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Germanic Languages & Literatures

Germanic Languages & Literatures | Courses | Faculty

510 Herter Hall

Degree: Bachelor of Arts

Contact: Harry Seelig

Office: 519 Herter

Phone: 545-4245

Head of Department: Professor Frank R. Hugus. Professors Beekman, Cathey, Cocalis, Lennox, Malsch, Peter; Associate Professors Byg, Seelig, Sullivan.

The Field

The Department of Germanic Languages and Literatures concerns itself primarily with the languages and cultures of more than 100 million people living in Central and Northern Europe: Germany, Austria, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Denmark, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden. In a time of political transformation in Europe and increasing cooperation between these nations and the United States in trade and commerce, technology and science, the environment, the arts, and leisure and sports, a mastery of their languages and a deeper understanding of their societies and cultures can open diverse opportunities for personal development and preparation for a professional career.

The program is structured to set the study of the Germanic languages and their literatures within the contexts of their respective cultures, including their historical, economic, political, philosophical, and cultural aspects. Strong interdisciplinary ties with other departments (music, drama, the visual arts, history, philosophy, political science, business) are encouraged. Members of different American and European faculties appear as speakers before the department or teach as visiting professors. Close cooperation with the Goethe Institute in Boston enriches the extracurricular program and acquaints students with many aspects of contemporary Germany, far beyond the strictly literary realm. German drama is occasionally performed and German film series are regularly offered, often in conjunction with the surrounding colleges. Lectures and performances which are sponsored by the German departments of Amherst, Mount Holyoke, and Smith colleges are open to all students and greatly diversify the cultural offerings in this field.

Advanced undergraduates have the opportunity to spend a year at the University of Frei-burg or at one of the other universities in the state of Baden-W¸rttemberg (Germany), in connection with the Freiburg/Baden-W¸rttemberg Program of the University of Massachusetts. Exceptional undergraduates may be permitted to take graduate courses in the department.

The Major

The flexibility of the German Studies major permits students to develop a program of study which emphasizes either culture or literature. In addition to the traditional courses in literature and language, the department offers a series of courses in English (with readings and discussion in English), on aspects of cultural, political, and intellectual life in German-speaking countries. Students who wish to do so may combine study in the department with work in a different field (e.g., Hotel, Restaurant and Travel Administration; Management; Comparative Literature; Linguistics; or History).

Double majors are encouraged. All students, particularly those who intend to become secondary school teachers, are strongly advised to include one other modern foreign language in their curricula in order to enhance their career opportunities.

The department regularly offers elementary and intermediate language instruction in Dutch and Swedish, as well as courses in the literatures of Scandinavia and the Netherlands. Majors in German Studies are urged to broaden their competence in Germanic languages and literatures by participating in the Dutch and Scandinavian offerings.

The Max Kade German Studies Center in Thatcher Residence Hall provides language practice and cultural activities in the context of campus living. Interested students should inquire when applying for campus housing.

Requirements for the Major

A total of 12 departmental courses is required from the following distribution:

A. The basic seven courses:

310 Advanced German I

320 Advanced German II

311 Reading German Culture

341 German Civilization to 1700

342 Modern German Culture 1700-Present

425 Advanced Composition,

Translation and Conversation

584 The German Language

B. Five additional courses in either German Literature or German Studies from the following, provided that at least one course is taken from German Literature:

German Studies (taught in English)

304 German Film

365 Scandinavian Mythology

370 19th Century German Thought

372 Vienna 1890-1914

374 Crisis of World War I

375 Hitler's Myth of a Thousand-Year Reich

376 Holocaust in German Literature

377 Politics and Culture

379 Contemporary Germany

380 Weimar Germany

390D Fascism and Film

592C German PoemóLied

German Literature (taught in German)

401 Lessing and His Time

402 Goethe

403 Schiller

412 Goethe's Faust

413 Romanticism

421 19th Century Literature

431 Early 20th Century Prose

432 Brecht and Modern Drama

433 20th Century Prose

434 Contemporary German Literature

490 Senior Seminar

All majors must complete the Junior Year Writing requirement.

Note: To receive major credit for a required course, a student must earn a grade of C or better.

Career Opportunities

The German major prepares students for graduate school as well as employment in business, government, and education. The ability to read, write, and speak in a major world language other than English can greatly enhance an individual's career options. In the expanding global economy, most of the nations of eastern Europe and western Asia are using German as their common (second) language, and multinational corporations are seeking highly skilled translators and interpreters on an unprecedented scale. Graduates of the department are employed in many different fields, including law, international management, medicine, comparative literature, film studies, history, political science, book publishing, and organizations concerned with trade and commerce, technology and science, leisure and sports, the environment, and the arts.

The Minor

Students considering a minor in German are encouraged to contact Professor Seelig or Professor Byg for advising on courses best suited to their interests.


Five departmental courses including:

310 Advanced German I

311 Reading German Culture

320 Advanced German II

342 Modern German Culture: 1700-Present (or 341 German Civilization to 1700)

Plus one additional course in German Literature or German Studies (as listed under Major requirements).

With the permission of the department's undergraduate adviser, a course focused on Germany taken in another department at the University of Massachusetts or in a German-speaking country may be substituted for this additional fifth course in partial fulfillment of the requirement for the German Minor.

Germanic Languages & Literatures | Courses | Faculty