Graduate Student Update: Aaron Carpenter

Submitted by Michael Neininger on
Aaron Carpenter
The dog

This academic year was one of milestones. In March, I successfully completed my Ph.D. exams and defended my prospectus. I am now starting the hard part of writing the first chapter of my dissertation, which examines how authors from former Yugoslavia use foreign words when writing in German about the traumatic experiences of their communities, to give a voice to those communities who had previously been ignored by those in power. I am excited to continue working with Prof. Jason Groves on this project.

This year, I have been teaching freshman composition at the English department, which has been an adjustment from teaching in the German language. I enjoy the challenge and will continue with the English department next year, but I am also looking forward to teaching again with the German department in 2022. Though I am teaching in another department, I have been able to keep in touch with my fellow graduate students here and attend as many German Department events as I can.

With the pandemic and quarantine, the rare opportunities to safely visit with family and friends have been a highlight. Seeing the new puppy my aunt got at the start of the pandemic grow and torment his older brother, a shy dog who has now become more self-assured, brought much needed laughter into my life. I could not have gotten through this year without the support and comradery with my fellow graduate students, my parents, and the support and guidance of the professors here.

A reading recommendation that I have is Okaasan: Meine unbekannte Mutter by Milena Michiko Flašar was a surprisingly delightful find. When the narrator’s mother, who was born in Japan and moved to Vienna after marrying the narrator’s father, develops dementia and starts to lose her memory, the narrator must resort to calling her mother Okaasan, mother, in Japanese, a language which she never learned. As her illness progresses and health fades, the mother slowly becomes more and more foreign to the narrator. After her mother passes away, the narrator quits her job and moves to a Buddhist commune in India where she reconnects with the memory of her mother, finds peace and a new resolve to visit her mother’s place of birth: Japan.