Literary and philosophical texts don’t exist in a historical vacuum, and thus, their study must be concerned with the cultural context to which they respond and which they in turn help to produce. The faculty members affiliated with UCLA’s Department of Germanic Languages have strengths not only in the modern era (from the 18th through the 21st century), but also in the medieval and early modern periods. Professor Schultz is one of the world’s experts in the medieval culture of childhood and his work is deeply concerned with the history of gender and sexuality studies. Professor Presner's research crosses 19th and 20th century literature and cultural studies, with a particular emphasis in German-Jewish studies, intellectual history, and visual culture. Professor McCumber teaches courses on German philosophy and general education courses on "great thinkers" (including Marx, Nietzsche, and Freud). He also works on Hegel, Kant, Heidegger, and the Frankfurt School and the development of Critical Theory. Professor Zubiaurre works on late-19th and early 20th century German and Spanish thought, with particular interests in German realism, psychoanalysis, the visual cultures of sexuality and gender in 20th century Europe, and new media studies. Affiliated faculty include: Professor Kathleen Komar (Comparative Literature and German), who works on feminist approaches to literary studies and especially post-45 literature and thought; and Professor Ken Reinhard (English and Comparative Literature) who directs UCLA's Program in Experimental Critical Theory and works at the nexus of performance and opera.
While we seek to represent the work of the so-called "master thinkers" of the Enlightenment and post-Enlightenment, German philosophy is also the main source of postmodern literary, cultural, and political theory. When Derrida thinks in the name of Heideggerean Destruktion and Foucault speaks of Nietzschean Genealogie, it is no idle word play.
Among the philosophers taught in the Germanic Languages Department are Kant, Hegel, Fichte, Schelling, Nietzsche, Heidegger, Adorno, Benjamin, Gadamer, and Habermas.
All philosophy courses are taught in English translation. Literature courses are generally taught in German.