Our Programs: German Studies

With a rich cultural heritage and global intellectual influence, Germany is one of the world’s major economic and political powers; it is also one of the most diverse countries in Europe. Writers, artists and philosophers from Germany, Austria, and Switzerland have shaped the modern cultural imagination at crucial historical junctures from the Enlightenment to the present.

For more information about the requirements for the major and the minor in German Studies, please consult the General Announcements or contact the Program Advisor, Astrid Oesmann.

The German Studies Program covers the entire tradition of German history and culture from the eighteenth century to the present, placing Germany firmly in a broader European and global context. Particular strengths are in film and media studies, modern literature and intellectual history as well as in politics and political thought. Through a number of endowed fellowships, German Studies offers a summer program at the University of Leipzig, Germany. Students can also apply to the Berlin Consortium for an intensive full semester in Germany. Advanced students are able to join our honors program, where they will write an independent research thesis under the supervision of a faculty member.

Majors and minors in German Studies are critical, independent thinkers who excel intellectually and are open to the world. This gives them an extra advantage and makes them particularly attractive to global employers. Our students have received Fulbright grants and DAAD fellowships, they have interned in the German parliament, and they continue their careers at some of the best graduate and professional schools or enter the world of business, law or medicine. Our graduates also work for NGOs and in government positions, including the U.S. Department of State. Outstanding students are recognized annually with the Max Freund Prize and the Goethe Book Award.

The close connection of research, teaching and language skills lies at the heart of our curriculum. Courses on the 300 level are offered in both English and German, while 400-level advanced courses are offered exclusively in German, reinforcing and expanding language skills with readings, discussion and coursework in German. Small classes lead to exceptional opportunities for challenging discussion and independent work with leading experts.

Our courses include challenging seminars on a wide range of topics, such as German film, the Weimar Republic, the German and European Enlightenments; the Holocaust, German drama and poetry, critical theory, nationalism and citizenship, Nietzsche, Marx and Freud, avant-garde art and literature, and culture and politics after 1945. German Studies faculty also teach courses in programs, such as Jewish Studies, Cinema and Media Studies, and in Politics, Law & Social Thought.

Although German Studies is a small program, it is one of the most research active in the School of Humanities. Regular guest speakers, conferences and workshops bring leading international experts to Rice. Faculty have published on topics as wide-ranging as: eighteenth-century poetry and philosophy; philosophy and the life sciences; ethics in contemporary film and literature; constitutional law in the Weimar Republic; exile literature; avant-garde theatre; critical theory; and democracy and the global public sphere.

STUDENT PRIZES AND AWARDS

The Max Freund Prize
Bestowed on seniors majoring in German Studies who have distinguished themselves by outstanding academic achievement. The current Max Freund Prize has a value of $500.

The Goethe Book Prize
Annually awarded to the most promising junior in German Studies.