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Arts and Sciences Dean’s Medal Nominee Isaiah Back-Gaal Reflects on His Experiences in the Department of Germanics

Submitted by Michael Neininger on June 14, 2019 - 12:31pm
Arts and Sciences Dean’s Medal Nominee Isaiah Back-Gaal
Isaiah Back-Gaal

I have been incredibly lucky to have studied German at the UW. The UW Germanics program has offered me an intimate community within the context of a large university, and I have been able to pursue research and participate in Study Abroad. Professor Kye Terrasi's course on fin-de-siecle Vienna inspired my interest in Austrian art and literature, and in 2018 I participated in the Spring in Vienna study abroad program with Professor Terrasi and fourteen other undergrads. In Vienna I got to immerse myself in the German language and learn about the history and politics of the city first hand. Since being back in Seattle I have completed a senior thesis in conjunction with my major in Comparative History of Ideas. In my thesis I have looked at the literature of Arthur Schnitzler and the art of Gustav Klimt and Egon Schiele, three Austrian artists from the turn of the 20th century. In their works I have examined the interplay of gender and race through images of the apocalypse, and have tried to understand how they fit into the greater historical context. I am excited to be moving to Columbus, OH, with my partner, and I know that I will take what I have learned from German into whatever I do.