About Us

The UCLA Department of Germanic Languages is committed to scholarship and teaching in three broad areas.

First, language and linguistics.  Recognizing that Germanic languages are many, we offer instruction not only in German but also in Dutch, Afrikaans, and Yiddish as well as older Germanic languages: Gothic, Old Saxon, Old and Middle High German.  Convinced that language is fundamental to all we do, we regard the study of language per se—that is, historical and theoretical linguistics—as an important part of our common project.

Second, literature and culture in the Germanic languages.  Historical and critical literary studies have always played a central role in departments like ours.  Literature in German, from the Middle Ages to the present, gets the most attention, but that in other Germanic languages is not neglected.  Nor do we neglect the German philosophical tradition—figures like Kant, Hegel, Marx, and Freud being central to German and, more broadly, modern European culture.

Third, interdisciplinary humanistic study.  We are determined to pursue the study of Germanic languages and literatures not in isolation but in conversation with the broader, interdisciplinary study of western culture, past and present, that has flourished in the humanities over the last several decades.   At the moment our principal interdisciplinary investments are to philosophy and critical theory, linguistics, media studies, gender and sexuality studies, and Jewish studies.

Many of these fields not only overlap with one another in intellectually exciting ways but are central to the innovative research being done in the field as a whole.  While we understand that students, like faculty, will have particular areas of interest, we consider it important to insure that all students who receive degrees from this department have, in addition to a solid grounding in their principal Germanic language, some knowledge of each of the three areas outlined above that constitute our discipline.