Literature and Literature Studies in the context of modern German Studies: Goals and Development Strategies

  • Dirk Baldes German Section, Department of Western Languages, Faculty of Humanities, Chiang Mai University
Keywords: German Studies abroad, competence-based teaching, inductive development of contexts


With a focus on topics related to the study of linguistics and literature, the academic field of German Studies in Germany has developed along traditional lines, independent of the needs of foreign language philology. In contrast to the domestic conception of German Studies, the academic design of the field abroad has resulted in distinct structures – shaped individually by every single country and university.

German Studies abroad has therefore departed dramatically from its central concern for the study of linguistics and literature, moving instead toward the circumference of the field. Translation, tourism, and other career-related fields – that is to say, professional and technical fields – or simply basic language learning have become far more important than the academic core of past decades. This transformation has consistently led to a redistribution of curricular resources for enhancing the field, with an evident shift toward application-oriented programs to meet students’ demands and interests. This article examines the extent to which traditional literature-based material is currently utilised, and how it could be legitimated with these changes to the field in mind.

If the professional content of literature studies is necessarily to be reduced or customized in various ways, and a contraction of canonized texts is unavoidable in German Studies abroad, a tight focus on competence-based teaching becomes a priority: a holistic approach in the center with a wide spectrum of liberal arts related topics circling around. This approach should aim to instill the general ability to think and reflect critically in order to develop in students a capacity for creating problem-oriented strategies based on literary texts.


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How to Cite
Baldes, D. (2018). Literature and Literature Studies in the context of modern German Studies: Goals and Development Strategies. Journal of Letters, 47(3), 149-172. Retrieved from