translating Johann Gottfried Herder’s earliest essay, “Versuch über das Seyn.” My task was to transcribe the original, which was written in Kurrentschrift - an archaic form of handwriting distinct from modern German writing. Professor Noyes and I accessed the original manuscript in the Herder Nachlass (literary estate) at the “Stabi” or Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin, which in itself was already a great privilege. There I was also able to partake in Schulungen (workshops) that expanded my research skills. In contrast to summer language study abroad, the pursuit of independent research offers direct insight into the working methods of literary scholars. Additionally, the time in Berlin and Bucharest facilitated immersion in specific environments in both cities, including most importantly their artistic and literary cultures. These opportunities have enabled me to put previously acquired theoretical knowledge into action and shown me the practical value and relevance of the humanities. This is in no small part attributable to the support and dedication of faculty and staff of the German Department at the University of Toronto.
Our Growing Faculty
Hang-Sun Kim, Language Coordinator and Assistant Professor of German, Teaching Stream
I am delighted to join the Department in the newly established position of Teaching-Stream Assistant Professor and Language Coordinator. The halls of Odette are very familiar to me, as it was here that I studied both French and German languages and literatures as an undergraduate and was inspired to pursue graduate studies. After my MA in German from the University of Toronto, I pursued doctoral studies at Harvard University, earning my PhD in 2012. My dissertation examines Hugo von Hofmannsthal’s literary representation of the crisis of authorship at the turn of the 20th century. It explores his fictional prose and poetological reflections, and the slippery relationship they reveal between the author and the medium of his art, the origin of the symbol, and the status of literature in an age of growing media competition. I have taught undergraduate, graduate students and adult learners elementary to advanced German at Harvard University, the University of Toronto and the Goethe-Institut Toronto. Whether my students are learning the difference between Sie and du, discussing a German film we’ve viewed without subtitles, debating the challenges and opportunities of renewable energies, or analyzing a short story by Kafka, I find teaching immensely rewarding at all language proficiency levels. I’m thrilled when students discover that a grammatical structure or even a single word can reveal a new intercultural perspective. That the acquisition of a new language opens doors to a whole new culture is something I’ve experienced firsthand, as a somewhat itinerant life has led me from South Korea to Germany, Canada and France.
Language courses play a crucial role in our fouryear undergraduate program, equipping students with the foundational speaking, listening, reading and writing skills needed for them to excel in diverse topic courses also taught in German. But beyond the university, our language courses advance the translingual and transcultural competencies that give students the confidence to travel, study, and work abroad in German-speaking countries. As Language Coordinator, I am responsible for the curricular planning of the language course sequence and I facilitate the design and scheduling of assignments and student assessments across our numerous course sections. I also provide guidance and pedagogical training for our graduate student instructors, and create a framework within which experienced language instructors can fine-tune their individual approaches. When I took up the position of Language Coordinator last year, I was very impressed by the vitality of the language program. It is a great pleasure to work so closely with a team of graduate student instructors who inspire enthusiasm for and interest in the German language and culture amongst our undergraduate students. It is in large part thanks to their serious commitment to teaching that our department attracts hundreds of students, many of whom decide to pursue majors and minors in German Studies. I look forward to continuing the lively exchange of ideas about language learning this year.