The Department of German, Nordic, and Slavic is home to undergraduate and graduate programs in German, Scandinavian Studies, Russian, and Polish, as well as certificates in the Folklore program and East Central European Languages, Literatures, and Cultures. The department offers courses in the languages, linguistics, literatures, and cultures of these areas, both in the target languages and in translation. GNS provides instruction in more than a dozen languages, including Czech, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, German, Icelandic, Kazakh, Norwegian, Old Norse, Polish, Russian, Sami, Swedish, Turkish, Ukranian, and Yiddish.

German Program

The German program affords students the opportunity to begin or to continue their study of German and/or Dutch.

Knowledge of German provides access to a culture that for more than a millennium has been central to the history, economy, arts, and sciences not just of Europe but of Western civilization as a whole. In the contemporary world, German-speaking countries have Europe's strongest economies and are playing an increasingly important role in world affairs. More Americans claim German ethnicity than any other, and German-speaking immigrants and their descendants have had an enduring impact on the history and culture of the United States. UW–Madison has been a leader in the field of German studies for more than a century. The university's libraries are remarkable for the depth and breadth of their German-language holdings. 

Knowledge of Dutch provides access to a culture that has been an important force in world history since the Middle Ages. The language of more than 20 million inhabitants of the Netherlands and Flanders (Dutch-speaking Belgium), Dutch is also spoken in Suriname and the Netherlands Antilles. It is also an important second language in Indonesia. As major economic powers, Belgium and the Netherlands play a leading role in shaping the European Union. World-class research in the sciences and humanities is conducted at Dutch and Belgian universities, and both countries can boast of a cultural life in which art, music, and theater are all flourishing.

Opportunities for German and Dutch Students 

In addition to choosing from courses in culture, literature, linguistics, and German-American studies, German students can practice the language in various settings on campus, including the Stockwerk Deutsch Language House, which is located in Adams Hall. Other opportunities include the German Club, Kaffeestunde, and Stammtisch. There is also a Dutch Table for students of Dutch. Many German and Dutch students participate on semester- or year-long study abroad programs in Germany, Austria, and the Netherlands administered through International Academic Programs, the School of Business, the College of Engineering, and the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. The International Internship Program also connects UW–Madison students to a wide range of internships in German- and Dutch-speaking Europe.

Scandinavian Studies (Nordic)

The Scandinavian Studies Program provides the opportunity to learn a Scandinavian language or Finnish (modern Icelandic only occasionally). The literature, folklore, and culture of the Nordic countries are taught both in the original languages and in English translation. Partly in cooperation with other departments, courses in Scandinavian area studies are offered (history, social institutions, geography, art, archaeology). Students who major in the field may continue graduate studies toward an M.A. in Scandinavian philology, literature, or area studies, and toward a Ph.D. in Scandinavian literature, philology, or folklore.

The program strongly encourages a junior-year abroad in a Nordic country; several exchange programs are available. Students who transfer to this university after a year abroad should contact the undergraduate advisor as early as possible to schedule a placement test.


Courses in Russian are designed to meet the needs of students who begin to study the language in college as well as those who began to study the language in high school. With a major in Russian you will be able to converse with ease in most common situations at work, school, social events, and everyday duties, as well as read and write at an advanced level.

Russian Flagship Program

The Russian Flagship Program offers students of any major the opportunity to achieve a professional level of competence in Russian. Students apply to the program directly. Residential and study abroad requirements, course options, and scholarship information are posted at Russian Flagship. To obtain more information about the Russian Flagship Program, students should make an appointment with a Russian Flagship advisor.


Polish is the most commonly spoken Slavic language of the European Union and the second largest Slavic language in the world, with over 50 million users across the globe. Polish culture has a remarkably rich tradition, shaped by a millennium of artistic and intellectual innovation as well as struggles for political, social, and cultural independence. Poland survived the two world wars and half a century of communist rule to emerge as a regional leader in East-Central Europe, the fastest-growing economy in the EU, and home to one of the most vibrant cultural scenes in the world. Polish diaspora counts among the largest in the world with major concentrations in the US, Canada, the UK, Germany, and France. 


Explore the crossroads of Europe with courses designed to give you the linguistic-cultural skills for successful academic, business, political, diplomatic, and analytical careers centered on the continent’s most economically dynamic, strategically important, and culturally rich region. Discover the world that has survived the horrors of two world wars, given birth to some of the most powerful dissident movements in modern history, and inspired the world with its art, film, literature, and political thought. 


