The Internationale Vereinigung der Germanistik (International Association of German Studies) had been founded in Florence, Italy in 1951. Its conferences, held every five years, bring together the most distinguished scholars of German literature and culture from around the world. After meetings in Rome, Copenhagen, and Amsterdam, the fourth international congress of the Association was held in Princeton. It was hosted by Professor Victor Lange, chair of Princeton’s Department of Germanic Languages and Literatures, who was serving as President of the Internationale Vereinigung der Germanistik. The congress, which focused on the theme “Dichtung, Sprache und Gesellschaft (Literature, Language, and Society), did much to establish the international reputation of the Princeton German Department.
Victor Lange, the father of the modern Princeton department, was born in Leipzig, Germany. After studying English and German Literature in Oxford, Munich, Leipzig, Toronto, and Paris, he taught at the University of Toronto, Smith College, and Cornell University. He came to Princeton in 1957 as the founding chairman of both the Department of Germanic Languages and Literatures and the Department of Comparative Literature. In the course of a distinguished Princeton career, Lange, the John N. Woodhull Professor of Modern Languages, was awarded two Guggenheim Fellowships, the Friedrich Gundolph Prize of the Deutsche Akademie, the Goethe Medal of the city of Frankfurt, the Goethe Medal of the city of Weimar, and the Großen Verdienstkreuz of the Federal Republic of Germany.
The Department of German’s senior thesis prize is named in honor of Victor Lange.