The Pathetic State of Germanic Studies

Imagine that you are a graduate student in the US in a moribund field, in particular, Germanic Studies. Tenure lines in German are being closed down, departments of Germanic Studies disappear. This is quite paradoxical since Germany has become the most powerful and rich country in Europe. At the very moment when Germany is gaining – without invading anybody or shooting a single person, which for Germany is a big step forward – the prominence on the world arena that it has been seeking desperately enough to start two world wars, the US decides that Germany has lost all relevance and chooses to stop studying and teaching the German language and culture.

Surely, this is something that as a Germanist you might find interesting. You might even want to start (or join) a discussion about the reasons behind this strange and disturbing phenomenon.

Now imagine that you, a concerned, intelligent specialist in Germanic Studies, are given an opportunity to write for Die Welt, an important German newspaper with national readership. Here is a chance to do something for the field to which you have dedicated your life. Here is a golden opportunity to tell the German people what is going on, maybe play on their nationalist sentiment a little bit (“Americans think we are done for, what’s up with that?”, “The culture of Goethe is being disrespected in the US!”). Star a discussion, get things moving, questions brewing, discontent stewing. Even if you are guaranteed the best job in Germanic Studies in the US, it still matters to you that the field doesn’t disappear. Being the only Germanist on the continent is a sad and lonely affair. You need conferences in your discipline to be attended by people, journals be published by, once again, people, a scholarly exchange be conducted by this inescapable evil, other people.

But this is what you, an intelligent person, would do in this situation. A real graduate student in Germanic Studies used his opportunity to write for Die Welt to inform the German readers that academic blogger Rebecca Schuman is a sore loser and her writing is sometimes vulgar. In the eyes of this brave and engaged Germanist, Schuman is the biggest problem faced by the field of Germanic Studies today.

I have to say, folks, I love Germanic Studies, and if my field didn’t exist, German would be my second choice. But when I read about this kind of irredeemable stupidity, I can’t help thinking that the field whose Ivy League departments produce people of this intellectual caliber deserves to die. While their entire academic world is crumbling down around them, they vent their pathetic little grievances against bloggers who wrote some post they disliked.

I now have no hope whatsoever for this field.

11 thoughts on “The Pathetic State of Germanic Studies

  1. Either this was written at the behest of someone (that the author felt they couldn’t referse) or the writer is simply an Arschloch of truly epic proportions.

    It reminds me of those revoling youtube videos where parents have their kids parrot their political beliefs.

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    1. Some people are incapable of even realizing how petty and childish they make themselves look. This guy is making himself look ridiculous in a very small field where everybody knows each other. He should be the one to talk about losers.

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  2. While Germanic studies in the US may be an extreme case, I think a lot of Area Studies have seriously declined since the end of the Cold War. I know that Russian Studies and now Central Asian studies have both been seriously curtailed in the US due to financial restraints. The model of specializing in the language, culture, and history of a particular region seems to have been largely abandoned by US higher education. It may still have some strength in Latin American and Chinese Studies, but for the most part the Area Studies model is a relic of the 20th century.

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    1. ” I know that Russian Studies and now Central Asian studies have both been seriously curtailed in the US due to financial restraints. ”

      – Very true. These idiots canned Russian Studies after the end of the Cold War, and now that Russia is rising to international prominence again, there is nobody to analyze the situation and suggest ways of engaging with it.

      Short-sighted doesn’t even begin to describe this approach.

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    2. It’s my understanding that:

      most area studies programs received funding from the military (the one I was in for a time was chiefly military funded).

      the government has always been suspicious of people who come from them, fearing that their US loyalty was compromised (again my understanding was the program I was in was in a holding pattern to be ready if the government ever gave priority to the area in which case a bunch of miliarty people would enroll).

      Germany’s not a threat to the US and doesn’t have much charisma in Europe (it’s begrudgingly respected economically but it’s not a cultural power at all, Denmark has more cultural prestige, I’d say).

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  3. Somewhat related:
    I know a woman about my age with a Ph. D. in Northern European history who has never been able to find a job. She says it is because all northern European studies were dropped from U. S. universities after the Second World War. No one wanted to be seen as glorifying the Nazis.

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  4. Ic þohte þæt þæt word ‘Germanic’ swá mýcl má ðone þæt ánne land, ‘Germany’ mæneþ.Ne mæneþ hit eallu germaniscu land, Swéoland/Swéoríki, Denemearc/Norðweg, Niðorland, Ængland, Súðeastscotland, aso. (‘and swá on’, oððe ‘etc.’) Þæt swéodisce fólc hæfeþ þæt hráneste and máste germanisc blód in sé selfum. Swéoþéod (Scóneg, [‘Skåne’], Súðéastnorðweg and tódæges éastre deniscan égland, Sjælland, aso., is þæt órhámland ‘Urheimat’ ealra germaniscra manna, from þæm Alpum tó Rúslande, from Ænglande, to Norðfrancríce, from Þéodisclande, (Deutschland) tó Freslande, from Íslande tó Éasterríce).

    Ich dachte, dass das englische Wort “Germanic” so viel mehr als nur Deutschland und die deutschsprachige Welt bedeutete. Enthält es nicht England, die Niederlande, Flandern, Island und Skandinavien auch. Südskandinavien ist die Urheimat der alten Skando-Teutonen, nicht Deutschland heutzutage, außer vielleicht auf einem dünnem Ostsee-Anrainer, in dem äußersten Norden Deutschlands.

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  5. Ic þohte þæt þæt word ‘Germanic’ swá mýcl má ðone þæt ánne land, ‘Germany’ mæneþ.Ne mæneþ hit eallu germaniscu land, Swéoland/Swéoríki, Denemearc/Norðweg, Niðorland, Ængland, Súðeastscotland, aso. (‘and swá on’, oððe ‘etc.’) Þæt swéodisce fólc hæfeþ þæt hráneste and máste germanisc blód in sé selfum. Swéoþéod (Scóneg, [‘Skåne’], Súðéastnorðweg and tódæges éastre deniscan égland, Sjælland, aso., is þæt órhámland ‘Urheimat’ ealra germaniscra manna, from þæm Alpum tó Rúslande, from Ænglande, to Norðfrancríce, from Þéodisclande, (Deutschland) tó Freslande, from Íslande tó Éasterríce).

    Ich dachte, dass das englische Wort “Germanic” so viel mehr als nur Deutschland und die deutschsprachige Welt bedeutete. Enthält es nicht England, die Niederlande, Flandern, Island und Skandinavien auch. Südskandinavien ist die Urheimat der alten Skando-Teutonen, nicht Deutschland heutzutage, außer vielleicht auf einem dünnem Ostsee-Anrainer, in dem äußersten Norden Deutschlands.

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