Chair's Letter - Spring 2012

Submitted by Andrew M Bedell on

May 2012

Dear colleagues, students, and friends of Germanics:

I send you these greetings from Denny Hall at the end of a very busy winter and spring 2012. Lots of things are going on in the Department. This may be the last newsletter that I write to all our friends since we are replacing our old web site with a newly updated one that will have up to date information on all faculty, graduate students, research projects, courses, undergraduate study abroad programs, the activities of the German Club, information on alumni, and many other features. Once the web site is up and alive, you will have the opportunity to sign up for a newsfeed function that will send you a message whenever we post newsworthy items on our home page. Stay tuned. We will alert you to this new method of communication as soon as we feel confident that we can master the new technology, most likely in early fall.

In June, we will say good-bye to one faculty member who has decided to retire, Jane Brown, who joined the Department in 1988 and who served in the roles of chair, graduate coordinator, adviser of several PhD theses, member of countless PhD supervisory and MA committees, and coordinator of the writing colloquium in Germanics for many years which has helped students focus on articulating their dissertation project. Over the past three years, Jane served as the Josh Hanauer Distinguished Professor of Western Civilization and, in that capacity, directed the Hanauer seminar for graduate students in humanistic disciplines with fellows supported by the Josh Hanauer Endowment for Excellence in Western Civilization and coordinated the Josh Hanauer Lectures in Western Civilization.

While Jane’s retirement is a huge loss to the Department we were all happy to learn that she has decided to continue to teach two courses for Germanics and Comparative Literature in the coming years and will still be actively involved in shaping the intellectual life of the Department. We celebrated her contributions to the Department with a party at our house in Ballard on May 20 with faculty and students from Germanics and Comparative Literature, current Hanauer fellows, former students Amy Emm, Viktoria Harms, Morgan Koerner and John Crosetto in attendance as well as her daughter Dorrit and husband Ben und sister Kate and family.

On the plus side, I am very excited to share with you that we made a new appointment. After a thorough search for a new Assistant Professor in Goethezeit, conducted by Professors Richard Block (chair), Eric Ames and Brigitte Prutti, the Department extended an offer to Professor Ellwood Wiggins from Centre College in Kentucky and he accepted our offer. Professor Wiggins will be joining the Department in September and teach a course for our German majors in the fall.

I have included his profile in the section on faculty updates so that you can read about his research and teaching interests. Please do check out the faculty news section as it contains many stories about what our faculty is working on, what they teach, and what their recent research projects are. All of you who are readers of The New Yorker magazine already had a preview about Professor Ames’s research on ethnographic shows when you saw him quoted in a story on “Wild West Germany” where his expertise on the matter came in handy (check out p. 40 of The New Yorker from April 9, 2012)!

Our graduate students are, once again, organizing a conference, this time on the topic of “Acceptance in German Literary and Visual Culture”. You can read more about their project on the conference web site:

Our Distinguished Max Kade Professor this spring, Volker Mergenthaler from the University of Marburg, gave the keynote address. Please read more about his seminar and research projects in the interview in this newsletter. We are also bringing you news from our alumni and alumnae, sabbatical visitors, our annual student play, and information about a new curricular project, an undergraduate certificate in localization offered through Educational Outreach in summer quarter.

Our first exchange student at the University of Heidelberg, our new partner university in Germany, is sending very positive feedback from abroad. We added the University of Heidelberg to our palette of exchange offerings because it has an exquisite infrastructure for studying German language and literature at the undergraduate level. As in previous years, our undergraduates will be performing a play, this year it is a modern adaptation of Goethe’s “Stella.” You can read more about all these activities in this newsletter. If you have any stories that you want to share with us and the Germanics community, please send them to me. We love to hear from our students, former students, friends, and supporters. Without your support, we could not provide such a supportive and welcoming environment to our students and support their projects. Thank you very much!

Sabine Wilke