Major Program In Germanic Studies

Brigitte Riesebrodt, "Sog" (2010). Courtesy of the artist.
Brigitte Riesebrodt, "Sog" (2010). Courtesy of the artist.

Major Program in Germanic Studies

Students can choose between two major tracks: the German one or the Comparative Germanics one (the latter combines German with either Yiddish or Norwegian).

1) Requirements for the German Concentration

  • Typically six German language courses at the second-year level and above (Or prior satisfactory working knowledge of German: students may satisfy the required language courses through placement or accreditation examinations and may petition for back credits).
  • Six courses in German literature and culture, including three literature or culture courses taken in German. Of these, one may be a departmental course with a Languages Across Chicago (LxC) session; one may be an additional third-year course.
  • GRMN 29900 Capstone Project

Visit the College Catalog for list of courses and course requirements.

2) Requirements for the Comparative Germanics Concentration

Students pursuing the Comparative Germanics Concentration reach intermediate to advanced proficiency in two Germanic languages (German and either Yiddish or Norwegian) and develop familiarity with two Germanic cultures.

Students typically register for:

  1. Three German language courses at the second-year level and above* 
  2. Three Yiddish OR Norwegian language courses at the first-year level and above* 
  3. Six additional Germanic courses, of which at least three must be Literature and Culture courses
  4. GRMN 29900 Capstone Project 

Visit the College Catalog for list of courses and course requirements.

* Or prior satisfactory working knowledge of the language. Students may satisfy the required language courses through placement or accreditation examinations and may petition for back credits. They may petition for no more than the equivalent of 3 courses worth of back-credits (that is, for maximum 300 credits).

With prior approval of the Director of Undergraduate Studies, students may count up to two relevant Germanic-oriented courses from other departments in the humanities or social sciences toward the requirements of the major in Germanic Studies. 

Students majoring in Germanic Studies must receive a quality grade in all courses taken to meet requirements in the major.

Students must meet with the Director of Undergraduate Studies to discuss a plan of study as soon as they declare their major. Students must have their programs approved by the Director of Undergraduate Studies before the end of their third year

With the approval of the Director of Undergraduate Studies, students may also count courses taken abroad through the Berlin Consortium Program towards their major.

Please note: More than half of the requirements for the major must be met by registering for courses bearing University of Chicago course numbers.


Examples of Past and Current Double Majors

Students have double-majored in German alongside other programs such as: Pre-Med; Global Studies; Computational and Applied Mathematics; Economics; Mathematics; Interdisciplinary Studies in the Humanities; Law, Letters, and Society; Philosophy; Chemistry; Sociology; Human Rights, Comparative Human Development, as well as other fields.


Capstone Project

Students in both tracks of the Germanics major must complete a Capstone Project—a culminating senior project. This can be either a traditional BA Paper or a project of creative inquiry. 

Examples of alternatives to the BA Paper include (but are not limited to) an original translation, a creative writing text, an app or a podcast, an online exhibit, a website, or a documentary film. For these undertakings, students need to have sufficient previous experience with the relevant medium (e.g., artistic, digital, etc.) either through previous course work or independent practice. For the Capstone Project, students will have the opportunity to pursue their own individual intellectual interests, cultivate new skills and modes of communication and presentation, and potentially engage wider audiences for their scholarship. Projects must demonstrate substantial engagement with German-language culture(s), including the use of German-language sources, and they must include a written summary and reflection (at least five to seven pages). The written component of the creative inquiry project must contain a clear statement on the issue or problem the student is tackling, and it must provide background information on the chosen field (e.g., other translations, alternative digital designs that exist, etc.). Furthermore, the written component must include a critical self-analysis of the undertaking, and it must reflect on methodologies employed and contributions to the chosen area of inquiry.

The BA Paper typically is a research paper of at least twenty-five pages. While the paper may be written in either English or German, it must include a bibliography that makes ample use of Germanic-language sources. 

Students must submit a proposal for their Capstone Project to their faculty adviser by the beginning of the eighth week of Autumn Quarter in their senior year. A first draft of the paper or the written reflection is due on the first day of Spring Quarter, and the completed Capstone Project must be submitted by the beginning of the sixth week of Spring Quarter. Each student needs at least one adviser from within the department of Germanic Studies. 

Germanic Studies will accept a Capstone Project used to meet the BA requirement in another major, under the condition that original Germanic language sources are used. Students should consult with both chairs by the earliest BA proposal deadline (or by the end of their third year, when neither program publishes a deadline). A consent form, to be signed by both chairs, is available from the College adviser. It must be completed and returned to the College adviser by the end of Autumn Quarter of the student's year of graduation.

Outstanding Capstone Projects are eligible for the department’s McKenzie Prize.

Honors are reserved for students who achieve overall excellence in grades for courses in the College and within the major, as well as complete a BA paper that shows proof of original research or criticism. Students with an overall GPA of at least 3.25 for College work and a GPA of at least 3.5 in classes within the major, and whose BA Paper is judged superior by two readers, will be recommended to the Master of the Humanities Collegiate Division for honors.

Outstanding BA Papers are eligible for the department’s McKenzie prize.


Past B.A. Paper Titles

Freedom of Expression and Electronic Hate Speech in the United States and Germany: Efficacy, Advantages, and Drawbacks of Online Hate Speech Regulation from American and German Perspectives (2021)

Der Tsoyberbarg un(d) Der Zauberberg: Bashevis’s Translation of The Magic Mountain (2021)

Messianic Translation: The Recovery of Meaning in Kafka’s “In der Strafkolonie” (2021)

Metaphors of Communication in Luther’s Postils (2020)

Good Germans and Bad Nazis: The Holocaust and German Responsibility in Postwar West German History Textbooks (2020)

Representation of Syrian Refugees in Austrian Newspapers: New(s) Frames since 2015 (2020)

Dionysus with Dithyramb and Hammer: Revaluation in Birth of Tragedy (2020)

Inherited Orientalisms: American and German Scholars in Dialogue in the Archived Director’s Correspondence from the Oriental Institute, 1933 – 1945 (2020)

Aesthetic Politics and the Past, Present, and Future of Wiener Kaffeehauskultur (2019)

Sieben Rosen: Locating the Canary Islands in the Germanic Cultural Imaginary (2019)

The Problem of Perspective: Magnetic Influence in E.T.A. Hoffmann’s Works (2019)

Play, Truth, and Beauty: A Study of the “Dionysian Worldview” (2019)

Poetic Arcades: A Place of Modern Awakening (2018)

The Return of ‘A Certain Way of Thinking and Feeling’: Holocaust Memory and the Rise of the Far-Right in Postwar Germany and Austria (2018)

Modernity’s Apocalypse: Alfred Kubin’s Die andere Seite as an Expressionist Vision of Modernity in Crisis (2018)

Trakl’s Föhn: A Complication of the Romantic Wind Metaphor (2018)

Between Republicanism and Fascism: Richard von Coudenhove-Kalergi’s Politics of Neo-Aristocracy, 1920-1938 (2017)

Trials of Recollection: An Analysis of Memory in Selected Poems of Paul Celan’s Mohn und Gedächtnis (2017)

The Rights of Man and the Powers of State: A Realist Analysis of Nationalism (2017) 

The Historical Semantics of Heimat before 1920 and the Ecological Philosophy of R.H. Francé (2017)

Echte Kanax (Real Kanax): Shifting the Ethnicity and Criminality of the Ambivalently Performed Kanak Identity in Current German Gangsta Rap