The Helen & Kurt Wolff Translator’s Prize is awarded each spring to honor an outstanding translation from German into English published in the USA the previous year. Established in 1996, the prize has been administered by the Goethe-Institut New York since 2015. This year’s winner is Wesleyan Alum Philip Boehm ’80 for his translation of Christine Wunnicke’s novel The Fox and Dr. Shimamura (New Directions, 2019).
The five-member jury, led by Dr. Shelley Frisch reached a decision after narrowing an initial twenty-one titles submitted by American publishers, titles spanning diverse genres and over 600 years of German language writers, to a shortlist of four translators, including two translations by Philip Boehm. This is the second time that Philip Boehm has been awarded the Wolff Prize – he last won in 2013 for his translation of Gregor von Rezzori’s An Ermine in Czernopol – and he is the only translator to have received the honor twice.
On May 9, 2020, Philip Boehm was welcomed to a special online conversation with jury chair Shelley Frisch on the arts of translation. The discussion includes a reading from Boehm’s award-winning translation and comments from author Christine Wunnicke. Wunnicke’s novel is a unique and fantastical work that puts the virtuosity and sensitivity of the translator in the spotlight. Drawing on a true story, this book about the power of memory and narrative presents a mythical and fractured tale of a retired doctor in nineteenth-century Japan who reflects on the memories of his earlier days in the Shimane prefecture, where he cured women of fox possession.
Adam Baltner ’13 I was interested in philosophy when I came to Wesleyan and figured it would be a good idea to take some German classes so that I could read important source texts in their original form. Little did I know how much that decision would influence my future. Having enjoyed my intro language classes so much, I studied abroad in the spring of my sophomore year and declared German as a second major (in addition to College of Letters). After graduating I moved to Austria to teach high-school English through a Fulbright-affiliated fellowship. Not quite ready to return to the US after that, I subsequently did a Master of Arts in German at the University of Vienna, a degree program for which the Wes German department prepared me brilliantly. I’ve since stayed in Vienna and returned to working as a high-school English teacher at a bilingual school in the city, but on the side, I’m putting my academic German skills to good use as a professional translator, mostly of texts written in the critical social sciences and humanities. If you have questions, just email me.
Caroline Adams ’19 I double-majored in German and American Studies. Some of my favorite German classes included “Forward, without Forgetting: The GDR in Literature and Film” and “Deutschland Multikulti: Expressions of Germany’s Cultural Diversity.” In the summer before my senior year, I worked as a research assistant for Professor Iris Bork-Goldfield on the topics of family history and German-Jewish migration to Brooklyn in the mid-nineteenth century. The German department’s Reihlen fund enabled me to conduct research for my senior thesis, “Imagining Indianer: Karl May’s Winnetou and Germans’ Enduring Fantasies about Native Americans.” Currently, I am enrolled in a Master program in American Studies at Brown University. Questions? Just send me an email.
Wy Ming Lin ’16 I majored in German Studies and Neuroscience and Behavior. After Wes, I wanted to do something with both majors, so what better way to combine the two than by moving to Germany and pursuing some research opportunities? That’s exactly what I did through the Congress-Bundestag Youth Exchange for Young Professionals where I had the chance to spend a year in Leipzig. I did an internship at the Max Planck Institute there and worked with some amazing and brilliant neuroscientists who convinced me to keep studying in Germany. Currently, I am doing my MA in Tübingen and plan on continuing on with a PhD in Germany! I’ll be happy to answer any questions just email me.
Christina Sickinger ’18 I double majored in German Studies andEconomics. I studied abroad in Berlin during the fall of my junior year. Now, I am living in New York City, where I work as a municipal credit analyst at Aberdeen Standard Investments. My team manages funds of municipal bonds, which provide local governments with money for infrastructure and other community needs. I continue to enjoy reading German literature (and drinking German beer) in my spare time. Questions, just send me an email.
Carter Dean ’18 I graduated from CSS and German Studies. German Studies, with its wide breadth of courses in film, literature and politics, compliments CSS’ focus on history and social theory with a more specific survey of German culture and history. In retrospect, minoring in German Studies also gave me the language skills crucial for my post-grad life: I’ve moved to Cologne, Germany for research and graduate school. All in all, the department’s professors are as patient as they are generous with their time and guidance. I would gladly speak to any prospective GRST students, especially if they are considering balancing an intensive program like CSS with a minor or double-major. Questions? Just email me.
