2015 Faculty News

Veronika Fuechtner

Veronika Fuechtner reported in this summer from Berlin while directing the summer LSA with an unusually large group of students. Last fall, she taught her German cinema class, in which she took the students to see Volker Schlöndorff’s new film “Diplomacy” at Telluride at Dartmouth and organized a Skype conversation with taz-film critic Cristina Nord. She also taught the class “To Be Young and German” (GR 10.01), which featured students’ monologue presentations of Frank Wedekind’s play Spring Awakening and the black-and-white film comedy A Coffee in Berlin about youth in Berlin today. She gave lectures on Thomas Mann at the Freie Universität Berlin, on Stefan Zweig at the Zeughaus cinema in Berlin, and on the birth-control activist Agnes Smedley at the American Historical Association in New York, and was an invited discussant at a two-day Jewish Studies colloquium at Brandeis. She published an article on the 1926 silent film Secrets of a Soul and translated the autobiography of the psychoanalyst Annemarie Sandler. During the year, she was appointed adjunct professor in the Department of Psychiatry in the Geisel School of Medicine and has been involved in an interdisciplinary initiative to broaden the institutional representation of medical humanities at Dartmouth. This past spring, she was on maternity leave and gave birth to twin boys, Gyan Emil and Ravi Anton.

Gerd Gemünden

Gerd Gemünden spent most of the academic year on sabbatical in Lima,
 Perú and Berlin, where he was a fellow at the Ibero-Amerikanisches Institut, the largest library and research facility of its kind in Europe. There
 he pursued his latest project, a monograph on the Argentine filmmaker
 Lucrecia Martel and her cinema of deceleration. His research was supported by a Senior Faculty Fellowship and a grant from the Leslie
 Humanities Center. While in Berlin, he also presented his book Continental Strangers: German Exile Cinema, 1933-1951 (2014) at the 
Filmmuseum Potsdam, and he caught up with Michael Beechert ’16 and 
Danny Reitsch ’16, who both took German 1 with him during their 
freshman fall and who were now interns at the German Bundestag. He 
greatly enjoyed their private backstage tour. This summer he taught
 “New Latin American Cinema,” a course that focuses on the latest
 features and documentaries from Mexico, Argentina, Brazil, Perú and
 Chile. As in previous years, he covered the Berlin Film Festival for the 
journal Film Criticism. Gerd continues to serve as the Academic Advisor to the Dartmouth Men’s Soccer Team.

Irene Kacandes

Irene Kacandes led the Berlin FSP in Fall 2014 and will do so again in 2015. She had a great group of enthusiastic students who made excellent strides with their language skills and their cultural and historical knowledge about German-speaking societies. One high point was a visit to the cultural department of the Austrian government during the Vienna trip. In the winter term she offered a new course, “How to Do Things with Theory,” to the MA candidates in Comparative Literature and taught beginning Modern Greek Language through the Classics Department. She also guided Ethics minor Erin Purcell ’15 through a study of the ethical issues involved in “mommy memoirs.” In the spring she was part of the search committee for the newly conceived Dean of the College position. She rounded out year as the faculty lecturer for the “Great Journey through Europe” alumni trip, presenting on Julius Posener, an under-recognized German architectural historian and analyst of the postwar situation, as well as introducing the alums to issues in contemporary Switzerland.
This fall Prometheus Books will publish the study on mortality, Let’s Talk about Death, that she co-wrote with Steve Gordon. She also launched a new facet of her engagement with medical humanities with Dr. Kathryn Kirkland (DHMC and Geisel) through a Mellon grant administered through the Leslie Humanities Center. Additionally, she and Yuliya Komska have advanced their project proposing new lenses for examining Eastern Europe. Irene delivered a number of professional papers and public talks in places as far-flung as Kansas City, Vancouver, Lausanne, Berlin, Chicago, and White River Junction. She is looking forward to giving the talk “Krieg, Vertreibung, Gewalt. Was wird erinnert, wie wird erinnert,” and to visiting with past Max Kade Professor, playwright Maxi Obexer, at “Flucht/Zuflucht; Fuggire/Rifugiarsi,” the first instantiation of the “Summer School für dramatisches Schreiben” in Südtirol.

