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The Ph.D. Program in German Studies

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: 

  • Nineteenth to twenty-first century German literature: from Romantic poetry to multilingual, stateless, and migrant writing today; from exploring different ideas of authorship to computational methods of literary analysis.
  • German history and cultural history: from questions of nationhood to the history of the Holocaust; from histories of nature and various religious movements to stories of exile and forced migration.
  • Visual culture and media studies: from Weimar cinema to contemporary photography; from classical film theory to digital media art and aesthetics.
  • Music and sound studies: from musical romanticism to avant-garde opera; from Schoenberg to contemporary sound art practice.
  • German and German-Jewish 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 research centers such as the Max Kade Center for European and German Studies, the Center of Second Language Studies, and the Robert Penn Warren Center for the Humanities to provide students with a broad understanding of historical backgrounds, cultural developments, artistic practices, theoretical approaches, and practical uses to media. Many of our students make ample use of resources such as the Teaching Certificate Program and the Graduate Certificate in Second Language Studies, actively participate in programs offered by the Center for the Digital Humanities, and join the new Joint-Ph.D. Program in Comparative Media Analysis and Practice (CMAP).