Welcome to the IU Department of Germanic Studies! Take a look around our website to get to know some of our history as well as the bright future represented by our graduate students and our outreach to K-12 instructors on the front line of language education. Our teaching (undergraduate and graduate) is various and wide ranging, as is our adventurous research program. If you are curious to know more, please come visit us in the vibrant Global and International Studies Building on the Bloomington campus or, even better, enroll in one of our classes—it could open up a whole new world.
Since our founding in 1885, we have prided ourselves on being champions of the liberal arts and sciences in the Enlightenment tradition of Lehr- und Lernfreiheit (freedom of teaching and learning), with its twin ideals of the cultivated individual and the world citizen. For us today, those ideals have taken on new urgency and meaning. Rising to the occasion of our contemporary world and making ourselves into global citizens is a challenge we take seriously—our planet is at once more fractured and more interdependent than ever before. At the same time, we are mindful that we owe it to ourselves not only to prepare for practical life and career, but also to acquaint ourselves with the rich and complex world we’ve inherited while engaging fruitfully the latest in contemporary arts, ideas, and scholarship. The highest aspiration of liberal learning is a well-rounded education that covers both the conflicts and the achievements of our fellow humans. It is an aspiration we in Germanic Studies passionately share.
If you dip further into our website or come visit us, you will find we are a place where animated conversations about the changing landscape of Germanic culture happen—from the relevance of nation-states for the EU to the challenges of regional separatism; from efforts to build a welcoming community for immigrants and refugees to far-right identitarian movements; from the myths of Scandinavia and fairy tales of the Black Forest to the surging Green movement; from Old Norse sagas and skaldic verse to multicultural Amsterdam, Berlin, Vienna, and Yiddish-speaking New York; from phonology, morphology, and philology to the poetics of scientific knowledge. Members of our department community—students, faculty, and friends—are drawn by shared curiosity and appreciation for the way insights, issues, and feelings have crystalized over the years in this influential and often tumultuous region in the heart of Europe. Germanic culture has been a vehicle for expressions of some of the most delicate interiority and the most stupid savagery. Once thought of as a nation of poets and thinkers, Germany turned into a symbol of fascist atrocity and then Cold War division before it became known today for its openness to migrants and refugees and championship of the transnational project of the European Union. Proverbially considered a culture of contradictions, Germanic culture's living legacy consists of expressions that are notably searching, diverse, rigorous, and adventurous.
The great dramatist and internationalist Bertolt Brecht once commented that the distinction of schooling in the old Germany of spiked helmets and blind obedience consisted in the opportunity to study meanness, evil, and injustice firsthand for four to six hours a day under the pedantic gaze of a drill sergeant professor. Our students at IU can vouch for how much things have changed! We are a notably congenial department dedicated to the enthusiastic and careful study of, variously, innovative pedagogy, Germanic linguistics, Jews and Muslims in Europe, theater and media, aesthetic theory, the imbrication of narrative, affect and cognition, and the ethical dimensions of public life and letters. Because the source of our inspiration—whether it be linguistic features, philosophical judgments, empathetic imagination, or a striking performance—remains for us a spring of novelty, we are always ready to be surprised, to rethink, to distill the beauty of form out of an unexpected vowel shift or a dissonant passage. If you haven’t visited us yet, now is the time to stop by. We look forward to meeting you soon!
Associate Professor and Chair, Department of Germanic Studies