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Literature Concentration

The study of literature and language is at the center of German Studies, for in works of literature we engage with language in its most complex, aesthetically rewarding, intellectually stimulating, and culturally relevant forms. Almost no discipline of knowledge can do without the study of literature. For example, students of psychology, sociology, and philosophy can draw important insights from the analysis of literary narratives. Story-telling is at the heart of all forms of human self-understanding, and literature is therefore not reducible to what we call “fiction”. For example, both Hegel’s philosophy of mind and Darwin’s theory of evolution are constructed according to literary patterns; and the study of literature, therefore, also prepares students to evaluate the narrative structures of seemingly non-literary cultural products. Our courses introduce students to the history and aesthetics of literary texts (prose, lyric, drama) in the German language. We offer a range of seminars in German and, for students who do not read German, we teach German literature in English translation. The department’s strengths in literary studies lie in the following areas: literature in the age of Goethe, Poetic Realism, Viennese Modernism, Weimar Modernism, theory of the novel, exile literature, post-war and contemporary literature, multicultural literature, translation, poetry, literary biography, Heinrich von Kleist, Heinrich Heine, Franz Kafka, Karl Kraus, Peter Altenberg, Arthur Schnitzler, Robert Musil, Thomas Mann, Else Lasker-Schüler, Thomas Bernhard, Christa Wolf, Paul Celan, Peter Handke, Rainald Goetz, and Günter Grass.