The German program at the Johns Hopkins University is among the most distinguished in North America. It has been a leading force in literary criticism and is internationally recognized for its strength in German and Yiddish literature from the Enlightenment to the present, as well as interdisciplinary approaches to the humanities.
Since the 1980s, the faculty members have spearheaded efforts to study the interface of literature with philosophy, psychoanalysis, religion, science, gender studies, and new media. The interdisciplinary orientation of the faculty has put the program at the forefront of the field in North America and abroad.
The German program is committed to the study of the hermeneutic tradition and its critique. It is also home to the Yiddish language, literature, and culture offerings at Johns Hopkins. In addition to its own distinguished faculty, the program hosts regular visitors from European universities, who offer seminars at both the undergraduate and graduate levels.
The German language program includes a wide range of courses from introductory German to advanced composition and conversation as well as classes focused on cultural topics, business, and the language of science.
The section has active graduate exchange programs with the Freie Universität Berlin, Humboldt Universität zu Berlin, and Universität Hamburg. The department also participates in the Berlin Consortium, and undergraduates can study there for a semester or a year.
Learning goals for students who declare a major in German at Johns Hopkins:
- German majors develop a solid proficiency in German allowing them to effectively participate in discussions, read complex material, write critical essays, and give oral presentations in the foreign language. In addition to achieving communicative competencies, students will be capable of critically reflecting on language learning experiences. They conceive language and other media as meaning-making practices and are sensitive to the inextricable relationship of language/media and culture.
- Upon graduation, majors are capable of analyzing a wide array of German texts and cultural objects with attention to the role of genre (poetry, novel, drama, film, etc.), style, and socio-historical context. In so doing, they are aware of the accepted critical vocabulary and a variety of methods including close reading, discourse analysis, and interdisciplinary approaches to literature.
- German majors acquire a familiarity with the literature, philosophy, and culture of the German-speaking world and understand its contribution to international issues of contemporary and historical concern. This familiarity includes advanced knowledge of historical periods of German literature with its major authors/works, and the broad intellectual tradition of German thought from the Enlightenment to the present.
- German majors develop the capacity for rigorous critical thinking in an interdisciplinary and trans-national context. They are aware of cultural diversity and can view themselves and the world from multiple perspectives. Against this backdrop, students will be able to evaluate and interpret texts and cultural objects with respect to their premises, implicit meanings and underlying power relations. They can judge the claims of competing points of view and use this critical perspective to build their own arguments, which is the starting point for all original and valid scholarly research.