Ours is widely recognized as one of the most distinguished graduate programs in German Studies in the United States. Talented and ambitious students choose to come to us from all parts of the world. In recent years alone, our students have declined offers from some of the most prominent universities in the country, including Berkeley, Princeton, Yale, and Columbia, to join our program instead. They are drawn here for many reasons, but these are the ten most frequently mentioned.
1. Comprehensive program. The expertise of our faculty is unmatched in its breadth. We offer courses in German literature and culture from the Middle Ages through the Digital Age. We have strong offerings in Germanic philology (Old Norse, Old and Middle High German, Old Saxon, Gothic, Yiddish) as well as a rigorous program in Germanic theoretical linguistics. No matter what our students may be interested in, they are likely to find an interlocutor among the faculty. And like the faculty, all of our students work with the many distinguished programs on campus that adjoin our field, such as Comparative Literature, History, Jewish Studies, Medieval Studies, Linguistics, Gender Studies, History and Philosophy of Science, Political Theory, and English, among others.
2. Distinguished faculty. Every member of our faculty is active in research and scholarship, and every one has either earned or is on the path to earning an international reputation in his or her field. The faculty has won MLA book prizes, been awarded prestigious fellowships (NEH, Humboldt, ACLS, Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin, IFK in Vienna), and invited to present keynote addresses at international conferences. Though our areas of expertise and our theoretical approaches vary (there is no Bloomington School), all of us share a commitment to theoretical sophistication and conceptual rigor.
3. Dynamic department. While ours is one of the largest departments of German Studies in the country, it is also one of the youngest. Nine of the fourteen tenured or tenure-track members of the faculty have joined us since 2000. This ensures a steady infusion of new energy and fresh ideas.
4. Demanding curriculum. With the range of interests represented in the Department, the curriculum cannot help but be flexible. It is also quite challenging. Our students take a substantial number of courses in a broad range of areas, and all must pass a qualifying examination based on a comprehensive reading list. We have found that such breadth yields not only more significant dissertations but also greater success on the job market.
5. Rigorous pedagogical training. We take teaching seriously. All students take part not only in intensive, hands-on training in second-language pedagogy, reinforced by teaching at all levels of the language curriculum, but also enjoy the possibility of advanced study in second-language acquisition. Many students take advantage of the opportunity of offering upper-level courses in literature and culture, both in the department and elsewhere on campus. The excellent reputation of our training program has played an important part in placing our students in good positions.
6. Intensive mentoring. Fostering close faculty-student collaboration is part and parcel of the Department's culture. Our students are counseled about the many decisions they make as they enter the profession: their course of study, their research projects, their participation in the larger community of scholars in conferences and publications. All students and faculty are involved in independent studies, take part in reading groups, or conduct research together, leading to common publications.
7. Excellent placement. In the past eleven years, 35 students received a Ph.D. in our department, and 34 of those landed an academic position. This is a record of which we are especially proud, since it represents a collective vote of confidence by our peers in our program. Our students get jobs in liberal arts colleges as well as research universities, and if they don't succeed in attaining a tenure-track position immediately, they usually end up with one within two to three years of their Ph.D.
8. Congenial atmosphere. While our expectations of students are high and our commitment to ideas intense, relations in the department are harmonious. This is a place where faculty members treat each other and students with respect; there are no factions or prima donnas. Our students exhibit a remarkable camaraderie. They read and critique each other’s work, share teaching experiences, support one another during exams, help each other prepare for the job market – even when competing for the same positions – and seem by and large happy, which is not the norm in graduate school.
9. Substantial resources. Students have access to excellent research opportunities as well as generous funding. The holdings of the campus library are among the most extensive in the country; what it does not own, it acquires quickly. Indiana University is also home to the Lilly rare book and manuscripts library and the Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender, and Reproduction. Together with the Institute of German Studies, the Department offers students generous funding for fellowships, summer research, conference travel, and other projects.
10. Bloomington. It's not New York or San Francisco, but newcomers find Bloomington to be a surprisingly cosmopolitan place. It is consistently ranked as one of the most livable towns in the country, with a vibrant cultural life, superb music, and virtually non-existent crime. The cost of living is quite a bit lower than in most large metropolitan areas, which makes a big difference on a student stipend.