The Department of Germanic Languages at Columbia has long been considered one of the strongest German departments in the country. We offer a rich and comprehensive curriculum on the history of German literature and culture from 1750 to the present. We focus on literary theory, intellectual history, media history, film, literature and science, translation theory as well as German-Jewish culture. Courses offered by the department range from intense seminars to larger cross-disciplinary courses that also address students from cognate disciplines in the humanities. While emphasizing the careful analysis of literary texts in their historical and cultural contexts, we encourage students to combine their study of German literature and thought with coursework in neighboring programs and departments. In addition to close mentoring by our core faculty, students profit from working with our affiliated faculty from Art History, Comparative Literature and Society, History, Philosophy, Architecture, and Anthropology. Strong ties to our international partner institution, the Free University in Berlin, allow students to engage in graduate study and research abroad. Our Ph.D.s receive excellent training in language pedagogy, and we are proud of preparing them for a successful career. The department’s placement record has consistently been among the very best in the country.
In our undergraduate program, German majors and concentrators acquire proficiency in examining literary, philosophical, and historical texts in the original, as well as critical understanding of German culture and society. Courses taught in translation build on Columbia's Core Curriculum, thereby allowing students to enroll in upper-level seminars before completing the language requirement.
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. 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.