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Graduate Students from Brazil and England Join the Department as Visiting Student Research Collaborators

Ana Gabriela Dickstein Roiffe from the Pontifícia Universidade Católica do Rio de Janeiro (PUC-Rio) and Rafael Dernbach from the German Department at the Cambridge University (UK) have come to Princeton under the Visiting Student Research Collaborator (VSRC) program to work with Prof. Thomas Y. Levin during the 2016-17 academic year.

Ms. Roiffe is a PhD Candidate in Literature, Culture and Contemporaneity at PUC-Rio where she is working with Prof. Frederico Oliveira Coelho on a dissertation researching writings for portable cinemas in contemporary art, including works by Hélio Oiticica, Yoko Ono and Jack Smith. Ms. Roiffe will spend the 2016-2017 academic year affiliated with Princeton’s German Dept., funded by the Fulbright Commission and CAPES, the Brazilian National Research Foundation. Advised by Prof. Thomas Y. Levin, she attended classes by Hal Foster and Levin in the Fall semester, consulted with Prof. Irene V. Small in the Dept. of Art and Archaeology, and worked in archives at NYU and MoMA digging up materials related to experimental and expanded cinema from the 50s to the 70s in USA and Brazil. Happily, her efforts yielded scripts of Jack Smith’s slideshows and performances in many versions as well as a copy of the very rare Brazilian 1971 film “Mangue Bangue” by Neville D’Almeida, which was seminal to the conception of Hélio Oiticica’s 1973-74 expanded cinema project “Cosmococas.” Ms. Roiffe also presented a paper on expanded literature in Brazil and Argentina at the “Brazil Week” at Harvard University.

Rafael Dernbach is a Gates Scholar and PhD candidate at the German Department of Cambridge University where he is writing about constructions of futurity in contemporary documentary practices under the supervision of Prof Andrew Webber. His research combines close readings of works by Harun Farocki, Hito Steyerl and Neil Beloufa with analyses of prognostic media such as predictive policing. During his Fall semester stay at Princeton, funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council UK and the Gates Cambridge Scholarship, he was supervised by Prof Thomas Y. Levin and attended his graduate seminar on the rhetorics of surveillance. He also consulted the Jacques Derrida library in Princeton’s Firestone Library, the ACLU archive at Mudd Library and was a regular participant in the activities of the Program in Media and Modernity.

Berlin: A Media Metropolis

Prof. Joel Lande’s seminar Berlin: A Media Metropolis travels to the German capital over Fall Break

The German Department’s 2016 Fall-semester seminar GER307 Berlin: A Media Metropolis undertook an in-depth exploration of one of the most vibrant cities in Europe. Using texts and images focused on Berlin as the basis for discussion, the seminar meetings throughout the semester investigated major historical moments from the eighteenth century to the present. The course began by studying the debates over religious difference in the Enlightenment, with a special focus on the place of the Jews in civil society. It then proceeded to look at major journalistic projects of the nineteenth century, which in turn led to discussions of the major literary and artistic projects of German Modernism. The goal was to uncover the various means by which literature and the visual arts engaged the relationship between the individual, the collective, and the city. The seminar concluded with a discussion of the explosive music, party, and rave scene that has made Berlin a city of unparalleled vitality and excitement —from Tresor and the Love Parade to Berghain.

Visit to the autumnal Weißensee Friedhof in East Berlin, the second largest Jewish cemetery in Europe, where students saw the different phases of Berlin Judaism, from nineteenth- and early twentieth-century cosmopolitanism through National Socialism to the rebirth of Jewish Berlin today.

During the Fall Break Prof. Lande took the group of ten lucky undergraduates to Berlin to explore first-hand the institutions, media, and events that have made Berlin not just the centerpiece of German political and cultural life, but also one of the most influential and fascinating sites of modern history. Naturally, the trip included visits to many of the most well-known sites of modern Germany: the Brandenburg Gate, the Siegessäule, the Tiergarten, Potsdamer Platz, Checkpoint Charlie, the East Side Gallery, the Bundestag, the Jewish cemetery at Weisensee, and much more. One of the highlights was a bicycle tour through the historical town of Potsdam, where the students saw the Sanssouci Palace built by Frederick the Great as well as its elaborate gardens. The seminar participants also visited the extraordinary array of Berlin museums —from the Pergamon Museum, with its singular collection of antiquities, to the modernist collections at the Hamburger Bahnhof and the Neue Nationalgalarie.

Together with longtime Berlin local and Princeton German Department graduate-student and co-guide Cornelius Reiber the class went to Treptower Park, where they saw the massive Soviet Monument and the abandoned Plänterwald amusement park.

