GSLL has roots dating back to 1857

A History of Two Departments

The study of Germanic Languages and Literatures has enjoyed a long tradition of excellence at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Instruction in German first became a permanent part of the curriculum 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. By 1915, more students were studying German at Carolina than any other modern language. Although that preeminence in enrollments waned by 1918, the department’s activities continued to expand. By the 1930s the former Department of Germanic Languages offered M.A. and Ph.D. degrees. The first M.A. thesis was produced in the Department in 1931 and the first Ph.D. was awarded in 1936. In the summer of 1962 the department took up residence in what was then a brand-new Dey Hall, moving into its current quarters after the 1969 expansion of the building.  In August 2008, the Department entered into a permanent collaboration with Duke University’s Department of German Studies to create the Carolina-Duke Graduate Program in German Studies, the first public-private partnership of its kind in the US.

The former Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures, one of the oldest programs in Slavic in the southern United States, began with Indo-European linguist George Lane, who provided Russian instruction on an adhoc basis during World War II, when Carolina was serving as a Navy training center. Professor Walter Arndt introduced formal Russian courses at Chapel Hill around 1960, as part of the curriculum in what was then the Department of Linguistics and Oriental Languages. UNC-Chapel Hill first offered courses leading to a graduate degree in Slavic in 1965. When the Department was established as a separate unit, it was set up specifically to include not just Russian, but all the major Slavic languages and literatures. To this day, the mission of Carolina’s Slavic faculty reamins inclusive and wide-ranging. As before, Slavic research includes versification, literary translation, literary critical theory, literature and Orthodox theology, gender studies, literature and the Holocaust, performing arts studies, and émigré culture. The Slavic program has been closely linked for years with the UNC-Duke Title VI Center for Slavic, Eurasian, and East European Studies.

One Department Today

Beginning on July 1, 2011, Germanic and Slavic merged to form a single unit, GSLL, a larger department with a more streamlined administrative structure. With over 100 undergraduate majors and minors, and currently roughly 35 graduate students, GSLL makes a central contribution to the work of the College of Arts and Sciences.  Every year, more than 1,300 students at Carolina take courses offered by our unit.  Our 17 permanent faculty members contribute to the liberal education of Carolina undergraduates by training them in the vital skills of analysis, interpretation and logical argument, while at the same time introducing them to the languages, literatures and cultures of central, northern, and eastern Europe and northern Asia. At the graduate level we provide an academic environment that encourages interdisciplinary work and innovative scholarship while placing particular importance on the role of teaching.

Located in North Carolina’s Triangle area, a flourishing center for education and business in the Southeast, GSLL also provides its students access to courses and libraries at nearby universities.