German Department Newsletter

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U.Va. German Department Newsletter

Fall 2015

Note from the Editor

Dear Friends of the German Department,

Greetings once more from U.Va., where we’ve started a new and exciting academic year.

Our faculty and students continue to publish and to receive awards and distinc- tions. In 2014, the Center for German Studies celebrated its fifth anniversary, and the German Department and the Center both played major roles in an all-university commemoration of the 25 anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall.

We hope you enjoy reading these and other stories and that you will send us your German-related news.

Mit freundlichen Grȕβen,

Cora Schenberg, Ph.D. Editor




Faculty News                                                              P. 2

Graduate Student News                                               P. 5

Undergraduate News                                                    P. 8

The Department and Center for German Studies             P. 9


Faculty News

page2image960 Prof. Jeffrey Grossman, who began his third year as Department Chair, saw the publication of two articles in the fall of 2014. “The Dilemmas of Translation: Cultural Politics, German Jewish Identities, and Yiddish Literature around World War I,” appeared in European-Jewish Literatures and World War One, ed. Petra Ernst, vol. 1 of the Yearbook for European Jewish Literature Studies. “Romanticism Rejected and Recovered: Heine and Germanistik in the Ear- ly Post-War Federal Republic of Germany” was published in Seminar: Special Issue: The New German Romanticism 50.3. Prof. Grossman also published a 50-page article, titled “The Yid- dish-German Connection: New Directions,” in the journal Poetics Today in June 2015 and participated in several conferences, presenting papers on German Jewish culture, Heinrich Heine, and moderating a panel at the Kafka conference organized by the Center for German Studies at UVA. In the German Department, he has been working with colleagues and UVA administration to design a new interdisciplinary Ph.D. program in the Humanities.

Prof. Chad Wellmon has recently published a book titled Organizing Enlightenment: Information Overload and the Invention of the Modern Research University. The book is getting attention nationwide; Mr. Wellmon was recently interviewed by Inside High- er Ed. The interview may be found here: news/2015/05/08/scholar-discusses-his-book-creation-research-university-and- disciplines#.VU4jK5spFcB.mailto

Mr. Wellmon was promoted to the rank of associate professor and awarded tenure in 2013. He also currently serves as Chair of the University’s Curriculum Planning Com- mittee.

In December 2014, Prof. Bill McDonald received kudos on his teaching methods from Senior Associate Dean of Undergraduate Admissions Ryan Hargraves. In a pub- lication called “Thoughts from the Lawn, Lifetime Learning,” Dean Hargraves wrote that he met Prof. McDonald (a.k.a. Herr Mac) during the previous summer. After hear- ing McDonald’s description of his “new teaching method designed to maximize partic- ipant engagement,” Hargraves sat in on and participated in several sessions of the professor’s German Composition and Conversation course. He found that “the students participate fully and connect with [McDonald] and each other en route to learning Ger- man stylistics based on the thoughtful use of small groups, full-class discussions and technology. The students are graced with McDonalds’ charming sense of hu-
mor...” The entire article may be found here:



Prof. Benjamin Bennett’s book, The Defective Art of Po- etry: Sappho to Yeats, was published in May 2014 by Pal- grave Macmillan. An earlier work, Aesthetics as Secular Millennialism: Its Trail from Baumgarten and Kant to Walt Disney and Hitler, was published by Bucknell University Press in 2013.

Prof. Gabriel Finder, who recently finished his fourth year as director of the Jewish Studies Program, has been reappointed to another three-year term, starting in fall 2016, to follow a year-long research leave in 2015-2016. So far he has published two articles in 2015. "From Brzeżany to Afula: A Child's Journey from Pre-War Poland to Israel in the 1950s: A Con- versation with Shimon Redlich," appeared in Polin: Studies in Polish Jewry 27. "The Politics of Retribu- tion in Postwar Warsaw: In the Honor Court of the Central Committee of Polish Jews," may be found in Warsaw: The Jewish Metropolis: Essays in Honor of the 75th Birthday of Professor Antony Polonsky, ed. Glenn Dynner and Francois Guest (Leiden and Bos- ton: Brill, 2015). Aside from giving several talks in the U.S. and overseas, Prof. Finder co-led a summer course on Jewish Vienna and Europe in Austria and Poland with Prof. Asher Biemann.

