German Studies at the University of Michigan is one of the most innovative Ph.D. programs in the country, unmatched in our commitment to transdisciplinarity. The department offers a program of study rich in breadth, depth, and disciplinary scope. The graduate program is designed to satisfy a set of core competencies in German Studies. Students are required to take courses from an array of curricular rubrics designed to give them deep exposure to several different subdisciplinary discourses.
The department offers all students in the Ph.D. program a five-year package of full funding support. This comprises a combination of fellowships, graduate student instructor positions, graduate school stipends, and summer funding. In addition, we provide health insurance, an excellent library, and a vibrant atmosphere conducive to sustained intellectual development. The department actively provides assistance in securing additional external and internal grants.
Students are encouraged to satisfy course requirements within the German Department before exploring course options elsewhere. However, students can pursue Graduate Certificates in a number of interdisciplinary areas including LGBTQ Studies, Museum Studies, Screen Arts and Cultures, and Women’s Studies. Joint Ph.D.s in German and another field are possible in principle at the University of Michigan. Such degrees can be negotiated ad hoc at any time after the end of the first semester, if the other discipline agrees to admit the candidate. Several students originally admitted to the Ph.D. in German Studies have succeeded in negotiating such programs over the years, but this possibility cannot be guaranteed in advance.
Ela Gezen, Assistant Professor, UMass Amherst (UM PhD 2012)
“My interdisciplinary graduate training at the University of Michigan provided me with the tools to include and engage with a wide variety of ‘objects’ in my research and teaching. This has proven especially useful in my approach to teaching music. While I always include music in my courses, at the University of Massachusetts, where I have been working as Assistant Professor of German since 2012, I designed and taught a new course that solely focuses on the significance of music in the German context. Incorporating different genres, such as opera, classical music, workers’ marches, jazz, punk, Oriental rap and techno, in this class we explore the role music has occupied regarding conceptualizations of Germanness since the late 18th century. By listening to Amadeus Mozart, Ludwig van Beethoven, Aziza-A, and Rammstein students examine how music responds to, represents and reflects upon transformations in German society, history, and culture. In addition to listening to the music itself, students watch films and documentaries, and read theoretical texts on the cultural study of music. Throughout this class students thus acquire the vocabulary and practice to talk about music, and more generally its relationship to society, politics, and history.”
Seth Howes, Assistant Professor, University of Missouri Columbia (UM PhD 2012)
“During my time at Michigan, the department’s radically interdisciplinary conception of a German Studies graduate curriculum had me taking courses in Political Science, Musicology, and Screen Arts and Cultures. This variety in my course work did more than merely reflect my admittedly eclectic research interests, or enrich the theoretical basis of my unusual dissertation project on the visual, material, and musical cultures of East German punk rock.
As an assistant professor, I have found that rather than make me a jack of all trades but master of none, the breadth of my seminar work and dissertation research also prepared me to teach courses on German cultures of the Cold War, to design a seminar on Civilization and Barbarism in German Culture which incorporates philosophical writing and visual art, and to further develop my research profile as a theorist and critic of texts in a variety of medias and genres. The innovative curriculum and hands-on mentoring at Michigan, not to mention the opportunities graduate students have to teach self-designed topics courses at the fourth-semester level, have truly enabled me to succeed in my role as both teacher, and advisor.”