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Celtic Studies at German Universities

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For many people, the age of the Celts is a distant historical footnote. But for those interested in Celtic Studies, the field also offers a more contemporary aspect; interest in modern Celtic identity has experienced a renaissance across the British Isles and Western Europe in recent years.

In Iron Age Europe, Celtic peoples prospered across the content, from the Iberian Peninsula in the north to the British Isles and east all the way into modern-day Bulgaria and Anatolia. But over the centuries, pressure from expansionist Germanic tribes and, ultimately, Rome’s nearly insatiable territorial appetite, placed enormous pressure on Celtic communities; their numbers until they were reduced to the fringes of the content.

In German, the study of Celtic cultures and language is called Keltologie. Several German universities are currently seeking to reconstitute Keltologie programs that were closed in the 1990s and 2000s. Meanwhile, fortunately for budding Celtic scholars, two of the country’s extant programs happen to be offered by two of the leading German universities for humanities: the University of Bonn and the University of Marburg.

Keltologie at the University of Bonn

Students at the University of Bonn can learn about the Celtic language and culture as part of their undergraduate degree. This Celtic Studies program is considered minor, or a "Begleitfach”, which means that it needs to be combined with another cultural topic. There are several additional reasons to choose Bonn as the location for your studies. The area contains two associated research institutions: the German Center for Gaelic Language and Culture in Bonn and the SKSK in nearby Königswinter, an external institute of the University of Bonn focused on Celtic languages and culture.

Keltologie at the University of Marburg

The Keltologie Department at the University of Marburg is more expansive in its offering. This includes a Bachelor in Historical Language and Textual Analysis and Cultural Studies, which can also be studied with a major in Celtic Studies; a Master in Comparative Language Studies and a Master in Celtic Studies. As the undergraduate Celtic Studies course is one major within the Historical Languages program, students can try out a series of languages, such as Indian languages, Semitic languages and Latin, before choosing a major subject. This gives the program a comparative element, which can be very helpful for students unsure about their interests.

Celtic languages are currently experiencing a revival across Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Cornwall, and the Isle of Man, and the Celtic identity has grown into an important national identifier in countries like France and Belgium. Far from being an esoteric academic pursuit, as it might have appeared some decades ago, Celtic Studies now represents an important cultural field – and German universities offer plenty of opportunities to enter this exciting realm.

This post was adapted from a piece written for the Eight Hours and Change blog.

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Written by Jay Malone

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