Prof. Lorna Martens published an article with the title “The Truth Criteria of Autobiography: Doris Les- sing and Telling the Truth” in a/b Auto/biography Studies 29.2 (2014). In January, 2015, she gave a talk titled “Teaching Autobiography/Fiction Blends” at the Modern Language Association Convention in Van- couver, Canada. Both of these relate to her larger pro- ject on women’s childhood narratives. In spring 2014, Prof. Martens launched a new graduate course titled Cognitive Approaches to Literature (GETR 7700). The course, offered in English, is the first at U.Va. in this emergent field.


Faculty, Cont’d.

In 2014, Prof. Sybil Scholz was selected by the University’s Mead Endowment to join the ranks of Mead Honored Faculty, a distinction granted to about a dozen faculty members annually. According to the Endowment’s website, these faculty members are “handpicked by their deans for their outstanding potential to become friends and mentors of students as well as examples for other faculty. Each Honoree proposes a creative ‘Dream Idea’ that will allow him or her to interact with students in meaningful and memorable ways not afforded by their regular classroom routines. The Mead Endowment provides funding for the pro- jects.” Ms. Scholz’s Dream Idea involved a German Conversa- tion and Composition class she taught in the spring of 2015. Scholz explained that her project was “centered around creating an internet presence for perspectives of a Young Germany which was linked to the German Department homepage. The aim [was] to reach out to UV A students and all those students who are interested in learning about Germany today and create a differentiated portrayal void of clichés and stereotypes.” Activi- ties included interviewing young German nationals living in the area (for example, in DC) on topics such as music, sports, poli- tics, traditions, and future visions for Germany. Ms. Scholz also established contact between the students and some officials, such as German Embassy personnel and media correspondents.

Prof. Manuela Achilles’ latest publication, titled "Anchoring the Nation in the Democratic Form: Weimar Symbolic Politics beyond the Failure Paradigm,” is forthcoming in Contest of Fu- tures: Rethinking German Modernities, 1880-1930, edited by Geoff Eley, et al. In 2013, Ms. Achilles co-edited, with Dana Elzey, Professor of Engineering at UVa, German Environmen- talism in Transatlantic Perspective: A Multidisciplinary Ap- proach, which includes her article, “‘Nuclear Power? No, Thank You!’” Germany’s Energy Revolution Post-Fukushima.” In a discussion of the book’s unique perspectives, Ms. Achilles notes that “[i]n the United States we sometimes struggle to imagine what it takes to become a more sustainable society. Germany is widely regarded as a frontrunner in environmental policy and practice. Our book explores and contextualizes these policies and practices, with the aim to engender a fruitful transatlantic discus- sion as to which of these interventions are transferable to the United States.” The initial lecture series that produced this body of work was connected to Generation Green, a pilot undergradu- ate course cross-listed in the Department of Science, Technology & Society (School of Engineering) and the German Department (College of Arts and Sciences).” One of the events Ms. Achilles enjoyed most in the previous academic year was giving a presen- tation for VAMUN, the Virginia Model United Nations Confer- ence. She also organized and co-organized several very success- ful Center for German Studies events, including the campus- wide celebration of the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall on November 5-7, 2014.


In 2013, Dean and German Professor Gordon Stewart received the Uni- versity's prestigious Thomas Jefferson Award for lifetime service to UVa. Founded in 1950, the Thomas Jefferson Award is the University’s most dis- tinguished service award--only one person may receive it in a given year. Before retiring at the end of 2014, Mr. Stewart taught in Germany, as well as at U.Va., teaching at the University of Tübingen and the Free University in Berlin, as well as launching a January Term course with students in Ber- lin. University President Teresa Sullivan said, in a press release about the Jefferson Awards, that “Mr. Stewart has left a lasting mark on the fabric of the University through his four decades of service as a teacher, mentor, ad- viser and friend to countless numbers of students and colleagues alike.”

