In 2012 the German Department joined together with the Department of French and Italian as well as with the Programs in Russian and European Studies to create an innovative unit, the Department of European Languages and Studies. Within this unit, German maintains its own undergraduate major and an independent graduate program leading to the Ph.D. Thus, like the UCI School of Humanities in general, German fosters a combination of disciplinary specialization and interdisciplinary cooperation. Just as at the geopolitical level the nations of Europe maintain their national identities within a transnational union, so, too, at the academic level UCI’s program in German maintains its own course of study while recognizing the need for students to relate German’s rich literary, cultural, and philosophical tradition to an international and multi-disciplinary context. Professors in the German program thus work closely not only with those in the other European languages but also with the program in Global Cultures, Department of Comparative Literature, and the Critical Theory Emphasis, with which we share many faculty appointments.
The focus of the German curriculum on both the undergraduate and graduate levels is on post-1750 culture. Courses cover four major areas: linguistics, including the cultural history of the German language; traditional literary history (doubly anchored in the period around 1800 and twentieth- and twenty-first-century literature); German cultural studies, which explores a diverse array of socio-political developments and questions of national identity; and the philosophical tradition from Idealism to the present. Our experienced, dynamic professors have won numerous teaching awards and cover a wide range of interests, including: German linguistics and second-language acquisition; German Classicism (Goethe, Schiller, Kleist); aesthetics; contemporary literature and film in a global and transnational context; Modernism and violence; intellectual history of the inter-war period (Benjamin, Schmitt, Heidegger); holocaust studies; the importance of German philosophy for the background of critical and literary theory. We are committed to highlighting the ways German culture has contributed to shaping the world we live in today.