Archive for the ‘German Culture in ATL’ Category

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Prost!

In German Culture in ATL,Ogle-Who?,Sina's Posts on May 7, 2012 by SN

I cannot believe it is the final week already!! I still remember early January, when I was not sure of how to survive the upcoming stressful spring semester. Now it is over already! I want to share with you the two most delightful moments about finishing up my work as an Assistant Professor of German.

The first one are the final GER 102 presentations. In addition to the study of pronunciation, communication, grammar, and orthography, I decided to give my students some freedom in pursuing their individual research projects. In the last week of April the students held presentations about their research projects. They ranged from economic aspects, such as the Germans’ perception of the Euro debt crisis to social issues, such as discrimination towards Germans in America, all the way to cultural topics on German film history, memory in German film, translating Heinrich Heine poems, knitting cultures, and on German nobility. All of presentations were so diverse, innovative, and cool!  I was so impressed by my students! And the best part of project week: The students were able to vote on the presentations of their peers with up to three Post-Its each. This “popular” vote constituted 1/4 of the grade for the oral presentation. After all of the students had held their presentations, I had this wonderful mosaic of all the votes:

Students Vote for Students: Results of the Oral Presentations.

The second memorable moment was having a final beer with some of my students at Der Biergarten German restaurant in downtown ATL. Besides tasting Bier and Bretzeln with Obazda, we were especially interested in how this venue creates the idea of German. Of course, Germany = Bavaria! We had lots of fun and had this picture taken in front of a pastoral anachronistic imagination of a German landscape:

Schönes Bayern, err, Deutschland: Final Bier with Students at Der Biergarten, Atltanta.

Thanks Keith, for taking this picture! Shout outs to my most favorite GER students!

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LASS: Oglethorpe’s Liberal Arts and Sciences Symposium

In German Culture in ATL,Ogle-Who?,Sina's Posts on May 2, 2012 by SN

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.

Honors Thesis Presentations at LASS: Speakers Whitney and Robert. Can You Find me in the Audience?

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.

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I’ve Been to the Mountaintop! I

In German Culture in ATL,Sina's Posts,Transportation,Trips on April 27, 2012 by SN

Last year, I sent abstracts to two prestigious conferences. The first one is the CLA Conference which celebrated its 75th anniversary in Atlanta. CLA is the largest association of African American college teachers in the United States and invites research on African American, Hispanic literature and culture in particular and people of color in general. The second conference is the Show and Prove conference on hip-hop organized by the NYU Department of Multicultural Education and Programs in New York City. As it soon turned out, I was accepted to both of them, and this is the story of my extraordinary conference weekend.

Thursday, March 29, and Friday, March 30, I attended CLA at the Hyatt Regency just across from our home. I found the topic on the newly emerging field Afro German Studies highly interesting and attended the panel entitled “German-African American Scholarly and Cultural Legacies” moderated by Margaret Hampton. The panel demonstrated that there is a growing body of research investigating the connection between African American identities and the German culture. Leroy Hopkins, for instance, examined two late 19th century autobiographies. He showed how the authors had romanticized ideas of Germany, which to them was a nation unburdened by a history of oppression and slavery. One of the authors even wrote about going to Dresden to learn the most sophisticated German dialect! Ironically, their idealization of Germany happened amidst a climate of German colonization and increasing exotification of ethnic difference as exemplified by the many Völkerschauen. The panel affirmed the fact that there had been a long history of African Americans and Germany. W.E.B. Du Bois, for instance, lived in Germany in order to experience the motherland of American education. German philosophy, to give another example, has influenced many Black intellectual leaders. The novel Slumberland, which I discussed with my students in my course German Culture in the United States: Identities, Representations, and Politics, uses Germany as a place to discuss the state of race-relations in the supposed age of “post-race”. I was very intrigued by the panel not only in an academic way, but also on a more practical level: How can we inspire African American, Hispanic, and students of color to come over to Germany? After the panel I had a long conversation with Ms. Hampton and Mr. Hopkins about all of those issues.

On Friday morning I moderated a panel on “Looking to Ancestors, Autobiography and Memoir for Post-Colonial and Political Insight”. My presentation examined how Sister Souljah’s 1994 autobiography No Disrespect reconfigured of the slave narrative genre in order to make the point that slavery continues to exist in American society. The panel went very well and I got great feedback on my talk. Yeah!

Attending CLA brought me many new ideas for research projects, but also projects that involve student exchanges. If I were at Oglethorpe University longer, I would definitely look into those programs more closely and set up an exchange program.

After attending CLA in the morning, I rushed to the airport and boarded the plane to New York City.

Off to NYC! Downtown Atlanta from the Plane.

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German Culture in ATL 9: Hello Goethe!

In German Culture in ATL,Shout Outs,Sina's Posts on February 28, 2012 by SN

Goethe Meets Ogle: The Goethe Zentrum Atlanta at Oglethorpe University.

Today, Miriam Bruns, the Program Director of the Goethe Zentrum Atlanta, her current intern, and volunteer came to my GER 290 seminar German Culture in the U.S. We talked about the specific character of German cultural policy, learned how the Goethe Zentrum differs from the Goethe Institut parent organization, and discussed the challenges and perspectives of cultural work here in Atlanta. The students really enjoyed the highly insightful workshop “From Faust to Madsen: German Cultural Policy in Atlanta”.

