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Advocacy for German: Meet our Alum Morgan Koerner (PhD 2007)

Submitted by Michael Neininger on May 29, 2019 - 9:58am
Morgan in full neoliberal performance costume
Morgan Koerner in full neoliberal performance costume

Greetings from the College of Charleston, South Carolina, where I have been working as an Assistant and now Associate Professor of German since I graduated with a PhD in Germanics at the University of Washington in 2007. It was very difficult to leave the fabulous city of Seattle, but over the years Charleston has grown a great deal on me and I am proud to say I can now appreciate the difference between 80, 90, and 100 degrees Fahrenheit--for the first 5-6 years it felt all exactly the same to me. 


Despite the climate, the position at the College has been a joy from the beginning and I am lucky to not only have wonderful colleagues, but also the luxury of working within a German major curriculum that allows for a great deal of creative freedom in course design. Every two years I offer a performance-oriented literature and culture class organized around a different theme that culminates in a final performance in German written and devised by the students. This course has appeared in 7 different iterations, most recently in a 2016 course on Expressionism and Dadaism (see here for an CofC today article on that course) and a 2018 course on 1968 in Germany that culminated in a performance entitled “Deutschland 1968: Die Revolution kommt und sie ist weiblich!” 


Since the summer of 2015, I have spent all of my time and energy exploring a new theatrical role and full-time neoliberal performance part project as Chair of the Department of German and Russian Studies. As a chair with affable, collaborative colleagues in a small, relatively low-maintenance department, I have been able to focus a great deal of my time on making the case to students, parents, and decision-makers to support the learning of German and Russian in K-16 education. I now organize an annual CofC German-American Business Summit  for industry leaders and college students and hold an annual Lowcountry German Day for high school teachers of German,  and I am currently finishing a two-year term as the President of the South Carolina AATG chapter and beginning a three year term as Southeastern Representative on the Executive Board of the AATG. The outreach and marketing efforts have already begun to bear fruit: since 2015, the number of German majors at CofC have quadrupled in size (from an all-time low of 15 to an all-time high of 65 this spring) and our Russian Studies minors have seen considerable growth as well.