Anna Apostolidis ’19 I graduated with a double major in Anthropology and German Studies and a certificate in Social, Cultural, and Critical Theory. I wrote my thesis about the Humboldt-Forum, a new museum in Berlin, and the politics of remembering German colonial history through the lens of the museum. Through funding from the German Department, I was able to travel to Berlin for a month to study the museum. I am currently working at Covey Law in New York City, a firm that provides legal aid to artists and musicians who are applying for visas to work on the US. The research experience and the knowledge I gained about the arts and international cultural exchange through the combination of the German Studies and Anthropology programs helped prepare me for this exciting opportunity. I hope to eventually pursue a PhD in Anthropology. Questions? Just send me an email.
Madalene Smith-Huemer’14 I studied German and History at Wesleyan, with a focus on European intellectual history. After graduating, I worked in the Office of External Relations at the Atlantic Council, a foreign policy think tank in Washington, DC. In May, I graduated from the M.S. in Foreign Service program at Georgetown University. Currently, I am living in San Francisco, where I work as an Executive with the global communications advisory Brunswick Group. Questions? Just send me an email.
Jack Guenther ’18After leaving Wesleyan in Spring 2018, I entered the PhD program in history at Princeton University. The ideas for my doctoral research began in the Wesleyan German Studies Department: studying abroad in Hamburg, in fact. Those ideas took further shape in a joint history, COL, and German Studies senior thesis with Professors Bork-Goldfield and Grimmer-Solem. My research on globalization and migration takes me both Germany and elsewhere–this summer it was Buenos Aires. A year from now, I will begin teaching courses down in Princeton, and I will spend the two years thereafter in Germany and Latin America, completing my dissertation research. Questions? Just sen me an email.
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Study abroad at our favorite program in Hamburg
“The Smith program in Hamburg was the most rewarding experience, both academically and personally, in my life. The program challenged me to engage with people and the world around me in ways I never thought imaginable. I arrived in Hamburg timid, a little anxious, and with broken German (to put it nicely) and left with a newfound confidence in myself and my language skills. The Hamburg program offers the amenities and excitement of a big city with a strong support system to help guide you along the way.” Scott Walkinshaw ’20 Questions? Send me an email.
Hannah Cooper ’20 “I’m a senior Film and German double major, and I spent my sophomore spring abroad in Hamburg. I went on the program to improve my languages skills, which definitely happened. But I also unintentionally focused my studies on a period in German history that ended up informing my thesis for the Film major. The language and history classes I took with the Smith program were great—small class sizes and really wonderful professors. The fact that the program itself was small as well meant I was able to get so much support from the administration, whether it was academic help or getting to know the city or any other advice I needed.” Questions? Send me an email.
Lily Davis ’20, I knew I always wanted to study abroad in college, but what I didn’t know was what a life-changing experience studying abroad in Hamburg would be! I am a Psychology and Feminist, Gender, & Sexuality Studies double major with a minor in German Studies. At the University of Hamburg, I was able to find courses I wanted to take in all of my academic interests, and learned so much about German culture and history. I also volunteered at an art collective in Hamburg called “Die Schlumper” that works with people with special needs, and I had so many great experiences through that. While abroad, my language skills improved exponentially, and I met amazing people from all around the world. Questions? Just email me!
Caroline Adams ’19 (GRST/AMST) received high honors for her German Studies and American Studies senior thesis Imagining “Indianer”: Karl May’s Winnetou and Germans’ Enduring Fantasies about Native Americans. Caroline was awarded the Blankenagel Prize and was inducted into Phi Beta Kappa in the spring. Next year, Caroline will be working towards her Masters in American Studies at Brown University and plans to continue her studies on “Indianthusiasm” in Germany. Her plans for the summer included researching the histories of German settlements in the Midwest.
Anna Apostolidis ’19 (GRST/ANTH) completed an honors thesis titled, Is Bigger Better? Postcolonial Memory and the Politics of Expansion at the Humboldt-Forum. Based on fieldwork conducted in Berlin in summer 2018, the thesis is a critique of the Humboldt-Forum, a new museum opening up in Berlin this fall. In it, she explores contemporary German politics of memory in relation to colonial history and the Berlin ethnological collections set to be displayed inside the museum, arguing that the liberal, conciliatory discourse of the museum prevents a real confrontation with its colonial past. Anna received high honors for her thesis from the Anthropology and German Studies departments. She was inducted into Phi Beta Kappa last fall. She will be applying to graduate programs in Anthropology.
