Access to the College Green area of campus will be restricted until further notice. PennCard holders and some Penn affiliates may enter and exit Van Pelt-Dietrich Library Center through the Rosengarten Undergraduate Study Center on the ground floor, and may enter and exit the Fisher Fine Arts Library through the 34th Street entrance to Meyerson Hall. See our Service Alerts for details.

Accordion List

The Germanic languages and literatures collections support a full program through the graduate level in the literatures and culture of German-speaking Europe from the Middle Ages to the present day.

The program offers undergraduate major and minor degrees through the Germanic Studies section of the French and Francophone, Italian, and Germanic Studies (FIGS) Department in the School of Arts & Sciences. The graduate program in Germanic Languages and Literatures is offered through the FIGS Department, as are other humanities programs in the School of Arts & Sciences that draw on German, Dutch, Scandinavian, or Yiddish literature and culture. The department offers a Certificate in German, a Business German program, and language courses in German, Dutch, Swedish, and Yiddish. Faculty expertise covers the full range of German literature from medieval to modern times, as well as history of the book, popular culture, film, cultural history, the environmental humanities, travel writing, gender and postcolonial studies, Jewish studies, musicology, anthropology, religious writing, art history, and philosophy.

The field of German Studies is strongly interdisciplinary, reaching into areas such as history, philosophy, art history, and political theory. Courses on the history of German film are also taught regularly. Faculty research addresses all periods of German literature and culture from medieval times to the 21st century.

Department of Germanic Languages and Literatures

1. Chronological

All periods.

2. Formats

Monographs and serials, in all formats (including Hörbücher). Dissertations, very selectively. Habilitationsschriften are generally acquired. Sites devoted to German literature are included in the Germanic Languages and Literatures Research Guide. For video acquisitions, streaming video is preferred over physical media. Digital streaming licenses (DSLs) with perpetual or life-of-file rights whenever possible are preferred to term-limited licenses and to physical media. When physical media are acquired, preference is given to versions with subtitles and in formats compatible with U.S. players. However, PAL format discs are acquired routinely when Region 1 (NTSC) DVDs are not available. Data sets such as textual corpora may be acquired as the need and availability warrants. 

3. Geographical

Collections focus mainly on publications from German-speaking Europe, including imprints from Germany, Austria, and Switzerland, and translations of Germanic literatures in English from around the world. Collections selectively include publications in Dutch/Flemish from Netherlands and Belgium, Frisian from the Netherlands and Germany, publications in Swedish from Sweden and Finland, and materials from other Scandinavian countries.

4. Language

Primarily German and English. Selectively Dutch and Swedish. Scholarly books are acquired in German and English, and, in some cases, in other European languages. We collect video in German and other Germanic languages with subtitles in English whenever possible.

5. Publication Dates

Emphasis is of necessity on current materials, although selective retrospective purchasing is undertaken as circumstances require and funds allow.

6. Open Access

Products that lead to open access publications and resources receive priority. Proprietary resources in which we would not normally invest will receive greater consideration if they support a competitive market with varied publishing models.

The Library has an active approval plan with Otto Harrassowitz for current publications in German language and literature. This is augmented by individual firm orders.

Selective works in contemporary fiction in Dutch/Flemish are received primarily through a small approval plan with Erasmus Boekhandel. Selective works in contemporary fiction, poetry, and young adult and children's literature in Swedish are purchased through either Erasmus Boekhandel or Otto Harrassowitz.

Subject Level
Germanic languages  
General 4/3F
-- German 4/3F
          -- History of the German language 4/3F
-- Dutch 2/2F
-- Pennsylvania German 2/2F
-- German dialects, Modern 2/2F
Old Germanic dialects 4/3F
-- Gothic 4/3F
North Germanic. Scandinavian 4/3F
-- Old Norse. Old Icelandic and Old Norwegian 4/3F
-- Modern Icelandic 4/3F
-- Norwegian 4/3F
-- Danish 4/3F
-- Swedish 4/3F
German literature  
-- Literary theory / Literary history and criticism 4/3F
-- Medieval German 3/3F
-- Baroque 3/3F
-- 18th Century 3/3F
-- 19th Century 3/3F
-- 20th Century 3/3F
-- Contemporary belles lettres 3F
-- Cultural studies 3/3F
-- Film 4/3F
-- Minority studies in German literature 3/3F
Dutch literature 2/2F
Flemish literature since 1830 2/2F
Afrikaans literature 2
Old Norse literature: Old Icelandic and Old Norwegian 4/3F
Modern Icelandic literature 2
Danish literature 2
Norwegian literature 2
Swedish literature 2/2F

The Joseph P. Horner Memorial Library of the German Society of Pennsylvania is an important local resource with approximately 86,000 volumes and notable strengths in German-Americana and 19th-century German popular fiction. 

Penn Libraries digitized a historic collection of nine German-language newspapers published in Philadelphia, originally from the German Society library in 2019. This includes last 19th-century newspapers, including the Philadelphia Demokrat, Neue Welt, Philadelphia Tageblatt, Philadelphia Freie Presse, Philadelphia Morgen-Gazette, Philadelphia Schwäbischer Merkur, Schwäbischer Merkur, Philadelphia Sonntags Journal, and Volks-Stimme: das Socialistische Wochenblatt für die Ost-Staaten.