Instructor Cora Schenberg’s essay, “Sepia,” was published in the online literary magazine Full Grown People in July 2015. The essay may be read here:

Graduate Student News

In February 2015, the German Department’s graduate students hosted their 22nd annual conference. Organized by Danielle Pisechko, Kate Schroeder, and Geraldine Suter, the theme of this year’s conference was “Schwalbenflug: Migration and Movement in Languages, Arts, and Sci- ence.” The conference began with a talk by Keynote Speaker Monika Shafi, Professor of German and Chair of the Department of Women’s Studies at the University of Delaware. Ms. Shafi’s talk carried the title: “A Living. Who does where what in order to survive": Work and Travel in Contempo- rary German Prose.” U.Va. was well represented at the conference; graduate students Ani Tramblian, Frank Hall, and Geraldine Suter presented papers, as did Dortmund exchange students Dilara Serhat and Maximiliane Wagner. Other presenters came from both American and German universities.

Graduate Students,


page6image1160Geraldine Suter

Each September, German Department Ph.D. candidates present their dissertation projects to the Department. This year’s projects, both directed by Prof. Bennett, were by Geraldine Suter and Berend ter Borg. Gerald- ine’s dissertation is titled "’Almost Poetic’: Alfred Döblin’s Subversive Drama.” This past April, she presented a talk at the “20. Kolloquium der Internationalen Alfred Döblin Gesellschaft” in Zürich. Following Gerald- ine’s presentation, Berend ter Borg spoke about his dissertation, which carries the title “Terrified by the Transcendent: Comparing Nietzsche and Rilke.” Last September, Kate Schroeder and Danielle Pisechko present- ed their dissertations, respectively titled “Masculine and Feminine Voices: Gender and Language in the Prose Works of Robert Musil and Ingeborg Bachmann” and “After (Re)Unification of Germany: Heimat, Memory, and Nationalism in Literature from 1871-1918 and 1989-Today.”

Danielle Pisechko received an NEH award through the Teaching Resource Center. Danielle is working with Prof. Bill McDonald on the methodology for their conversation and composition sequence, GERM 3230, 3240, 4450, which draws material from the Internet for written and oral exercises. Student tasks include news/cultural summaries, mentor text exercises, and video adaptations.

Ani Tramblian, Francis (Frank) Hall, and Robert Stone passed the MA exam in the fall of 2014. The three new M.A.s have embarked on interest- ing but divergent pathways in 2015-2016. Ani has started a position at Deutsche Welle regional headquarters in Washington, DC. Robert is spending the year teaching at Technical University of Dortmund on the Department’s Dortmund Exchange program. Frank, who remains in Char- lottesville, is continuing coursework toward his Ph.D. We wish them all success in their future endeavors.

Pictured are Ani Tramblian and Frank Hall.

Our Graduates: Where Are they Now? A Look at our Recent Ph.Ds. and their Jobs

Stefanie Parker, who worked for two years as a Lecturer in the German Department at James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Virginia, joined the U.Va. German fac- ulty this fall. Stefanie defended her dissertation in March, 2013. Stefanie’s disserta- tion, titled Wie ein unsichtbarer Schleier schwebt er mit: Eine Analyse zur Todesmeta- phorik in frueheren Werken Christa Wolfs, was directed by Prof. Lorna Martens.

Kerstin Steitz (PhD. ’14) began a tenure-track position of Assistant Professor of Ger- man at Old Dominion University in the fall of 2014. Kerstin defended her dissertation, titled "Beyond Closure: The Artistic Re-Opening of Holocaust Trials" in December 2013. Jeffrey Grossman directed Kerstin’s dissertation.