She was inducted into Phi Beta Kappa, and received the Blankenagel Prize. She also won a DAAD-Stipendium and will be starting at the Universität Konstanz in its MA program, Kulturelle Grundlagen Europas, in October 2019. This program applies sociological and historical lenses to the study of literature.
Miranda Haymon ’16 (GRST/THEA) directed her adaptation of Franz Kafka’s short story In the Penal Colony (orig. title, In der Strafkolonie) last September in The Tank in New York City. Critic Darryl Reilly of Theater Scene wrote, “Brilliantly realized … a symbolic exploration of race in the United States. It’s a jolting blend of dance, movement, and physical theater dynamically performed by an African-American cast.” He called Haymon’s staging “electric,” and her adaptation “pared down yet faithful.” Several Wesleyan graduates helped with her production, so it is no surprise that Miranda called it a “very Wesleyan” production.
More information about Miranda, the play, and her staging:
German major and alum, Ezra Kauffman ’18, recently returned from a fantastic year teaching English in Innsbruck, Austria on a program administered by Fulbright Austria. He taught students 14-19 years old at a large technical high school. Ezra embraced the opportunity to spend as much time in the mountains as possible, so in his free time, he hiked, skied, and ran. He wrote, “although I learned Hochdeutsch at Wesleyan and lived with four Germans in Innsbruck, it was fascinating to hear the Austrian dialect, where the intonations and vocabulary can change depending on the valley.” He took an intensive German course at the Innsbruck Universität, which vastly improved his vocabulary and speaking confidence. He hopes to continue speaking German in New York, where he recently started a job working in business development at a real estate technology company.
Wy Ming Lin ’16, a German Studies and Neuroscience & Behavior double major, is currently working at a psychology research lab at New York University following his year-long stay in Cologne and Leipzig through the Congress-Bundestag Youth Exchange Program. Afterwards, Wy Ming will be moving to Germany in the fall to pursue a Masters degree in Neural and Behavioral Science at the University of Tübingen in Baden-Württemberg. He is looking forward to speaking German again, enjoying some German beer, and visiting friends around the country!
Kamryn Wolf ’12 Recently, Kamryn was accepted at Union Theological Seminary in New York and will be starting her graduate studies this fall.
Madalene Smith-Huemer ’14 Since graduating from Wesleyan in 2014, Maddy has lived in Washington, DC, where she works as Assistant Director for Campaigns and Stewardship at the Atlantic Council, a foreign policy think tank that promotes constructive US engagement in global affairs. At the Atlantic Council, Maddy has led fundraising campaigns for various programs and centers, including the Atlantic Council’s Future Europe Center and Middle East Center. This summer, Maddy is backpacking through Spain, Portugal, France, Austria, and Germany, where she hopes to brush up on her German. In the fall, she will enroll in the Master of Science in the Foreign Service program at Georgetown University, where she hopes to concentrate in global politics and security with a focus on immigration in Europe.
Colin O’Connor ’15 Currently, Colin is living in New York working for an environmental organization on state policy. He also runs a website on patient-centric care for people with Parkinson’s Disease.
Philip Katz ’17, a German Studies and College of Social Studies double major, received the German Studies Blankenagel Prize for his excellent work in German. He wrote a senior essay entitled Germany’s Sickness Funds during and after the Nazi Seizure of Power, 1933-1938, which he presented at our annual end-of-semester party in May. This summer, he will be heading back home to Taiwan for a short while before starting work as a paralegal in New York.
Ezra Kauffman ‘17, a German Studies and History double major, received the German Studies Blankenagel Prize for his excellent work in German. He wrote a senior essay, which examines how environmentalism played a role in economic and political decisions in both Germanys during the Cold War. This summer, he will be traveling in Asia, before taking data analysis courses in New York in the early fall. In October, he will depart for Innsbruck, Austria, where he will be an assistant English teacher under the aegis of Fulbright Austria.
Toys Koomplee ’17, a German Studies and Psychology double major, will be returning to Thailand. There he will be working in the Department of Juvenile Observation and Protection, under the Ministry of Justice for the Royal Thai Government in Bangkok. His work involves both researching and developing the programs for rehabilitation and education for juveniles in detention centers.
Lisa Shepard ’17, a German Studies and Earth & Environmental Science double major is planning to go to Munich until the end of the summer to work as a program coordinator with Education First. Her subsequent plans involve moving to either Durham, North Carolina, or New York to spend time with family and to pursue a Master’s in Earth Science. Eventually, she hopes to find a long-term job in Germany.
