Gender-inclusive language and the German classroom

Inclusive language is often raised by students of German, and a number of German departments have recently developed new recommendations regarding the incorporation of gender-inclusive and/or gender-neutral language in German teaching and assessment at university level. While the AGS does not seek to prescribe curricular content or teaching approaches, we support efforts to create an inclusive learning environment for students and staff in German Studies, and to prepare students fully for time spent in German-speaking countries.  

Parallel to debates in Anglophone countries and elsewhere, gender-inclusive language has been debated extensively in German-speaking societies since the 1980s. German-speaking media and institutions have over the years adopted a number of ways to facilitate inclusivity in language, and these issues and linguistic forms merit being introduced and discussed at universities as part of a balanced, critical and contemporary curriculum, alongside the still widely used ‘generic masculine’.

Some of these forms are contested, but we recommend that students of German are introduced to commonly-used linguistic forms that seek to facilitate inclusivity, such as the asterisk (“Student*innen”), the colon (“Student:innen”) or other neutral forms (“Studierende”). It is essential that students are able to recognize such forms. While we support the inclusion of these forms in German language teaching where appropriate, we recommend that there be no expectation that students use them in their own work. 

On gender-neutral pronouns, we refer interested parties to the work of Illi Anna Heger.  The document linked to here, which was developed by Dr Sheila Watts in discussion with colleagues, including linguists in the Forum for Germanic Language Studies, for use at the University of Cambridge, may also serve as a helpful starting point for discussions. Colleagues are welcome to adapt it and use it in their teaching, with due acknowledgement.

The Association for German Studies has a dedicated working group on Equity, Diversity and Inclusion, who is happy to support German departments in creating guidelines on gender-inclusive/gender-neutral language if they wish.

DAAD/Humboldt cuts – Joint AGS-WIGS-UCML letter to Ambassador

In addition to signing the Open Letter Against the DAAD and AvH Cuts that can be viewed here, the AGS has also sent the following joint AGS-WIGS-UCML letter to the German Ambassador:

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Call for Papers
AGS at 90: AGS Conference at the University of Nottingham, 5-7 September 2022 

Deadline for Abstracts: Friday, 1 April, 2022

We invite abstracts for papers to be presented at the 90th Conference of the Association for German Studies will take place at the University of Nottingham, September 5-7, 2022. For more details, please click here.

WIGS/AGS Diversity and Inclusivity Survey

Dear Friends and Colleagues,

As a part of our continuing commitment to promoting diversity and inclusivity (D&I) in German Studies, Women in German Studies (WIGS) and the Association for German Studies (AGS) have joined forces to create a members’ survey.  The purpose of this survey is to gather information about the diversity of our members AND collect feedback about our membership services.    

Towards that end, we ask that you take a few minutes out to complete our questionnaire which can be found here.

THE SURVEY ONLY TAKES A FEW MINUTES TO COMPLETE and all of the information you provide will be kept completely confidential. 

The survey link will be kept active until December 31, 2021.  A final report on the collective findings will be made available to AGS and WIGS members.  If you have a question about the survey, please do not hesitate to contact the WIGS Diversity and Inclusivity officer, Professor I. M. Nick [email address:]! Information on the Privacy Policy can be found via either the WIGS website or the AGS website.  

The 46th German Studies Association Conference in Houston, Texas, from September 15 to September 18, 2022 will continue to host a series of seminars in addition to conference sessions and roundtables (for general conference information see conference website. Please note that because this is a new system, it will require a current 2022 GSA membership to access. The proposal should include the following items:

a.  Title of Proposed Seminar;

b.  Convener Information: names, ranks, institutional affiliations, email addresses;

c.   Seminar Description: a 150-word description of the seminar’s subject, which will eventually be used in the call for participants and the final program;

d.  Format Description: a 50-word description of the seminar’s format, which will appear in the call for participants, etc.;

e.  Goals & Procedures: a 200-word statement of seminar goals and procedures;

f.  DEI Statement (if appropriate): a 50-word statement where seminar proposals may add information about any DEI components to the seminar that are not covered in the above descriptions;

g.  Audio/Visual: indicate whether your seminar will require a projector and/or sound (note that we might not be able to accommodate all requests, especially for sound, so please request it only if absolutely necessary); and

h.  Auditors: indicate whether you will open the seminar to auditors (6 maximum) should space allow.

The Committee will review seminar proposals and post a list of approved seminars and their topics on the GSA website by February 25, 2022. Conveners may then enlist participants to join the seminar. A call for auditors (who may observe but who are not considered formal participants) will be issued later in the year, once the final conference program has been published.

Please note the following guidelines and additional information regarding seminars:

  • You must be a current member of the GSA to submit a proposal.
  • Seminar conveners must come from different institutions; where there are more than two conveners, no more than two may come from the same institution.
  • In order to facilitate extended discussion, seminar conveners and participants are required to participate in all three seminar meetings.
  • Seminar participants, including conveners, will not be allowed to submit a paper in a regular panel session. However, they may take on one additional role in the conference independent of their role in a seminar – as moderator or commentator on another session or as a participant in a roundtable.
  • Although the GSA does accept proposals from conveners who have directed a seminar during the past two consecutive years, the GSA’s Seminar Committee gives preference to newcomers and thus encourages the rotation of seminar conveners in similarly-themed seminars. We further recommend that conveners contact the coordinators of the Interdisciplinary Network Committee, Professors Heather Mathews ( and Jonathan Skolnik (, to connect with GSA Networks close to their topic.

