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Graduate Studies in German

Vanderbilt is a private, selective university with an enrollment of 9,000 (the Graduate school enrolls some 1400). The University in its second century and Nashville in its third, share a rich past. Located on a 333 acre, park-like campus, Vanderbilt offers a haven in the midst of urban stimulation. More than a million people live in the greater metropolitan area, and Vanderbilt both contributes to and benefits from the cultural offerings of the community.

The Program

Graduate work has held a central place at Vanderbilt University since its establishment in 1875. The first Doctor of Philosophy degree was granted in 1879, the 3000th in 1985. German has long been a part of that rich tradition. The first Master of Arts in German was awarded in 1885, the first Ph.D. in 1915. Since the 1950

=s students have also been able to pursue the Master of Arts in Teaching (M.A.T.).

The graduate program at Vanderbilt consciously seeks to prepare a select group of highly qualified students for the challenges of tomorrow in the field of German. Its purpose is to train graduate students to excel in the profession as teachers and as scholars. While providing the candidate with a firm grounding in the history of German literature and scholarship through a combination of survey courses and focused seminars, the Department also exposes the student to interdisciplinary and critical studies. In fact, the Department believes that no student pursuing a Ph.D. is prepared to contribute substantially to the field without critical and methodical enhancement. Thus each doctoral student is strongly encouraged to take courses related to the study of literature offered outside the Department. Graduate programs in philosophy, religious studies, political science, and history will prove especially fruitful in this regard. Moreover, the program in German itself offers such courses as critical theory, women writers, the reception of medieval literature, literature and politics, linguistics, and philosophy and literature. Through exposure to other disciplines the student will grow in awareness of the place literature occupies within the complex social and value system dominant in any given age.


First-year applicants pursuing a graduate degree in German Literature and German Studies must have had adequate training in the German language and literature. Promising students with insufficient preparation may be admitted provisionally until they have reached a level of preparation commensurate with graduate studies in the Department. Experience living abroad in a German-speaking country has proven to be of great benefit in successful work at the graduate level but is not required for admission to the program.

Fellowships and Awards

Vanderbilt University is competitive with leading institutions in its financial support of graduate study in German. This intimate department provides support to eight to ten graduate students. Teaching Assistantships provide a waiver of tuition and a stipend. Additionally, topping-off awards and generous University Fellowships are available in open competition. All teaching assistants receive training in theories and techniques of foreign language instruction. They participate in an ongoing pedagogical seminar during their first term of teaching and teach elementary and intermediate German under the supervision of a faculty member. Advanced TAs can be considered for teaching third-year courses. Travel support is available for graduate students who present papers at professional meetings.

The University usually provides two years of financial support for study leading to the M.A. or similar advanced standing can expect only two or, exceptionally, three years of support. In any event, TAs for advanced degrees are expected to be fulfilling the required formal course work for the desired degree.

Study Abroad

Vanderbilt offers exchange opportunities for graduate students with the Freie Universitšt Berlin and the Universit√§t Regensburg. Lengths of stay range from a semester to one year and are designed to enhance the student

=s mastery of language and contemporary culture while advancing their formal studies.

Facilities and Program Activities

The Jean and Alexander Heard Library is one of the major library systems in the mid-South. The holdings in German literature and culture from the 18th to the 20th centuries are especially rich as a result of a bequest by the late bibliophile, Professor Heinrich Meyer, whose extensive private collection of rare and sought-after works was acquired by the University upon his death. A vigorous acquisitions policy ensures the continued strength of the German holdings. Hard-to-get materials are readily obtainable through the library

's participation in a consortium of research libraries in North America. A special feature of the library holdings is a comprehensive collection of German cinema for private or classroom viewing.

The Robert Penn Warren Center for Humanities frequently sponsors seminars and lectures on topics of immediate interest to graduate work in literature and critical theory. Topics in the past have included the literary canon, philosophy and literature, the colonial experience, and the Enlightenment. The Department itself sponsors lectures, cooperating as well with Philosophy, Comparative Literature, and other academic units in bringing guest speakers to campus. Moreover, the University sponsors an annual Holocaust Lecture Series for the entire Vanderbilt community. Finally, Vanderbilt is a member of the Southeast Consortium for German Language and Literature, which includes major universities such as Duke, Emory, Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, and Tennessee.

