Modernist Memories: Architecture and Identity in the Federal Republic of Germany

Kaiser Wilhelm Gedächtniskirche

Professor Kathleen James-Chakraborty (University College Dublin), an expert on 20th century German architecture and author of numerous publications will lecture on architecture and identity in Germany at Wesleyan University on Tuesday,  Sept. 25, at 4:30pm, in 41 Wyllys, room 112.

Although the most prominent buildings  in Berlin since the fall of the wall in 1989, such as Daniel Libeskind’s Jewish Museum, Norman Foster’s renovation of the Reichstag, and David Chipperfield’s reconstruction of the Neues Museum, are often understood as examples of a postmodernist strategy, their juxtaposition of historic architecture, often damaged in the Second World War, and modern forms that recall the architecture of the Weimar Republic, are in fact only relatively recent examples of an architectural strategy that can be traced back to the founding of the Federal Republic.  Now associated with coming to terms with the atrocities of the Third Reich, in its original entirely modernist context this pairing originally encompassed conservative nostalgia for a pre-democratic past even as it helped define a specifically non-Communist present.  Following reunification it served as alternative to the postmodernism with which it is too often confused in part because the degree of modernism’s rupture with the past is often exaggerated.

This talk is made possible through the Department of Art and Art History, Samuel Silipo ’85 Distinguished Visitor Fund, and the German Studies Department.

GERMAN FILM FESTIVAL – (Re)imagining Post-Industrial Urbanity: Films of the Ruhr Area, Germany



The German film festival will be held in Downey House 113 on April 13 and April 14, 2012. We will be showing three films from this large post-industrial area in western Germany. The first film, Bang Boom Bang by Peter Thorwart, will be shown on Friday at 7:00 p.m. The other two-Losers and Winners, a documentary by Ulrike Franke and Michael Loeken, and Solino by Fatih Akin-will be screened on Saturday at 5:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m., followed by a discussion. The introductory session by Sina Nitzsche, Visiting Assistant Professor of German at Oglethorpe University, and Kate Thorpe, Teagle Writing Fellow at Wesleyan will place these films in the context of the transformation through art and image-making that the region is experiencing.

The event is sponsored by the German Studies Department, Writing at Wesleyan, and the Goethe Institute Boston.


Newer and Newest German Cinema





Film Studies & German Studies will kick off their annual film series with Christian Petzold’s enigmatic thriller, Yella (2007). It  “offers a surreal X-ray vision of cutthroat capitalism in 21st-century Germany.”  – Stephen Holden, The New York Times

Powell Family Cinema, CFS, Wednesday, February 22, 2012, 7 p.m., with an introduction by Leo Lensing

We will continue our series in March with Maren Ade’s comedy drama, Everyone Else (2009).   “…watching the film is to watch the emergence of a very particular and potentially galvanic cinematic talent.” – Glenn Kenney, The Los Angeles Times

Powell Family Cinema, CFS, Tuesday, March 27, 2012, 7 p.m., with an introduction by Katja Straub


Jenseits der Stille (Beyond Silence)

American Sign Language and German Movie Night with an introduction by Sheila Mullen and Iris Bork-Goldfield

April 6, at 4:30 p.m. – Fisk 302

Beyond SilenceBeyond Silence (1998) directed by Caroline Link. Starring Sylvie Testud, Tatjana Trieb, Howie Seago is a German movie with English subtitles. Acclaimed by critics and audiences everywhere, BEYOND SILENCE is the powerful Academy Award-nominated story of a young woman’s battle for independence and her deaf parents’ struggle to understand her gift for music. Given a clarinet by her free-spirited aunt, Lara is immediately consumed by a new passion her parents cannot share. Determined to follow her dreams, Lara’s ongoing pursuit of music creates an ever-widening rift that eventually threatens to tear apart her once close-knit family.

Law and Literature: Who Owns It? – A Lecture by Eva Geulen (Bonn University, Germany)

Friday, April 1, 4:30, Russell House

Organized by the Program in Social, Cultural, and Critical Theory. Co-sponsored by German Studies, History, COL, Sociology, English, the Dean of the Social Sciences, and the Center for the Humanities

Eva Geulen’s talk will examine the historically and conceptually fraught relationship between law and literature from four points of view: 1. The common history and shared heritage of law and literature; 2. law as literature; 3. literature vs. law; 4. literature in law.

Eva Geulen received her Ph.D. from the Johns Hopkins University and has taught at the University of Rochester and at New York University. Currently, she is professor of modern German literature at Bonn University. She has published widely in the areas of modern narrative prose, discourses of education, gender studies, and aesthetics. Her books include The End of Art: Readings in a Rumor after Hegel (Stanford UP 2006) and Giorgio Agamben zur Einführung [Introducing Giorgio Agamben] (Junius 2005; second, revised edition 2009).

Prize-winning Austrian novelist Andrea Grill to read at Wesleyan

The German Studies Department and the Shapiro Creative Writing Center invite you to meet Andrea Grill on Monday, February 21, 2011, at 4:30 p.m. in Downey House Lounge. Come listen to her stories and participate in the discussion to follow.

Andrea Grill will read from her latest novel Das Schöne und das Notwendige (Beauty and Necessity), and other stories in German and English.

In her latest novel, published in 2010, Andrea Grill discovers a new aesthetic for transnational capitalism. In her story two poor but clever friends have an idea how to turn “straw into gold.” Their scheme has only one problem, they need an Asian civet cat. But where can they find one, and will it survive in a small apartment on the fifth floor?

Andrea Grill was born in Bad Ischl in 1975 and studied in Salzburg before earning her doctorate in Biology at the University of Amsterdam with a dissertation on “The Evolution of Butterflies Endemic to Sardinia.” She writes prose, poems and essays and translates from Albanian. In 2010, she was a Max Kade Scholar at Rutgers University, New Jersey.

Kurzfilme im Deutschunterricht

AATG-CT President Christine Dombrowki

Iris Bork-Goldfield conducted a workshop on “The Use of Short Films in the German Language Classroom”  for German teachers at Wesleyan University on January 29, 2011. The workshop was sponsored by the American Association of Teachers of German (AATG).

Renare Ringstadt, Christi Kochefko
Julia Assaiante, Anna Huber, Vera Grant, Krishna Winston

Soldiers, Gramophones, And Other Stories: Author Saša Stanišić reads at Wesleyan

sasaposter_3.inddThe German Studies Department and the Center for the Humanities invite you to meet Bosnian-born German writer Saša Stanišić, who will read from his novel, How the Soldier Repairs the Gramophone, a very pictorial and linguistically inventive novel about the Balkan wars seen through the eyes of 14-year-old Aleksander, who has fled from the Bosnian town of Višegrad to Germany. In addition, Saša will present his latest works, accompanied by a lyrical photo essay. He will read in German and English.

The event will take place Thursday, April 1, at 5:00 p.m. at Russell House. Reception to follow.

For further information contact Iris Bork-Goldfield at

Lecture by Mark Gelber ’72

The College of Letters, the Jewish Studies Program, and The German Studies Department present


The Utility and Futility of Zionist Readings of Kafka

A Lecture by Mark Gelber ’72
(Professor of German Literature, Ben-Gurion University)

Thursday, February 18
COL Lounge, Butt C