German Studies

German Studies

Collection Area

German Studies


German, like other modern languages, found its way into the Dartmouth curriculum in the middle of the nineteenth century. In the early years of the twentieth century, the Dartmouth course catalog listed language courses in the Languages and Literature section, which in the 1920s split into separate listings for ancient and modern languages. By the 1930s, language and other academic departments were listed separately. In the academic year 1996-1997, in recognition of the increased emphasis on cultural studies as well as literature, the name of the department was changed from German Language and Literature to German Studies.

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General Purpose

This policy statement is intended to treat the holdings and acquisition of materials in support of the course offerings and research interests of the Department of German Studies. Although the principal area of study comprises the German language and its literatures, the history and culture of German-speaking countries have always been important components of the course offerings.

The German collection proper provides coverage of German language, literature, and civilization in all appropriate geographical areas and time periods. In breadth and depth, collecting is consonant with the teaching and research activities of the Department of German Studies.

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Dartmouth College Program

The German Studies Department offers courses leading to the bachelor's degree. Austrian and Swiss-German literatures are an integral component of the program. We had always obtained works by East German authors whenever possible, and we now collect works by authors from all parts of the reunified country. Course offerings concentrate on the period from the mid-eighteenth century to the present, but occasionally topics in medieval literature are also offered. The Age of Goethe, Romanticism, and Expressionism are emphasized. There is special interest in the years of the Second World War and its aftermath, particularly exile literature and the Holocaust. Several courses concentrate on works by women authors, ethnic minorities,  and on interdisciplinary topics in German culture, and there is considerable interest in German film. The collection includes some works at a minimal level in other Germanic languages, mainly in English translation.

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General Subject Boundaries

Germanic languages and literatures fall into the PD, PF, and PT classes of the Library of Congress. Pre-1964 acquisitions are in the 830s of the Dewey Decimal System. General literary theory and criticism are classed in PN (treated in the Literature Policy Statement, which also includes literatures for which there are no current separate policy statements). History, philosophy, art, music, and other performing arts are important disciplines for German studies; the reader is referred to policy statements in these areas. Interdisciplinary works and publications in women's studies are also important in the German program. The department offers foreign-study programs in Berlin .

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Besides German-language materials, works of history and criticism are also acquired in English and other western European languages, where pertinent. English translations of major literary works, contemporary fiction, drama and poetry,  and important works of criticism are also acquired.

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Geographic Areas

While the overwhelming output of literature is produced in Germany and Austria, the collection does include other German-language materials, for example Swiss and German-American literature. This latter category includes works of the nineteenth century and exile literature.

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Types Of Material Collected

Works of intrinsic merit in all genres are acquired. In order to expedite the acquisition of current works in belles lettres, the Library receives on standing order from Harrassowitz the works of approximately forty contemporary writers.  The criterion of intrinsic merit is likewise applied to the purchase of secondary works. Standing-order series are monitored to determine their level of academic quality and relevance to the collection. The collection consists of monographs and a wide range of serials dealing with German studies, both general and specific.

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Format Of Materials Collected

Most materials are collected in paper volumes; a small portion of the collection is in microform.  In recent years, a significant number of VHS videos and DVDs of German films has been added to the collection.

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Other Resources Available

The Max Kade Center,  an important resource for students of German culture,  provides affinity housing for twenty students of German. It contains a library, seminar rooms, and a lounge for cultural and social events such as lectures, small conferences, and film showings.

Revision History

February 1992 (Lois A. Krieger) 
June 1999 (Lois A. Krieger)
November 2009 (Reinhart Sonnenburg)


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Daniel H. Abosso