Letter from the Chair


Letter from the Chair,   

For the 2016-2017 academic year, I am on a research leave from UVA.  In the interim, the position of chair in German is in the hands of my esteemed colleague, Professor Benjamin K. Bennett, who brings to the position many years of previous experience as chair and who knows both the University of Virginia and the German Department as well as anyone and better than most. The chair's position could not be in better hands.               

                  In other respects, the German Department continues to flourish, boasting a faculty that is deeply committed to teaching and profoundly engaged with German Studies and the profession on multiple levels.  In the space of this letter, I can only begin to scratch the surface of all the activities in which German faculty are involved.  I want, though, to begin by welcoming our newest assistant professor, Paul Dobryden (Ph.D., University of California, Berkeley), who comes to us after a previous stint as a visiting assistant professor at Cornell University.  Professor Dobryden has already begun to re-invigorate film studies in the German Department, additionally bringing to this task an excellent knowledge of environmental studies, which in turn informs his work on film production and film representations as well.  We are also fortunate to have three new instructors in the lineup this year--Julia Gutterman (Ph.D., Yale University), Klaudia Casper (Ph.D., University of Heidelberg), and Ulrike Mayer-Mello (B.L.S., Mary Washington University), all of whom bring many years of teaching experience to the UVA classroom. Ms. Mayer-Mello is additionally helping us with our outreach effort to school programs in German in the Commonwealth of Virginia.  We are, moreover, fortunate to have with us Stefanie Parker (Ph.D., University of Virginia) who has taken over the Summer Foreign Language Program in German from its founding director Bill McDonald and who is currently serving as our Language Coordinator.   For the coming spring semester, the German Department is pleased to welcome Professor Christine Lubkoll of the University of Erlangen who will join us as the Max Kade Distinguished Visiting Professor in German. A highly regarded scholar, Professor Lubkoll has authored or edited numerous scholarly books and articles on subjects ranging from eighteenth- and nineteenth-century literature to literature of the post-war period, on relations between literature and music, on myth, ethics, and the cultural history of narrative, as well as many other subjects.

                  Other important news: our Director of Undergraduate Programs, Professor Manuela Achilles, has recently taken over the directorship of UVA's Center for German Studies, after her excellent performance there as associate director the last several years.  Also recently, Professor Chad Wellmon organized and oversaw one of the most important events to take place at UVA in a very long time--the 50th anniversary celebration of the National Endowment of the Humanities (NEH)--which brought to the UVA Grounds a broad range of important writers, scholars, political activists, and other pubic figures. Among them--to mention only a few-- were the writers Sir Salman Rushdie, Jill Lepore, Junot Díaz, Daniel Mendelssohn, former Freedom Riders Joan Browning and Joan Mulholland, filmmaker Bree Newsome, chef, author, and sustainability advocate Alice Waters, scholars Edward Ayres, Henry Louis Gates, and Lucia Stanton.  They and many others were joined by the director of UVA's Institute for Humanities and Global Cultures, Professor Debjani Ganguly. It was, though, thanks to Chad Wellmon's energy and resourcefulness that such an event could become envisioned and realized.

                  And the list of German Department faculty activities continues--including, among other things, Professor Bill McDonald's recent discovery of a 16th century daybook documenting Gutenberg's early reception, Professor Volker Kaiser's forthcoming book on "cases and examples," based on a conference he organized at UVA, Professor Lorna Martens highly regarded book on memory in Rilke, Proust, and Walter Benjamin, the recently published paperback edition of Benjamin Bennett's, Aesthetics as Secular Millennialism, and my own recently edited special issue of the online journal Quest devoted to Jews and the First World War.

                  Even with all these activities, our faculty continues to offer an outstanding program of courses for students, and we welcome all undergraduates to our two major programs--the major in German Languages and Literature and the interdisciplinary German Studies major.  We also invite all students, with or without a background in German, to enroll in our broad selection of courses offered in English. Students interested in the undergraduate major should contact DUP Manuela Achilles. Those interested in study abroad should be in touch with Professor Achilles as well as the UVA's study abroad office.   Students interested in pursuing the MA in German are especially invited to contact the Director of Graduate Studies, Lorna Martens, and the current chair. The German Department faculty and staff all look forward to meeting and working with you.