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

Stephen Mitchell Receives the Jarl Gallén Prize

September 20, 2019

The Jarl Gallén Prize will be bestowed on Professor Stephen Mitchell in the Great Hall of the Finnish Literature Society, Hallituskatu 1, at 13:00 on Tuesday, November 5, 2019. Prof. Kaarle Hämeri, Chancellor of the University of Helsinki, will present the prize. Prof. Mitchell will deliver a lecture entitled “Magic and Memory in the Medieval North”, which will be followed by a seminar with four speakers on subjects pertinent to his...

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Congratulations to Alexander Lambrow and Anton Chaevitch

September 18, 2019
Warmest congratulations to Alex Lambrow (PhD 2019), who has received a multi-year post-doctoral fellowship at Vanderbilt University, and to Anton Chaevitch (PhD 2019), who has just begun a new position as an International Arbitration Attorney in Washington, DC. 

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...

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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 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 Biggs (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)... Read more about Twenty Six Fellowships and Internships Abroad for Summer 2018