Students of widely varying backgrounds and interests have to date found themselves at home in this intellectually open and inviting environment. Graduate students in our literature program have written dissertations on subjects ranging from visuality in medieval literature to the representation of women in new German cinema, from urbanism in the Enlightenment to the politics of the Frankfurt School, from the construction of the witch in early modern Germany to a book-length analysis of Celan’s “Todesfuge.” Our Germanic linguistics students have addressed such topics as causation in sound change, the cognitive and sociolinguistic emergence of German ‘Sie,’ the semiotics of Germanic culture, and the syntactic/semantic typology of German, English, Korean. Many of these studies have been published.
We encourage our students to complement their coursework in German by taking classes in other departments. Interdisciplinary training is facilitated by the requirement that students include faculty from other disciplines as members of their doctoral examination and dissertation committees. In addition, several members of the German faculty have affiliations with other departments and programs: Comparative Literature, Scandinavian, Theater Arts, Medieval Studies, Education, Jewish Studies, Film Studies.
In the past our graduate students have worked variously with Judith Butler on Kafka and gender issues, and with Kaja Silverman on Freud and Lacan (both in Rhetoric). They have worked on European intellectual history with Martin Jay and on German social and institutional history with Thomas Brady, Gerald Feldman, and John Connelly (History). Some have studied metaphor as a structure of the mind with George Lakoff and Eve Sweetser (Linguistics), and bilingualism with Susan Ervin-Tripp and Dan Slobin (Psychology). Others have taken courses in Women’s Studies from Caren Kaplan and Trinh Minh-Ha. They have attended seminars in Philosophy with Hubert Dreyfus on Heidegger, Hans Sluga on Wittgenstein, and John Searle on the philosophy of language. They have also worked with Linda Williams in Film Studies, Alan Dundes in Anthopology, and Kathleen James in Architecture.
Of course students from other departments also take our seminars. This crossdisciplinary exchange, which enriches everyone involved, contributes to the distinctive quality of the intellectual life in the department and on campus.