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About Us

About Us

Welcome to the Department of Germanic Languages and Literatures at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Distinguished by its broad range, its long history, and its award-winning faculty, the department teaches German and Scandinavian languages, and offers courses in literary and cultural studies from the Middle Ages to the present, in historical and applied linguistics, and in film studies and critical theory. Our students and faculty take advantage of one of the greatest academic libraries in the country.

The department provides undergraduate students with a solid training in all aspects of German and Scandinavian languages and an in-depth understanding of the cultures expressed in these languages. Through varied course offerings, students have the chance to explore the history and structure of the languages and their multifaceted use in literature, culture, and business. They gain an understanding of the significance of the German and the Scandinavian traditions, while developing their critical and analytical skills both in those languages and in English. The well-established and highly successful Austria- Illinois program provides study abroad opportunity in Vienna that is optimally synchronized with the departmental offerings and requirements. Instructors in the undergraduate program have won departmental, college-wide, and campus- wide teaching awards and are regularly highly rated on the incomplete list of teachers ranked as excellent. The course offerings are supplemented by weekly conversation groups in German and Scandinavian languages, the monthly Deutscher Filmabend, and by extracurricular events organized by the student- run Deutschclub. Membership in the local chapter of the national German honorary society, Delta Phi Alpha, is also possible. Students can obtain a Bachelor of Arts in one of the following tracks: German and Commercial Studies, Modern German Studies, Language and Literature, Language Studies, and Scandinavian Studies. We train future high school teachers of German, and for this purpose offer a B.A.T. degree.The department also offers a 5-year combined B.A./M.A. degree and a combined B.A.T./M.A. degree.

The graduate program of the Department of Germanic Languages and Literatures offers both M.A. and Ph.D. degrees in German. M.A. students receive in-depth training in all areas of German language and literature. Ph.D. students specialize in literature, cultural studies, or in linguistics. They also have the option of incorporating Scandinavian languages, literatures, and cultures. Students are further encouraged to take advantage of the rich and interdisciplinary offerings of the university. They may supplement course work in the Department with study in other departments and programs such as the Program in Medieval Studies, the Program in Comparative Literature, the Unit for Cinema Studies, the Unit for Criticism and Interpretive Theory, the Women's Studies Program, the Program in Jewish Culture and Society, the Program in Second Language Acquisition/Teacher Education [SLATE], or the Department of Linguistics. Students can obtain minors or certificates from these various programs.

The department regularly wins funding from competitive grant programs such as the Max Kade Foundation, the Humboldt Foundation, the German Academic Exchange Program, Fulbright, and the Swedish Institute. Each spring, we host a visiting professor from Germany under the auspices of the Max Kade program, and we maintain a faculty exchange with the University of Göttingen. We have a remarkably active intellectual climate with a robust lecture series and program of regular conferences, colloquia, and symposia, at which we host a wide range of guests and speakers from Germany, Scandinavia, and the United States. All faculty pursue an active research agenda and regularly publish and present their research in major academic venues.

Our graduate students are regularly funded for study abroad during the academic year, either as part of our exchanges with German universities or under the auspices of Fulbright or the German Academic Exchange Service. They also participate in summer programs and conduct summer research at academic institutions and libraries in the U.S. and abroad. Dissertation fellowships are available through the School of Literatures, Cultures, and Linguistics as well as from the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

The department provides graduate student instructors with solid pedagogical training to take on diverse teaching assignments within the curriculum, ranging from beginning to advanced levels of German and Swedish language instruction to upper-division, writing-intensive literature courses in English. Our graduate students are socialized into the college-level teaching profession through numerous opportunities to develop teaching expertise, including: graduate coursework on second language acquisition, pedagogy, and classroom-based research; TA orientations and workshops; classroom observation across various instructional levels within the undergraduate curriculum; mentored team- teaching opportunities; classroom visits by faculty; and support of participation in professional organizations. They are also involved in curricular work, assisting in test construction, course development, and program coordination. Through careful mentoring by the faculty, our graduate student instructors are guided to become self-directed and critically reflective teachers who are able to make informed pedagogical decisions within a curricular environment.

The Department of Germanic Languages and Literatures directly contributes on several significant levels to the university’s mission. By teaching over eighty-five percent of our courses to non-majors and through the oldest, and arguably largest, study abroad exchange program on campus we fulfill a dual role: contributing at all levels to the greater campus strategic plan, while growing responsibly excellent undergraduate and graduate programs. More than eighty- five percent of our total instruction is provided to undergraduates, and more than eighty-one percent to non-departmental students. We make the University of Illinois a global campus, right here in real time and in local space by sending students from over thirty majors to Austria in a well-run program with an outstanding infrastructure, and bringing between thirty and forty Austrian students annually to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.