Spring 2020 UW Germanics Newsletter

Message from the Chair, Sabine Wilke:

We are living in unprecedented times due to the global pandemic. As of the last week of Winter Quarter the university has been conducting most of its business remotely. That meant that students and instructors have been staying at home (wherever that may be) and learning German and discussing German literature and culture via Zoom. I wish to send out my sincere thanks to all instructors and students who have embraced this new normal with creativity and patience!

Since we won’t be able to celebrate our graduates and honor our award-winners in a “live” ceremony this year, we are accompanying our “virtual” convocation of the class of 2020 which took place on June 10, from 3:30 – 4:30 pm, with this special issue of our newsletter devoted to showcasing student projects. A recording of this ceremony can be accessed through a link from our home page if you had to miss it or want to watch it again. We are graduating six majors and six minors this year as well as three MA students.

We asked our students to reflect on what it means to live in times of crisis. You will be reading a broad range of responses that students have shared with us in reaction to this difficult moment in history. We asked: "What makes you get up in the morning? How can we support and inspire each other? How can we embrace chaos without falling apart?". Find out how our students responded.

Our graduation speaker is Cydly Langer Smith. Cydly is a Germanics alum from 1986. She is now the vice chairwoman of Kitsap Bank, a family business and the largest woman-owned bank in the state! We thought that by asking her to address this year’s class she could send a message of hope to our graduates drawing on her own experience and the role that German has played in her life. She sent us a pre-recorded message that was played at the virtual ceremony and will be available in the recorded session.

We also honored two Phi Beta Kappa initiates, our new student ambassador, an honors project, the winner of this year’s Manfred Bansleben Prize in Excellent of Graduate Teaching, the winner of the College’s Antoinette Wills Award, and the old and the new Hanauer Fellows. As you can see we have excellent students that excel at all levels of German language, literature, and culture and it is always a great honor and pleasure to mentor such fantastic students!

Thank you for letting us be part of your life and stay in touch.

