About Our Department
Welcome to the Department of Germanic Languages and Literatures at Washington University, a close-knit intellectual community of faculty members, graduate students, and undergraduates with a rich history and an international reputation for excellence. Our department offers diverse and challenging degree programs in the languages, literatures, and cultures of the German speaking countries from the Middle Ages to the present.
Our faculty members are award-winning teachers, known for their enthusiasm as well as their close mentoring of students, as well as internationally recognized scholars in fields ranging from early modern literature to postwar German cinema. All of our courses, regardless of the level of instruction, emphasize communication and participation in a relaxed environment, helping students to hone their reading, writing, speaking, and critical thinking skills through explorations of German literature, film, philosophy, music, art, politics, and society.
Our community extends beyond the classroom to encompass a variety of co- and extra-curricular activities, from academic lectures and symposia to film-series, theater and museum visits, Pizza-Pausen, and Kaffeestunden. We also offer summer, semester, and yearlong study abroad opportunities at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. Our doctoral candidates work closely with faculty mentors on innovative, interdisciplinary research projects, and receive extensive pedagogical training in preparation for careers in academe and beyond.
Statement on Departmental Commitment to Racial Justice and Equality
In light of recent acts of violence against Black Americans, including the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery, as well as other forms of discrimination and persecution that impact people of color throughout the United States and abroad, the Department of Germanic Languages and Literatures affirms to our students and our community our conviction that Black Lives Matter and our commitment, as individuals and as an institution, to working for justice and equality.
The discipline of German Studies is deeply implicated in issues of racial justice and injustice. While many German immigrants to Missouri strongly championed the abolition of slavery in the nineteenth century, we also know that racist legislation in the United States, including the Jim Crow laws, provided one model for Nazi race laws in the Third Reich. Recognizing this troubled history, we believe that it is our imperative as scholars and citizens to understand the consequences of systemic racial injustice, both here in St. Louis and around the world, and to confront and combat all forms of discrimination and inequality in our classrooms and in our community.
With this statement, we as a department join our colleagues in German Studies and our university leaders in affirming our commitment to equality, inclusion, and racial and social justice. We stand in solidarity with our students and colleagues who have been victims of discrimination and persecution. We pledge to educate ourselves about systems of oppression and about disparities in access to resources in our profession. We will continue to work to make our classrooms and research environments more inclusive spaces.
The Faculty and Staff of the Department of Germanic Languages and Literatures