Department of German

  • Chair

    Nikolaus Wegmann

  • Acting Chair

    Michael W. Jennings (fall/spring)

  • Departmental Representative

    Thomas Y. Levin

  • Director of Graduate Studies

    Devin A. Fore

  • Professor

    Devin A. Fore

    Michael W. Jennings

    Nikolaus Wegmann

  • Visiting Professor

    Inka Muelder-Bach

    Joseph W. Vogl


  • Associate Professor

    Brigid Doherty, also Art and Archaeology

    Thomas Y. Levin

    Sara S. Poor

  • Assistant Professor

    Joel B. Lande

    Barbara N. Nagel

    Johannes Wankhammer

  • Senior Lecturer

    James W. Rankin

    Adam Oberlin

  • Associated Faculty

    Leora F. Batnitzky, Religion

    Hal Foster, Art and Archaeology

    Katja Guenther, History

    Daniel Heller-Roazen, Comparative Literature, Council of the Humanities

    Jan-Werner Müller, Politics

    Alexander Nehamas, Philosophy, Comparative Literature, Council of the Humanities

    Anson G. Rabinbach, History

Information and Departmental Plan of Study

Advanced Placement

A student with a minimum SAT Subject Test score in German of 760 or an Advanced Placement Examination score of 5 will be considered to have satisfied the A.B. foreign language requirement and be eligible for placement in 200- or 300-level courses, as well as participation in the Summer Work Program and the Berlin Consortium. Students with some knowledge of German but without SAT Subject or AP test scores must have their proficiency measured by the online placement test administered by the Registrar. Sophomores and upper-class students may take the test as well, but must do so according to the test's availability during Orientation as indicated by the Registrar.


The requirement for admission to the German department is a satisfactory working knowledge of German demonstrated by the completion of 107, an SAT Subject Test score of 760, or a 5 on the Advanced Placement test.

Early Concentration

Qualified students may begin departmental work in the sophomore year under the following plan:

1. Recommended introductory courses: 207, 208, 209, 210, or 211;

2. Independent work beginning in the second sophomore term;

3. Meetings with the departmental representative for individual discussion of the student's independent work.

This plan permits students to devote themselves to their major interest before their junior year. They can advance when ready and as swiftly as possible. An early start gives students a wider choice of courses and seminars in their senior year and enables them to start work on the senior thesis before their final year at Princeton.

Program of Study

The department offers six areas of concentration:

1. German Literature. This program focuses on the major periods and forms of German literature with emphasis on literary and historical analysis. Students will satisfy the general University requirement of eight departmental courses by taking a minimum of five courses in the department (at least three of which should be 300-level courses) and a maximum of three cognate courses in related humanities departments and other disciplines such as philosophy and religion.

2. German Philosophy and Intellectual History. This program concentrates on philosophy, political and cultural theory, particular intellectual movements, and epochs in German-speaking contexts. Students in this track are required to take a minimum of five courses in the German department (at least three of which should be 300-level courses) and a maximum of three relevant cognate courses in history, European cultural studies, or philosophy.

3. Media and Aesthetics. This program is designed for students who wish to focus on art, film, music, sound technology, and/or media theory broadly conceived. Students take a minimum of five courses in the German department (at least three of which should be 300-level courses), and a maximum of three relevant cognate courses in art and archaeology, music, philosophy, European cultural studies, and the Program in Visual Arts.

4. Germanic Linguistics. This program concentrates on the history and structure of the German language. Majors who select this program are required to take the following courses: LIN 213 Introduction to Language and Linguistics or a comparable course in linguistics, GER 505 History of the German Language, and either GER 506 Second Language Acquisition and Pedagogy or GER 316, with the same title. In addition, such students will take at least three courses in German literature and culture and two cognate courses pertaining to linguistics.

5. The Study of Two Literatures. This plan of study normally consists of five upper-level courses in the German department (at least three of which should be 300-level courses), and three upper-level courses in a second literature. Students who have not completed the language preparation for the second literature may engage in the program provided that they satisfy that language requirement during the junior year.