The department congratulates all students of the graduating class of 2019-2020! Bachelor of Arts - Germanics Majors: Madeline Bonner Alexander Davis Xinhe Ding Madeleine Eakman Anastasia Sidorovich Xin Jie Yeoh Minors: Kyle Avalani Chih-Yun Lin Sarah Means Alexia Oblad Kang-Ping Peng Brooke Williams Master of Arts - Germanics Dominik Alamanni (MA in Pedagogy and Culture) Julius Rodriguez (MA in Literature and Culture)  Derek Wiebke (MA in Literature and Culture… Read more
The video features a graduation address by Cydly Langer Smith (alumna from 1986), the virtual convocation of our majors, minors, and graduate students, as well as student awards.                                                                     
I’ve always kept my interest for German language and culture on simmer in the background while making my way through college. Before Covid-19 was on any of our radars, I finally decided to study German abroad in Vienna for the spring, my first trip to Europe. But two weeks before departure, all study abroad programs were cancelled and then our spring quarter was moved online. I could never have foreseen that suddenly I would have to move back home either. My situation took a total 180 turn, as… Read more
When I heard that I would no longer be studying/interning in Vienna this spring and summer due to the pandemic, I was devastated. I had begun learning German because of my triple citizenship with the United States, Austria, and the Cherokee Nation, and have always wanted to put that in practice in Vienna, where my grandmother grew up. Instead of bringing my suitcase abroad, I brought it back home.   In a time of uncertainty, empty streets, and closed doors, the days go by even more quickly than… Read more
Our Student Ambassador is an undergraduate Germanics major who wants to connect with prospective and current students to share their experiences and support them with the college/major decision process. Here is our new Student Ambassador Miah Robert: "I began learning German during my freshman year of high school. I instantly fell in love with the culture and was fascinated by the vast history. I enjoyed the many challenges of the German  language and the opportunities it provided in high… Read more
The Department of Germanics is delighted to announce that graduating senior Madeline Bonner (B.A. Germanics and Linguistics, 2020) has been selected for the UW Dean’s Medal for Academic Excellence, an award given by the College of Arts and Sciences to the top graduating senior in each division. Congratulations to Madeline!
Travel, and specifically travel within German speaking countries, has always been a cornerstone of my identity. With an Austrian mother and dual citizenship of my own, the rolling alpine meadows of Kärnten near the borders of Slovenia and Italy have provided me with more than enough nostalgia to keep me occupied during this crazy time. Memories have populated my life instead of people for these last few weeks, tinging daily monotony with shades of remembered emotion. The cold relief of swimming… Read more
 When I first received the news that we would be completing the year virtually, I shrugged my shoulders. As a graduate student, the prospect of spending long hours inside researching and teaching with little human contact beyond company to the nearest source of caffeine and food was neither daunting nor novel. Yet, as I came to recognize all too quickly, these circumstances affected me much more than I thought they could and, in the process, have reminded me of the importance of meaningful… Read more
Is compassion the foundation of human morality or a dangerously unreliable emotion? This course (German 385: The Rhetoric of Social Justice) examined the strategies and motivations in different media of fostering empathy for commonly held enemies or discriminated groups. The syllabus ran from Ancient Greece to depictions of Nazis and terrorists in modern film, and considered philosophical assessments of sympathy alongside examples of its aesthetic manufacture. Students worked together in… Read more
This year-long seminar was structured around the idea that the concept of the Anthropocene challenges us to rethink our basic humanistic values: the centrality of speech for human expression, rational thought, the ability to reason and communicate, the demand for freedom, democracy, justice and human rights, and the creation of cultural expressions based on enlightenment values. Bi-weekly discussions of select readings and projects were the base for intense reflections. We also met with… Read more
I am honored to have received the Joff Hanauer Fellowship for Excellence in Western Civilization for the 2020-2021 academic year. I am excited to be learning once again from our very own Professor Sabine Wilke as we explore how human relationships with the environment and one another have come to shape us and events around us. For the colloquium I will focus on my dissertation, tentatively titled: “A Rajža to the Špajz – Linguistic Crossings from the Yugoslav… Read more
::  GERMAN LITERATURE AND THE MINERAL IMAGINARY  :: Already in the nineteenth century, German-language writers were contending with the challenge of imagining and accounting for a planet whose volatility bore little resemblance to the images of the Earth then in circulation. The Geological Unconscious traces the withdrawal of the lithosphere as a reliable setting, unobtrusive backdrop, and stable point of reference for literature written well before the current climate breakdown.  Through a… Read more
During the Winter Quarter of 2020, the one whose final week was memorably interrupted by the university’s sudden closure following the belated recognition of the widespread transmission of the novel coronavirus throughout Washington state, I happened to be teaching a course on the end of the world. “Cultures of Extinction (The Arts of Living on a Climate-changed Planet),” whose name was borrowed from two of our readings, is a course in what I’ve come to call comparative post-apocalyptic… Read more
