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German Language and Literature

Fribourg profile

The Department of German at Fribourg offers a doctoral training in the three areas of study: linguistics, medieval studies and modern german literature. German Studies' doctoral students therefore have the full range of study areas from which to choose their research subject. The subjects of the theses are arranged individually. They may be connected to current research projects financed by third parties. However, intensive discussions are held with the PhD advisor to find the subject, taking into account the interests of both sides. The theory and methods implemented in the Department of German at Fribourg are focused on the one hand on historical and cultural studies (in particular medieval studies and modern german literature) and on the other hand on social-cognitive studies (in particular linguistics). In general, theses are written in German.

The main research fields of German Linguistics are language use, language variation and language acquisition and sociolinguistic and contact linguistic issues from a synchronic or diachronic perspective. Alongside intensive personal support, there are three further types of support available to doctoral students. (1) A regular research conference, which in spring is also accessible to doctoral students from the other western Swiss universities, where the progress of work is presented and unresolved questions are discussed in a wider circle. (2) Anyone writing a thesis within the framework of one of the research projects launched by one of the two professors can benefit from an exchange with a large international research network and from internal workshops. All doctoral students will also be supported in launching debates on their area of research in domestic and international meetings. (3) Doctoral students can also make use of the doctoral programmes of CUSO (Conférence Universitaire de Suisse Occidentale), such as the Programme doctoral en langue et littérature allemandes and forge contacts with other doctoral students. Linguistics doctoral students working on the subject of contact linguistics and language acquisition can work with the Institute of Multilingualism (Institut de plurilinguisme/Institut für Mehrsprachigkeit) or with the Centre for Teacher Training for Secondary Levels I and II (Centre d'enseignement et de recherche francophone pour l'enseignement au secondaire I et II (French-speaking section) or Lehrerinnen- und Lehrerbildung für die Sekundarstufe I und II (German-speaking section)).

German Medieval Studies focus on literary theory, the history of tradition and comparative aspects, in particular with regard to French-German literary relations in the Middle Ages and in the Early Modern Period. In addition to an intensive personal supervision of the doctoral theses, various forums can be used to follow up current debates on methods and theory as well as to discuss the individual dissertation projects with internationally renowned specialists in the respective field of research. Current theories on literature, media and cultural theory are discussed with guests from other Swiss and foreign universities in the Mediävistisches Forschungscolloquium, which takes place regularly; the Colloquium of the Medieval Institute of the University of Fribourg (IEM) is a platform dedicated in particular to interdisciplinary exchange. Interuniversity and international graduate symposia also take place where projects of doctoral students and othe researchers are presented and discussed. The doctoral programmes offered by the CUSO promote both German studies and interdisciplinary medieval exchange.

Modern German Literature offers a doctoral training which, in terms of subject and method, is purposely open. However, particular emphasis lies on the subjects of general and comparative literature, like, for example, issues of genre typology, stylistics, or historical poetics. German Literature offers the following forms of support for doctoral students: (1) In addition to individual support from professors in Fribourg, a research conference takes place two or three times a term. This conference my be attended by all graduate scholars, doctoral and qualified scholars of German and comparative literature from Fribourg and other Swiss universities. At these meetings, chapters from qualification work are regularly submitted, which are annotated by all participants in advance, thus giving doctoral students the opportunity to learn how to read texts thoroughly and how to discuss them critically. In these circles of students, qualified scholars and professors, current research articles are presented, which serve for in-depth discussion of the topics. (2) Further, doctoral students will also be supported in launching debates on their area of research at domestic and international meetings. (3) Lastly, the network of western Swiss universities, CUSO, offers the opportunity to exchange with students from other universities.

Professors who are eligible to supervise theses

German Linguistics

  • Prof. Regula Schmidlin

Areas of specialisation:
– Acquisition of writing skills
– Lexicography
– Phraseology
– Language variation and language standardisation
– Language and age

German Medieval Studies

  • Prof. Cornelia Herberichs

Areas of specialisation:
– Religious Literature (Drama, Mysticism, Allegorical Poetry)
– Reception of Antiquity
– Heroic Poetry
– Medieval Reception in Modernity
– Theatricality of the Middle Ages
– Premodern Mediality and Hermeneutics
– Medieval Comparative Literature

Modern German Literature

  • Prof. Arnd Beise

Areas of specialisation:
– Literature and history
– Intermediality
– Thematology
– History of drama
– Edition philology

  • Prof. Tom Kindt

Areas of specialisation:
– Theory of literature, in particular interpretation theory
– Theory of humour and history of comedy
– Narrative theory
– Literary modernism
– History of German studies

  • Prof. Ralph Müller

Areas of specialisation:
– Contemporary literature, in particular Swiss literature
– Poetry and rhetoric
– Genre theory and spelling
– Lyricology and narratology
– Digital humanities, corpus stylistics, cognitive poetics

Studies organisation

Structure of studies

No ECTS credits can be earned.

Doctoral school



In order to be admitted to a doctorate the candidate must have been awarded an academic bachelor's and master's degree or an equivalent qualification from a university recognised by the University of Fribourg.

Before applying for a doctorate the candidate must contact a professor who would be willing to supervise the thesis work.

There is no general right to be admitted to a doctorate.

The respective conditions of admission for each doctoral study programme are reserved.