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.
The German Studies Program covers the entire tradition of German history and culture, from early modern times to the present, placing Germany firmly in a broader European and Atlantic context. Particular strengths are in film and media studies, modern intellectual history and 18th–20th-century literature as well as politics and political thought. Through a number of endowed fellowships, the program offers summer 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.
Our students 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. German Studies majors have received Fulbright grants 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. 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.
Apart from historical surveys of German culture and literature from 1700 to the present, our courses include intensive seminars on a wide range of topics, such as German film; the Weimar Republic; the Age of Goethe; the German and European Enlightenment; the Holocaust; German drama and poetry; critical theory; nationalism and citizenship; Nietzsche, Marx and Freud; avant-garde art and literature; and political culture and public policy 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 international leading experts to Rice. Faculty have published on topics as wide-ranging as: 18th-century poetry and philosophy; 19th-century 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.