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About the Major

Germany’s important contemporary position, cultural legacy, and turbulent history at the center of European affairs make it an important topic of study for a wide range of interests: language and literature, government and diplomacy, international trade, science and technology. German is one of the major official languages of the European Union and is recognized as an important language of business, particularly in Eastern Europe. At Hamilton, German studies majors work closely with professors in small classes and spend at least one semester studying in Germany.

A Sampling of Courses

German Studies

First-Term German

Introduction to the German language. Exercises in aural comprehension, speaking, reading and writing reinforced by short cultural and literary texts. No previous knowledge of German required.

Explore these select courses:

Continued development of German grammar and vocabulary with cultural and literary texts, including works by Kafka, Dürrenmatt and Brecht, and song texts by contemporary Liedermacher. Practice in oral and written work.

Investigation of the Bauhaus from its origins in WWI to its 1933 shutdown by the Nazis. Examination of the relationship between art and technology, along with the social and political implications of modern design. Topics include the Bauhaus’ interdisciplinary and experimental approach, its position within larger intellectual debates of early twentieth-century Germany, and its impact on modern art and design across the world.

Introduction to German cinema from the Weimar era to the present. Examination of seminal films from Fritz Lang’s M to Sebastian Schipper’s Victoria, we also explore Germany’s history from the 1930s to the twenty-first century. Emphasis on the medium’s relationship to history, propaganda, memory, identity, and entertainment. Close attention paid to the formal language and thematic preoccupations of expressionist and avant-garde cinema, fascist cinema, New German Cinema, and the New Berlin school. Works by filmmakers such as Riefenstahl, Herzog, Fassbinder, Petzold, and Akin.

This course is an introductory study of key writings by Karl Marx, Friedrich Nietzsche, and Sigmund Freud, three authors indicating revolution of critical thought in the 19 th and early 20th centuries. The goal of this course is to develop a tool-kit for engaging with Critical Theory and contemporary discourses in the humanities and social sciences. We will investigate historical and philosophical foundations of key concepts such as "interpretation," "subject," "history," "society," "morality," and "aesthetics."

Study of post-1945 literature with focus on Austria, the emergence of two contrasting Germanies, and the Neuanschluss leading to unification. Texts by Bachmann, Bernhard, Böll, Grass, Seghers, Wolf and others. Taught in German.

Meet Our Faculty

John Eldevik

Professor of History, Chair of the Department of German, Russian, Italian, and Arabic

social and economic history of the early Middle Ages; history of law and mechanisms of conflict resolution; the perceptions of non-Christian peoples and lands in medieval manuscript culture

Alan Cafruny

Henry Platt Bristol Professor of International Relations

international political economy, European politics, U.S. foreign policy

Michael Lipkin

Visiting Assistant Professor of German Studies

literary realism; ethics, political, and social history of Germany; documentary literature

Franziska Schweiger

Assistant Professor of German Studies

Explore Hamilton Stories

Two students talking at a table in Commons dining hall.

Speaking of Grabbing a Meal …

Amidst the bustling crowds at Commons and McEwen dining halls, language faculty and students sit around a table to enjoy a meal while conversing in their chosen studied language. Hamilton’s “language tables,” as they are known, provide both valuable speaking experience and community building opportunities.

Eamon Gibbons ’21

Spreading the Word about Germany as a DAAD Ambassador

Given the chance to serve as a Young Ambassador for The German Academic Exchange Service, Eamon Gibbons ’21, a biology major and German minor, eagerly said yes.

Charlotte Carstens ’16 during a fellowship in Berlin.

Follow The Passion (German), Find the Career (Foreign Service)

The sequence of events lined up perfectly. In July, Charlotte Carstens ’16 finished up a five-month fellowship at the German Bundestag in Berlin just in time to begin a two-year master’s program in German and European studies at Georgetown University’s Walsh School of Foreign Service.

Careers After Hamilton

Hamilton graduates who concentrated in German studies are pursuing careers in a variety of fields, including:

  • William H. Laird Professor of German, Carleton College
  • Webmaster, IBM Corp.
  • Vice President, Deutsche Bank Americas
  • Senior Vice President, Coca-Cola Company
  • President, World Emergency Relief
  • Head of Languages, St. Paul's School
  • General Counsel, Westdeutsche Landesbank Girozentrale
  • Director, International Technology Office, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
  • Director, Copyright, Public Broadcasting Service
  • Designer, EuroEast Tours
  • Bureau Chief, Financial Times


Department Name

German Studies Program

Contact Name

John Eldevik, Chair

Office Location
198 College Hill Road
Clinton, NY 13323

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