The Construction of Women’s Roles in German and Yiddish Pre-modern 'Wigalois' Adaptations This publication uncovers two previously dismissed pre-modern adaptations of the Middle High German Wigalois (1215) by exploring their different approaches to female agency in comparison with the original Wigalois, the Yiddish Viduvilt (14th ct.) and the German Wigoleis (15th ct.). Traditionally, scholarship often concentrated on the Yiddish text presenting female… Read more
Tell us about your research in the Department of Germanics. My research interests include medieval and early modern German and Yiddish literature, and pre-modern cultural transfers within a German-Jewish context as well. I have published on old Yiddish literature, early modern marriage treatises, and most recently on a German graphic novel. A lot of my recent projects were related to a German-Yiddish story tradition around an Arthurian knight called Wigalois /… Read more
I am very excited to have been selected as a participant for this summer's Technology Teaching Fellows Institute at UW. As a TTFI fellow, I will be transforming my class “Witchcraft. From History to Pop Culture” into an online class. The course explores our fascination with witches in history and pop culture and, in the process, touches upon timely topics such as misogyny and social panic. The course is constructed around a 17th-century witch trial in Germany but ventures into different… Read more
In the wake of #MeToo or #Survivor, we find ourselves confronted with a set of new imperatives: Talk about your trauma! Share your personal story! Make it known! Break the silence! Yet, while these campaigns suggest condensing individual or shared history into 240 characters, we should not forget that literature has always provided a platform for speaking the unspeakable. Writing about traumatic experiences is as old as writing itself. War and pain, loss and grief, wounds and scars, violence,… Read more
I am the very model of a modern German professor. Each day at three I decline a Dativ, But at bedtime I prefer Akkusativ. Almighty Goethe I shall never doubt. And while Luther is a contentious lout, He remains my grand confessor. I am the very model of a modern German professor. I am the very model of a modern German professor. My knowledge of OHG runs far and wide, I’ve even memorized Walter von der Vogelweid’. While Klopstock is someone I can’t endure, Gottsched and his Dichtkunst I adore…… Read more
The topic of this Special Issue of Humanities concerns itself with the shape of the environmental imagination in German culture and its historical and rhetorical dimensions, ethical and philosophical concerns, and aesthetic framings. The visual paradigm is the dominant mode of perceiving nature. As a consequence, many cultural documents stress the scenic element where nature is put on display for gazing onlookers. Contributions to this Special Issue are encouraged to reflect… Read more
Solidarity is also one of the most frequently used words in Europe’s public discourse and media; appeals to it have multiplied as a consequence of recent turmoil, such as the financial crash of 2008 and the so-called “refugee crisis” of 2015. While mutual support might work reasonably well on an interpersonal level, the Coronavirus outbreak is rapidly revealing the limits of solidarity when it comes to nation states, confirming that it is not a genuine “European” value per se, but is… Read more
Hi! I’m Marilyn, and I’m a class of 2018 alumnus of the Germanics program at UW. I wanted to write a quick update about how my life has been going for the 2 years since I left, because I feel I owe a lot to this department, as the skills I learned here have served me well. Shortly after graduating, I flew to Germany and began living in the small town of Garmisch-Partenkirchen, located in the heart of the Bavarian alps. There I worked as a tour guide, learned to ski, and quickly forgot all… Read more
The COVID-19 pandemic has caused financial and emotional strain on many students. We are here to help. Find below a list of resources and an emergency scholarship for students in need. We hope this information is helpful and you are able to find resources to support you. If you do not see what you are looking for, contact Washington 211, a hotline to connect you with community resources. Financial SupportWe understand that financial stress can be particularly… Read more
The Department of Germanics expresses its full support for the statement from the German Studies Association's Initiative for Diversity, Equality, and Inclusion and shares its message that we all must work "in whatever capacity we can to educate ourselves and … Read more
Stroum Lectures by eminent scholars in the field of Jewish Studies, delivered at the University of Washington for the Samuel and Althea Stroum Jewish Studies program. A "quick talk" about portrayals of the Holocaust in film with Dr. Richard Block is online now!  20 minutes, and a great preview for his fall course,… Read more
Autumn 2020 offers several excellent English-language options for undergraduate students in the department and beyond: German 195: Popular Film and the Holocaust Taught by Prof. Richard Block. Recent events around the globe and here at home have revived frightful memories of the Holocaust and the devastating possibility that history could repeat itself.  Already, we have heard talk of arm bands, national registries of people of a… Read more

Support Us

A particularly heartfelt thank you goes out to our donors and supporters of the Friends of Germanics general fund during these difficult times! We are humbled by your loyalty and cannot thank you enough for your generous gifts that support faculty and students, enable departmental activities, and make events and initiatives possible that otherwise would not happen. With this newsletter, we hope to show that we are a great unit that is worthy of your support. Many thanks and stay safe and healthy!

Sabine Wilke
Chair, Germanics

For more information about how you can support us, please contact the department

Our newsletter would not be complete without your contributions. Let us know how you are coping with this difficult moment in history. What makes you get up in the morning? How can we support and inspire each other? How can we embrace chaos without falling apart? You can submit your responses to the newsletter editor, Misha Neininger at nein@uw.edu.

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