German Studies’ mission is to enhance students’ ability to speak, understand, read, and write German; to function well in a German-speaking environment; and to become enlightened, knowledgeable students of the culture of the German-speaking world.

German serves as a solid basis for a broad liberal education and proficiency in the language can provide research opportunities in many scientific fields and further careers in government, international relations, music, drama, commerce, or the fine arts.

Russell Berman, Director of German Studies at Stanford University, writes that “German programs [in the United States] carry a double mission of instructing American students in German language while also cultivating an interest in German intellectual life” (97). He continues, “Contemporary undergraduate programs are conceived less as an insular study of a limited set of canonic literary masterpieces, more as an interdisciplinary inquiry into the various questions that concern the field and that interact with scholarship on German society and culture in other disciplines” (105). (See: Russell A. Berman, “The Undergraduate Program,” German Studies in the United States: A Historical Handbook, ed. Peter Uwe Hohendahl [New York: MLA, 2003]: 97-106.)

Read about the GERMAN STUDIES program:

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The German Program's two main goals

1. To develop proficiency in German to the advanced level in (a) writing and (b) speaking and the superior level in (c) reading and (d) listening for German majors
2. To expose students who enroll in all levels of the German curriculum to (a) a wide variety of materials that make up German culture through history and in the contemporary world, with a specific emphasis on (b) literature and the development of skills in literary comprehension, analysis, and interpretation

The German Program is designed for three main groups of students

1. We want to provide all students the opportunity and structure to acquire basic linguistic proficiency in German.
2. We want to extend linguistic proficiency towards fluency for students who need German for their academic or professional goals in fields such as international studies, art history, music, economics, or history.
3. We want to provide majors, minors and other interested students opportunities for the in-depth study of German literature, film, art, music, and culture while continuing to develop language skills in writing, reading, speaking, and listening, and skills in cultural analysis in spoken and written forms.

Directed and Independent Study in German Studies

Some students may have to enroll in GER 400 Directed Study or GER 401 Independent Study to complete their major or minor. Ordinarily these courses are offered only for those who would not otherwise be able to complete a major or a minor. Examples include students who wish to complete a major but begin studying German at Centre with GER 110.


When taking GER 400 or 401 becomes necessary, students should speak with the faculty member they wish to work with. Students are best served when they have thought about a possible topic for their independent study before meeting with the faculty member. If he or she is willing to work with the student, the student and faculty member will jointly work out a plan for the course and the faculty member will assist the student in completing the Directed or Independent Study form from the registrar’s office.

Ian W. Wilson

Photo of  Ian W. Wilson
Associate Professor of German • Chair of the German, Chinese and Japanese Programs German, Humanities, African & African American Studies, Chinese, Japanese, and Film Studies Work Crounse Hall—469 Work Phone: 859.238.5241

Ian Wilson joined the Centre College faculty in the fall of 2003 as a visiting instructor of German and Humanities. He was awarded Centre’s “Rookie of the Year” in 2004 and in 2005 received the Kirk Award for excellence in teaching. He was named a Centre Scholar in 2009, and again in 2015, a two-year appointment recognizing teaching excellence, scholarship, and contributions to the Centre community.

He teaches courses in German language, literature, and culture, African American literature, and the first-year Humanities sequence. He has taken groups of students abroad during three CentreTerms and one summer and directed the Centre-in-Strasbourg program twice: in 2008-09 and in 2015-16.

His current research project focuses on evolving notions of space and place in contemporary German-language literature. He is also developing a book on approaches to teaching W. G. Sebald’s novel Austerlitz with his Centre colleague Christina Svendsen. He is co-editor of the volume, Cosmopolitanism Reconsidered: Jürgen Habermas, Germany, and the European Union (Routledge, 2016). He has published articles on Samuel Beckett, Elfriede Jelinek, W. G. Sebald, and John Edgar Wideman; he was also a contributor to a German Studies Review forum on Germany and the Euro Crisis (2013) and An Encyclopedia of African American Literature (2005, Greenwood Press). Other scholarly interests include the Holocaust, monuments and memorialization, critical theory, and intersections between literature and other arts, especially photography and film. He has given papers at conferences of the Modern Language Association, the German Studies Association, the Austrian Studies Association, the American Comparative Literature Association, and the Southern Comparative Literature Association, and at the Kentucky Foreign Language Conference.

He was previously a teaching fellow at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he taught courses in German, comparative literature, and German-language sections of courses in history and international studies. He was also a graduate teaching consultant at UNC-CH’s Center for Teaching and Learning.

Wilson is a member of Phi Beta Kappa and Delta Phi Alpha German national honor society. In 2000-01, he conducted research at the Internationales Forschungszentrum Kulturwissenschaften in Vienna, Austria as a Fulbright Scholar. He received another Fulbright for the summer of 2012. He holds an M.A. and Ph.D. in comparative literature from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a B.A. in comparative literature and German from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

To read about his CentreTerm course “Introduction to the Cultural History of Central Europe,” click here.


File last updated: 8/3/17

Katrin Bahr

Visiting Assistant Professor and German Centre College Work Crounse Hall—319 Work Phone: 859.238.6503

Katrin Bahr will be joining the Centre College faculty in the fall of 2020 as a visiting assistant professor of German. Her research and teaching interests include GDR History, Culture and Memory, Socialism in Post-colonial Africa, Photography, Women and Gender Studies, and post-1989 literature.

She earned a master’s in social sciences from the Humboldt University, and a Ph.D. in German Studies from the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Her dissertation Postcolonial Solidarity: East Germans in Mozambique 1979-1990 offers a first detailed look at the everyday life and work experiences of East German citizens living in Mozambique in the 1980s. She has curated photo-exhibitions about the everyday life experiences of East Germans in Mozambique which were shown in the USA, Mozambique, and Germany. She is also the co-founder of the Third Generation Ost network in the United States.

At Centre, she will be teaching courses in German language, literature, and culture. MORE…



File last updated: 9/1/2020