6. Joint Program in German Culture and Politics. In cooperation with the Department of Politics, students may combine a concentration in German intellectual history with a concentration in German/European politics and/or political theory. In this program, four courses will be taken in the German department (at least two of which should be 300-level courses) and four cognate courses in German/European politics or political theory will be taken in the Department of Politics (at least two of which should be 300-level courses). Recommended departmental courses are GER 207, 208, 211, 306, 307, 309, and 324. Recommended cognates in politics include POL 210, 230, 240, and 385. The senior thesis may focus on any political topic with a substantive German-related component. Upon graduation, a letter will be issued by the German department certifying completion of a program in German cultural studies with a concentration in politics.

Language Requirements

For areas 1 to 5, at least three, and for area 6, at least two of the departmentals should be courses taught in German. For areas 1 to 5, one of these three may be a course taught in English for which there is an appropriate German-language component. This option is available for all courses taught in the German department, but also for some courses in other departments. Students should consult with the course instructor regarding the German-language component at the beginning of the semester and submit the agreed-upon plan to the German departmental representative for approval by the end of the second week of classes.

Independent Work

Independent reading, the junior year essays, and the senior thesis constitute the student's total independent work, which is spread over the four upper-class terms. These elements can be profitably linked with departmental courses. Students will consult with the departmental representative under whose guidance they will develop their own program. During the first term of the junior year, students are required to write an essay of approximately 4,000 words on a subject in German philosophy, art, media, linguistics, literature, or politics. During the second term of the junior year, students will present a longer essay (of approximately 8,000 words). These essays, as well as the senior thesis, may be written in German or English. Early in May of the junior year students should discuss plans for their senior theses with the departmental representative.

During senior year students will write a thesis on a subject approved by their thesis adviser. By the end of the fourth week of the first senior term students will submit to their advisers a tentative outline of the proposed thesis. Further progress reports (as announced by the department) are required. Five weeks before the departmental examination students must deliver to the departmental office two spiral-bound readers' copies (signed). After the departmental exam and upon approval of the thesis, students must submit one bound copy for the department archive and one unbound copy for the library. Readers' copies will be returned to the student with comments in advance of the departmental exam. The title page must show the student's name and class numerals, the department in which the student is enrolled, the name of the adviser, and the month and year of presentation.

Senior Departmental Examination

The departmental examination will be oral, based on the thesis and the student's course of study. At least one fourth of the approximately hour-long exam will be conducted in German. Students should come prepared to give a 5-10 minute presentation about the argument and contribution of their thesis.

Study and Work Abroad

It is strongly recommended that students spend some time in a German-speaking country. This can be done through the Berlin Consortium for German Studies, the Princeton-in-Munich Study Abroad Program, or the department's Summer Work Program.

Berlin Study Abroad Program. Through the Berlin Consortium for German Studies, of which Princeton University is a member, Princeton undergraduates are eligible to spend either one semester or an entire academic year studying abroad at the Freie Universität Berlin for full Princeton academic credit. Students will pay normal Princeton tuition, and those on financial aid will continue to receive aid during their study abroad. Departmental students wishing to enroll in this or any other foreign study program may do so, provided they present an acceptable plan of study that includes fulfillment of the departmental requirements for independent work and their application is approved by the Faculty Committee on Examinations and Standing. Early consultation with the departmental representative is strongly encouraged. Applications for the Berlin program are due in early October for the spring term and in early March for the following academic year. For application forms and additional information, contact the departmental representative or the Office of International Programs at (609) 258-5524.