In the fall of 2014, Gabriel Cooper joined the Faculty of Oberlin College as Assistant Professor of German. In April, 2013, Gabe defended his dissertation, titled Fantasies of Jewish Power: Religion and State in German Jewish Writing from Mendelssohn to Schoenberg. The dissertation was directed by Professor Jeff Grossman.

Beatrice Wägner defended her dissertation titled "Dinge des Exils--Ein Panoptikum der Krise" in September, 2014. In addition, Bea’s article, "Geschmückt und zugenagelt. Wie Dinge ihre letzte Ruhe finden" was published in a two-volume essay collection by Rotbuch Verlag. Volume 1 of this collection carries the title "Haut und Hülle"; Volume 2 is titled "Hülle und Haut. Bea spent 2014-2015 teaching at TU (Technische Universität) Dortmund.

Charles Taggart defended his dissertation, which carried the title “Mastering the Art of Deception: The Depiction of Art and the Artist in Gottfried’s Tristan,” in spring of 2014. Prof. William McDonald directed Chuck’s dissertation. Chuck spent 2014-15 teaching at TU Dortmund.

Undergraduate News

In 2015, Alexa Monfort won the Walter H. Sokel Essay Prize. The prize, made possible by a generous gift from Prof. Emeritus Walter H. Sokel, is awarded each spring for the best essay written by an undergraduate enrolled in a course in the German Department. Ms. Monfort’s essay was titled “Thomas Mann’s Artist: The Isolation from and Adoration of the Foreign."

Alumni German major Erik Pomrenke (B.A, 2014) won a Fullbright scholarship to teach in Saxony, in the former East Germany this year, while performing re- search. Erik is one of fourteen U.Va. graduate and undergraduate students to attain Fullbrights for 2015-2016. In an interview with U.Va. Today, Erik explained that the former East Germany is “often cited as one of the most secular societies in the world, not only with the amount of people who have fallen out of the church, but specifically for those who have never been practicing members of a religion...I wanted to pursue a part-research project/part-community engagement where I see which institutions have risen to take the place of the community-building that was once provided by the church.”

Alumna Selma Ebraham was awarded a one-year visiting research assistant scholarship at the Max Planck Institute’s “Parlamentarisches Patentschafts- Programm fȕr junge Berufstätige” (Parlamentary patent program for young pro- fessionals). She is one of only seventy-five American college graduates awarded this prestigious scholarship in the program, which is jointly funded by the German Bundestag and U.S. Congress. Ms. Ebraham, a politics major who graduated from U.Va. in 2014, took many German courses after beginning German studies in the Summer Language Institute, under the direction of Prof. Bill McDonald. Ms. Ebraham’s studies took her well beyond U.Va. She spent a semester in Lyon, France and was a summer intern in the Irish Parliament in Dublin. She spent the previous year working in Göttingen with Prof. Matthias Koenig.

German Department and Center for German Studies News

Workshop Brings U.Va. Faculty and Virginia High School Teachers Together

In September 2015, Manuela Achilles of U.Va. and Ulrike Meyer-Mello of Charlottesville High, assisted by U.Va.faculty members Cora Schenberg, Jeffrey Grossman, and Asher Biemann and Charlottesville substitute teacher Edward Herring, organized a Workshop for Virginia German teachers and U.Va. German Depart- ment faculty members, sponsored by the German Department and Center for German Studies. With the goal of developing an ongoing, interactive partnership between the University of Virginia and the secondary school teach- ers, the workshop invited teachers to bring their key teaching concerns and needs to the table, so that two groups could work together on common goals. Highlights of the workshop included brainstorming sessions on topics such as “Teaching German – Successes and Challenges,” a talk by Friederike Braun from the German Agency for Schools Abroad, best-practice presentations by U.Va. faculty members and high school teachers, plus a delicious lunch catered by the Bavarian Chef. Bettina Staudt, who teaches German at Jamestown High School, wrote a re- port on the day. Noting that language teachers are given few opportunities to collaborate and discuss topical issues with colleagues, Staudt wrote (in German, translated by Cora Schenberg) that this deficit was “recognized and transformed by the German Department of the University of Virginia, represented by Dr. Manuela Achilles, in col- laboration with Ulrike Mayer Mello [of Charlottesville High].” These instructors “organisierten ein Treffen, das mit viel Liebe zum Detail, geplant und ins Leben gerufen wurde. Mit grenzenlosem Engagement schuf dieses dy- namische Team eine wunderbare Gelegenheit des gemeinsamen Austauschs.” All participants view this successful workshop as the start of a long and productive collaboration.

