See how language shapes and influences literature through Germanic philology.


Learn how language and literature are inextricably linked.

Germanic philology is the comparative and historical study of Germanic languages, modern and ancient and everything in-between. Signum University wants to restore the connection between the study of language and literature that philology once provided.

Why Study Germanic Philology?

According to Dr. Tom Shippey, comparative philology was “one of the breakthrough subjects of the nineteenth century, and for a while had a claim to being the nearest thing the humanities possessed to a hard science.” As a discipline, philology is the study of languages, in particular the relationships between them, as well as their historical development. This is done through the examination and comparison of texts from the earliest times through today.

Germanic philology focuses specifically on the Germanic branch of the Indo-European languages. This includes modern languages such as German, English, Swedish, Dutch, Icelandic, and others, as well as their ancient counterparts such as Anglo-Saxon (i.e., Old English), Old High German, Gothic, Old Norse, and many more. Exploring the connections and common lineages of these languages allows for insights and revelations that otherwise would not be possible.

Philological study also provides a way of looking at literature that has largely fallen out of favor in the modern world. In his 1959 Valedictory Address at Oxford University, J.R.R. Tolkien stated, “The right and natural use of Language includes Literature, just as Literature includes the study of the language of literary works.” Even at that time, more than a half century ago, Tolkien lamented the fact that the study of language and literature had been split into separate disciplines. His own creative work grew out of his love of language, and he believed that literature as a whole also grew out of the language in which it is steeped.

Making Old Connections New Again

Signum University wants all students to recognize the relationship between language and literature. As part of our premier degree program, the M.A. in Language & Literature, this concentration in Germanic Philology offers students an opportunity to revive the study of language and literature together.

M.A. Program Details

For those who are not ready to commit to a full M.A. program, you can also enroll in our Certificate Program or sit in on Germanic Philology courses as an auditor.

The Importance of Germanic Philology

Watch Dr. Michael Drout’s plenary talk on Germanic Philology from Mythmoot IV: Invoking Wonder….

Germanic Philology Lecturers

Dr. Tom Shippey

Dr. Tom Shippey

Dr. Nelson Goering

Nelson Goering

Dr. Michael Drout

Dr. Michael D. C. Drout

Dr. Carl Edlund Anderson

Carl Edlund Anderson

Dr. Corey Olsen

Dr. Paul Peterson

Germanic Philology Courses

Currently, Signum University offers seven courses for the Germanic Philology concentration. Students seeking a M.A. or Certificate with a concentration in Germanic Philology must take at least five of these courses.

IDCourse NameDurationStart Date
LNGC 5302Beowulf in Old English12 weeksMay 6, 2019
LITD 5301Chaucer I: Visions of Love12 WeeksAugust 31, 2020
LITD 5302Chaucer II: The Canterbury Tales12 WeeksJanuary 15, 2018
LNGC 5311Eddic Poetry in Old Norse12 weeksAugust 31, 2020
LITC 5305Germanic Myths and Legends12 weeksAugust 26, 2019
LNGC 5301Introduction to Anglo-Saxon12 WeeksJanuary 14, 2019
LNGC 5390Introduction to Germanic Philology I12 weeksAugust 26, 2019
LNGC 5391Introduction to Germanic Philology II12 weeksJanuary 13, 2020
LNGC 5310Introduction to Old Norse12 weeksMay 4, 2020
LITC 5304Norse Myths and Sagas12 weeksJanuary 14, 2019
LNGA 5301Philology Through Tolkien12 WeeksAugust 27, 2013

At least one Germanic Philology course will be offered each semester. Courses will be offered on a rotating basis every 2 – 3 years. Course order, frequency, and availability may change without notice. Links to course descriptions above may go to an older version of the course. For current course offerings, visit the Signum course catalog.

Contact Us!

If you have any questions about a concentration in Germanic Philology or becoming a student, contact us.