P.hd in German Studies

Jawaharlal Nehru University
In New Delhi

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  • New delhi
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New Delhi
New Mehrauli Road, New Delhi , 110067, Delhi, India
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Course programme

P.hd in German Studies

The Centre of German Studies is part of the School of Language, Literature & Culture Studies of the Jawaharlal Nehru University, which was set up for the study of the languages, the literatures and the life of foreign countries with a view to inculcating in students "a world perspective, an international understanding".

From the very beginning the emphasis in curricular planning within the Centre, has been on an integrated approach towards the study of the language, literature, culture and civilisation (Landeskunde) of German speaking countries, and of interpretation and translation, within social and historical contexts. The intention was to develop German Studies in contexts which include theories of literature and translation, comparative literature, contrastive culture studies, social history, contrastive linguistics and the praxis of interpretation.

The Centre could profit on the one hand from a long tradition of German teaching in India and on the other from the increasingly vigorous international discussion on the perspectives and goals of German Studies as a foreign language philology. Both, the national experience and the international discussion form the basis of the Centre's programmes, which have been generously assisted by the School of Languages of the Jawaharlal Nehru University, the University Grants Commission, which has made support from Germany available within the framework of various cultural exchange programmes, and by institutions in Austria and Switzerland.

Attempts have been made in recent years to incorporate the current trends in the theory and praxis of literature and translation into the syllabus. These include discourses on feminism, orientalism, post-modernism, media-critique, intercultural hermeneutics and intellectual history of Europe with special reference to German thought. This puts the Centre in a unique position to attempt the study of culture as a broad area of total human objectivisation through these theoretical perspectives. The contribution of the faculty and students to the various areas of research is constantly supplemented by visits of experts in the concerned areas.

By constantly adding the latest publications to its already existing collection of books, the Centre can rightfully claim to have one of the best equipped German libraries in the country, offering books on a cross-section of German Studies and allied subjects. The DFG (German Research Council), the Austrian Embassy, the Pro Helvetia Foundation and the Embassy of the Former GDR have substantially contributed to the library.

The Centre of German Studies commenced with its research and teaching programme in 1971. It offers the possibility of pursuing German Studies upto the B.A. (Hons.), M.A., M. Phil. and Ph.D. levels. The M.A. programme is conceived as a 5 year programme with the possibility of obtaining a B.A. (Hons.) degree after the completion of the first 3 years. Students can be admitted to the programmes of the Centre at the B.A. 1st year, B.A. 2nd year, M.A. 1st year, M. Phil. and Ph.D. levels. At present about 100 students are enrolled for the programmes of the Centre.

The structure of the B.A./M.A. programme is as follows:

The minimum qualification for students admitted to the 1st year of the B.A. programme is the completion of schooling under the 10+2 system. The first and second semester programme consists of five integrated courses, comprising 20 hours of intensive training in the German Language per week. Audio-visual aids form an important part of the course material, which also incorporates information on various aspects of life in German speaking countries.

In the 3rd and 4th semesters of the programme (2nd year) students are required to take four courses per semester in German studies (each course as a rule has four hours of instruction per week). There are two courses in advanced written and spoken German, one course in Landeskunde, and one course is an introduction to literary studies (the word literature is used in a broad sense).

In the fifth and sixth semesters, students are required to take one course per semester each, in advanced German, (Introduction to Linguistics) study of literature, introduction to translation of general texts (German-English, English-German) and one course per semester in information on German speaking countries (Landeskunde).

At the M.A. level specialisation is possible. Students may opt either for the translation and interpretation stream or for the literature and cultural studies stream. The pattern is:

* Two courses in advanced German (stylistics) and two courses in Landeskunde which are common for literature and translation students;

* Literature students take four courses in literature (theories of literature, specialised study of authors and literary genres and problems in literary criticism) and two courses in methodology of teaching German as a foreign language;

* students of translation take four courses in specialised translation (theory and methodology of translation, translation of literary texts, technical translation and cultural hermeneutics of translation) and consecutive interpretation.


An M.A. degree is awarded on the successful completion of all courses of study including a dissertation. The topics for the M.A. dissertations are chosen by the students in consultation with their teachers.

Some of the topics in the literature and culture studies stream have been: "The Concept of Tradition in German and Hindi Literary Theory", "Nietzsche and Wagner", "German travelogues on India and the Colonial Discourse", "The Student Movement and Literature", "The Haiti-Tradition in German Literature", "Kafka and Existentialism".

Students of the translation stream can either present a comparative analysis and critique of translations from German into English/Indian languages, or deal with theoretical aspects of translation as cultural hermeneutics. Some of the topics in this stream have been: "The Problematics of Literary Translation", "Critical Analysis of the Hindi Translation of Brecht's ‘Caucasian Chalk Circle'", "Problems in the Translation of German Fairy-Tales", "Comparative Analysis of German Translations of ‘Gitanjali'", "The Correlation between Linguistics and Translation", "Interference and Error Analysis of Indian Learners of German".

Apart from these two broad areas, students of either stream can opt to write a dissertation on any topic related to the field of "area studies". Over the years there have been dissertations on: "Neo-Nazism and German Reunification", "The Question of Political Asylum and its Treatment in the German Print Media", "German Foreign Policy in a United Europe".

The structure of the M.Phil./Ph.D. programme is as follows:

Students with an M.A. in German (with at least a high second class and a concrete research project) are eligible for admission to the M.Phil./Ph.D. programme of the Centre. The broad areas of research within the Centre are:

1. 19th and 20th Century German Literature in socio-historical and sociocultural perspectives.

2. Specialised problems of theories of literature and society in comparative contexts.

3. Reception of German literature in the Indian context with special reference to problems of translation.


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