Welcome to the Department of Germanic Languages and Literatures

Initiated in 1825 and officially established in 1897, The Department of Germanic Languages and Literatures at Harvard continues to enjoy a prestigious and highly regarded reputation, offering undergraduate concentrations, secondary fields, and doctoral training in a broad variety of texts, media, and other cultural productions. Faculty share a number of intellectual engagements in both German and Scandinavian materials across the centuries, from the medieval period to the present day. Our curriculum is supplemented by cross-disciplinary interests in art history, music, and visual culture, critical theory and philosophy, the history of science, performance studies, folklore, anthropology, and ethnopoetics, taking fullest advantage of the incomparably rich and unique collections held at the Harvard Libraries, Art Museums and Film Archive. 

In addition to rigorous training in theory and the interpretation of literary and cultural materials, both within and outside of the canon, graduate students are encouraged to develop individualized courses of study across the University in preparation for successful careers in teaching, research and related work. To this end, the Department consistently maintains a vibrant series of invited lectures, colloquia, conferences, and workshops. Moreover, theater productions, musical events, and informal social gatherings, including a bi-weekly Kaffeestunde, make an engaging and enriching contribution to our undergraduate concentrations and language programs. 

Upcoming Events

Claudia Benthien (Hamburg)


Thursday, October 2, 2014, 4:00pm to 5:30pm


Nebel Room, Barker 359

"Das „eingeschobene Auge“: Zur visuellen Szenografie von Rainer Maria Rilkes Einakter Die weiße Fürstin"

Department News

A Warm Welcome to our New Faculty Members!

May 16, 2014

We are delighted to welcome two new assistant professors to our faculty in September: Nicole Sütterlin and Racha Kirakosian.

Prof. Sütterlin comes to us from the University of Basel and works on a broad range of German literary and cultural history from 1800 to the present. Her research interests include the Body and Literature, Aesthetics, Deconstruction, and Literary Theory.  Her forthcoming book, Poetik der Wunde: Brentano - Hoffmann - Kleist, carefully analyzes and interrogates figures of wounding, stigmatization and trauma in nineteenth-century fiction. Her new project is tentatively entitled Cannibalism of Friendship.

Prof. Kirakosian was trained in German medieval literature at Oxford University, with previous work in Göttingen and Paris, focusing on Mysticism and Monasticism, Hagiography, Law and Literature, and Language Theory. Her book, Schrift- und Schreibmystik – Christina von Haneis forthcoming, to be followed by a new research project on the fifteenth-century reception of the medieval figure Gertrude the Great. She enjoys a joint appointment with Harvard's Committee on the Study of Religion.