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Modern German Literature

a)  Research

Marburg’s Institute of Modern German Literature has a comprehensive cultural anthropological, comparative and interdisciplinary research interest. It covers all periods from the early modern age up to contemporary literature. Common research projects with French and Latvian universities (Sorbonne, ENS Paris; Riga, Daugavpils) make the department part of an international network.

The Marburg department has long been characterised by connecting university teaching and research as well as medial publicity: Marburg’s TransMIT-Zentrum für Literaturvermittlung in den Medien (center for the mediation of literature in the media) is an interface between the university and professional practice. The publisher and the editorial office of the internationally known culture journalism online journal  are located at the department. In the Bachelor’s and Master’s degree programmes, the focus “Communicating literature in the media” links research and teaching with the vocational fields of the culture and media industry.

Another research activity  visible outside of the region is the editorship of Convivum, the German-Polish annual of German studies.

One traditional focus is on editing. Various projects have been ongoing since completing the historico-critical edition of the works of Georg Büchner (so-called “Marburger Ausgabe”) in 2013:

  • several volumes of the complete critical edition of the works of Walter Benjamin;
  • the letters of Philipp Otto Runge;
  • a new edition of Ludwig Tieck’s Straußfedern;
  • and, in cooperation with the Saxon State and University Library Dresden (Sächsische Landesbibliothek – Staats- und Universitätsbibliothek Dresden, SLUB) as well as the Trier Center for Digital Humanities, an online edition of the correspondence of romanticist August Wilhelm Schlegel.

The department is involved in the research project Journalliteratur: Formatbedingungen, visuelles Design, Rezeptionskulturen (Magazine literature: format requirements, visual design, culture of reception; involvement together with Marburg’s institute of Media Studies, Ruhr University Bochum and the University of Cologne). The project has been funded by the German Research Foundation (Deutsche Forschungsgesellschaft, DFG) since 2016.  Examples of completed projects are: Die Transkulturalität nationaler Räume. Prozesse, Vermittler- und Übersetzerfiguren sowie soziokulturelle Wirkungen des literarischen Kulturtransfers in Europa (1750-1900) (The transculturalism of national spaces. Processes, figures in mediation and translation, and sociocultural impact of literary cultural transfer in Europe, 1750-1900); Literarische Transkulturalität in den est-, liv- und kurländischen Wissensgesellschaften des 18. und frühen 19. Jahrhunderts (Literary transculturalism in the Estonian, Livonian and Courlandish information societies of the 18th and early 19th centuries); Französische Almanachkultur im deutschen Sprachraum (1700-1815) (French almanac cultures in German-speaking countries, 1700-1815).

b) Teaching

We provide knowledge of German literature from the early modern period to the present day. Teaching concentrates on the Age of Enlightenment, Romanticism, classical modernism and 21st-century literature, each in the context of media and cultural history as well as the history of ideas.

The department is involved in the following degree programmes:

  • German (Teaching at Secondary Schools; in cooperation with the Institute of German Linguistics and the Institute of Medieval German Philology)
  • German Language and Literature (BA; in cooperation with the Institute of German Linguistics and the Institute of German Medieval German Philology)
  • European Literatures (BA; in cooperation with the Department  of Foreign Languages and Cultures, FB10)
  • German Literature (MA; in cooperation with the Institute of Medieval German Philology)
  • As from the winter term 2017/18: German Literature – Presentation of Literature in the Media (MA; in cooperation with the Institute of Media Studies)


The following key qualifications are taught:

Working methods of literary studies, particularly skills in text analysis, literary history and literary theory; academic writing; other specific skills in written and oral communication (e.g. presentation techniques, practical exercise classes in cultural and public relations work, digital publishing, library use as well as researching and assessing digital resources).

One of the key competences to be imparted is how to read both literary and academic texts intensively and extensively. Joy in reading and an interest in language are the most important study requirements.

Our programme qualifies primarily for the teaching profession as well as for cultural and media-related professions. Examples for these are cultural and public relations work, bookselling and theatre, text work in advertising and technical editing, and also occupations in academies, archives, libraries and universities.

A cooperation with the Baltic universities (Partnerships between Institutes of German Sciences; financed by the German Academic Exchange Service – Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst, DAAD) is aimed at student exchange in particular. ERASMUS partnerships with the universities in Lecce and Bari (Italy), Durham (Great Britain) and others have been set up.