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Office: Building 260, Rooms 127-128

Mail Code: 94305-2030

Phone: (650) 723-3266


Web Site: German Studies

Courses offered by the Department of German Studies are listed on the Stanford Bulletin's ExploreCourses website under the subject code GERMAN. For courses in German language instruction with the subject code GERLANG, see the “Language Center” section of this bulletin.

The department is a part of the Division of Literatures, Cultures, and Languages.

The department provides students with the linguistic and analytic ability to explore the significance of the cultural traditions and political histories of the German-speaking countries of Central Europe. At the same time, the interdisciplinary study of German culture, which can include art, economics, history, literature, media theory, philosophy, political science, and other fields, encourages students to evaluate broader and contradictory legacies of the German past. Building on this is an examination of  the rapid modernization and status of Germany, Austria, and Switzerland today.

The German experience of national identity, political unification, and integration into the European Union sheds light on broader issues of cultural cohesion and difference, as well as on the causes and meaning of phenomena such as racial prejudice, anti-Semitism, and the Holocaust. In general, education in German Studies encourages the student to consider the impact of German-speaking thinkers and artists and provides a lens through which the contours of the present and past, in Europe and elsewhere, can be evaluated.

The department offers students the opportunity to pursue coursework at all levels in the languages, cultures, literature, and societies of German-language traditions. Whether interested in German literature, the influence of German philosophy on other fields in the humanities, or the character of German society and politics, students find a broad range of courses covering language acquisition and refinement, literary history and criticism, cultural history and theory, history of thought, continental philosophy, and linguistics.

By carefully planning their programs, students may fulfill the B.A. requirements for a double major in German Studies and another subject. A coterminal program is offered for the B.A. and M.A. degrees in German Studies. Doctoral students may elect Ph.D. minors in other disciplines, such as Comparative Literature, Humanities, Linguistics, and Modern Thought and Literature.

Special collections and facilities at Stanford offer possibilities for extensive research in German Studies and related fields pertaining to Central Europe. Facilities include the Stanford University Libraries and the Hoover Institution on War, Revolution, and Peace. Special collections include the Hildebrand Collection (texts and early editions from the 16th to the 19th century), the Austrian Collection (with emphasis on source material to the time of Maria Theresa and Joseph II, the Napoleonic wars, and the Revolution of 1848), and the Stanford Collection of German, Austrian, and Swiss Culture. New collections emphasize culture and cultural politics in the former German Democratic Republic. The Hoover Institution has a unique collection of historical and political documents pertaining to Germany and Central Europe from 1870 to the present. The department also has its own reference library.

Mission of the Undergraduate Program in German Studies

The mission of the undergraduate program in German Studies is to provide students with German language skills, the ability to interpret literature and other cultural material, and the capacity to analyze the societies of the German-speaking countries of Central Europe. In addition, its interdisciplinary component prepares students to understand other cultures from the perspectives of multiple disciplines. The program prepares students for careers in business, social service, and government, and for graduate work in German Studies.

Learning Outcomes (Undergraduate)

The department expects undergraduate majors in the program to be able to demonstrate the following learning outcomes. These learning outcomes are used in evaluating students and the department's undergraduate program. Students are expected to demonstrate:

  1. oral proficiency in German beyond the interpersonal level with presentational language abilities.

  2. writing proficiency in German beyond the interpersonal level with presentational language abilities.

  3. close reading skills of authentic texts in German.

  4. the ability to develop effective and nuanced lines of interpretation.

Graduate Programs in German Studies

The University requirements for the M.A. and Ph.D. degrees are described in the "Graduate Degrees" section of this bulletin.

Learning Outcomes (Graduate)

The purpose of the master's program is to further develop knowledge and skills in German Studies and to prepare students for a professional career or doctoral studies. This is achieved through completion of courses, in the primary field as well as related areas, and experience with independent work and specialization.

The Ph.D. is conferred upon candidates who have demonstrated substantial scholarship and the ability to conduct independent research and analysis in German Studies. Through the completion of advanced course work and rigorous skills training, the doctoral program prepares students to make original contributions to the knowledge of German Studies and to pursue career tracks in higher education and in other sectors.

German Studies and a Minor Field

Students may work toward a Ph.D. in German Studies with minors in such areas as Comparative Literature, History, Humanities, Linguistics, or Modern Thought and Literature. Students obtaining a Ph.D. in such combinations may require additional training.

Faculty in German Studies

Director: Elizabeth Bernhardt-Kamil

Director of Undergraduate Studies: Lea Pao 

Professors: Russell A. Berman (also Comparative Literature), Elizabeth Bernhardt-Kamil, Adrian Daub (also Comparative Literature), Matthew Wilson Smith (also Theater and Performance Studies), Kathryn Starkey

Assistant Professors: Alys X. George, Lea Pao

Acting Assistant Professor: Meryem Deniz

Lecturer: Bryan Norton (Mellon Fellow)

Courtesy Professors: R. Lanier Anderson, Michael Friedman, Marisa Galvez, Thomas S. Grey, Fiona Griffiths, Stephen Hinton, Norman Naimark, Gabriella Safran, Thomas Sheehan, Elaine Treharne   

Courtesy Associate Professors: Shane Denson, Charlotte Fonrobert, Nadeem Hussain, Christopher Krebs, Brent Sockness, Laura Stokes

Emeriti: (Professors) Theodore M. Andersson, Gerald Gillespie, Katharina Mommsen, Orrin W. Robinson III