Ethan Yaro ’17, a German Studies and College of Letters double major, wrote an honors thesis entitled Herder: A World that We Each Create by Ourselves. He shared his work with us at our end-of-year party in May. This summer he is working with Professor Jesse Torgerson on a data analysis project where they are mapping a Byzantine manuscript, looking at the geographical nature of the text, and ascertaining how the geography in the text changes over time.
Luisa Chan ’18, a German Studies and Anthropology double major and Lizzie Whitney ’19, a German Studies and College of Letters double major, have been studying in Hamburg, Germany, since March. They write from Germany: “…This program has been a great choice so far. It offers enough support to make taking classes in German at the University of Hamburg not only possible but enjoyable; yet we still have plenty of freedom and time to explore Hamburg and the rest of Germany on our own. The relatively small program facilitates close friendships with students from other colleges, and yet Smith has enough history in Hamburg that people at and around the university recognize the name and are willing to help us succeed.”
Carter Deane ’18, a College of Social Studies major with a German Studies minor, will spend his summer in Nordrhein-Westfalen, Germany, to investigate the history of Islamic religious education in German schools. Carter will also look at the legal challenges Muslim communities have faced in their efforts to organize these classes, and at the recent critiques of these classes by the ascendant right-wing party Alternative für Deutschland (AfD). Carter received funding for his project from several sources, among them the German Studies Arthur Schultz fund.
Hannah Fritze ’18, an Astrology major and German Studies minor, will be spending this summer on campus, conducting astronomy research with professor Roy Kilgard. Her research focuses on characterizing extremely bright X-ray sources both inside and outside the Milky Way, primarily in an attempt to find black holes of a particularly interesting mass. This research will likely be the topic of her senior thesis. Later this summer Hannah will be taking a road trip to see the total solar eclipse this August.
Jack (Hans) Guenther ’18, a German Studies, College of Letters, and History triple major, will spend the end of his summer in Hamburg, Germany researching the Hamburg’s development as one of Europe’s leading port cities. It will be the topic of his honors thesis. Until then, Jack will be in his native Washington, D.C., working for the National Endowment for the Humanities, where he is helping the Endowment evaluate and award research fellowships. Two of Jack’s colleagues are native Germans, and he has been delighted to find German is the office’s unofficial second language!
Katherine Paterson ’18, a Theater and Environmental Studies double major with a German minor, received the Prentice Prize for her excellent work in German. Katherine will be spending the summer doing research for her honors project in New York City. She will be working at community gardens and gathering information and data on how they build community. She will use this information to devise a theater performance in the spring that explores community building in community gardens and in theater. Katherine is also looking into a project for the fall that will introduce the Wesleyan community to the Swiss drama Biedermann und die Brandstifter by Max Frisch.
Sophia Shoulson ’18, a German Studies and College of Letters double major will spend this summer at the Steiner Summer program in Amherst, MA, learning Yiddish language and culture. She also works as an intern at the center on the “Wexler Oral History” project. She listens to interviews in Yiddish of people from all over the world and describes the content of the interviews. Sophia received the Scott Prize this year for her excellent work in Germany.
Chris Steidl ’18, a German Studies and History double major, will spend this summer in Boston working for a non-profit organization, Community Rowing Inc. (CRI). His future intentions include traveling to Germany and teach English.
Anna Apostolidis ’19, a German Studies and Anthropology double major, sang Lieder by Franz Schubert and Robert Schumann beautifully at our end-of-semester party. She was accompanied on the piano by Olivia Backal-Balik ’20. Anna will be spending this summer in Berlin studying German at the Humboldt University and traveling through Germany.
Will Bellamy ’19, a German Studies and English double major, will be driving across country over the summer and spending some time in Los Angeles before attending a one-year study abroad program in Hamburg, Germany. Undoubtedly, he will improve his German and learn about the city and its culture there. He is hoping to get an internship in Hamburg in some field related to translation, as that is what he hopes to be doing after graduation.
Joanna Paul ’19, a Psychology and Sociology double major with a German Studies minor, will spend the first month of her summer interning at a therapeutic preschool called LEEP Forward in Chicago that helps children who experience challenges with social communication, sensory, and emotional regulation. She will spend the remainder of her summer working at their Wediko Summer Program in New Hampshire, a program for young people 9-19 years old that provides social, behavioral, and academic support. She will then be returning to campus two weeks early for her third year as an Orientation Leader, welcoming incoming students to Wesleyan.
