Faculty News

Faculty News

We begin this year’s visit with the faculty Professor Irit Dekel:

“2021-22 was an interesting and fruitful year: I taught two new classes in Germanic Studies which I was glad to develop: 334 “Intro to German Social Thought: the freedom to think otherwise” to a group of enthusiastic students in the Fall, and GER 627 “Holocaust Memory: Sites and Debates” to a groups of excellent graduate students from across the College and the Jacobs School of Music in the Spring.

Over the academic year, I participated in the Institute for Advanced Study Bloomington Symposia Working Group on the topic of Migration, which opened up meaningful conversations on the concept of postmigration that I work on in my book in progress.

In March 2022 I co-led a virtual workshop with Professor Alice Bloch of Manchester University, featuring students and faculty from IU and from Manchester on the topic Body Art and Modification: Memory and Identity, generously funded by Manchester University Humanities Strategic Investment Fund for Internationalization, which also enabled Alice Bloch and me to meet in Berlin in the summer of 2022 for pilot fieldwork on the topic of Jewish Embodiment through Body Art. The summer continued with an engaging invited lecture I delivered in the Martin Buber Institute at Goethe University Frankfurt am Main, on Philosemitism in Contemporary German Media.

I co-organized with colleagues from Cambridge, London and Berlin the Cambridge University held workshop Entangled Otherings, which was funded by the DAAD and the British Academy in June 2022, where I presented work in progress on explaining the fight against Antisemitism in Germany in three cultural shifts.

My article “Philosemitism in Contemporary German Media” was published in May 2022 in Media, Culture & Society vol. 44.

Finally, this Fall I focus on research and writing, while meeting with advisees and directing the Olamot Center for scholarly and cultural exchange with Israel.”

A few things that mattered to me this past year are (neither in particular order nor an exhaustive list) [1] spending time talking with and listening to friends, brothers and sisters, colleagues, strangers, over a shared meal or a glass of wine, while walking, cooking, on the phone, in the rain; [2] teaching and learning in equal measure – trying to communicate the joy of discovering something, and learning to set up favorable conditions in the classroom for the students to find similar joy; [3] playing – cards, scrabble or pool, throwing balls for Oliver, inventing stories; being involved in something not nützlich, just for the sake of doing it: homo ludens; [4] writing – an article, a book chapter, liver rhymes, or a quasi-philosophical contribution to the departmental newsletter.”

Although Bieneke Haitjema retired in 2018 from teaching Dutch in our department, she asked us to include the following tribute: “I met Esther Ham in 2001 after she and Peter had just moved to Bloomington. As soon as Esther started her work as a lecturer of Dutch Language and Culture at the Germanic Studies department, it became clear that she was a gifted lecturer, and her language courses grew steadily in number and popularity. Recognizing the importance of language and culture relationship, Esther very early on built novel cultural activities in her classroom, increasing engagement in language learning and strengthening communication skills of her students.

She also exposed her students to other native speakers of Dutch by involving members of the Dutch community in Bloomington in some of her extracurricular activities such as Dutch coffee hour, Dutch movie nights, and of course, the very popular, annual Sinterklaas celebration (see picture where Esther is on the right).  Esther pioneered in the development of online language courses and became one of the first directors of Online Education at Indiana University. I had the pleasure of teaching with Esther in the Dutch Program between 2010-2018, teaching first and second year Dutch, as well as culture courses.

In 2015 we celebrated the 50th anniversary of our program, which was founded by Professor Bill Shetter in the 1960s. Esther and Professor Shetter had collaborated on a textbook titled Dutch: An Essential Grammar. She had also already co-authored a book on Dutch for speakers of other languages, called Help!

Esther’s courage, love of teaching, and wit, have touched all of us who surrounded her.”

A group of students and faculty members pose together in the SGIS building.
Dutch Coffee Hour Christmas

Nikole Langjahr sends news from her end of the corridor: "2022 stood under the sign of things getting slowly back to normal. We have worked hard to make sure that all of our overseas programs will finally run again in the spring/summer/fall of 2024 - the first time since 2019. More students than in recent years have declared or are planning to declare their majors, minors, and certificates in our department. The German Club, under new leadership, is extremely active. They will collaborate with me to host a Weihnachtsfeier, again, an event that could not take place in the last three years due to the pandemic. Speaking of the pandemic, one of Covid's victims was Bear's Place, our Stammtisch venue for over ten years. Luckily, thanks to graduate student Rebecca Haley, who connected me with the owner of the Runcible Spoon, we were able to resume in-person Stammtisch in the restaurant's basement. Most Tuesdays, a boisterous and enthusiastic group of German speakers convenes there, happy that the days of forced Zoomtisch are over."

Emeritus Professor Breon Mitchell is very busy in retirement: “I’ve spent the past year trying to finish up a Covid-delayed project I’m working on called “Beckett in Other Voices: A Bibliography of Translations of his Works , 1938-1969,” with 26 languages represented, including, among others, Icelandic and Marathi.  The German section has approximately 80 entries.  Anyone who would like to proofread the Bengali entry let me know.  I’m also still updating my bibliography of bilingual and multilingual dictionaries of the languages of the world—arranged alphabetically by language and chronologically within the language. The dates range from 1460 to the present.  So far it includes over 2300 languages and is available on line if you’re interested!

My next project is a multi-year endeavor with Rex Sprouse to create the Indiana Parsed Corpus of Historical High German, a collection of syntactically parsed sentences from about 175 German texts from the years 1100-1920. Rex and I have received a small grant from IU Research to fund the pilot project, and based on our success so far we will soon apply for a grant from the National Science Foundation to complete the project. Thanks to former and current grad students David Bolter, Elliott Evans, Mary Gilbert, and Tyler Kniess for their assistance annotating sentences so far! Check out our webpage at ipchg.iu.edu.”

And here’s a short but sweet addition from one of Chris’ collaborators, Rex Sprouse, who lets us know that he is currently “now serving as an Associate Editor of the (very prestigious) journal Language Acquisition; my focus is submissions on nonnative language acquisition.”

Rex is also Professor of Second Language Acquisition and Adjunct Professor of Linguistics and Germanic Studies, as well as Director of Graduate Studies, Department of Second Language Studies.

With a little help from a friend, Lane Sorensen brings us a sunny update:  "Like a fine wine (or not - I'm not going to pretend I know anything about wine), some dissertations take their sweet time. Well, we finally uncorked mine and enjoyed it with Late Middle Low German liver-rhymes, a.k.a. 'livericks'. Other than that, we've been busy with work and teaching, but also enjoying our front porch with Pasha (a.k.a. Pooshk a.k.a. Pooh-Bear) as well as with human friends."

Last but not least, a word from Johannes Türk: “This past academic year, I co-convened a seminar at the German Studies Association on literature as medium of positive emotions with Eva Eßlinger (LMU München) and Fritz Breithaupt. For the first part of the year, the Institute of German Studies continued its lecture series online and I hosted Frank Biess, Jan Süselbeck, and Anna Parkinson for a conversation on the role affects play in postwar Germany. And in the spring, we had our first in person lecture by Erica Weitzman from Northwestern University on the role of the obscene in German realism. I was invited to present a lecture on pain at the annual conference of the Ernst Jünger Society in April, and I decided to explore the role that anesthesia plays in his work, in particular in his writing on World War I. My project on affect is continuing to gain shape and I have also returned to teaching and researching topics related to epidemic and literature due to the pandemic emergency. At the same time, my oldest daughter is now in middle school, a reminder of the time that has passed since I arrived in Bloomington.”