Seminar conveners will have the opportunity to propose a cluster of pieces representing the work of the seminar for publication in Konturen, a peer-reviewed, online, open-access journal of international and interdisciplinary German Studies. Please note: although the portal for applications for publication in Konturen will only open after the conference is over, conveners may address their interest in this project in their seminar description.

To access the OpenWater system to submit your proposal, use the same username and password as you use to log into your GSA profile at at Johns Hopkins University Press. If technical questions or problems arise with the submission interface itself, please contact the GSA Operations Director, Dr. Benita Blessing (

The GSA Seminar Committee consists of:

Please get in touch with any of the GSA Seminar Committee if you have any questions about the seminars or proposal process. Thank you for your support of the GSA’s seminar program!

Minutes from the 2020 Business Meeting (online)

2020 AGS Business Meeting minutes

Advocacy re. DAAD-sponsored posts

Together with Professor Allyson Fiddler, UCML Representative for Germanic and Low Countries Studies, the president of AGS Professor Nicola McLelland wrote to the German ambassador to express the sector’s urgent concern about the risk posed by the UK visa regulations post-BREXIT to two flagship DAAD programmes. These two schemes play a major role in supporting German Studies in British Universities, and members might wish to share the letter within their own institutions:

DAAD lectors, assistants and BREXIT – FOA Ambassador Michaelis

The importance of language learning

The AGS supports an international joint statement highlighting the key role that language skills play in international cooperation, especially during global crises such as the COVID-19 pandemic. You can read more on the British Academy website. Such lobbying is part of the AGS mission to protect and promote foreign language competencies in Britain and Ireland.

AGS President’s Guest Interview 2020

On 27th October, we had the great pleasure of inviting Sharon Dodua Otoo, Bachmann prize-winning author of “Herr Gröttrup setzt sich hin”, to discuss her life and work as part of the President’s Guest Interview for 2020.

You can watch the discussion here.

Reports for the 2020 Online AGM

Read updates from some of our partner organisations.

German under threat at the University of Dundee

The AGS urges Dundee not to suspend its successful German programme as part of Applied Languages.

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Calling for a New Deal for Higher Education in the UK

The AGS, along with 47 other professional associations, is a signatory to the following letter calling for a New Deal in Higher Education, given the global pandemic and its effects on British universities:

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Congratulations to Martin Durrell, recognised for lifetime achievement!

The AGS cES1tJbtXsAAxoPXongratulates our colleague Martin Durrell, who on 11th March 2020 was awarded the prize of the Director of the Leibniz-Institut Deutsche Sprache for his “Lebenswerk in der internationalen germanistischen Linguistik”.  A great honour, richly deserved! Many of us will know Martin through his grammar books, as a colleague, and as an authoritative linguist. Martin was unable to travel to receive the prize in person, but our PGR representative Louis Cotgrove, who was present at the IDS annual conference, was able to receive the award in his name.


Reports for the 2019 Business Meeting, Bristol, 5 September, 2019

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Arts and Humanities Alliance warns of dangers of “No Deal” Brexit

Read the full statement

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REF consultation

The AGS responds to consultations by a variety of bodies responsible for research within UK Higher Education and beyond. At our 2018 conference, Professor Charles Forsdick, sub-panel chair for Modern Languages in the forthcoming REF, presented on the open consultation:

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. The AGS will submit a response to the REF consultation. Members’ views are welcome!

Advising Ofqual

The AGS, together with other representative organisations of languages in British Higher Education, is advising Ofqual on the marking of GCSE and A Levels. Read our latest submission here.

ECR Working Group

A report – and more specifically, a Code of Good Practice on temporary contracts – has been put together by a working group of early-career researchers (and teachers!) within the AGS, which colleagues are asked to note.

AGS Conference Report 2017

You can read about our eightieth conference, this year at the University of Warwick, here.

Video reviews of German books

Calling all lovers of German literature! @JudithVonberg is curating a “German month” in December on the European Literature Network website. As part of this, she’s inviting people to make short video reviews (around 30 seconds) of their favourite German book.

It doesn’t matter if you’ve read the original or a translation, as long as you have a copy of the book to wave in front of the camera. It can be a novel, a short story collection, a volume of poetry or a play – as long as it’s fiction. Please include the title (ideally in English and in German), the author, what it’s about and why you love it.

The video file will be too big to send in an email, so please send your contributions to Judith using WeTransfer. Direct message her on Twitter further details, or email the AGS Publicity Officer.

Letter on Membership Fees: November 2016

In response to a changing climate for our discipline and in Higher Education in Great Britain and Ireland generally, the membership of the AGS collectively voted to modestly increase annual subscriptions for the coming year. This will help us improve our reach as an organisation. You can read the letter from our Treasurer and Secretary, outlining our position and the new subscription rates, here.

AGS 2016 – Programme Available and Registration Open!

Our next conference will take place from Wednesday 31st August – Friday 2nd September 2016 at the University of Newcastle. The lead panel will be on the theme Trauma Narratives. Our regular panels will also be running, as well as a number of one-off panels. Full details of the programme and registration details can be downloaded here: AGS 2016 Programme and Registration

Please return the completed registration form to and transfer the sum to the relevant AGS account as detailed on the form. The deadline for receipt of registration forms and full payment is MONDAY, 20 June 2016.

AGS 2015 Conference Report

LimerickOver a 100 delegates from Britain, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, France and Portugal amongst others attended the 78th annual AGS Conference, hosted by the Mary Immaculate College, University of Limerick, from Wednesday 2 September to Friday 4 September 2015. See