The Department of Computer Science offers introductory courses in computing as well as an introduction to Computer Techniques in Literary Research. All graduate students are provided with a generous account with the computer center, entitling them to use of its Sigma-7 and DEC-10 systems. They also enjoy ready access to several micro-computer labs located across campus.

The German floor of the international residence program at Vanderbilt provides a focus for cultural and literary activities for graduate and undergraduate students alike. Students and faculty regularly meet for lunch or dinner at which only German is spoken. Graduate students and faculty also meet regularly at a Stammtisch approximately once a week.

Degree Requirements

Master of Arts- Graduate studies in German at Vanderbilt lead to the M.A., the M.A.T., and the Ph.D. The program leading to the M.A. degree is designed primarily to deepen and broaden the student

=s knowledge of German literature from the beginnings to the present day, with special emphasis on major areas not usually covered in depth in an undergraduate course of study. The program is also intended to lay the groundwork for possible continuing study toward the Ph.D.

Students pursuing the Master

=s degree must meet three separate requirements: they must complete formal course work (27 semester hours), submit written evidence of research abilities (3 semester hours), and pass an oral examination based on course work and a departmental core reading list. A normal course accrues three semester hours. As a rule independent study will not fulfill the requirement of formal course work. Evidence of research abilities will usually take the form of two research papers, each in excess of twenty pages. A maximum of three credit hours can be granted for the work necessitated by the revision of both papers (i.e., 1.5 hours per paper). As an alternative, students may choose to write a Master=s thesis for six credits. The latter is a research paper of more than fifty pages that gives evidence of scholarly competence. Regardless of the option the student selects, the research/writing requirement is satisfied after the formal course work is complete.

The Department expects students to meet all requirements for the Master

=s degree within two years.

DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY. The purpose of the doctoral degree at Vanderbilt is to develop the talented student

=s capacity to make independent contributions to the field of German literature and cultural studies.

The Ph.D. degree requires at least two academic years of graduate study beyond the Master

=s degree. A total of 72 credits beyond the B .A. degree is mandated by the Graduate School. Thus 42 credits beyond the M.A. at Vanderbilt are necessary. A minimum of 30 of these hours is done in formal course work (i.e. three semesters). However, at this advanced level of study, the student will have considerable latitude in developing a focus (9-12 hours) in a related discipline or in cross-disciplinary studies relevant to Germanistik, for example in comparative literature, critical theory, philosophy, political science, or history. In other words, we encourage students of German to incorporate into their doctoral work an interdisciplinary dimension. That dimension might include descriptive linguistics, the philosophy of language, political and social history, women=s writing and the production of culture, censorship practices, or the impact of philosophy on aesthetic concepts and forms.

Comprehensive Examinations. Upon completion of the course work, students must pass a written comprehensive examination, consisting of several divisions. The comprehensive examinations, consisting of four four-hour written examinations, are based on the student

's course work plus a reading list beyond the core list required for the Master=s Degree. This second list will reflect the student=s own specialized reading, course work beyond the M.A., and research in preparation for the proposed dissertation.

Language Requirement

All Ph.D. students are required to demonstrate a reading knowledge of at least one additional foreign language.

Core Reading Lists

These are of two types: departmental and individual. The departmental reading list, made available to all incoming graduate students, consists of approximately seventy literary and theoretical works. Additionally, literary histories are recommended. Together with a student

's course work, the departmental core reading list forms the basis of the M.A. examination. Students who already hold the M.A. degree upon entering the Department are expected to have a background comparable to that provided by the M.A. program at Vanderbilt.

The second core reading list is designed by the student. The student normally draws upon his/her course work, the proposed area of dissertation research, and areas of her/his own particular interest. That list, also containing approximately sixty works of primary and secondary literature of varying length, must be submitted to the Ph.D. committee for approval.

