Joint PhD in Transcultural German Studies

By fostering transcultural competence and professional excellence across the Atlantic, the Arizona-Leipzig PhD/DPhil Program offers interdisciplinary doctoral training in two challenging academic environments, while providing intensive mentoring opportunities and comprehensive financial support.

The Arizona-Leipzig Transcultural German Studies Doctoral Program is housed on two campuses, one in Leipzig, Germany and one in Tucson, Arizona. Incoming US-based students complete one year of doctoral coursework at the University of Arizona and a second year at the University of Leipzig,  while financially supported through teaching and research fellowships. Students who begin their doctoral studies in Leipzig pursue their second year of doctoral course work at the University of Arizona, where they teach alongside their US-based colleagues in the German Studies Department. Students complete their third year of coursework at their home institution. 

The Graduate Handbook, esp. section III, will guide you through the details of the program.

Prospective students need to fulfill the following prerequisites:

  • A Master’s Degree (or Magister) in German, German Studies, German as a Foreign Language, or equivalent field
  • A high level of competence in English and German (minimum Common European Framework rating of C1)

German Studies minor: PhD candidates in other disciplines may select a minor in German Studies. The German Studies minor for PhD candidates outside the Department of German Studies consists of 12 units. Up to 6 units may be transferred from a German Studies MA or its equivalent. The Director of Graduate Studies is happy to answer any questions about the PhD minor in German Studies.


James F. Howell

Doctoral Candidate

My dissertation focuses on a paradigm shift that is taking place within the field of cultural memory studies. Recently, several scholars from around the globe have focused on the possibility of transcultural memory and the transcultural construction of meaning. My research offers a constructive critique of the current theory, namely that transcultural memory is not as broad and universal as many understand, and that events of trauma need not serve as the dominant source of transcultural experience. To support this argument, I have taken the Alexander von Humboldt reception history within the United States and Germany to demonstrate that transcultural memory coalesces around specific memory sites that are mutually constructed among cultures for a common purpose. I show that in the years following German reunification the American and German textual representation, use, and understanding of the memory site Alexander von Humboldt have come to be in many cases identical. I posit that it is in such specific instances that transcultural memory is constructed, and not through a supposedly universal and transnational remembrance of traumatic events. My research clarifies certain concepts and elements regarding the turn to the transcultural in recent memory studies, in that it demands a much more specific and concrete understanding of the processes at work in meaning making in an interconnected and globalized world. In order to show such a shared cultural understanding, I have collected and studied all published materials regarding Alexander von Humboldt in the United States and Germany since the year 1989. In this way, my work serves not only to support my central thesis regarding the constitution of transcultural memory. It also functions as a detailed textual survey of Humboldt within the two countries over the last twenty-five years.