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Germanic Languages

Administrative Information

Director of Undergraduate Studies: Prof. Tobias Wilke, 412 Hamilton; 854-5344; tw2284@columbia.edu

Language Instruction: Prof. Richard Korb, 404A Hamilton; 854-2070; rak23@columbia.edu

Departmental Office: 414 Hamilton; 854-3202

Professors
Mark Anderson
Stefan Andriopoulos (chair)
Jeremy Dauber
Andreas Huyssen
Harro Müller
Dorothea von Mücke 

Associate Professor
Oliver Simons

Assistant Professor
Tobias Wilke

 

Senior Lecturers
Richard Korb
Jutta Schmiers-Heller

Lecturers
Wijnie de Groot (Dutch)
Tiina Haapakoski (Finnish)
Miriam Hoffman (Yiddish)

The Department of Germanic Languages and Literatures is considered one of the very best in the country. Many of the faculty specialize in the study of German literature and culture from 1700 to the present. German majors acquire proficiency in examining literary, philosophical, and historical texts in the original, as well as critical understanding of modern German culture and society. Particular attention is given to German-speaking traditions within larger European and global contexts. Courses taught in translation build on Columbia’s Core Curriculum, thereby allowing students to enroll in upper-level seminars before completing the language requirement.

All classes are taught as part of a living culture. Students have ample opportunities to study abroad, to work with visiting scholars, and to take part in the cultural programs at Deutsches Haus. In addition, the department encourages internships with German firms, museums, and government offices. This hands-on experience immerses students in both language and culture, preparing them for graduate study and professional careers.

Upon graduation, German majors compete successfully for Fulbright or DAAD scholarships for research in Germany or Austria beyond the B.A. degree. Our graduating seniors are highly qualified to pursue graduate studies in the humanities and social sciences, as well as professional careers. Former majors and concentrators have gone on to careers in teaching, law, journalism, banking and consulting, international affairs, and communications.

German literature and culture courses are taught as seminars integrating philosophical and social questions. Topics include romanticism, revolution, and national identity; German intellectual history; minority literatures; Weimar cinema; German-Jewish culture and modernity; the Holocaust and memory; and the history and culture of Berlin. Classes are small, with enrollment ranging from 5 to 15 students.

The department regularly offers courses in German literature and culture in English for students who do not study the German language. The department also participates in Columbia’s excellent program in Comparative Literature and Society.

Advanced Placement

The department grants 3 credits for a score of 5 on the AP German Language exam, which satisfies the foreign language requirement. Credit is awarded upon successful completion of a 3000-level (or higher) course with a grade of B or higher. This course must be for at least 3 points of credit and be taught in German. Courses taught in English may not be used for language AP credit. The department grants 0 credits for a score of 4 on the AP German Language exam, but the foreign language requirement is satisfied.

The Yiddish Studies Program

The program in Yiddish studies offers a track in both the undergraduate major and concentration, in addition to graduate studies leading to the Ph.D. The graduate program is considered one of the world’s most important, with its graduates holding many of the major university positions in the field. In both the undergraduate and graduate program, emphasis is placed not merely on acquiring linguistic proficiency and textual study, but also viewing Yiddish literature in a larger cultural and interdisciplinary context.

Students work with faculty in Germanic languages, Jewish studies, history, and Slavic studies to broaden their understanding of the literature, language, and culture of Eastern European Jewry. Classes are small, and instruction is individualized and carefully directed to ensure that students gain both a thorough general grounding and are able to pursue their own particular interests in a wide-spanning field. The program also offers classes taught in translation for students who do not study Yiddish.

The German Language Program

First- and second-year German Language courses emphasize spoken and written communication, and provide a basic introduction to German culture. Goals include mastery of the structure of the language and enough cultural understanding to interact comfortably with native speakers.

After successfully completing the elementary German GERM V1101-V1102 sequence, students are able to provide information about themselves, their interests, and daily activities. They can participate in simple conversations, read edited texts, and understand the main ideas of authentic texts. By the end of elementary German II, students are able to write descriptions, comparisons, and creative stories, and to discuss general information about the German-speaking countries.

Intermediate German GERM V1201-V1202 increases the emphasis on reading and written communication skills, expands grammatical mastery, and focuses on German culture and literary texts. Students read short stories, a German drama, and increasingly complex texts. Regular exposure to video, recordings, the World Wide Web, and art exhibits heightens the cultural dimensions of the third and fourth semesters. Students create portfolios comprised of written and spoken work.

Upon completion of the second-year sequence, students are prepared to enter advanced courses in German language, culture, and literature at Columbia and/or at the Berlin Consortium for German Studies in Berlin. Advanced-level courses focus on more sophisticated use of the language structure and composition (GERM V3001-V3002 Advanced German), on specific cultural areas (e.g., GERM W3220 Berlin: past and present, or GERM W4090 German for international and public affairs), and on literary, historical, and philosophical areas in literature-oriented courses (GERM W3333 Introduction to German literature and culture).

In Fulfillment of the Language Requirement in German

Courses: GERM V1101-V1102 and V1201-V1202.

Entering students are placed, or exempted, on the basis of their College Board Achievement or Advanced Placement scores, or their scores on the placement test administered by the departmental language director. Students who need to take GERM V1201-V1202 may take GERM V1120 as preparation for GERM V1201.

University Study in Berlin

The Berlin Consortium for German Studies provides students with a study abroad program, administered by Columbia, which includes students from the other consortium member schools (Princeton, Yale, University of Pennsylvania, Johns Hopkins, and the University of Chicago). Under the guidance of a senior faculty member, the program offers a home stay with a German family, intensive language instruction, and study in regular German university courses at the Freie Universität Berlin. For information on the Berlin Consortium, see the Special Programs section in this bulletin, visit http://www.ogp.columbia.edu/, or consult the program office in 606 Kent Hall; 212-854-2559; berlin@columbia.edu. For information on courses and their applicability to the major or concentration, consult the director of undergraduate studies.

The Berlin Consortium for German Studies provides students with a study abroad program, administered by Columbia, which includes students from the other consortium member schools (Princeton, Yale, University of Pennsylvania, Johns Hopkins, and the University of Chicago). Under the guidance of a senior faculty member, the program offers a home stay with a German family, intensive language instruction, and study in regular German university courses at the Freie Universität Berlin. For information on the Berlin Consortium, consult the program office in 606 Kent Hall; (212) 854-2559; berlin@columbia.edu. Information is also available on the Office of Global Programs website. For information on courses and their applicability to the major or concentration, consult the director of undergraduate studies.

Deutsches Haus

Deutsches Haus, 420 West 116th Street, provides a center for German cultural activities on the Columbia campus. It sponsors lectures, film series, and informal gatherings that enrich the academic programs of the department. The library contains a large collection of modern German books and a selection of current German periodicals. Frequent events throughout the fall and spring terms offer students opportunities to practice their language skills.

Grading

Courses in which a grade of D has been received do not count toward the major or concentration requirements.

Departmental Honors

Normally no more than 10% of the graduating majors in the department each year may receive departmental honors. For the requirements for departmental honors, see the director of undergraduate studies.