Fall 2019 UW Germanics Newsletter

Dear Friends of Germanics and Alums:

After a great summer that brought many of us to Europe and other places (Rick and I cycled the entire Neckar river from the spring near Villingen-Schwenningen in the Black Forest to the mouth in Mannheim where the Neckar flows into the Rhein), we are back in Seattle teaching a fantastic set of classes, engaging with the community, and pursuing our diverse research interests.

This newsletter will give you a broad overview about what is going on in Germanics with brief pieces about what department members have been up to, suggestions for interesting readings, and reports about cool events that might also peak your interest. As always, we welcome your feedback, wish to reconnect with our friends and alums, and love to hear about what is going on in your lives. Please reach out to me anytime.

As the holiday season is approaching, we wish you a peaceful and joyous time. Best wishes,


Professor of German

As part of the alumni engagement initiative, American Friends of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation Board and staff have been visiting alumni across the United States. Professor Sabine Wilke discusses her Humboldt experience and its impact on her subsequent career as well as the importance of Alexander von Humboldt to her current work. On her time in Germany as a Humboldt Research Fellow “My initial experience with the Humboldt Research Fellowship was through my spouse… Read more
Do you remember what you did November 9, 1989?  The speakers at the Zeitzeugen Panel & Discussion sure did. To mark the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, former residents of East Germany, academic experts and members of the German public shared their stories with the audience in the Petersen Room at UW’s Suzallo and Allen Libraries last Friday, November 8th. Thank you to everyone who joined our lively discussion and community. A special thank you goes out to our partners, the… Read more
Kye Terrasi writes: This fall quarter I have been working together with Andre Schuetze to create a summer study abroad in Berlin.  I just recently received approval for the new program, City of the Past and Future: Film, Media and Diversity, and I am very excited to begin recruiting for summer 2020!  During this five week program, students will participate in intensive language classes and take courses on culture and diversity, including collaborations with Berlin start-ups.  In my free time… Read more
Yoko Tawada’s transnational narratives often place a Japanese narrator into a German-speaking environment where the reader is forced to view German culture through a Japanese lens. Several of her early short stories included elements of Japanese mythology retold in an international space. Originally written in Japanese, Yoko Tawada’s short story “Fersenlos” (English: Missing Heels) is a quirky, feminist retelling of a Japanese ghost story. In the original ghost story, the ghost bride appears… Read more
On October 7-8, the Kyiv-born and Berlin-based writer Katja Petrowskaja visited the University of Washington to read from her novel, Vielleicht Esther, which won the prestigious Bachmann prize in Germany in 2013, and which was translated into English in 2018. Audience members from across the university and the region crowded into the standing-room only reading, which was preceded by a riveting conversation with Sasha Senderovich (Slavic Languages and Literatures and Jewish Studies). On… Read more
As a means of student outreach and facilitating discussion on supporting diversity in study abroad programs, the Department of Germanics has been inviting former students to present their perspectives on the Spring in Vienna program.  On October 25th, University of Washington alumnus Isaiah Back-Gaal spoke about his experience as a queer, Jewish American studying abroad in Vienna.  In his talk he focused on the pleasures and challenges of living in a different country and ways in which one’s… Read more
After taking an eternity to finish my last book project, I realized the next one, given my advanced years, must needs be one that requires a mere half of an eternity to finish.  Echoes of a Queer Messianic was in some ways a love letter to the hundred or so friends who died of AIDS.  By that I mean the book attempted to rethink the time that remains from the perspective of one who has for all intents and purposes been pronounced dead.    This has lead me to think of what societies of… Read more
The Goethe Institute/DAAD organized the event “Fachaustausch zur Zusammenarbeit von Hochschulen und Mittlern im Bereich Deutsch” on November 11th-13th. The goal of this mini-conference was to discuss the current status of German language program, and exchange ideas and strategies about networking and future cooperation among ‘Ortslektoren”, diversity and sustainability of language programs in the US. A group of about 40 professors and lecturers of German, and representatives from the Goethe… Read more
At the end of October, I traveled to Minneapolis to participate in a symposium on “Ecocriticism, Community Engagement and the Future of Germany Studies” organized by the University of Minnesota. The panel discussions with other scholars and graduate students from institutions from across North America sparked discussions on how to create courses and exchange programs that translate current research on literature and the environment into projects that can also create an impact outside of… Read more
 As part of the Hanauer seminar this quarter, our group arranged for a tour of the recently re-opened Burke museum with their resident arachnid expert, Rod Crawford. Rod took us behind the scenes for a fascinating look at their extensive archive of spider specimens. Having personally captured about two-thirds of the spiders currently preserved at the Burke, he proved to be a vast repository of arachnid-related facts as well as a passionate debunker of… Read more
This past October I attended my first ever conference at the German Studies Association annual conference in Portland, Oregon. My paper, “‘Zuckungen’ and ‘Gefühlsader’: The Desire and Impossibility of Literary Realism in Georg Büchner’s Lenz,” was well-received and I enjoyed the ensuing discussion. The seminar series, “Realism in the Age of Goethe and Its Legacy” (a GSNA-sponsored seminar series), included many interesting papers from both faculty and graduate students, engendering a pleasant… Read more
Have you been missing the boundary-pushing theater scene of Germany? Fortunately, Thalia Theater Hamburg recently visited the great Nature Theatre of Cascadia! Their production of Franz Kafka's Amerika came to the stage in Seattle on November 16. Our esteemed colleague, Ellwood Wiggins, likes the preeminent theater of Hamburg so much that one of his daughters shares its name: Thalia. On the night of the show, Ellwood booked… Read more

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If you would like to share your story or any news about recent projects, publications or travels, please contact the newsletter editor, Misha Neininger at nein@uw.edu                                                                                  

Happy Holidays and thank you for your support!