Irene’s term as president of the International Society for the Study of Narrative officially concluded this March with two panels that she organized and moderated on Contemporary Narrative Theory, even as her work for the Division on Autobiography, Biography, and Life Writing for the Modern Language Association continues. At the same time, Irene was “promoted” from the VP spot to the Presidential one for the German Studies Association, for which she networks and slaves on both sides of the Atlantic.

Yuliya Komska

Last spring Yuliya Komska was promoted to Associate Professor
 with tenure. She started her year in Berlin, from where she and her
 LSA students “visited Hamburg and Lübeck in Germany’s North
and Bamberg and Coburg in the South. It was amazing to decamp 
— for two nights — inside the spectacular medieval fortress in
 Kronach; thankfully, it had modern plumbing.” In the winter, Yuliya enjoyed a lively group of German 1 students and a fantastic
 Comparative Literature seminar on sci-fi under socialism, which put
 participants in the Communist censors’ shoes. The most rewarding
 part was seeing the students navigate the genre’s challenges in their 
final projects—make-believe socialist sci-fi stories.” In March, she
co-organized a series of Twitter-related events with the social media
 guru Eric Jarosinski (@NeinQuarterly) and in May, a college
 admissions-themed workshop at DCAL. In November of this busy 
research year, Yuliya was invited to open a conference of the
 German Commission on Ethnography in Mainz in connection with her book, The Icon Curtain: The Cold War’s Quiet Border, published by Chicago University Press in February. From Mainz, she traveled to Norway to fall in love with Scandinavia, test the limits of her affection for cured venison, and talk about the role of broadcasting technologies in shaping transatlantic tensions at a conference on Media and the Cold War. She is now revising the outcome for submission to the Journal of Cold War Studies. She’ll continue thinking about Cold War broadcasting — this time around, as remembered by Europe’s rappers — for an upcoming conference in Glasgow on Communist nostalgia. Concurrently, Yuliya has started a new book project that asks about the role of polyglot émigré authors in making American children’s literature monolingual. Archival trips now involve looking at illustrations to Curious George! She can now pitch her ideas to any 5-year-old and will share the early findings with grownups at the German Studies Association Conference in October.

In her not-so-ample spare time, Yuliya has written for the media, publishing with Reuters, The Guardian, Pacific Standard, and Al Jazeera America and going on NHPR to talk about multilingualism. Her earlier work culminated in NH Senator Jeanne Shaheen’s invitation to attend Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko’s address to U.S. Congress in September 2014. The highest point of the year so far, however, has been her 6-year-old daughter’s first ballet performance.

Petra McGillen

Petra McGillen, Assistant Professor of German Studies, spent only half of the past academic year on campus—for the best imaginable reason: in the fall, she had her first baby, Henry Robert McGillen. To his parents’ delight, Henry has already expressed an interest in books, devouring them in the literal sense, and in playing around with a whole array of German and American sounds (“ö” being one of his current favorites).
The other half of the year was dedicated to a number of different projects. While Petra made progress on her book manuscript, Original Compiler: Fontane’s Notebooks and the Making of Literature in the Industrial Age of Print, she also finished an article on the aphoristic writing techniques of the eighteenth-century intellectual Georg Christoph Lichtenberg. In addition, she has been working on an article about the philology of the German Romantic Ludwig Tieck, which she will present at a large international conference in Rotterdam this summer. Her interest in contemporary media led her to join the organizing committee of the conference “Mediating the New Cold War in the Digital Age,” which will focus on the Ukraine crisis and its representation in the media. The conference will combine an academic perspective with that of media practitioners, bringing scholars as well as Ukrainian and Russian journalists together at Dartmouth in the spring of 2016. Petra taught two classes in the spring term, Beginning German and “Understanding German Media,” a mid-level course that she added to the curriculum. She enjoyed both courses very much and is already looking forward to her next teaching assignments, including a course on German Youth Culture in the fall and a first-year seminar on the history of paper (and the stories written on it) in the winter.

