Department of German
Nikolaus Wegmann, On Leave 2013/14
Director of Graduate Studies
Devin A. Fore
Michael W. Jennings
Joseph W. Vogl
Brigid Doherty, also Art and Archaeology
Devin A. Fore
Thomas Y. Levin, Acting Chair
Sara S. Poor, Leave Fall 2013
Sarah M. Pourciau
James W. Rankin
Scott G. Burnham, Music
Hal Foster, Art and Archaeology
Daniel Heller-Roazen, Comparative Literature, Council of the Humanities
Alexander Nehamas, Philosophy, Comparative Literature, Council of the Humanities
Anson G. Rabinbach, History
Princeton's graduate program in German has long been recognized as one of the leading programs of German studies. Students are offered the chance to participate in an intense intellectual community and to study with scholars who work in contemporary interdisciplinary and theoretical approaches to German culture as well as in the full range and depth of the German literary tradition.
Each year the department admits a small number of highly motivated students to the Ph.D. program. It does not offer a special M.A. program, but an M.A. degree is awarded, upon request, after successful completion of the general examination. The only major formal requirements for the Ph.D. are the general examination and the dissertation. After they have fulfilled the University residency requirement of one year, students take their general examination as soon as they feel prepared. For students with the A.B. this normally means the beginning of the third year of study. Students who come with previous graduate training frequently take it earlier. The Ph.D. program is a five-year program
Seminars and Colloquia
Seminars are conducted as small and informal discussion groups ranging typically from five to ten participants. These groups frequently include students from neighboring departments and programs, such as architectural theory, classics, comparative literature, history, and music.
An important feature of the department's intellectual life is a twice-yearly colloquium on a special topic, usually related to one of the current graduate seminars. The colloquiums combine papers from distinguished guest speakers and our own graduate students, who thereby have the chance to present their work in a professional setting that still has some of the feeling of "home." Past colloquia have focused on Walter Benjamin, the theory of mass culture of the Frankfurt School, the idea of the university, German and Austrian women writers, Text, Hypertext, Cybertext, Weimar Media, and contemporary German art.
The department also seeks to provide a variety of viewpoints and methodologies by periodically inviting distinguished guest professors for a term. Visiting professors have included Wilfried Barner (Tuebingen), Dorrit Cohn (Harvard), Jochen Hoerisch (Mannheim), Alice Kuzniar (University of North Carolina), Eberhard Laemmert (Berlin), Michael Steinberg (Cornell), Liliane Weissberg (University of Pennsylvania), David Wellbery (Chicago), Peter Fenves (Northwestern), Aleida Assmann (Konstanz), and Winfried Menninghaus (Berlin), Hent De Vries (Johns Hopkins).With the support of the Max Kade Foundation, the department brings German artists and intellectuals to reside and teach at Princeton. Visitors have included Heiner Mueller, Peter Schneider, Monika Maron, Martin Walser, Hans-Joachim Ruckhaeberle, and Durs Grünbein. We also sponsor a number of guest lecturers each year and offer students an opportunity to discuss the speaker's topic with him or her in an informal setting following the lecture. Among many others, the following scholars have lectured here in past years: Leslie Adelson (Cornell), Hendrik Birus (Munich), Hartmut Boehme (Berlin), Christina von Braun (Berlin), Peter Ganz (Oxford), Sander Gilman (Chicago), Walter Haug (Tuebingen), Andreas Huyssen (Columbia), Hans Joachim Kreutzer (Regensburg), Biddy Martin (Cornell), Rainer Naegele (Johns Hopkins), Ernst Osterkamp (Berlin), Brigitte Peucker (Yale), Eric Santner (Chicago), Theo Sommer ("Die Zeit," Hamburg), Hartmut Steinecke (Paderborn), Wilhelm Vosskamp (Bielefeld), Klaus Weimar (Zürich), and Werner Williams (Augsburg).
GER 511 German Literature in the 17th Century
The Political Theologies of Baroque Tragedy. German Baroque tragedies deal with the question of political power and its divine legitimation and reflect the aporias of sovereignty in their aesthetic structure. This seminar will analyze several prominent tragedies of the 17th century in order to explore the history and structure of the tragic, the relationship between politics and theology, and the advent of secularism.
GER 512 German Literature in the 18th Century
A study of changes in the philosophical and literary discourses of major movements from the Enlightenment to Sturm und Drang, along with special issues, problems, and works of the century.
GER 516Topics in 20th-Century Literature
Michael W. Jennings
The course examines a wide range of literary forms and problems in the modern era and in the years following its demise. Topics include the modern German novel, modernist literature and photography, Viennese modernism, politics and the avant-garde in the 1960’s and contemporary literature.
GER 517Modernism and Modernity
Thomas Y. Levin
Explores the rise of modernism in the arts in the German-language world. Emphasis on the intellectual sources of the modernist movement in such thinkers as Nietzsche and Freud and such theorists of modernity as Weber, Simmel, Andreas-Salomé, and Benjamin.
GER 522 Dramatic Art and Theory
The course treats representative works of dramatic art and theory from the 18th century to the present, with special attention given to political, social, and cultural issues.
GER 523 Lyric Poetry
The development of lyric poetry from Klopstock to the present. Special attention given to representative genres, which include elegy, ode, and Lied.
The course explores representative German works of fiction from the 18th century to the present in their biographical, social, and critical dimensions within the context of European literary and intellectual history, with special attention given to questions of genre and narrative theory.
GER 525Studies in German Film
Thomas Y. Levin
Course explores movements in German cinema, with attention given to the cultural and ideological contexts as well as recent debates in contemporary film theory. Attention may focus on such pivotal topics as Weimar or the New German cinema, issues in German film theory, questions of film and Nazi culture, or avant-garde cinema, and on genres such as the "Heimatfilm," the "Street Film," and works by women and minority filmmakers.
GER 526 Topics in German Literature
Nikolaus Wegmann, Joseph Vogl
The Faust Theme in German Literature, Hölderlin and His Critics, and Uses of the Past in Postwar German Literature are all courses that have been previously offered.
The German Democratic Republic is history since 1989. GDR literature is now a closed corpus of texts, which makes it into an ideal field for literary historians. How did literary production work in the GDR? How was literature distributed, and how was it read? Close readings of texts by Christa Wolr, Reimann, H. Müller, Sascha Anderson (among others).
Not so long ago critical theory thrilled to rupture; one looked for “epistemological breaks’ and declared the end of narrative, art, ideology, indeed man. The worm has turned of late; today one see preoccupation with stories of “survival and persistence across a wide range of discourses and disciplines. This seminar aims to explore this renewed interest in cultural transmission and tradition through an array of readings and test-cases.
Seminar explores W. Benjamin’s “Artwork Essay” as an experiment in and a critique of modernist cultural history. Through its exacerbation of the antinomies of analyzing cultural production in historical terms and its theorization of technological media in relation to the history of art, the artwork essay interrogates both the very possibility of writing cultural history and the conditions of its necessity as a form of knowledge. Seminar focuses on the artwork essay’s refunctioning of sources in a wide variety of disciplines and discourses, as well as on a number of exemplary exercises in cultural history and media theory in its aftermath.