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

German Studies, New Perspectives: The Afterlife of Sade


Tuesday, December 2, 2014, 6:00pm to 8:00pm


Barker Center, Room 133

Eric Rentschler (Harvard), "'A Happy Life in a World of Horror': Sade and the Dialectic of Enlightenment"

Jeffrey Mehlman (Boston University), "Sade, Blanchot, and the French Twentieth Century"  

Moderated by Nicole Sütterlin (Harvard)

Co-hosted by: France and the World; Mahindra Humanities Center; Department of Comparative Literature

Department News

Eric Rentschler, along with David Bathrick and Andreas Huyssen, co-edited the special issue of New German Critique (no. 122, Spring 2014) entitled "Miriam Hansen: Cinema, Experience, and the Public Sphere."

August 15, 2014

The volume includes a roundtable discussion on "Cinema and the Legacies of Critical Theory" and articles by, among others, Susan Buck-Morss, Edward Dimendberg, Mary Ann Doane, Tom Gunning, Martin Jay, Gertrud Koch, Laura Mulvey, David Rodowick, Heide Schlüpmann, and Yuri Tsivian.

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.