Summer 2010 Newsletter

Archived Newsletters: [Current][Summer 2010] [Spring 2009] [Spring 2008]

University Celebrates 20th Anniversary of the Fall of the Berlin Wall

This past fall, the University of Virginia joined in a German Embassy-sponsored celebration of the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. German Department graduate TAs Gerrit Roessler and Brett Martz were responsible for applying for and obtaining the necessary funds to bring the nationwide commemoration, titled Freedom without Walls, to U.Va. The University’s week-long commemoration featured talks, panels, a declamation contest, and a 5-k run to benefit the Doctors without Borders charity.

U.Va. Student Claims Wall Art Prize

In perhaps the highlight of the week, U.Va. took top honors in the German Embassy’s Wall Art Contest. Students were invited to create art on sections of concrete wall, displayed in the University’s amphitheater. Undergraduate Andrew Michael Salmon received first prize from the Embassy, as well as U.Va.’s prize for Best Group Project. Other winners chosen by the U.Va. jury included students Ross Michael Thomas, Olga Zeveleva, Maria Christina Jividen, Nicole Ashley Poltash, Ellen Frances Falci, and Katharine Elizabeth Stabler.

German Outreach Day 2010

In March, the German Department, in collaboration with the Center for German Studies, welcomed local and regional high school German teachers and their students to a day of German-related presentations and activities. Five schools from the greater-Richmond area, as well as Charlottesville and Albemarle, attended this year’s Outreach, which included a Brahms lecture/concert by music professor Michael Puri, a presentation by Gerrit Roessler and Brett Martz on U.Va.’s “Berlin Wall Project,” and a scene from Büchner’s Woyzeck, performed by U.Va students under the direction Prof. Martin Sheehan. The high school students also had the chance to show off their German skills in our second annual Declamation Contest, and to sit down to lunch with German Department students and Faculty. Following the Outreach, Charlottesville High School teacher Evangeline Deaton (an alumna of our Masters Program), wrote, “We thank you and all of UVA Deutsch for so graciously hosting us. The kids from CHS LOVED it and we look forward to coming next year.”

Center for German Studies Hosts Conference on Revolutions

In March, the Center for German studies hosted a three-day-long conference titled “Approaching Revolutions.” Keynote speaker Manfred Schneider of the University of Bochum opened the conference with a talk titled “The Poetics of Revolution: Marx and Engels as Poets.” German Department instructors Manuela Achilles, Volker Kaiser and Benjamin Bennett hosted panels titled, respectively, “Revolutions Derailed and Betrayed,” “Writing Revolutions,” and “Theater and Revolution?” The conference drew speakers from various disciplines, including political theory, religious studies and philosophy.

Graduate Students Host 17th Annual Conference, Titled "An die Freude" Approaching "Happiness" in German Contexts

In February, the graduate students of the German Department, in collaboration with graduate students from the Corcoran Department of History, hosted a conference on the topic of happiness. Explaining that we have all heard of “the pursuit of happiness”, “all’s well that ends well”, and “Shiny Happy People,” conference organizers noted that happiness “is treated as an allegedly on- demand commodity, but in our age of financial and environmental crises, it seems increasingly out of reach.” They then asked: What do we mean when we speak about happiness? Does it exist? Or is it merely a word, a metaphor for an ineffable desire? Graduate students from several universities and multiple disciplines addressed these and other questions over the weekend-long conference. Speakers from the U.Va. graduate program in German included Rebecca Slodounik, Barbara Rieger, Verena Kollig, Jennifer Hansen-Glucklich and Mannheim exchange student Bozena Badura.

Gabe Cooper has been awarded the Jewish Studies Interdisciplinary Graduate Fellowship for the upcoming academic year. This is the second time that Gabe has received this fellowship. In addition, Gabe has been awarded a travel grant to pursue archival research in Germany and Austria this summer. Gerrit Roessler received the Graduate Certificate in Comparative Literature in April. To qualify for this certificate, Gerrit wrote a paper for Professors Laura Heins, Chad Wellmon and Randolph Pope on myth and ideology in Star Trek and Raumpatrouille Orion.

Verena Kollig has won first prize in this spring's Huskey Research Exhibition on April 5, 2010. Verena won her prize in the Poster Competition category. This summer, she will prepare a book review for the New England Theatre Journal. Finally, Verena has been invited to contribute an article on immigrant women's writing in Postwall Germany, for a planned anthology by the Coalition of Women in German.

Students Win Honors

On October 16, Nicole Ashley Poltash, a double-major in German and Commerce, was among those students who received Intermediate Honors. The University bestows these honors upon the top 20 percent of students who have earned 60 credits of course work during the first two years of their undergraduate program in the School of Architecture, the College of Arts and Sciences, the School of Engineering and Applied Science and the School of Nursing. We extend our hearty congratulations to Ms. Poltash.

This spring, Sabrina Ghumman, an English major, won the German Department’s Sokel Prize for an essay written for Gerrit Roessler’s “Man and Machine” class. The Sokel prize is awarded each spring to the student who writes the best essay of ten pages or more in a GERM or GETR class. The Center for German Studies awards prizes for shorter undergraduate essays. This year, Kristin Twiford claimed First Prize for “The 'Machine' Versus the 'Heart': Fritz Lang's 'Metropolis' and Modern Science Fiction Film." Second Prize went to Sharon Wong:for her essay titled "Bluebeard and the Happily Never After." Rudhdi Karnik claimed Third Prize for an essay titled "History and Fiction."

Faculty News

Lorna Martens won a "Globalizing the Curriculum" grant to develop a new course, titled "Women, Childhood, Autobiography," which she will offer for the first time in the fall of 2010. Moreover, Ms. Martens gave a paper on Arundhati Roy at the April 2010 International Conference on Narrative. Ms. Martens’ paper was titled “A Confluence of Genres: Reflections on the Narrator Function in Arundhati Roy's The God of Small Things." Prof. Martens’ latest book, titled “The Promise of Memory: Childhood Recollection and its Objects in Literary Modernism,” will be published by Harvard University Press in 2011.

On the weekend of October 24, James Pfrehm, Prof. of German and Linguistics at Ithaca College, gave a lecture and a workshop about new media in foreign language teaching. Professor Pfrehm’s first presentation, titled “Who’s Afraid of the Big, Bad Web,” gave an overview of the latest Web 2.0 resources for the classroom. His Saturday workshop, titled “Podcasting 101,” offered hands-on instruction in accessing, using, creating and managing podcasts.

Prof. William McDonald gave a talk to the Medieval Studies course taught by Prof. Kershaw on "Der Bamberger Reiter." He is currently investigating how this piece became a Nazi icon and the symbol for so- called "Nordische Kunst."