Tuesday, 10 April, 2012, Oglethorpe’s annual Liberal Arts and Sciences Symposium (LASS) took place. The symposium is a university-wide event where students from all fields showcase their work. It was coordinated by my colleague Dr. Mario Chandler who was also a committee member of CLA conference earlier this month. For me LASS constituted a wonderful opportunity to learn more about what our students do and in which exciting projects they are involved in. It was also a great community experience as it strengthens the students’ identification with their university.
In the morning I attended a panel on Honors Thesis Presentations which took place at our beautiful Weltner Library. My GER 102 student Whitney Daly held an excellent presentation on “El Pájaro Rebelle: Cultural Confusion in Bizet´s Carmen” in which she argued that the French opera Carmen orientalizes Spanish culture. A second, equally insightful presentation entitled “Graffiti Explosions: The Local Ecology of Atlanta’s Creative Graffiti Scene” was held by Robert Mynatt, whose project is also accessible online.
The afternoon was our moment of fame. My GER 290 students held their presentations in the panel German Culture in America: At the Crossroads of Language, Culture, and Identity. My spring GER 290 course German Culture in the United States aimed at exploring the manifold transnational interrelationships between German and American cultures from Puritanism to Postmodernism. Our interactive and multimedia performance presentation explored the many ways in which the German and American cultures encounter, create contact zones of exchange and appropriation, and re-define the very meanings of “German”, “American”, or “German American”.
Each one of my students illuminated a particular aspect of the inter-cultural encounter between Germany and the United States. In his short film “The Sounds of German”, Carl Sweat explored the varying perceptions of the German language. Taking examples from a wide array of time periods, texts, and speakers, his presentation investigated not only the different meanings, but also how especially German artists have deconstructed the notion of German as a violent and “angry” language. Have a look!
Eliza Newland’s audio installation “Blindsided: The Jewish German Emigration Experience Surrounding the Second World War” presented excerpts of oral narratives by Jewish German Holocaust survivors. Her stories told of displacement and exile in Germany as well as of alienation and the difficulty to adapt in their new home country. My former Dortmund adviseé Ian Franklin compared in his presentation “Wicked Little Town: East German Images of Queer Freedom” how the 1989 East German DEFA feature Coming Out and the 2001 American musical Hedwig and the Angry Inch explore gay and transgender German identities around the Fall of the Berlin Wall. He was particularly interested in how the characters in the films relate to the different ideas of freedom in Germany and America. Our panel was very well received by the audience and I was really proud of my students!
For more information on LASS, see the OU blog.