Mr. Diaby (L.), pictured with Dept. Chair Jeffrey Grossman.

German Bundestag Member Visits U.Va.

In September, 2014, German Bundestag representative Karamba Diaby visited U.Va., to talk to faculty and students about his life and work. Mr. Diaby, a Senegalese-born chemist and politician, is one of the first Bundestag members of African descent. Diaby ar- rived in the then-GDR in 1986, to study chemistry at the University of Halle. As time went on, he became increasingly politically ac- tive, focusing on the rights of minorities living in Germany. He now serves as in the Bundestag as a member of the Social Demo- cratic Party in Halle.

Teachers (L to R) Ulrike Meyer- Mello (Charlottesville High), David Benson (Culpeper), and Yuki Gibson (Loudon County).

German Department and Center for German Studies, Cont’d.

page10image1120Department and Center Launch German Film Festival

In April 2015, the German Department and Center for German Studies presented their first German Film Festival and Film Shorts Contest, organized by Lecturer Cora Schenberg, grad- uate students Danielle Pisechko, Maxi Wagner, Robert Stone, Ani, Tramblian, Frank Hall, and Kate Schroeder, with help from local German teacher Edward Herring. With the theme of “Modern German films for a Younger Audience,” the Festi- val combined screenings of German-language films with a German film-shorts contest for Virginia high school and uni- versity students. The winning team in the university category was comprised by Tess Irelan, Max Owens, and Erik Shum- way, of Ph.D. candidate Danielle Pisechko’s German 2010 class, for their film titled 7-1. High school contest winners – from Kiersten Luther’s Deutsch II class at Albemarle High – were Anneliese Myers, Artemis Bowman, Eric Williams, Jenn Wendelken, and Jonathan Danilich, for their film, which car- ried the title Erics Geburtstag. Each of the winning teams re- ceived a prize of $100.00.

Professor Walter Sokel Honored at Kafka Conference

In February, 2015, the Center for German Studies and the German Department hosted a conference titled “Kafka?!” in honor of Prof. Emeritus (and well-known Kafka scholar) Walter Sokel (1917-2014). Organized by Center of German Studies Director Asher Biemann, co-sponsors of the conference included the Austrian Embassy, repre- sented in person by His Excellency Dr. Hans Peter Manz, Ambassa- dor of Austria to the United States, who held a conversation with se- lect UVa undergraduate students, along with local German high school teacher Ulrike Meyer-Mello and some of her students. The program kicked off with a screening of the 1962 film The Trial, with introductory remarks by Jennifer Hansen-Glucklich, who earned her Ph.D. from the German Department in 2011 and now teaches at Mary Washington University. German Department faculty members Jeffrey Grossman and Lorna Martens moderated panels; Prof. Volker Kaiser presented a paper titled “Kafka’s Epitaph: Reading the Short Story ‘Ein Traum.’” The program’s additional co-sponsors were the Austri- an Cultural Forum and the Kafka Society of America, as well as the University’s Center for Jewish Studies and Center for Politics.

German Department and Center for German Studies, Cont’d.

