German Studies: Overview

A guide to research materials in the areas of Germanic languages and literature.


Germanic Languages and Literatures (GLL) Overview

Geoff Husic (Slavic, Germanic, & Near East Studies Librarian)

Objectives/Purpose: The purpose of the collection is to support the German-related teaching and research in the Department of Slavic, German, and Eurasian Studies. The primary clientele for the collections are undergraduate students, faculty, and research staff in the Dept.

History of Collection: The collection covers primarily contemporary and historical aspects of the German language and literature, German culture, and German cultural history.

Literature: This portion includes the creative works of major and secondary German writers, especially modern (1750 to the present) and medieval, and their non-artistic works--correspondence, diaries, notes, etc., and critical, interpretive and historical works about them. Also included here are writings on the history, theory, and philosophy of German literature, and studies of pre- and early modern German literature. There is a large collection of scholarly studies on different historical or cultural periods in German literature--the Renaissance, the Reformation, Baroque, Classical period, etc.; on literary themes and forms, such as the Nibelungenlied, the Faust legend, Minnesang; and works on folklore and studies and collections of folk literature.

Language: This subject area includes German philology and linguistics; the study of contemporary German dialects and ancestor languages (Gothic, Old Saxon, Old High German, Middle High German, etc.); aspects of modern German (e.g., phonetics, stylistics, grammar); and studies on languages in contact or conflict, linguistic change, and on the German language outside German Europe (including other European countries and especially the United States and the Midwest); modern influences on the German language.

Works on the German theater, on language acquisition and learning, the mass media, journalism and mass communications, and other special aspects (such as German language acquisition by immigrant children and adults) are an important component of the German collection.

Subject Areas covered: The collection is quite strong in 18th, 19th and 20th century German literature. There are especially large holdings on Goethe and Schiller, including several different editions of their collected works. There are also good collections of primary and secondary materials on German writers in exile, particularly during the period 1933-1945, and on East German (i.e., those in the DDR) writers. The major 20th-century German writers who spent 1933-45 abroad, or who settled in the DDR after World War II (e.g., Thomas Mann, Bertolt Brecht), are classified in the general 20th-century writers schedules.

Literary studies include research on the history and theory of literature, and criticism and interpretation of major and secondary writers. The language portion of the collection is smaller in size than the literature portion, but it is strong in works on modern German, Old and Middle High German, and western German dialects. The language collection features studies in historical development of German and the character of German in different historical periods, aspects of modern grammar, lexicography, linguistic geography and the study of dialects. The major reference works and bibliographies and indexes are also well represented. Call number sequences: GR165-226 (Germanic & Scandinavian folklore); PD (Germanic and Scandinavian philology), PF (West Germanic philology), PT German literature).

Geographical Areas covered: Primarily Germany, Austria and Switzerland. Materials on Sprachinseln (linguistic islands) will be from wherever these enclaves are found. German-American materials primarily from USA.

Chronological Limits/Dates: Coverage of German literature from medieval to modern.

Languages:  Primarily in German and English (esp. criticism and literary history; literary translations into English are collected from a different fund); selected materials (criticism and literary history) in French.

Types of Materials: Types Included: monographs, journals (most in print format with a few available electronically), general and specialized dictionaries (e.g. dialect dictionaries), selected video recordings, selected microforms (depending on need and availability of materials)

Related Collections/Other Library Collections: In addition to the Watson Library collections there are three special German collections -- the Max Kade collection of German-Americana, the Reiner Maria Rilke Collection in the Kenneth Spencer Research Library, and the Engel German Library in Wescoe Hall. The latter is the library of the Department of German and contains many materials, especially current newspapers, magazines and sound recordings, which are not acquired by Watson Library. The Max Kade collection is not part of the KU Library system, but its catalog is searchable through the KU OPAC. The Engel Library is not part of the KU Library system. More information on these collections at:

Last updated: 08/16/2022