Rethinking the Undergraduate John Noyes, Professor of German Within the framework of various Faculty and University initiatives addressing undergraduate studies, our program has been redefining the classroom in innovative ways. In the context of teaching language, literature and culture, we have expanded sites of learning to also encompass the theatre, the workplace, and the archives, as well as integrating virtual resources available online. We find evidence of these innovations in Teaching Stream Professor Erol Boran’s adaptation of Günter Grass’ play “Hochwasser” for a cast of undergraduate thespians whose three performances last April attracted large and enthusiastic audiences. Doctoral candidate Andrew Warren, in turn, hosted the new Faculty-wide Explore-It initiative in his Introduction to German Literature course. This program enables current students to visit and observe recent graduates of the German Department at their workplace to discover the variety of transferable skills that emerge from a degree based in German language and culture. With funds awarded from the Germany-Europe Fund, undergraduate German major Tobias Wilczek
was able to spend the summer in Berlin and Romania researching the works of Bertolt Brecht and Herta Müller. A grant from the University of Toronto Excellence Award in the Social Sciences and Humanities also supported his collaboration with me in the manuscripts division of the State Library, Berlin (see below). Over the past year we also introduced a twicemonthly Kaffeestunde, which all faculty and students of German are invited to attend. Many undergraduate students regularly availed themselves of this opportunity to come and speak German with other students and their professors while enjoying a light snack. We welcome readers of this newsletter to also join us this year. This Fall our ranks have also expanded to include a new teaching-stream hire, Professor Hang-Sun Kim, who is serving as Language Coordinator, responsible for articulating the language program at all levels. She is a graduate of U of T and Harvard, and brings a wealth of expertise in language pedagogy and literature to the department. We are most fortunate to have her join us: this year more students than ever are enrolling our undergraduate curriculum to acquire or expand skills in German language and culture, with enrollment for our Beginning German courses reaching record numbers!
A Certified “Stabi-Stöberer”
Tobias-Rene Wilczek, Undergraduate Student
Although the Humanities appear to be in a critical situation, when exploring funding opportunities in the discipline of German Studies, I was pleasantly surprised by what was available. As an undergraduate, I never expected to receive support to pursue independent research outside of my coursework. This summer, I was able to do precisely that, along with undertaking a Research Assistantship in Germany under the supervision of Professor John Noyes, with financial support from the DAAD (German Academic Exchange Service), the FAS Germany/ Europe Fund, and the University of Toronto Excellence Award (UTEA). My project drew upon transnational literary theory to study two exilic authors, Herta Müller and Bertolt Brecht, with an eye to the interactions between their respective writings and their use of visual collage. Studying the praxis of making such collages, involving cut-and-paste poems accompanied by collaged images, led to further insight into the philosophical framework of Herta Müller’s writings, particularly with regards to self-censorship. Both Brecht and Müller seem to have employed comparable methods of ‘appropriating’ of externally imposed methods of censorship, as I discovered when visiting literary archives such as the Bertolt-Brecht-Archiv of the Akademie der Künste in Berlin. This opened up an entirely different framework for learning than could the classroom. The UTEA award, for which I was nominated by Professor Noyes, enabled me to assist with his project of