha , seeks to recognize excellence in the study of German and to provide an incentive for higher scholarship...

     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).
  • 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.
  • 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
    Journal of Germanic Linguistics
    Journal of Germanic Linguistics is a peer-reviewed academic journal in the field of linguistics. It is devoted particularly to Germanic languages, including both their historical and contemporary forms...

  • German Studies Review
    German Studies Review
    German Studies Review is a peer-reviewed academic journal and an official publication of the German Studies Association that is published triannually. It was established in 1978 and publishes articles on the history, literature, culture, and politics of German-speaking Europe....

  • Muttersprache
  • New German Critique
    New German Critique
    The New German Critique is a contemporary academic journal in German studies. It is associated with the Department of German Studies at Cornell University...

  • Neues Curriculum
  • New German Review
  • Zeitschrift für deutsche Philologie
  • Zeitschrift für Germanistik
  • Germanistik in Ireland
    Germanistik in Ireland
    Germanistik in Ireland is an annual academic journal established in 2006. It is the official publication of the Association of Third-Level Teachers of German in Ireland and covers all aspects of German studies, including literary and cultural studies, the history of the German-speaking countries,...

External links

  • BUBL Link (UK-based) Catalogue of Internet Resources Concerning the German Language: (well organized; covers many aspects of the language and the study of it)
  • (University of Adelaide's categorized guide to German Area Studies online)
  • (Dartmouth's German-Studies Web links, annotated and arranged by topic)
  • (Rice University's guide to German studies, including printed literature and links to German newspapers and magazines)
  • (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.)
  • (DOAJ Directory of Open Access Journals, Literature and Languages)
  • (University of Hamburg site with media studies bibliography)
  • Categorical list of German Departments around the world
  • Departmental Ratings (USA)
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