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German studies is the field of humanities that researches, documents, and disseminates German language and literature in both its historic and present forms. Academic departments of German studies often include classes on German culture, German history, and German politics in addition to the language and literature component. Common German names for the field are Germanistik, Deutsche Philologie, and Deutsche Sprachwissenschaft und Literaturwissenschaft. In English the terms Germanistics or Germanics are sometimes used (mostly by Germans), but the subject is more often referred to as German studies, German language and literature, or German philology.

Modern German studies is usually seen as a combination of two sub-disciplines: German linguistics and Germanophone literature studies.

German linguistics


German linguistics is traditionally called philology in Germany, as there is something of a difference between philologists and linguists. It is roughly divided as follows:

In addition, the discipline examines German under various aspects: the way it is spoken and written, i.e., spelling; declination; vocabulary; sentence structure; texts; etc. It compares the various manifestations such as social groupings (slang, written texts, etc.) and geographical groupings (dialects, etc.).

German literature studies


The study German literature is divided into two parts: Ältere Deutsche Literaturwissenschaft deals with the period from the beginnings of German in the early Middle Ages up to post-Medieval times around AD 1750, while the modern era is covered by Neuere Deutsche Literaturwissenschaft. The field systematically examines German literature in terms of genre, form, content, and motifs as well as looking at it historically by author and epoch. Important areas include edition philology, history of literature, and textual interpretation. The relationships of German literature to the literatures of other languages (e.g. reception and mutual influences) and historical contexts are also important areas of concentration. The Penguin Dictionary of Literary Terms and Literary Theory: Fourth Edition (ISBN 0-14-051363-9) is printed in English but contains many German-language literary terms that apply cross-culturally in the field of literary criticism; quite a few of the in terms in the book originated in German but have since been adopted by English-language critics and scholars.

German teacher education


At least in Germany and Austria, German studies in academia play a central role in the education of German school teachers. Their courses usually cover four fields:[1]

  • Linguistics of German (Sprachwissenschaft)
  • German language and literature of up to about 1750 (Ältere Sprache und Literatur)
  • German language and literature since approximately 1750 (Neuere Literaturwissenschaft)
  • Specifics of the didactics of teaching German (Fachdidaktik)

Several universities offer specialized curricula for school teachers, usually called "Deutsch (Lehramt)". In Germany, they are leading to a two step exam and certificate by the federal states of Germany cultural authorities, called the Staatsexamen ("state exam").

German media studies


In recent years, German has looked for links with the fields of communications, cultural studies and media studies. In addition, the sub-branch of film studies has established itself.

History


As an unsystematic field of interest for individual scholars, German studies can be traced back to Tacitus' Germania. The publication and study of legal and historical source material, such as Medieval Bible translations, were all undertaken during the German Renaissance of the sixteenth century, truly initiating the field of German studies. As an independent university subject, German studies was introduced at the beginning of the nineteenth century by Georg Friedrich Benecke, the Brothers Grimm, and Karl Lachmann.

University departments and research institutions


  • Department of Germanic Studies, Trinity College, The University of Dublin, Ireland[30]
  • Department of German, National University of Ireland – University College Cork, Cork, Ireland[31]

"German studies" is taught at many German universities. Some examples are:

See also


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