The United States have the Super Bowl, Europe has the Eurovision Song Contest. Almost 200 Million people watch how performers from 40+ countries compete for the votes of the televoting audience. (No, you have not missed a sudden expansion of the European Union — the European Broadcasting Union is significantly larger than the EU, including many Eastern European countries as well as Turkey and Israel, for instance.)
Over time, most winning performers have not left a lasting imprint on the global entertainment industry. The Swedish band ABBA and the Canadian singer Celine Dion (yes, her — she actually won the contest starting for Switzerland!) are the exceptions confirming the norm.
The winner of the 2014 contest did leave an imprint: Conchita Wurst, a “Kunstfigur” created by the Austrian performer Thomas Neuwirth, surprised the audience not so much with her song but with her overall performance which boldly challenged heteronormative gender expectations.
To watch a video and read more, click below. Continue reading
“What can I do with a German Studies Major?” — It’s not atypical at this time of the year to receive e-mails that either implicitly or directly ask this question. And to those of you who are asking, thank you! You initiate an important dialogue about the benefits of liberal-arts learning and the role of foreign language and culture in the liberal arts curriculum. Of course, there is always a particularly spectacular career path that I could tell you about, or that job which involves jetting back and forth between Washington and Berlin. Yet, what’s really important is to consider learning foreign languages and cultures not as an added skill that looks good on your resumé (although it does!) but as core element of your education that shapes the way you think and solve problems. Over the next couple of weeks, I will use this blog to highlight examples where this convergence of knowing a foreign language and culture as well as having both breadth and depth in other disciplines matters.
While reading today’s NYT I stumbled across the first example, an op-ed piece titled “What We Learned from German Prisons.” Nicholas Turner, president of the Vera Institute of Justice, and Jeremy Travis, president of John Jay College of Criminal Justice, write about their experience as co-leaders of a bipartisan US-delegation that visited German prisons in order to learn about the German prison system. Their conclusion is simple: Germany is doing a much better job of returning offenders to society, thereby keeping prison populations and costs low. Why is that, the authors wonder?
2015 is a big year for Austria: 70th anniversary of liberation from National Socialism; 60th anniversary of the State Treaty, and 20th anniversary of Austrian membership in the EU. The meaning of these events has, over the years, changed quite a bit and in German 200 we will take the opportunity to look back not only at these events but at 100 years of Austrian history (1915-2015). The following questions will guide us:
We hope everyone had a great Spring Break. Since advising will start soon, here is an overview of the various courses for 2015-16. Please do not hesitate to e-mail Prof. Gundolf Graml with any questions about course selections (ggraml[AT]agnesscott.edu). Click on the pics to read the various course descriptions, or download the information as pdf here.
It’s been a bit quiet on the blog lately, mainly due to the fact that I’m on research leave to complete my book on Tourism and Austrian national identity. But this morning I came across a photo on twitter that I can’t ignore, because it shows two of Agnes Scott alums program as part of the Fulbright Austria Program in Vienna (look for the red circles in the photo): Continue reading
An exploration of the historical district of Berlin was scheduled for our first full day in Germany. We started out at the Hackeschen Höfe, the beautifully restored city block featuring restaurants, small shops, and residential areas. Dating back to the early 20th century, this ensemble was badly damaged in World War II and barely renovated during the GDR period. Today the courtyards look great again, illustrating the attraction of what nowadays is called “mixed-use development,” but also the fact that this kind of expensive renovation comes at the cost of replacing small independent shops with international brands. Continue reading
On May 11 another group of Scotties will depart for Germany to study aspects of history, culture, and environmental regulation on location. The two-week study trip will be co-lead by Profs. Gundolf Graml (German Studies, also the main author of this blog) and Katherine Smith (Art History). We will spend our first week in Berlin where we will meet with representatives from government and from cultural organizations. The second week will lead us from Berlin to Dresden, Leipzig, and Weimar, where we will visit historical sites such as the former concentration camp of Buchenwald near Weimar, meet with leaders of the Dresden city government, and learn about the philosophy behind the Volkswagen company’s architectural design of a car manufacturing plant in the heart of Dresden. And, of course, we will try to meet as many former Scotties as we can while in Germany (I’m talking to you, Lucy Nga Than). We will try to post frequent updates on this blog and invite you to follow and ask questions.
Millions of people know about Amon Goeth, the commander of the former National Socialist concentration camp in Plaszow-Krakov in Poland, from Ralph Fienne’s performance of this character in Steven Spielberg’s film Schindler’s List (1993). This also applies to Jennifer Teege, for whom Amon Goeth was a distant historical figure until that specific day a few years ago, when she discovered that Goeth was in fact her biological grandfather.
For Teege, the daughter of a Nigerian father and a white German mother (Monika Goeth), the discovery was a shock. As a Black German who had lived in Israel and worked with Holocaust survivors, she had been acutely aware of Germany’s history, but had also felt to stand on the “good” side of the German discourse about the Nazi past.
In her memoir Amon: Mein Großvater hätte mich erschossen [Amon: My Grandfather Would Have Killed Me], Teege offers a moving account of how the discovery affected her personally as well as a unique perspective on Germany’s attempts at coming to terms with the past. Jennifer Teege will visit Agnes Scott College during the week of April 14 – 17, 2014. She will read from her memoir and discuss her experiences. For more information, see the poster below. Please contact Prof. Gundolf Graml, Dir. of German Studies, with any questions at ggraml[at]agnesscott.edu.
Agnes Scott College just released a new video showcasing the opportunities offered by its Liberal Arts Curriculum. Check it out, it also mentions where studying German can get you:
Since 1991, the German Parliament, called Bundestag, has been meeting again in the Reichstag. Built by the Kaiser, burnt down by the Nazis, and then lingering in the no-man’s-land along the Berlin Wall for decades, this building synthesizes more than others the many layers of German history. Continue reading