U.Va. Celebrates 25th Anniversary of the Fall of the Berlin Wall

On November 3-9, 2014, U.Va. presented an all-university symposium marking the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. The symposium was co-sponsored by the German Department and Center for Ger- man Studies, in conjunction with Offices of the President, Executive Vice President and Provost, and Vice Prov- ost for the Arts, as well as several academic departments. According to the event’s description, the symposium brought together “experts and artists from throughout the U.Va. community and beyond to highlight some of the cultural, political and historical implications around one of the watershed moments of the 20th Century” through a series of “lectures, exclusive presentations and live performance.” Highlights included the world premiere per- formance of W\E: a Theatrical Piece of The Wall, written by the U.Va. Drama Department’s Associate Professor Doug Grissom; a reading and discussion titled “Blind Faith: My Life as a Jewish Self-Hating Communist in the GDR” by writer Salomea Genin, a screening of the film Wings of Desire; and lectures by U.Va. faculty and guest speakers. The symposium also featured a contest, organized by Manuela Achilles, in which undergraduates were asked “to explore the magic of the historic moment in November 1989 as well as the challenges that remain.” Submissions ranged from “essays and short stories to posters, photo-essays, video-work, and design projects rele- vant to the exploration of the moment and/or of remaining walls.” First Prize went to Elizabeth Ballou, for her short story, titled “A Celebration.” Atthar Mirza won second prize for a short film, "Breaking Down the Berlin Wall." Two students tied for third Prize: Hannah Varden, "Keepsake" (a photo collage) and Norashiqin Toh, “Aftermath” (a collection of poems). Three submissions achieved honorable mention: John Connolly, William Henagan, and Elizabeth Morley, “To Love a Wall: A Study in Strength and Fragmentation at the University of Virginia” (photo installation with audio and text); Trisha Hongcharti, "Berlin Wall" (spoken word), and Sage Tanguay, “And as Ulbricht says...” (video poem).


th left), pose with Prof. Asher Biemann, Director of the Center for German Studies (far right).

Fall of the Berlin Wall Prize Winners, including First-Prize winner Elizabeth Ballou (6


The Department and Center for German Studies, Cont’d.

CGS Celebrates its Fifth Anniversary

The Center for German Studies celebrated its fifth anniversary in 2014. In March of that year, it held a Fifth Anniversary Symposium. Speakers included Peter Uwe Hohendahl, Jacob Gould Schurman Emeritus Professor of German Studies and Comparative Literature at Cornell University; Steven E. Aschheim, Emeritus Professor of Cultural and Intellectual History at the Hebrew University, Jerusalem, and Harald Welzer, Professor of Transformation Design at the University of Flensburg.

Also in commemoration of its fifth anniversary, the Center launched three “Clusters of Exellence.” Also known as Excellence Initiatives, Clusters of Excellence are collaborative research projects, in which re- searchers from different disciplines come together to work on specific topics in order to promote top- level research in these areas. The Center for German Studies’ Clusters of Excellence are German-Jewish Studies; Environmental Sustainability and Energy in Transatlantic Perspective; and Discourse Networks and the Organization of Knowledge.


German Department and CGS Faculty Jeffrey Grossman (left); Manuela Achilles, Asher Biemann, and Gabi Finder

(fifth, sixth, and seventh from left) pose with colleagues at the Fifth Anniversary Symposium.

The Department and Center for German Studies, cont’d.


This past summer, Sandy Kendrick joined the administrative staff for the German Depart- ment and Center for German Studies. Working under the title of Student Affairs Administra- tor, Sandy says that her job is to “keep the graduate students up and running,” arranging for direct deposit of their paychecks and help- ing them establish health insurance and set up email, among other tasks. Formerly employed as administrative assistant at U.Va. Hospital’s Department of Gastroenterology and Hepatolo- gy, Sandy is now marking her fifteenth year at U.Va. Sandy was born and raised in Fluvanna, where she currently lives with her 16-year-old daughter Ashley and several animal compan- ions, including dogs, cats, turtles, a hermit crab, and several fish. Welcome, Sandy!