Princeton-in-Munich Study Abroad Programs. We offer two programs for study in Munich, Germany. (1) Students enrolled in GER 102, 1025, or 105 may apply  to participate in GER 105G or 107G in Munich. 2) Students enrolled in GER 107 or a 200 or 300 level seminar taught in German, or who have placed out of the language sequence, have the opportunity to apply to GER 3XXG in Munich. GER 105G and 107G are taught in a special month-long summer course at the Goethe-Institute and are partially subsidized by the University and the German department. GER 3XXG is taught by a Princeton professor. Successful completion of 107G in Munich satisfies the University's language requirement and qualifies students for upper-level courses in German, the Summer Work Program, and the Berlin Consortium. Successful completion of 3XXG reduces the required German language courses by one for major or certificate students. Interested students should consult with the departmental representative, Professor Thomas Y. Levin.

The Summer Work Program. The department places students in paid internships in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland in fields such as banking, newspaper and book publishing, radio, healthcare, and computing. Salaries usually cover living expenses, and scholarship funds are available to help with transportation to and from the job where needed.

Applications for this program are due in early November. Prerequisite for acceptance is a satisfactory speaking knowledge of German; that is, at least a C+ grade in German 107 or its equivalent. Further information may be obtained from the program office and by e-mail to

Certificate in Language and Culture

The Department of German offers students an opportunity to do sustained work in German language, philosophy, art, and media while concentrating in another department, leading to a certificate in German language and culture.

Program Requirements. The program is open to undergraduates in all departments. Students should consult the departmental representative by the middle of the sophomore year to plan a program of study.

The requirements for work done in the Department of German are:

1. Four courses at the 200 level or higher, at least two of which must be at the 300 level or higher.

2. Evidence of substantial upper-level course work in German. This requirement will be satisfied if three of the four courses taken for the certificate were conducted in German or if two were conducted in German and one was conducted in English but entailed an appropriate German-language component. This option is available for all courses taught in the German department, but also for some courses in other departments. Students should consult with the course instructor regarding the German-language component at the beginning of the semester and submit the agreed-upon plan to the German departmental representative for approval by the end of the second week of classes.

3. A substantial paper (20 pages if in English, 12-15 pages if in German) involving original research on a German-related topic. The paper may be an expanded and significantly revised version of a paper written for one of the four courses taken to fulfill the certificate. At least one third of the material submitted, by word count, must be new, and all of the remainder must be reworked and transformed. If the paper is written in German, revision can include grammatical improvements and corrections. If written in English, the paper must be accompanied by a two-page German abstract.

A copy of the original version of the paper should be submitted along with the revised and expanded version.

Preparation for Graduate Study

Departmental students who intend to pursue graduate studies in German are reminded that most graduate schools require a reading knowledge of a second modern foreign language, and, possibly, Latin. Students are therefore advised to prepare themselves as undergraduates to meet these requirements.

The Language Program. The normal program for beginners consists of 101, 102, 105, and 107. Students with a grade of A in 101 may combine 102 and 105 in a special second-term course, 102-5.

It is possible to start the study of German at Princeton and fulfill the language requirement in one year through the Munich Study Abroad Program (see above): 101 (fall term), 102-5 (spring term), 107G (summer study immediately following 102-5). German 105G is also offered through the Munich program.

Successful completion of 107, 107G, or immediate assignment to a higher course satisfies the degree requirement and qualifies the student for all advanced courses, for departmental concentration, and for participation in the Berlin Consortium and the Summer Work Abroad Program. All questions concerning placement, course changes, failures, summer study, or other matters related to any of the department's undergraduate courses should be referred to the departmental representative.

Note: Normally students electing a beginner's course in any language will receive credit only if two terms are completed.

Areas of Study. The department offers courses in:

1. German language: 101, 102, 1025, 103, 105, 105G, 107, 107G, 207, 208;
2. German literature: 209, 301, 303, 305, 321, 323, 324, 325, 340, 362;
3. German philosophy and intellectual history: 210, 302, 306, 307, 309, 332;
4. Media and aesthetics (lectures/seminars are in English unless otherwise noted): 211, 308, 337, 370, 371, 373;
5. Germanic and European literatures in translation: 320;
6. Germanic linguistics: for relevant graduate courses open to undergraduates by permission, consult the German department's listing online.