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. 

Click here for a Brief History of the Department

Upcoming Events

Department News

New book by John Hamilton - Philology of the Flesh

August 10, 2018


In Philology of the Flesh Hamilton investigates a range of poetic enterprises and theoretical reflections that engage in incarnational metaphors of language, from the fifteenth-century humanism of Lorenzo Valla to the poetry of Emily Dickinson, from Immanuel Kant and Johann Georg Hamann to Friedrich Nietzsche, Franz Kafka, and Paul Celan, tracing an insistence that invites us to rethink our relation to the concrete languages in which we think and live.  

Twenty Six Fellowships and Internships Abroad for Summer 2018

May 15, 2018

Warmest congratulations to the 26 students who have been awarded fellowships and internships through the German Department’s Work Abroad Program this year, with special thanks to the department's Work Abroad Program Officer, Ruth Sondermann, for making all this possible: Anna Briggs (OCS-funded research at Universität Hamburg); Haydn Bradstreet (DAAD/RISE internship, Düsseldorf Universität); Emily Brother (OCS-funded internship, Freie Universität Berlin); Julia Bunte-Mein (Salzburg Global Seminar); Yi Chen (RISE fellowship); Cameron Cohen (Quantico, Berlin); Regine Cusing (Technical University of Munich PREP program); Anisha Dok (electrical engineering internship at ZEISS); Joyce Fung (architecture firm Sauerbruch and Hutton in Köln); Jubin Gorji (Berenberg Bank in Zürich); Illana Harris (Konrad Adenauer Foundation in Frankfurt and Berlin); Wyatt Hayden (Hypo-Vereinsbank); Ashley Kim (UNESCO in Bonn); Jeb King (Ruhr Fellowship, Aachen; and Max Planck Pre-doctoral Research School in Computer Science, Saarbrücken); John LaVelle (Universität Aachen language program and research internship); Jack McIntyre (Ruhr Fellowship); Anna Peng (Atlantic Initiative in Berlin); Marissa Saenger (climate change research internship at the Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule (ETH), Zürich); Jasmie Sinanh-Sing (research internship at ETH, Zürich); Rebecca Soilson (Technische Universität München - PREP program); Lara Teich (Potsdam Institute for Multilingualism); Thomas Xin (Think Swiss Fellowship, brain research in Switzerland); Sabrina Yates (RWTH, Aachen); Justin Zhu (Technische Universität München PREP-Program); Jennifer Xiao (Covee, Zürich);  Grace Xiao (Center for Digital Health Interventions, Zürich, funded by the Harvard Global Health Institute).

Wishing you all a rewarding and productive summer abroad! 

New book by Racha Kirakosian - Die Vita der Christina von Hane

September 16, 2017
Christina von Hane


This is the very first comprehensive study on the late medieval text transmitting the Life ("Vita") of the 13th-century mystic, Christina von Hane. Adopting a multi-perspective approach, the first part of the study considers the handwritten manuscript while also discussing performative aspects of this mystic text. The second part of the study offers a new edition of the Vita.