Michael McGillen

In the past year, Michael McGillen enjoyed teaching two Intermediate
 German courses (“Contemporary Germany” and “From God’s Subjects to Global Citizens”), an Introductory German course, a First Year
 Seminar on “Nietzsche and the Jews,” and a graduate seminar in the 
MALS program on “Religion and Politics in a Post-Secular World.” He
is currently advising two graduate students working on their Master’s 
Theses in the MALS program. Earlier in the year he presented a paper 
on “Spatial Form and the Dialectics of Non-Presence in Karl Barth’s
Römerbrief” at the Modern Language Association Annual Convention 
and a paper on “Foundations of the Secular in Hannah Arendt’s Political
 Philosophy” at the German Studies Association Annual Conference.
 More recently he completed revisions of an essay on “Erich Auerbach
 and the Seriality of the Figure,” which will appear in 2016. Last but not least, he has experienced the joys of fatherhood and pleasure of being the primary caretaker of his baby son during the spring. In the coming academic year, he is looking forward to teaching an upper-level seminar in German on Franz Kafka, an Introductory German course, and a graduate seminar in the MALS program. His upcoming research projects include a conference paper on Alexander Kluge at the University of Erfurt and an essay on the aesthetics of religious experience in Hugo Ball’s poetry, which will appear in the journal Expressionismus in 2016.

Eric Miller

Eric Miller started the fall term with a section of German 1 and his very favorite course, German 61: Literatur der Goethezeit, then rode the wave of a delightful enrollment surge through two sections each of German 2 (winter term) and German 3 (spring term). Although that made time scarce, he did manage to crank out the sixth chapter (of seven planned) of his current book project, Fictional Representation: Games and Worlds of Make-Believe. In the fall and spring of 2015-16, he will teach German 3, and in the winter, he will offer German 65, a seminar on the German Novelle.

Klaus Mladek

Klaus Mladek is looking forward to next spring. when he will return to teaching after a fellowship year and sabbatical. He will direct the Spring 2016 LSA in Berlin and then teach the summer classes in the German Department. During his fellowship year funded by the
 American Council of Learned Societies, he worked together with George
 Edmondson, of the English Department, to complete their co-authored study
The Politics of Melancholia. Klaus has also been working on another monograph Revolution and the Idea of Justice: Walter Benjamin’s Political Philo
sophy. Both studies are designed as interventions into contemporary
 political theory; they highlight the importance of justice and of affects such
as anxiety and shame for politics and develop a new conception of the term
 “revolution.” His collection on contemporary political theory entitled Sover
eignty in Ruins: Toward a Politics of Crisis (co-edited with George Edmondson), is in production (Duke University Press), as is his book Stages of Justice: The Philosophical Theater from Socrates to Arendt (Northwestern University Press). Last year Klaus gave papers at conferences in Paris, Boston and Frankfurt that explored the intersection between theater, philosophy and politics.

Nick Ostrau

Nick Ostrau joins the department this fall, coming from Christopher Newport University, where he last year taught elementary and intermediate German language courses, as well as classes on German film (Conversation via Cinema), folklore (Into the Woods: The History of the European Folktale), and medieval literature (Texts in Contexts: The Travels of King Arthur). He received his undergraduate education at Ludwig-Maximilians Universität in Munich, his M.A. in German from Wayne State University and his PhD in German from UNC-Chapel Hill. He has also taught German literature at Duke University, and just prior to moving to Hanover, he returned for the fifth summer to Middlebury College’s German Language School, where he coordinates and teaches the Intermediate (Level 2) language sections. He also served as producer for Middlebury’s Centennial Talent Showcase as part of the college’s 100th Year Anniversary of language learning. This past year, Nick has published book reviews on the European Middle Ages (Macht macht Kunst: Charlemagne and Die Sammelwut der Patrizier: Der Codex Manesse). This year he will presenting papers on “Motherhood as Material Investment: The Mother-Son Bond via Resources in the Song of the Nibelungs” at the German Studies Association Annual Conference and “Bewegende Bilder und bewegte Helden” at the International Arthurian Society’s meeting in Austria. He remains a content reviewer and editor for the Auf Geht’s: Beginning German Language and Culture textbook series.

Ellis Shookman

Ellis Shookman continues to chair the Department. He also taught German 2 (Introductory German), German 65 (Masterpieces of German Drama), and German 13 (Beyond Good and Evil), which he will direct again in the coming year. He is writing an operatic history of German literature, combining studies in librettology with theories of both adaptation and intermediality.


