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
German 330 will definitely be an opportunity to catch up on recent developments in German and Austrian film. Taught by Prof. Sarah Richards, a graduate of Emory U’s Film Studies and German Studies programs, this course will take a close look at recent and non-mainstream films from Austria and Germany, from Spielmann’s Revanche (2009) to Michael Haneke’s The White Ribbon (2009). Directors such as Ulrich Seidl, Stephan Ruzowitzky and others will likely play a role as well.
This course is taught in English, cross-listed with the Film Studies Minor, and has no pre-requisites.
For all interested students, including German 101: Where can you study abroad in German-speaking countries? Get up-to-date info from German and Austrian exchange students and American study-abroad “veterans”. See the flyer for details and e-mail Dr. Barbara Drescher at firstname.lastname@example.org with additional questions.
National Public Radio today had an interview with German author Peter Schneider, asking him about his views of Berlin 25 years after those stirring days in November 1989 that brought down the wall and changed Europe’s history.Schneider has just finished a new book, called “Berlin Now,” where he brings to bear his experience of 50 plus years in Berlin on the current situation. Among German readers, Schneider is well known as the author of several by now canonical works. Most notably with regard to the Berlin Wall is his “Wall Jumper” [Mauerspringer], which addresses life in a divided city. But his literary accounts of the student revolution, published in his “Lenz” and, much more recently, in the semi-documentary novel “Rebellion und Wahn,” are equally popular.
There is an Agnes Scott connection:
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
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.
Prof. Christoph Ehland’s lecture yesterday evening offered an interesting analysis of stereotypical images of “Germans.” (If you want to know what Darth Vader has to do with it, you must read to the end!) Before he delved into specific examples, Ehland encouraged the audience to rethink their notion of the stereotype. It’s not something bad per se, Ehland argued. Rather, it’s a simplified picture of another culture that is often a necessary first step in intercultural encounters. After all, you must start somewhere, and very few of us can engage right away with another culture at a very high and complex level. Stereotypes become problematic, so Ehland, when we don’t move beyond them, when we remain stuck in the simplifications. It’s then that stereotypes turn into prejudices.
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.
Belated congratulations to Quyen Tran for winning a DAAD undergraduate scholarship. In 2013, Quyen will spend six months in Freiburg (Germany), researching aspects of obesity at the Max Planck Institute of Epigenetics. (The DAAD scholarship will pay her a monthly stipend, plus research and travel costs as well as health insurance.)
Quyen is currently taking a course on German history and culture to prepare herself for her research stay. We’ll hope to have an interview with Quyen up here in the near future. In the meantime, those of you interested in such opportunities, use the time before midterms to familiarize yourselves with the requirements of the DAAD undergraduate scholarship, for you could be the next recipient.
For more information, visit the DAAD website and don’t hesitate to make an appointment with Prof. Gundolf Graml, Dir. of German Studies (ggramlATagnesscott.edu). The next deadline for the DAAD scholarship is January 31, 2013.