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The Ph.D. in German Studies

The Ph.D. Program in German Studies is currently not accepting applications. 

Program Overview

The Ph.D. Program in German Studies at Vanderbilt University prepares a select group of highly qualified students with interdisciplinary backgrounds for successful careers in the Humanities—as scholars, teachers, and in areas outside of the traditional academy. We expose our graduate students to a wide range of intellectual experiences, whether their primary interests are in literature, history, visual culture, media art and aesthetics, sound studies, or intellectual history.

Internationally recognized for their innovative scholarship and interdisciplinary reach, Vanderbilt’s faculty in German Studies form dynamic research clusters that cut across traditional boundaries of the academy. These include:  

  • historical approaches to the nineteenth- to twenty-first century German literature and culture: from Romantic poetry to multilingual, stateless, and migrant writing today; from exploring different ideas of authorship to computational methods of literary analysis. 
  • twenty and twenty-first century visual culture and media studies: from Weimar cinema to contemporary photography; from classical film theory to digital media art and aesthetics.
  • sound and music studies: from musical romanticism to avant-garde opera; from Schoenberg to contemporary sound art practice.
  • the history, theory, and practice of cultural curation: from the role of archives, museum collections,  performance venues, film festivals and other media distribution channels, to the history of reading, the book, and editorial practices in modern German-speaking cultures
  • German  intellectual history: from German idealism to Critical Theory; from Nietzsche, Benjamin, and Arendt to twenty-first century eco-philosophy. 

Vanderbilt’s Ph.D. Program in German Studies urges its students to participate in robust interdisciplinary conversations and collaborative modes of inquiry. In addition to hands-on training in teaching, grant proposal writing, and assembling application portfolios, we offer a plethora of workshops on all aspects of professionalization.


We work together with a variety of interdisciplinary units and research centers to provide students with a broad understanding of historical backgrounds, cultural developments, teaching strategies, artistic practices, theoretical approaches, and practical uses to media. Partners and resources include the:

Applying to the Program

For inquiries about the program, please email our Director of Graduate Studies, Meike Werner.