Hein Jeong ’16, a German Studies and Philosophy double major, wrote an honors thesis about thinking through Hegel, Marx, and Marcuse and asks, “How do we think and talk to inspire and guide actions that change our world?” The thesis is entitled, Dialectic of Thinking and Talking. Henny received the Scott Prize for her outstanding work in German Studies. In the fall, she was inducted into Phi Beta Kappa, and this summer she is spending time with her parents in California before embarking for Japan.
Miranda Haymon ’16, a German Studies and Theater double major, directed an adaptation of Slaughterhouse-Five and received the Rachel Henderson Theater Prize in Directing this year. She is spending this summer in Berlin before starting the Allen Lee Hughes Fellowship at Arena Stage in Washington, D.C., as their Directing Fellow.
Wy Ming Lin ’16, a German Studies and Neuroscience double major, received the German Studies Blankenagel Prize for his excellent work in German and a fellowship from the German Government to attend the prestigious Congress-Bundestag Youth Exchange Program for Young Professionals. This program pays for one year of living and educational expenses in Germany. He will most likely also do some work in the medical field.
Having completed an orientation week in Washington, D.C., in July and a follow-up in Budenheim, Germany, he is taking an intensive two-month German language course in Cologne, proceding placement in Saxony.
Arya Mistry ’16, a German Studies and Psychology double major received, the German Studies Blankenagel Prize for her excellent work in German. She has been accepted into the Master’s program at Christie’s in Art Business and Law and will be living in New York starting this summer.
Nicholas Selden ’16, completed a double major in German Studies and the College of Letters. He wrote his honors thesis on the German Expressionist artist Emil Nolde, for which he received high honors in GRST. Nick’s thesis is an examination of nationalism and the construction of German modernism in Emil Nolde’s work and the early German avant-garde between 1895 and 1912. Nick also received the Blankenagel Prize for his fine contributions to German Studies. This summer he will be spending time back home in California before deciding on next year’s plans.
Gregory Heller ’04, CEO of American Communities Trust (ACT), was named Urban Innovator of the Week on Feb. 15, by Urban Innovation Exchange (UIX), an initiative to advance urban improvement and highlight those who are on the leading edge of this movement. Begun in 2012 as a three-year project in Detroit and funded by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, UIX is now showcasing talented people from all over the country who are transforming the cities and neighborhoods in which they live.
As head of ACT, Heller, who has spent more than 10 years in community development in Philadelphia, helps nonprofits build and finance social impact real estate—projects that improve the quality of life, particularly in low-income areas, by providing needed services and offering desirable real estate for new businesses and residents.
In a TEDx talk given last June in Philadelphia, “How To Set up Social Impact Real Estate,” he explained the impetus behind his work: “Our cities and our communities are defined by the interaction of people and places… but who shapes the built environment around us?” he asks. “We walk around our cities and we say, ‘Oh, look, they’re building that new project over there,’ or ‘Why haven’t they built anything here yet?’ Who are they? Why is it ‘they’ and not we? Too often developers in low income neighborhoods have profit rather than the community’s best interest…I believe that [social impact real estate projects] s are critical to the future of our cities, our communities and ultimately our society.”
Our alumnus Philip Boehm ’80 has been awarded the Kurt and Helen Wolff Translation Prize for his translation of Gregor von Rezzori’s An Ermine in Czernopol, published in 2012 by the New York Review of Books. The award will be conferred by the German Consul General on June 3 in Chicago; Krishna Winston will be delivering the laudatio.
“I am continually struck by new overlaps between staging drama and translating prose. In both cases I first listen to the original voice or voices before attempting any re-creation, and my experience working with actors has taught me the importance of keeping a text alive, and of preserving its energy as it travels from one culture to another, whether on the page or in the theater. It is this fundamental awe of language that steers me from one project to the next.”
Jason Kavett ‘09 and Andrew Kirwin ‘09, who graduated with a major in German and COL last year, are going to pursue their careers in German Studies as graduate students at Yale University. After having received offers from prestigious German programs at Harvard, Princeton, Columbia, Berkeley, Hopkins or the University of Chicago, both Jason and Andrew decided to stay close to their Alma Mater in Middletown (although, the excellence of Yale’s German Department might also have influenced their decision).