Jul 13, 2024  
Undergraduate Record 2009-2010 
Undergraduate Record 2009-2010 [ARCHIVED RECORD]

Germanic Languages and Literatures

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University of Virginia
P.O. Box 400125, New Cabell 521 
Charlottesville, VA 22904-4125
(434) 924-3530 Fax: (434) 924-6700

Overview The study of Germanic languages, literatures, and cultures is a human or cultural science that attempts to apply the concept of “criticism,” in the broadest sense of the term to language, literature, culture, film, intellectual history, philosophy, and theory of the German speaking countries. As this wide range indicates, the field is interdisciplinary in nature. German majors are encouraged, therefore, to take courses in such humanistic disciplines as history, philosophy, other foreign languages, criticism, theory, film studies, feminist theory and criticism, comparative literature, and religious studies.

Although the undergraduate program stresses literary and cultural studies, the department is also actively concerned with assisting students whose interests are non-literary: students who are primarily interested in, for example, the structure and history of the language of film.

Faculty According to national rankings, the department is one of the nation’s most prestigious. This is in part attributable to the diverse nature of the interests and expertise of the twelve faculty members who comprise the department. From medieval courtly romance to postmodern literature and literary theory, the department attempts to provide a range of course work that is both challenging and far reaching. Some of the more nationally prominent faculty have published influential books and scholarly articles. Their scholarship explores a wide expanse: 18th- and 19th-century German literature and literary theory, 20th-century German writers and thinkers, Freud, existentialism, German expressionism, the theory and history of drama, postwar German literature, feminist literary theory, narrative theory, lyric poetry, and film studies. Faculty members have also concentrated their work on the lives, philosophies, and literature of several prominent German writers and thinkers: Kafka, Musil, Rilke, Hofmannsthal, and Brecht.

Students The department has approximately thirty majors and twenty minors. Of the majors, approximately one-half are double majors. The most popular double majors are German and English, German and mathematics, German and history, German and foreign affairs, German and French, and German and economics. Outstanding undergraduates have gone on to undertake graduate study at other leading German departments. Others have chosen law or medical school, or pursued careers in business, economics, and foreign affairs.

Class size typically ranges from ten to sixty students; the larger courses are German in translation courses, popular because of the nationally ranked faculty who teach them. With the exception of introductory and intermediate level language courses, classes are, as a rule, taught by faculty.

Special Resources

Study Abroad. The Department strongly encourages its students to spend a summer, semester or full academic year in Germany, Switzerland or Austria. Students can choose from a number of exchange programs available through accredited colleges and universities around the country. The student must check with the DUP for approval before applying to these programs.

J-Term in Berlin. Earn 3 credits in 2 weeks in Berlin (January). The J-Term course provides a unique opportunity to experience and learn about the central place Berlin occupies in the European past, present, and future. For more info. contact Chad Wellmon: mcw9d@virginia.edu.   


The German Studies MajorThe GS-major is an interdisciplinary program that focuses on the development of German culture from the Middle Ages to the present, the history of consciousness in Germany and Germany’s place in Europe.  

The German House. The Department currently maintains a German House in which twelve undergraduate students reside, as well as a native German graduate student. Being a part of University housing at UVA, the German House is located near Grounds on Brandon Avenue and is often a meeting place for undergraduates, graduates and faculty of the Department.


The German Play. Every spring semester, the German Department stages a play that is directed by a graduate student who is assisted by an undergraduate. The play (GERM 3220) carries 3 credit hours and is usually performed at the end of April. It is sponsored by the Max Kade Foundation and has attracted huge crowds in recent years.   


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