German Department


Academic Program Information

The department’s curriculum provides a critical engagement with Germany’s intellectual and artistic legacy. All language courses are taught in German and include work in the language lab, as well as tutorials with the language scholar. From the outset, we encourage students to explore cultural and historical materials in the original. The first year focuses on all four language skills. In the second year, we pursue a comprehensive approach to reading, writing, and speaking through the study of selected literary and sociopolitical themes. The advanced class in composition and conversation completes the language track in the third year.

Upper-level courses in the department are organized thematically and historically, often emphasizing interdisciplinary study. A flexible two-track program for majors explores a variety of perspectives on the analysis of texts. Students who select the concentration in literature may focus their thesis work on a particular author, period, or paradigm. They are also encouraged to consider broader questions about the nature of interpretation and criticism. The culture studies concentration gives students the opportunity to explore the German intellectual tradition through the methodological perspectives of a variety of fields, including philosophy, history, anthropology, and sociology. Students who pursue this track can take two of their required courses in other departments. In their thesis they may combine literary and non-literary analyses or write on exclusively non-literary problems. With both concentrations, it may be possible for students to work on particular areas of interest in an independent study. Details of the requirements for each track are listed below.


Students with a background in German take a placement test during orientation week and are placed into either second- or third-year German, according to their performance.

Course Requirements

Concentration in Literature

  1. First- and second-year German (German 110, German 220), or the equivalent.
  2. German 311 or the equivalent in the Munich program.
  3. Six German literature courses in German at the 300 or 400 level. German 311 will not be accepted as one of the six courses. At least four of the six courses must be taken at Reed.
  4. Thesis (470).
  5. At least one semester or summer institute in Germany.

Recommended but not required:

  1. German or modern European history.
  2. German philosophy.
  3. Humanities 220.

Concentration in Culture Studies

  1. First- and second-year German (German 110, German 220) or the equivalent.
  2. German 311 or the equivalent in the Munich program.
  3. Six upper-division courses in the German department and related disciplines. (German 311 will not be accepted as one of these six courses.) Four of these must be upper-division offerings in the German department. Two of the selected courses must be taken in German. The remaining two courses can be selected from departments related to the German culture studies program, such as history, art history, and philosophy.
  4. One course in German history.
  5. Humanities 220.
  6. Thesis (470).
  7. One year of study abroad at the University of Munich program or another approved institution is strongly advised.