Bruce Duncan

After 46 years at Dartmouth and a couple of false starts into retirement, Bruce Duncan finally became an emeritus professor last June. He looks back fondly on the wide variety of courses in language and literature that he was able to teach, the 19 off-campus programs that he directed in Mainz and Berlin, his research activities, and his time in a number of administrative positions. Most of all he appreciates the many wonderful students and colleagues whom he got to know. At the time of his retirement, the Dean of Faculty Office awarded him the Robert A. Fish 1918 Memorial Prize for “contributions to undergraduate teaching,” and he looks forward to continuing the development of his various computer-based projects that address some of those interests. Together with programmer Robert Eastman (’10, MALS), he completed the now-launched 4.0 version of annotext, an application that assists students in reading specially-prepared foreign language texts, while he and Rennie H. Song ’15 have updated DartDrill, which allows beginning students to practice linguistic patterns interactively. In addition to adding materials to both of those applications, he keeps tweaking his on-line Review of German Grammar. Just so he won’t miss going to meetings, he will still serve on the Hanover-Norwich School Board.

Konrad Kenkel

Konrad Kenkel continues to enjoy his retirement. At present, he is working on a historically-based memoir of his childhood in Germany during and after WW II. He spent the past year in Hamburg, where his wife directed the Smith College Junior Year Abroad program. He enjoyed the multiple cultural activities of the city, notwithstanding the dismal performance of his favorite soccer team. He is convinced that after his return to Hanover in August, the Dartmouth men’s and women’s teams will make up for it.

Werner Kleinhardt

Werner Kleinhardt, in the years since becoming an emeritus professor of German and Comparative Literature, has devoted himself further to teaching and writing, both fiction and non-fiction. He is a regular instructor at OSHER@DARTMOUTH (formerly called ILEAD [Institute for Lifelong Education at Dartmouth]), where he has a devoted following. His 2015 offering was a “sequential Socratic symposium during Winter, Spring, and Fall that reviewed “Benevolent and Malevolent Propositions for a Government.” The first two terms’ offerings discussed Plato, Machiavelli, Thomas More, and Tommaso Campanella. This fall’s focuses on Huxley, Orwell, and Bradbury.

Ulrike Rainer

Ulrike Rainer still divides her time between Hanover and Berlin. She is carrying on with her blog in the on-line magazine schwarz-auf-weiß, attempting to explain the more unusual aspects of American politics and society to a large and loyal following of readers.

Max Kade Visiting Professors

The Max Kade Visiting Professor for 2016 will be Ilija Trojanow, the German-Bulgarian novelist, essayist, translator, and editor. Born in Bulgaria in 1965, he was 6 years old when his family fled via Yugoslavia and Italy to West Germany, where they received political asylum. His father’s work as an engineer then took them to Nairobi, where Trojanow lived until 1984, except for four years at a school in Germany. With an Abitur from the German School in Nairobi, he started his studies in law and ethnology in Paris and continued them in Munich. He then founded two publishing houses specializing in African literature. In 1999 he moved to Mumbai, in 2003 to Cape Town, and in 2007 to Vienna. His 16 books, which have been translated into 25 languages, include novels, travelogues and guides to Africa, India, the Middle East, and Bulgaria. His most recent novel, Macht und Widerstand, appeared this summer in Fischer Verlag. His articles have appeared in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, die Süddeutsche Zeitung und die Neue Zürcher Zeitung. Since 2013 he has hosted the series “Weltausstellung Prinzenstraße” in the Schauspiel Hannover, in which prominent philosophers, journalists, scientists and artists discuss their work. And since 2014 he has been publishing a blog on opera. In Spring 2016, he will teach German 82: Breaking Bad: The Aesthetics of Evil: “German literature is in a unique situation, having to deal with the grim past of two totalitarian regimes. How do recent works represent and reflect on systematic evil, how do they (if at all) devise villains within the nightmare of modern repression? What are the limitations on a postmodern Zeitgeist regarding this issue? Historical references (Mephisto, the Romantics) will come into play, as well as comparisons with the treatment of evil in popular culture.”

In Spring 2015, the Max Kade Visiting Professor was the novelist, dramatist, and filmmaker Christopher Kloeble, who taught a seminar on film adaptations of German literary works. He also gave readings from his works for the German Club and at a weekend retreat for the German Studies faculty and invited guests. The community further benefited from the presence of his wife, Saskya Jain, who read from her new novel, Fire under Ash, at the Leslie Humanities Center.

Readers may recall that Navid Kermani, the Max Kade Visitor in the Spring of 2014, was asked to address the Bundestag on the 65th anniversary of the German Grundgesetz. Kermani has additionally been chosen as this year’s winner of the Peace Prize of the German Book Trade. The award ceremony will be televised on ZDF during the Frankfurt Book Fair on October 18th.