Thank you, Goethe Zentrum Atlanta for stopping by!

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German Culture in Atlanta 8: On being German American

In German Culture in ATL,Sina's Posts,Tamás' Posts on February 6, 2012 by SN

A couple of weeks ago I met a very nice German American lady at the Broder reception at Emory University. Marianne, as I will call her, was born as a so-called Donauschwabe more than 65 years ago in a region that used to be Hungary. After WW II the area became part of Serbia and shortly afterwards the Yugoslavian dictator Tito kicked her family out of their Heimat. Subsequently, her family fled to the U.S. via Austria when she was at the age of 11.

"Marianne"

Her family settled in Ohio where she went to school and had her first experience with the American culture and English language. She went on to do her Ph.D. at the University of Michigan in German Studies in the 1960s. After that she came to Atlanta to work at Morehouse College for more than 40 years. Morehouse College is Martin Luther King Jr.’s alma mater.

A week ago, we were invited for a Sunday lunch at her house. Her fondness of flower patterns both natural and material,  heavy patterns, expressive colors, flouncy cushions reminded me a lot of my grandmother’s style. Her fondness of art is displayed in her many paintings, partly her own, ranging from water color to expressive oil painting.

Her German American identity was revealed in the choice of food as she served a blend of delicious European and Southern food. We talked about what it means being German, American, and German American. We shared our story of being East German in America. We elaborated on American politics from Reaganomics to Obama. We had a wonderful time and stayed all afternoon. When we left her house, we had the impression that we had done trip around the world and not just eaten lunch.

Explorers.

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German Culture in Atlanta 7: Henryk Broder on “The Two Faces of Germany” at Emory

In German Culture in ATL,Sina's Posts on January 24, 2012 by SN

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German Culture in Atlanta 6: “Once in a Lifetime”

In German Culture in ATL,Sina's Posts,Tamás' Posts on November 19, 2011 by SN

At the afore-mentioned dinner party that took place a couple of weeks ago Tamás talked to the Vice President of Oglethorpe University about the changes after the Fall of the Berlin Wall in Eastern Germany. Apparently, this story left an impression on Keith Aufderheide who immediately suggested that Tamás should share it with our students. A couple of days later the idea emerged to hold the event on the anniversary of the Fall of the Berlin Wall on November 9. “Once in a Lifetime” was born.

Once in a Lifetime Flyer.

The event took place at the Skylight Gallery at the Oglethorpe University Museum of Art. We divided the evening into three parts. After my opening remarks, Tamás gave a short  overview over the main political events leading up to the revolution. Then, we showed the movie Goodbye, Lenin! because it depicts the changes in Eastern Germany in a humorous, sometimes even quite grotesque way. The film screening was followed by a q&a session with the students and us about our experiences of both before and after the reunification.

My main responsibility was the organization, promotion, and coordination of the logistics which was a lot of work. However, compared to Germany the circumstances were much better. We received generous funding by The Halle Foundation without larger bureaucratic hassle and Oglethorpe has the necessary staff to support such events. Instead of preparing the food ourselves, we had delicious German catering and instead of having to move chairs and technology, we found everything in place and ready to use. The Halle Foundation also recommended Superlicious Catering run by the very friendly German expat Andrea. She came up with a great buffet consisting of traditional and new German cuisine, which everyone raved about.

Feature in the OU Blog.

All in all the event was very well received. In addition to my GER 101, 201, and 400 students, colleagues and professors from other departments attended as well as two East German women who live in the area. The discussion covered a wide range of topics. Some students asked about the immediate changes after November 9 while others inquired about our responses to the movie. During the discussion we pointed out the role of the church in the protests. I told my students that I was retrospectively envious about Tamás’ Hungarian background which allowed him to taste the West. We also explained the conept of Ostalgie and the significance of Sigmund Jähn. Ironically, Tamás forgot to mention the story that sparked Keith Aufderheide’s initial interest: How the grey veil was lifted from the buildings in the Art Nouveau quarter Kaßberg where he grew up in the 1990s.

The event resonated with everyone. The students responded very positively. A GER 201 student made analogies between the North and the South after the Civil War, a GER 101 student mentioned that this event deconstructed the notion of Western superiority. Another GER 101 student remarked that this had been one of the better events this semester at Oglethorpe University because it presented a critical view. At one point we were even a bit afraid that we might have brainwashed our audience with a leftist, Socialist world view.

We also had discussions afterwards with some of my colleagues. Tamás had a long conversation with a history professor, who has roots in Annaberg-Buchholz, immediately after the official part was over. The next day we continued our discussion with my Division Chair during dinner before a jazz concert. But that is another story.

Last but not least, we had to think about how the Fall of the Berlin Wall influenced our coming of age and what we had accomplished over the past 20 years. I started to recognize that being East German is becoming less of a stigma, but rather an asset that allows you to share your story among a greater audience.

This post is dedicated to Keith Aufderheide and Marnite Calder.