Germanic Languages and Literatures
Instruction in German at the University of North Carolina was first offered consistently in 1857, when the first Professor of Modern Languages joined the UNC faculty. In 1901, the first Professor of Germanic Languages and Literatures was appointed, soon to be assisted by others.
Before World War I, German was the most popular foreign language in the United States; by 1915, vastly more students were taking German than French or Spanish. Although that preeminence in enrollments waned by 1918, the department's activities continued to expand. During the 1930's graduate instruction was added to the curriculum. The first M.A. thesis was produced in the Department in 1931; the first Ph.D. was awarded in 1936. Since then our graduate program (now administered jointly with Duke University) has become one of the foremost in the nation; our undergraduate programs are stronger than they have been at any time since World War I.
As befits its role in a research university, the faculty's mission includes expanding the body of knowledge in our field and making research available by publishing monographs and articles in leading journals. Distinction in scholarship is expected of all regular faculty members; it, in turn, provides the authority required for the teaching and guidance of both undergraduate and graduate students.
Our faculty members are leaders in the field and have published dozens of books and hundreds of scholarly articles. Our particular strengths lie in German literature from the medieval period to the present, German film and media, cultural and intellectual history, and literary and cultural theory. Our curriculum is designed in such a way as to give students a comprehensive grounding in German literary history while exposing them to a large variety of specialized “topics” courses that reflect faculty research interests and engage the most recent issues in the field. The research interests of our faculty tend to be largely interdisciplinary, with colleagues pursuing projects in fields from East German literary politics, post-wall German literature, and seventeenth- and eighteenth-century cultural studies to gender studies, early and contemporary German cinema, relations between literature and medical history, and German-Jewish studies. Faculty members have also worked widely in aesthetic theory, theory of reading, and psychoanalytic and feminist theory.
For information on concentrations in Germanic Languages and Literatures, faculty, course offerings, and cultural offerings, we invite you to explore the information available by clicking on the links to the left. Should you have further questions, please contact us directly.