German Language and Literatures
Department Chair:
Elizabeth Hamilton

Administrative Assistant:
Polly Bratton

Department Email:

Phone: 440 7758650
Fax: 440 7756355

Peters Hall 222
50 N. Professor St.
Oberlin, OH, 44074

Office Hours: 8:30a - noon and 1:00p - 3:30p

German Language and Literatures

German Language and Literatures

Department Overview

Open House for 2011 German graduates and alumni

Front row: Elizabeth Parisi, Charlotte Beers, Elise Christmon, Anna Betzel, Maggie Gruner, Katy Holihan, Katie Hart
Second row: Matthew Crothamel, Steve Huff, Heidi Thomann Tewarson
Back row: Elizabeth Hamilton, Sonja Boos

German literature and German studies offer students the opportunity to immerse themselves in the rich language and literature of the German-speaking world. Our courses ask students to reflect on the nature and value of literary, cinematic, and artistic works as part of a larger inquiry into the meaning of life. Through intensive study of canonical and contemporary works in the original German language, our majors and minors develop inquisitiveness, critical analysis, judgment, wisdom, creativity, and appreciation for literature and art. Courses in translation offer the campus community insights into culture and history that foster self-awareness on the part of the reader and respect for people around the world.

Our strength is in our faculty’s personal attention to students and confidence in the merits of German language and literary study.

Study of related subjects such as French, European history, comparative literature, philosophy, cinema studies, and the history of music and art provide students with a well-rounded Oberlin education. A degree in German or German studies often leads to graduate work in German or comparative literature, library science, or linguistics. Our graduates also have rewarding careers in education, government, music, the nonprofit sector, international business, journalism, medicine, and law, both in the United States and in Europe.


Curriculum Overview

German faculty 2008

From the left: Thomas Wild, Ines BrĂ¼nner, Lisa Mehling, Steve Huff, and Heidi ThomannTewarson

Recognizing the cultural dimensions of language, the German department teaches linguistic skills through classroom and cocurricular activities that allow students to acquire real proficiency and cultural understanding. Literature in the form of short stories, poems, and contemporary novels are introduced already at the beginning and intermediate level of language courses. In literary survey courses, students acquire a good knowledge and understanding of the literature of Germany, Austria, and Switzerland from 1700 to the present in its socio-historical and aesthetic context. At the advanced level, majors explore some of the major critical approaches to literature as well as literary topics in depth.

Our Max Kade German Writer-in-Residence Program, which brings a prominent German, Austrian, or Swiss author to campus for a 10-week residency, enhances our study of German literatures in unique ways. The program, now more than 40 years old, receives funding from the Max Kade Foundation, whose mission is to support diverse educational initiatives that promote German studies and international understanding.

The faculty strongly recommends participation in the different study abroad programs sponsored by the department. Majors should spend one term or preferably a full academic year in a German-speaking country. We believe that “otherness” should not only be explained, read, and talked about but also experienced. We also encourage all majors to live in the college’s Max Kade German House, a coeducational residence hall for 38 students. Kade House residents can immerse themselves in German language and culture through daily contact with native speakers. Guest lectures, film screenings, writer-in-residence readings, and social gatherings make the Kade House a focal point for German study at Oberlin.


Upcoming Events

   Exchange Scholarship Winner - Sarah Heineken

We are pleased to report that sophomore German major Sarah Heineken has just received the German Exchange Scholarship, awarded jointly by the Oberlin Department of German and the Verband der Deutsch-Amerikanischen Clubs. Sarah will spend the academic year 2013-2014 studying at the German university.



Five Fulbright Awards Announced

Five Oberlin seniors have been awarded Fulbright stipends for study in Germany in 2013-2014. 

Congratulations to

Spike Enzweiler,

Kara Kralik,

Sophia Bamert,

Anna Band

and Jacob Street!



Exchange Scholarship Winner - Theo McCarthy

Theo McCarthy

We are pleased to report that sophomore German major Theo McCarthy has just received the German Exchange Scholarship, awarded jointly by the Oberlin Department of German and the Verband der Deutsch-Amerikanischen Clubs. Theo will spend the academic year 2013-2014 studying at the German university in Hamburg.