“Of all the worlds that man has created, that of the books is the most powerful.”
What Heinrich Heine established in the 19th century still meets with broad approval from literary scholars and writers. After all, books are a central component of a literary studies course. The subject area of literary studies is correspondingly large. And it continues to grow steadily. Every year seem almost 100,000 new publications on the German book market .
One thing is certain: a degree in literary studies is varied and won’t get boring anytime soon.
Structure and content of literary studies courses
The literature among the humanities and are often found in the field of linguistics and cultural studies again. The number of courses devoted to the subject of literature is large. There are programs at bachelor’s and master’s level . The latter are often research-oriented and offer the opportunity to deepen the specialist knowledge gathered in the Bachelor’s degree.
According to MICROEDU, there is no standardized structure for literary studies. Depending on the university, the focus is on literary theory or writing practice, practical professional courses or foreign language literature. Basically, however, a distinction can be made between two subjects : (comparative) literature and creative writing .
A weakness for literature: literary studies
Literature is at the center of literary studies – that much is clear. But what do students deal with in their everyday student life? In most cases, a study of the literature is in the fields of literary theory , literary history and literary criticism together. The following questions, among others, are important:
- How can literature be analyzed and understood?
- How are texts perceived and what effect do they have on the reader?
- How does the meaning of texts change over time?
- What is the relationship between literature and other media?
A literary studies course is often designed on an interdisciplinary basis . Courses from other disciplines such as linguistics , media studies or cultural studies are therefore also integrated into the course.
Students have the opportunity to study literature as a focus in philological study programs , in the form of a two-subject bachelor’s degree or as an independent subject . As a separate course of study, you will often find two different variants of literature at German universities .
Study general or comparative literature
Even if many universities refrain from distinguishing between general and comparative literary studies, the two areas of work can be roughly delimited from one another.
General literary studies
- deals with fundamental topics , such as the question of what literature is and what distinguishes it.
- considers literature on the basis of a wide range of theory .
- often places an emphasis on German literature from different eras .
Comparative literature studies (comparative literature)
- is not limited to literature in the national language, but also takes the literatures of other countries into account.
- deals with the relationship between literature and culture , for example literature in different linguistic and cultural areas.
- examines how literature and other media relate to one another.
In the literary workshop: study creative writing
What has been common practice in the USA and Great Britain for several decades has only been to be found at German universities for a few years: university-owned courses and study programs for creative writing. In the meantime, students at some universities in Germany have the opportunity to do their Bachelor’s or Master’s in literary writing .
In contrast to literary studies, creative writing focuses on your own text production. Accordingly, the students are given techniques of literary, journalistic and scientific writing .
There are also events with a theoretical focus . These deal, for example, with various literary genres or impart knowledge of literary history. Also practical vocational courses can be part of the course.
Requirements for studying literature
To study in the field of literature, it is important that you you excited about literature and language can. In literary studies in particular, reading specialist academic literature is part of daily business – a fact that prospective students should be aware of.
The universities require applicants to have very good knowledge of German , and in the case of comparative literature, additional foreign language skills .
In order to receive a place in the creative writing field, applicants must also prove their literary streak and submit a text they have written themselves. The second round is followed by a personal interview at the university , in which applicants have the chance to convince them of their professional and personal suitability.
Study literature and then? Possible occupational fields
There is no fixed job description for graduates in literary studies . Since the study programs are mostly oriented disciplines, to students opens a wide range of professional fields :
- Research and Teaching
- Publishing and press
- Television and radio
- Adult education
- Libraries and archives
- Business consulting
- Freelance work as a writer