Current Research Projects in German Studies: Conchita Wurst & Transgender Identity Performance

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 Current Research Projects in German Studies: Conchita Wurst & Transgender Identity Performance


Studying/Researching Abroad in Germany: Info Session @agnesscott

Join us for an info session on studying and researching in German-speaking countries. Our expert panel will feature Andrea Harris and Katherine Robinson, two ASC German students who have recently returned from studying abroad in Germany and Switzerland, respectively. Sarah Harris is currently studying abroad in Germany and Nga Than, an ASC alumna, is researching the situation of Vietnamese immigrants with the Max Planck institute in Germany. Sarah and Nga Than will join us via skype to provide their advise.

Refreshments will be provided by the Faust Club.

When: Thursday, November 7, 1-2pm
Where: Buttrick Hall 211

Continue reading Studying/Researching Abroad in Germany: Info Session @agnesscott

ASC Student Wins DAAD Scholarship

Congratulations to Lucy Nga Than ’13 for being awarded a 10-month research scholarship to Germany by the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD)! The scholarship will enable Lucy to pursue further research on her project, “Education as a Means of Integration for Young Vietnamese Immigrants in Germany,” as part of a larger research project on immigration at the renowned Max Planck Institute for the Studies of Religious and Ethnic Diversities in Göttingen, Germany.

A student of economics and history, Lucy participated in the ASC German Studies Program’s Global Awareness Trip to Germany (funded by The Halle Foundation) in May 2012. During the two weeks in Germany, she met with several Vietnamese immigrants and conducted preliminary oral history interviews. After returning to ASC, Lucy enrolled in German 101 and also in the ASC German Studies course “Introduction to German Cultural Studies,” where she used her preliminary findings to develop a more substantial grant proposal for the DAAD Undergraduate Scholarship.

DAAD Undergraduate Scholarships are available for students enrolled at US and Canadian colleges and universities, but are highly competitive: All submissions are evaluated by an independent panel of international experts and only about 20 percent of all applications are funded. Thus, the scholarship is evidence for the relevance of Lucy’s project.

This is the second time in a row that an ASC student won one of these prestigious scholarships. Quyen Tran ’12, who won the DAAD scholarship last year, is currently in Freiburg, Germany, conducting research for her project “Epigenetics of Obesity.” Both awards show how small but well-designed course projects can evolve into international research endeavors.

Here’s a picture of Lucy presenting her preliminary research after returning from the two-week Global Awareness Trip to Germany:

Lucy Nga Than presents initial findings from her oral history interviews with Vietnamese immigrants in Germany (September 2012).  (Foto: G. Graml)
Lucy Nga Than presents initial findings from her oral history interviews with Vietnamese immigrants in Germany (September 2012). (Foto: G. Graml)

German Studies Courses 2013-14

It’s advising time and we invite you to check out the German Studies course descriptions for 2013-14. In addition to the elementary, intermediate, and advanced language courses, the German Studies program also offers a series of upper-level courses in English on topics such as German Cinema and German Cultural Studies. These courses are open for students from all disciplines and don’t have a prerequisite.

Look at the full list of course descriptions here.

Continue reading German Studies Courses 2013-14

ASC “Showing Thinking” Exhibit

Way back in August 2012, my colleagues Nell Ruby and Katherine Smith from the ASC Art and Art History Department invited me and another colleague to have a “creative breakfast”. They asked if we wanted to participate in an art exhibit that foregrounded the way we “think” and “create.” I had no idea that this would give me the opportunity to revisit and also present my research in a completely different way. Nell and Katherine challenged us to leave the traditional terrain of presenting the finished product of research, i.e. “the paper,” “the article,” and “the book.” Instead, they wanted us to highlight the path, including the detours, missed intersections, cul-de-sacs, and uphill patches.

The video embedded above is one of the outcomes of this process. The rest can be explored in ASC’s Dalton Gallery, together with the exhibitions of my colleagues in Classics, Megan Drinkwater, and Mathematic, Larry Riddle.

Stereotyping Afro-German Actors

In German 340, Afro-German Culture and History, we have moved into the project phase and have begun interviewing an amazing group of volunteers who identify themselves as Afro-Germans: An army soldier who was born in Germany, served in the German army, and then moved to the US to enlist in the army; an Afro-German woman of the first postwar generation who had grown up in a boarding school and moved to the US in her mid-twenties; a middle-aged Afro-German writer who moved to the US as an infant and has only recently begun to reflect on what Afro-German means for her. Look for more information as the project continues.

During one of these conversations we also addressed the still rather stereotypical roles Afro-German actors play on German television. Last year, the Norddeutsche Rundfunk broadcast a short documentary on that. The clip is in German, but it basically states that, with few exceptions, black German actors still play mostly asylum seekers, drug bosses, and other “not-normal” characters.

Call For Participants in Afro-German Project at Agnes Scott College

Please read and distribute our call for volunteers!
Continue reading Call For Participants in Afro-German Project at Agnes Scott College