Department of German
Director of Graduate Studies
Associate Professor (continued)
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, although candidates are encouraged to finish earlier, if possible.
At the same time, all students are urged to study at a university in a German-speaking country at some point before they complete their requirements for the Ph.D. degree. The department makes every effort to enable students to spend a full year abroad, which effectively extends the period of support to six years. Most students obtain outside fellowships or one of the DAAD fellowships (among others) earmarked specifically for Princeton University; if their application for outside support is unsuccessful and if they hold a University fellowship that includes a stipend, they may continue to receive this stipend while they are studying abroad.
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).
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), Winfried Menninghaus (Berlin), 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).
Departmental graduate students are active in discussions among themselves, with visitors, and with the faculty. An important feature of intellectual life in the department is the biweekly colloquium series on topics in literary theory run by the graduate students.
Program of Study
Students entering the department without previous graduate work normally spend about two and one half years preparing for the general examination, and about two and one half years writing the dissertation. Those entering with unusually strong preparation, such as previous graduate work or extended foreign study, may shorten the period of study and take the general examination at an earlier date.
First and Second Years. At the beginning of each term, the student plans a course of study in consultation with the departmental director of graduate studies. The work normally comprises at least three seminars each term, taken for credit and chosen so as to broaden the student’s knowledge of the major areas of study in language, literature, and culture. Although there are minimal course requirements, candidates with no previous graduate training are expected to take about 15 one-term seminars of their own choosing over a period of six semesters. Many students supplement their departmental course work with courses taken in other departments, such as philosophy, art history, history, comparative literature, and the School of Architecture . During these years and the summer months, students work independently on the departmental reading list for the first part of the general examination.
Third Year and General Examination. In October of the third year, students write the first part of the general examination, a six-hour examination based on the departmental reading list, which is made available upon admission to Princeton. Shortly after the written examination, there is a 45-minute oral examination based on the written one. During this term students also prepare for a six-hour special-topic examination. The topic should reflect the area of planned dissertation research; the preparation is supervised by a committee of three faculty members. These faculty members serve as examiners on this examination, to be taken in January of the third year. This special-topic examination constitutes the second part of the general examination.
For those students who have not successfully completed courses in the history of the German language and Middle High German, there is a third part of the general examination: a four-hour written examination on the history of German and Middle High German.
A student may be recommended for the Master of Arts degree after having successfully completed all course work and language requirements, and passed all parts of the general examination, except the special-topic examination.
Dissertation and Final Public Oral Examination. Students are urged to make tentative plans for the dissertation early in their graduate studies. The topic should normally result from seminar work and preparation for the general examination. In April of the third year, the student submits a written dissertation prospectus and gives an oral presentation of the dissertation topic before the department. After completing the dissertation, the student is given a final public oral examination, which permits the department to make a final estimate of the student’s abilities as a scholar and a critic.
Teaching Experience and Assistantships
The department regards teaching experience and training as an integral part of the graduate program. During the first semester of teaching, every student participates in a course co-taught by a linguist and a specialist in second-language acquisition and is closely supervised by the faculty members coordinating the course. The course acquaints the student-teacher with the basic tools of language teaching, provides involvement in the work of a course taught by members of the faculty, and provides exposure to the latest developments in the theory and practice of language acquisition. The student may teach for a term or two (five hours a week) at a salary that is considerably higher than the University stipend for the same period. Candidates who have had previous teaching experience may be considered for teaching duties before the general examination. Besides teaching in undergraduate language courses, graduate students may have an opportunity to teach discussion sections in literature courses.
Robert P. Ebert
GER 506 Second Language Acquisition and Pedagogy
James W. Rankin
GER 508 Middle High German Literature
Sara S. Poor
GER 509/MED 509 Middle High German Literature II
Sara S. Poor
GER 511 German Literature in the 17th Century
Hans-Christian von Herrmann
GER 512 German Literature in the 18th Century
GER 513 Goethe
Walter H. Hinderer
GER 514 Topics in German Romanticism
GER 515 Studies in 19th-Century Literature and Culture
GER 516/SLA 521 Topics in 20th-Century Literature
Devin A. Fore
GER 517/MOD 517 Modernism and Modernity
Thomas Y. Levin
GER 518 Austrian Literature From Grillparzer to Handke
GER 519 German Literature after 1945
Michael W. Jennings
GER 520/ART 590 Topics in Literary and Cultural Theory
Brigid Doherty, Michael W. Jennings
GER 520/ART 565 Seminar in Modernist Art and Theory
GER 521 Topics in German Intellectual History
GER 521B Topics in German Intellectual History
Stanley A. Corngold
GER 522 Dramatic Art and Theory
Elisabeth J. Vogel
GER 523 Lyric Poetry
Stanley A. Corngold
Stanley A. Corngold
GER 525/MOD 525 Studies in German Film
Thomas Y. Levin
GER 526 Topics in German Literature