Germanic Languages and Literatures

Professor Markus Wilczek, Director of Undergraduate Studies, German
Professor Stephen A. Mitchell, Director of Undergraduate Studies, Scandinavian

The Department of Germanic Languages and Literatures offers a rich and diverse program of literary and cultural studies. The major aim of the concentration program is to provide students with the enriching experience of studying a language, literature, and culture markedly different from their own, thus enabling them to gain new perspectives on their native heritages. By acquiring proficiency in reading, speaking, and writing German or a Scandinavian language, students will gain a lasting skill useful in many fields of endeavor. The program is designed not only for students who wish to pursue graduate studies in German or Scandinavian studies, but also for students who elect to follow careers in medicine, law, government, business, and other areas.

A distinguishing feature of the concentration program is the availability of several options, including German cultural studies, which introduce students to German literature in the larger context of German cultural history. A special attraction of the department itself is the highly favorable ratio of full-time faculty to concentrators, which enables the faculty to provide students with individual guidance and support. Much of the tutorial work is done by full-time faculty, and all seniors writing a thesis have the opportunity to work individually with a professor. The department actively supports both work and study abroad, and all concentration options are designed to accommodate them.

Students beginning the study of the German language can start either with German A (elementary German) or with German Bab (intensive), which is best suited for students who have had some previous instruction in foreign languages. Most concentrators in German take the sequence of German C or Dab (second year) and a 60-level course (third year) in order to acquire command of the language. A more limited sequence exists for Swedish, although students wishing to take a third year of the language may enroll in Scandinavian 91r with permission of the director of undergraduate studies. Before enrolling in 100-level courses, students normally take the literary survey courses German 71 and 72.

Concentrators desiring to be considered for honors write a thesis of 40 to 50 pages. In close consultation with the professor with whom the student has chosen to work, the student selects a topic for research. The thesis is designed to demonstrate that a candidate can read and interpret a literary text with authority, insight, and originality (or, in the case of German cultural studies, analyze a complex cultural or social phenomenon with equal skill), and that he or she is familiar with the major critical writings on the subject. All seniors are required to pass a one-hour oral or a three-hour written examination. The questions for this examination, designed to give students the opportunity to synthesize the knowledge they have gained from their studies, are based on individual reading lists submitted by each senior to a faculty committee.

The department offers an AB/AM degree option for Advanced Standing students. Information can be found on the department’s website; students interested in this option are encouraged to consult with the director of undergraduate studies by the fall term of their third year.

OPTIONS:

  1. German Literature

  2. German Cultural Studies

  3. Scandinavian Studies

  4. Joint Concentration in German and a related field.

REQUIREMENTS
Basic Requirements for All Options

  1. Required courses: See Specific Requirements for each option.

  2. Tutorials:

    1. Sophomore year: Optional, see Specific Requirements.

    2. Junior year: Optional, see Specific Requirements.

    3. Senior year: German 99 (two terms) or Scandinavian 99 (two terms) required of honors candidates. Graded SAT/UNS.

  3. Thesis: Required of honors candidates only.

  4. General Examination: Required of all concentrators, including joint concentrators, in the senior year.

  5. Other information:

    1. Pass/Fail: None of the courses counted for concentration may be taken Pass/Fail except for 200-level courses.

    2. Courses counted for concentration credit must be passed with a grade of B- or above.

    3. The degree of honors recommended is based on the results of the general examination, the grade average, and the thesis evaluation.

German Literature
Specific Requirements

  1. Basic required courses: Nine half-courses.

    1. German 61 or 62 (may be waived by director of undergraduate studies on the basis of equivalent preparation).

    2. German 71 and 72.

    3. Six additional numbered half-courses in German, four of them on the 100 level or above. Together, these courses should address a wide spectrum of German literature from the medieval period to the present. One course should address a literary genre.

  2. Courses required for honors eligibility: Eleven half-courses.
        a-d. Same as item 1, above.
        e. German 99 (two terms). Honors thesis.

  3. Other information:

    1. The concentration is designed to make it possible to begin with Elementary German (German A or Bab) in the freshman year and to complete the concentration without difficulty.

    2. At the student's request, concentration credit is granted, beyond the basic required courses, for second-year language courses (German Ca, Cb and Dab).

German Cultural Studies
Specific Requirements

  1. Basic required courses: Ten half-courses.

    1. A 60-level German course or its equivalent.

    2. German 71 or 72.

    3. Four additional numbered half-courses in German, three of them on the 100 level or above. Together, these courses should address a wide spectrum of German culture from the medieval period to the present.

    4. Four additional half-courses in related fields, with sufficient focus on the German aspect of the field. In consultation with the director of undergraduate studies, students coordinate these courses into a coherent but flexible program of study. Courses may be selected from such fields as English; folklore and mythology; government; history; history of art and architecture; history of science; linguistics; literature; music; philosophy; psychology; religion; visual and environmental studies; women, gender, and sexuality; and others, including German itself.

  1. Courses required for honors eligibility: Twelve half-courses
        a-d. Same as item 1, above.
        e. German 99 (two terms). Thesis.

  2. Other information:

    1. The concentration is designed to make it possible to begin with Elementary German (German A or Bab) in the freshman year and to complete the concentration without difficulty.

