Dear Prospective Graduate Students,
On behalf of our department, we would like to thank you for considering Berkeley’s PhD program in German Studies. As graduate students, we have a somewhat self-serving purpose in writing: we’re hoping to attract colleagues who will carry forth the department’s spirit of intellectual curiosity and engagement. In this letter, we hope to offer you a few insights into the department, the university, and the city of Berkeley.
Berkeley’s German Department is a locus of the interdisciplinary scholarship that distinguishes the university more broadly. With faculty members teaching and serving in Comparative Literature, Film & Media, Medieval Studies, Critical Theory and many other fields, our department encourages students to challenge disciplinary boundaries. We combine a solid German Studies background with an openness to comparative approaches and a variety of theoretical schools. Housing some of the best humanities and social science departments in the nation, UC Berkeley offers unparalleled opportunities to work with top scholars in history, philosophy, rhetoric, anthropology, linguistics, English and art history, to name just a few. The department’s own seminars are also enriched through the participation of a wide range of students from across the university.
For more than 20 years, we have organized an annual German Studies conference involving graduate students and faculty from around the world. The conference is organized around a central theme or problem that reflects our own research interests. Topics of past conferences include “The German Soldier,” “Berlin Cityscape,” “Finite Subjects: Mortality and Culture in Germany” and “Speaking Between: Language and Intersubjectivity.” Graduate students run the entire conference, from selecting the topic to moderating panels. In many ways, the conference reflects the collaborative and self-motivated character of our program.
As graduate students at Berkeley, we encounter a wide array of opportunities for furthering our professional development. The Townsend Center for the Humanities and the Institute for European Studies offer scholarship and research funds, support dozens of campus working groups, and sponsor numerous conferences and talks. Our own department runs the Bonwit Heine Lecture Series and the Noon Colloquium Talks. Graduate students participate in an international working group on the emergence of German modernity and also serve on the Editorial Board of TRANSIT, the first online journal of travel, migration and multiculturalism in the German-speaking world. Another ongoing departmental activity is the Multicultural Germany Project, which has produced two groundbreaking sourcebooks in English and German: Germany in Transit: Nation and Migration, 1955-2005 (2007) and Transit Deutschland: Debatten zu Nation und Migration (2011).
Many linguistic conferences and events are also held at Berkeley every year. The “Berkeley Germanics Roundtable” invites papers from a variety of German linguists, and the “Semiotic Circle” meets for a yearly conference on campus. In addition, the department hosts the “Bay Area German Field Research Project”, a working group that collects data from around the bay on topics such as bilingualism and intercultural communication.
A cosmopolitan and lively city, Berkeley might well be the most suitable place to practice your studies as a way of life. Apart from wonderful restaurants, cafes, boutiques, parks and trails, Berkeley offers nightly concerts and screenings at Cal Performances, the Pacific Film Archive and many other venues. The cities of Oakland and San Francisco are just a short subway ride away, and Napa Valley, Lake Tahoe and Yosemite National Park are within driving distance. You’ve also got our library’s world-renowned collections to keep yourself busy.
Thanks again for considering Berkeley. We are excited to collaborate with you in future years.
Department of German Graduate Students
A further note:
If you wish to apply to our top-ranked doctoral program and join our energetic group of graduate students, please consult the Graduate Division’s website for details. Although a departmental admission committee evaluates your application, it is the Graduate Division that officially admits you to the PhD program in German.
If you have a question about the program, please feel free to contact Professor Niklaus Largier (Graduate Adviser in the Literature and Culture Specialization) or Professor Thomas Shannon (Graduate Adviser in the Germanic Linguistics Specialization). Our Graduate Assistant, Andrea Rapport, will be glad to answer all queries pertaining to non-academic matters.