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German Studies: Getting Started

A guide to the library's resources in German studies, including indexes to the research literature, dictionaries, encyclopedias, and more.


Handbooks and dictionaries can be better starting points than article databases or even the library catalog. Use literary handbooks to find out about literary periods, terminology, definitions, and to put an author's life and work in context. Note that some of these excellent reference books are not online.

Topical encyclopedias:

  • Encyclopedia of German literature. Ed. Matthias Konzett. Chicago: Fitzroy Dearborn, 2000.
    Location: Baker/Berry Reference PT41 .E53 2000 v.1-2
    A good starting point.
  • Buse, Dieter K. and Juergen C. Doerr.
    Modern Germany: an encyclopedia of history, people, and culture, 1871-1990. New York: Garland, 1998.
    Location: Baker Berry Reference DD14 .M64 1997 v.1-2
    Useful for historical background information.
  • Medieval Germany: an encyclopedia. Ed. John M. Jeep. New York : Garland Pub., 2001.
    Location: Baker/Berry Reference DD157 .M43 2001

    Also of interest:
  • Dictionary of Literary Biography 

This comprehensive dictionary is an excellent first-stop resource. It describes an author's life and work in the context of his/her times. Covers many major German-speaking authors.

Oxford Art Online
A superb art history resource


  • Deutsches Literatur Lexikon: Biographisch-bibliographisches Handbuch. Munich: Francke, 1968-. ("Kosch")
    Location: Baker/Berry Reference Z/2230/K6/1966 Library has vol.1-19
    Very comprehensive. Good for relatively unknown authors. Brief biographies, discussion of the author's works, and bibliographies. Covers authors from the early modern period to the twentieth century.
  • KLG online: das kritische Lexikon zur deutschsprachigen Gegenwartsliteratur : KLG
    Focuses on post-World War II authors. Great for contemporary authors. Brief biographies, discussion of the authors works, and useful bibliographies.
  • Die deutsche Literatur des Mittelalters : Verfasserlexikon. Ed. Wolfgang Stammler. 2nd ed. Berlin: de Gruyter, 1978- .
    Location: Baker Berry Ref. Z2230 .S78 1977 Bd.1-10
    Good source of biographical and bibliographical information for authors from the medieval period.
  • Also of interest:
    Cinegraph: Lexikon zum deutschsprachigen Film
    . Munich: Text + Kritik, 1984- .
    Location: Department of German Studies

  • Cinegraph is the equivalent of KLG for German film studies and provides information about contemporary film directors and actors..