    2. At the student's request, concentration credit is granted, beyond the basic required courses, for second-year language courses (German Ca, Cb and Dab).

    3. Where possible and appropriate, requirements listed under 1d should be fulfilled by taking 100-200 level German courses that treat the listed areas in depth.

Joint Concentration Requirements

This option is intended for students who wish to combine the study of German culture and literature with the study of one other field significantly related to some aspect of the larger field of Germanic languages and literatures. Programs in German and history of art and architecture and German and philosophy have been approved by the departments concerned. Programs in German and another literature, in German and music, and in German and history of art and architecture may be submitted for approval of the departments concerned. For information about other possible combinations, consult the director of undergraduate studies.

  1. Required courses: Twelve half-courses.

    1. Five numbered half-courses in German (should include German 71 or 72). Only one may be an introductory or survey course.

    2. Five half-courses in the related subject.

    3. German 99 (two terms). Thesis.

Scandinavian Studies
Specific Requirements

This option is intended for students who wish to combine the study of Scandinavian literature and culture with the study of some aspect of Western civilization closely related to a special area of the larger field of Scandinavian Languages and Literatures. Programs in Scandinavian and other literatures (including German), drama, folklore, history, linguistics, or an aspect of the social sciences may be submitted for approval by the director of undergraduate studies. Note that this is not considered a joint concentration and that the level of honors will be determined solely by the Department of Germanic Languages and Literatures.

  1. Basic required courses: Ten half-courses.

    1. Six half-courses in Scandinavian (may include Scandinavian 91r and Scandinavian 97 and 98).

    2. Four half-courses in related subjects.

  2. Courses required for honors eligibility: Twelve half-courses
        a-b. Same as item 1, above.
        c. Scandinavian 99 (two terms). Honors thesis.

  3. Other information: For a list of approved related courses, see the director of undergraduate studies, who must also also approve each concentrator's courses.

ADVISING

Departmental advising of concentrators in all three years is carried out by the directors of undergraduate studies. Students meet with the director of undergraduate studies in their field regularly at the beginning of each term and thereafter as desired (contact information can be found below).

For up-to-date information on advising in Germanic Languages and Literatures, please see the Advising Programs Office website.

RESOURCES

Widener Library offers the most complete research collection in German and Scandinavian literatures, history, and civilization available in the US. Valuable manuscripts and papers from the estates of such distinguished German poets as Hofmannsthal, Rilke, and Brecht can be found in Houghton Library together with manuscripts from medieval Germany and Iceland. A unique and important resource is the Busch-Reisinger Museum, the only museum on this continent dedicated to Germanic art. The museum, located within the Fogg Museum, was established at the beginning of this century by Kuno Francke, a distinguished professor in the German Department, with the intention of acquainting language and literature students with the artistic heritage of the German-speaking peoples. (Please note that the Fogg Art Museum and the Busch-Reisinger Museum will be closed to the public for a renovation project which is expected to last approximately 5 years. During the renovation, selected works from the Fogg, Busch-Reisinger, and Sackler collections will be on view at the Arthur M. Sackler Museum beginning in Fall 2008.) The Goethe-Institute Boston (170 Beacon Street) offers a wide variety of lectures, exhibitions, films, and concerts on all aspects of Germany and its present and past culture. Students can gain additional practice in conversation by attending the German and Scandinavian tables held in the various Houses.

HOW TO FIND OUT MORE

More detailed information on all concentration programs can be obtained by contacting the director of undergraduate studies for German, Professor Markus Wilczek, Barker Center 355, 617-496-4934, wilczek@fas.harvard.edu, or the director of undergraduate studies for Scandinavian, Professor Stephen Mitchell, Barker Center 353, 617-495-3513, samitch@fas.harvard.edu. They are available to answer all questions regarding the department’s concentrations, and can provide students with reading guides, lists of courses approved each year, copies of past general examinations, etc. All potential concentrators are encouraged to contact them. The department’s offices are located in the Barker Center.

CORE AND GENERAL EDUCATION REQUIREMENTS

Non-exempt areas:

Exempt areas:

†Historical Study A

Foreign Cultures

†Historical Study B

Literature and Arts A

†Literature and Arts B

Literature and Arts C

Moral Reasoning

ONE of the areas marked †.

Quantitative Reasoning

 

Science A

 

Science B

 

Social Analysis

 

For more information on fulfilling the Core requirement, see the Core Curriculum Requirement.

All students—regardless of concentration—planning to graduate under the requirements of the Program in General Education must complete one letter-graded course in each of the eight categories in General Education. The Class of 2013 is the first to enter the College under these requirements. Students who entered Harvard College in September 2008 or earlier are expected to fulfill the requirements of the Core Curriculum, but will be permitted to switch to the Program in General Education if such a change is possible and advisable given their overall schedule and plan of study. For more information on the requirements of the Program in General Education and the possibility of switching to it, please see The Program in General Education in Chapter 2 and the General Education website.

 ENROLLMENT STATISTICS

Number of Concentrators as of December

Concentrators

2004

2005

2006

2007

2008

GermanicLanguages & Literatures

6

2

1

2

3

Germanic Languages & Literatures + another field

3

0

2

2

2

Another field + Germanic Languages & Literatures

2

6

5

4

0