The Department of Germanic Languages 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.