German Studies in the United States

A Historical Handbook

  • Editor: Peter Uwe Hohendahl
  • Pages: viii + 576
  • Published: 2003
  • ISBN: 9780873529891 (Paperback)
  • ISBN: 9780873529884 (Cloth)
German Studies in the United States Cover

“Without doubt, Hohendahl and his team have provided the most comprehensive inquiry on the historical, cultural, methodological, and organizational foundations of Germanics in the United States thus far.”

—István Gombocz, University of South Dakota

“This is a superb historical and critical study of Germanistik in the USA, the first of its kind, and it should be required reading for any student entering the field and for all the scholars already in the field.”

—Jack Zipes, University of Minnesota

In the United States, German studies traces its beginnings to the late nineteenth century, when research universities were founded on the German model. The dominance of German as a foreign language before World War I and the decline in enrollments during that war are salient points in the discipline’s social history. Today German studies finds itself at a crossroads, facing unexpected change in the structure of higher education and in the cultural and economic support for studying language and literature.

Instead of taking a narrative or chronological approach, this volume foregrounds multiple, heterogeneous aspects of German as a discipline. They include

  • the composition of the professoriat, employment patterns, the place of women 

  • the dramatic effects of World Wars I and II, and of the Soviet Sputnik success, on enrollments, jobs, and budgets 

  • the support—and indifference—of the large (once 4 million people) German American community

  • the role of research universities, leading scholars, major books in the field

  • the role of professional organizations, conferences, and journals

  • the Americanization of German studies

  • the role of Jewish scholars and of the Holocaust

  • the fact of there having been two Germanys

German Studies in the United States is an important contribution to the history of higher education in this country.