The Folklore Certificate provides opportunities to explore the importance of everyday expressive culture – such as storytelling, sacred traditions, art, music, foodways, and festivals – to better appreciate human diversity, as well as understand the challenges of living together as local community members and citizens of the world. Students will gain fresh perspectives on race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, and class. They will come to recognize the artfulness in everyday life and community-based creativity in a global economy. Students will learn to navigate cultural communication and conflict within and across religious, geographic, and ethnic divides.  

Folklore courses are taught partly in cooperation with other departments and are cross-listed with classes in Gender and Women’s Studies, Anthropology Religious Studies, Art, Communications, Dance, African American Studies, Scandinavian Studies, and many others.

Students who earn a certificate in the field may work in museums, the business sector, archives, publishing, or many other areas.



Monika Chavez
Sabine Gross
Sonja Klocke
Mark Louden*
B. Venkat Mani
Pamela Potter
Jolanda Vanderwal Taylor

Associate Professors

Salvatore Calomino
Sonja Klocke
Sabine Möedersheim

Assistant Professors

Hannah V. Eldridge
Julia Goetze
Katerina Somers
Adam Stern
Sunny Yudkoff

Teaching Faculty

Julie Larson-Guenette
Jeanne Schueller


Melissa Sheedy

*Unit Head

Scandinavian Studies (Nordic)


Susan Brantly
Thomas DuBois
Kirsten Wolf*

Associate Professor

Dean Krouk

Assistant Professor

Claus Andersen
Benjamin Mier-Cruz
Liina-Ly Roos


B. Marcus Cederström
Scott A. Mellor


Ida Moen Johnson
Helen Durst

Associate Lecturer

Todd Michelson-Ambelang

* unit head

Slavic Studies



David Danaher*
Karen Evans-Romaine
Irina Shevelenko

Associate Professors

Andrew Reynolds

Assistant Professors

Maksim Hanukai
Kirill Ospovat
Marina Zilbergerts

Teaching Faculty

Jennifer Tishler
Anna Tumarkin


Sara Karpukhin
Alexandra Walter

*unit head


Assistant Professor

Łukasz Wodzyński

Senior Lecturer

Ewa Miernowska


Krzysztof Borowski

Professor Emerit

Halina Filipowicz



David Danaher*

*unit head

Other Languages

NâlâN Erbil - Turkish, Faculty Associate

Gulnara Glowacki - Kazakh, Senior lecturer

Oksana Stoychuk - Ukranian

Folklore Program

Folklore Course Teaching Core:

Lowell Brower, Lecturer, Teaching Faculty; German, Nordic and Slavic
B. Marcus Cederström, Teaching Faculty; German, Nordic and Slavic
Langston Collin Wilkins, Assistant Professor, German, Nordic, and Slavic and African American Studies
Thomas DuBois, Professor; German, Nordic and Slavic
Christine Garlough*, Professor; Gender and Women’s Studies
Nathan Gibson, Audio-Visual Preservation Archivist, UW-Madison General Library System
Janet Gilmore, Professor; Planning and Landscape Architecture
Jennifer Gipson, Assistant Professor; French and Italian
Scott Mellor, Faculty Associate; German, Nordic and Slavic
Anna Rue, Assistant Faculty Associate; Center for the Study of Upper Midwestern Cultures

Folklore Cross-listed Course Teaching Core:

Matthew H. Brown, Assistant Professor; African Cultural Studies
Jerome Camal, Associate Professor, Anthropology
Nadia Chana, Assistant Professor; Music: Ethnomusicology
Peggy Choy, Associate Professor; Dance
Susan Cook, Professor, School of Music
Laurie Beth Clark, Professor, Art and Interdisciplinary Theatre Studies
Mary Hoefferle, Faculty Associate, Art
Rob Howard, Professor; Communication Arts
Evelyn Howell, Professor, Department of Planning and Landscape Architecture
Maria Lepowski, Professor, Anthropology
Chris Livanos, Professor, Comparative Literature
Alfonso Morales, Professor, Urban and Regional Planning
Michael Peterson, Professor, Art and Interdisciplinary Theatre Studies
Ann Smart Martin, Professor, Art History
J. Randolph Valentine, Professor; Language Sciences & American Indian Studies
Rebekah Willett, Associate Professor, iSchool

*unit head