Teaching Responsibilities

The acceptance of a Teaching Assistantship (TA) award occasions responsibilities beyond the challenges of graduate study itself at Vanderbilt. The University and the Department have devised a program to develop the student

=s skills as a teacher. The teacher-training program is a valuable complement to the rigorous academic experience offered at Vanderbilt.

Normally, new TAs are assigned elementary German courses; however, exceptions can be made in the case of an incoming TA who has had teaching experience elsewhere. Regardless of the level of assignment, all TAs work jointly with other TAs and the designated language coordinator. All new TAs in foreign languages at Vanderbilt are required to take the interdepartmental seminar Foreign Language Teaching: Theory and Practice

@ during their first semester of graduate study. While TAs are stand-alone teachers in their respective sections of elementary or intermediate German, they teach under the guidance of an experienced faculty member. Such monitoring ensures uniformity of instruction in multi-section courses and provides for the fullest development of teaching skills.

The Faculty

SARA EIGEN (Ph.D., Harvard University) German Literature 1600-1900, history of German law, history and philosophy of science, race theory, film history and theory, cultural representation under fascism.

ANGELA LIN (M.A., Ph.D. Princeton University) Assistant Professor of German. Research and teaching interests: 19th and 20th centuries; aesthetic theory; literature and music; modernity and modernism; second language acquisition & language pedagogy.

JOHN A. MCCARTHY (M.A., Ph.D., State University of New York at Buffalo; M.A.h.c. University of Pennsylvania), Professor of German and Comparative Literature. Research and teaching interests: 18th and early 19th century literature; essayism, literature and philosophy; social history of literature; history of the profession; Nietzsche, Goethe, chaos theory.

HELMUT PFANNER (M.A., Ph.D., Stanford University), Professor of German. Research and teaching interests: 19th and 20th centuries; Modernism; Expressionism; outer and inner emigration; German-American literary relations; Austrian literature; History of the Drama; Comedy; Kafka, Doeblin, Frisch.

DIETER SEVIN (M.A., Ph.D., University of Washington), Professor of German. Research and teaching interests: 19th and 20th centuries; GDR literature, exile literature; prose forms, reception theory, censorship; Georg Buchner, Christa Wolf.

MEIKE WERNER (M.A., Ph.D., Yale University), Assistant Professor of German. Research and teaching interests: 19th and 20th centuries; Cultural studies; women writers; cult books; print culture; history of Germanistics.

Faculty with Related Interests

GEORGE BECKER (Ph.D., SUNY, Stony Brook), Associate Professor of Sociology. Modern Theories of Sociology.

JAY CLAYTON (Ph.D., Virginia), Associate Professor of English. Critical Thought, Romanticism.

WILLIAM FRANKE (Ph.D., Stanford), Associate Professor of Comparative Literature and Italian. Hermeneutics, Dante.

VOLNEY P. GAY (Ph.D., Chicago), Professor of Religious Studies, Professor of Psychiatry, Professor of Anthropology, Religious Studies, Psychiatry, Anthropology, Freud, Jung.

M. DONALD HANCOCK (Ph.D., Columbia), Professor of Political Science and Director of the Center for European Studies. Western European Politics, Political and Economic Integration in Europe.

JOEL HARRINGTON (Ph.D., Michigan), Associate Professor of History. Reformation, Early Modern Germany.

ALICE C. HARRIS (Ph.D., Harvard), Chair of the Department of Germanic and Slavic Languages, Professor of Linguistics, Professor of Anthropology. Descriptive linguistics, morphology, syntax.

GREGG HOROWITZ (Ph.D., Rutgers), Assistant Professor of Philosophy. German materialism; Kant, Marx, Freud.

KALLIOPI NIKOLOPOULOU, Mellon Fellow in Comparative Literature, 19th and 20th century German philosophy, aesthetics, German idealism, Romanticism, critical theory, Celan and Adorno.

THOMAS SCHWARTZ (Ph.D., Harvard), Associate Professor of History. German-American International Relations.

HELMUT SMITH (Ph.D., Yale), Associate Professor. Wilhelmian Germany, 20th century Germany, Role of Workers.

DAVID P. WOOD (Ph.D., Warwick), Professor of Philosophy. Continental Philosophy; Nietzche, heidegger.