Walking tours through East Berlin provided an up-close view of the austere boulevards of the DDR period as well as the rapid processes of modernization and gentrification visible in neighborhoods such as Prenzlauer Berg. The in situ immersion in the exciting streets of Berlin allowed the group to experience first hand the many phases of German political history—from the Prussian monarchy through the unification of the German nation state, from the Nazi rule through the division between east and west.

The students in the class, all of whom had a solid competency in spoken and written German, lived as near-natives for ten days. The group of juniors and seniors included German Department majors Allison Fleming, Charlie Baker, and Alexander Robinson, as well as a handful of certificate students.

Great atmosphere at the group’s final dinner in a funky Italian restaurant on the border between the two neighborhoods of Mitte and Prenzlauer Berg.

PD Dr. Marcel Lepper visits Princeton’s German Department

PD Dr. Marcel Lepper visits Princeton’s German Department as Short Term Academic Guest during the fall semester. PD Dr. Lepper is Director of Research at the German Literature Archive in Marbach. Since the founding of the American Friends of Marbach by Emeritus Professor Dr. Walter Hinderer and Professor Dr. Ulrich Raulff in 2008, the Princeton German Department has enjoyed a special relationship with the German Literature Archive in Marbach.

Dr Marcel Lepper

Dr Marcel Lepper

Andrew Nelson named one of 2016 Moses Taylor Pyne Prize winners

Andrew Nelson

Andrew Nelson

Andrew Nelson is named one of two that won the 2016 Moses Taylor Pyne Prize.
The Pyne Honor Prize, established in 1921, is awarded to the senior who has most clearly manifested excellent scholarship, strength of character and effective leadership. Previous recipients include the late Princeton President Emeritus Robert F. Goheen, former U.S. Sen. Paul Sarbanes and U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor.

Andrew Nelson is majoring in German and pursuing certificates in European cultural studies, values and public life, and French language and culture. His academic honors include the Arthur Liman Fellowship in Public Interest Law, the Guggenheim Internship in Criminal Justice, Phi Beta Kappa, membership in the Behrman Undergraduate Society of Fellows, and the Department of German’s book prize.

For his senior thesis, Andrew Nelson is writing about the works of Robert Walser, an early 20th-century Swiss author he first encountered in a seminar led by Inka Mülder-Bach, a visiting professor of German.

“Andrew is admirably smart; Andrew asks excellent critical questions in a most polite manner; Andrew is a most philologically astute reader,” said his thesis adviser, Barbara Nagel, an assistant professor of German. “But what is really unique about Andrew is that in his case knowledge is integrated in ways of living. To put it differently, Andrew seems to be deeply interested in the variety of human experience and how it expresses itself — in literature and philosophy in particular, but also beyond the confines of the academy. ”

Link to Princeton article here.
Link to Daily Princetonian article here.

Topics in Medieval Literature: The Song of the Nibelungs and the German National Myth


GER 321G—Summer 2016
Topics in Medieval Literature: The Song of the Nibelungs and the German National Myth
Prof. Sara S. Poor

When: May 31st, 2016 – June 24, 2016
Where: Munich, Germany

Seminar on quintessential German epic, the Nibelungenlied (1200). We will read the modern German translation while visiting sites in and around Munich related to historical background and geography of story. Students examine myth of German hero as epitomized in Siegfried and Hagen (later adopted in nationalist discourses) as well as vilification of heroines Brunhild and Kriemhild. Field trips address medieval notions of learning (manuscripts), space (castle, monastery), and art (objects, paintings, and sculptures in local museums). At conclusion of the course, students consider the transformation of tale in modern re-workings (Wagner, Lang).

For more information, please email
GER 321G

Bad New Days – Oct 20th

Who: Hal Foster in Conversation with Devin Fore
What: Bad New Days: Art, Criticism, Emergency
When: Tuesday, October 20th, 2015 at 6PM
Where: Labyrinth Books, 122 Nassau Street, Princeton NJ

One of the world’s leading art theorists dissects a quarter century of artistic practice – please join us for a presentation and discussion with author Hal Foster and fellow critic and scholar, Devin Fore.

Hal Foster is Professor of Art and Archaeology at Princeton University. A co-editor of October magazine and books, he is the editor of The Anti-Aesthetic, and the author of many influential books, including Design and Crime, Recodings, The Return of the Real, Compulsive Beauty, The First Pop Age, and The Art-Architecture Complex. Devin Fore is Associate Professor of German at Princeton. He, too, is an editor at October magazine. Fore is the author of Realism After Modernism: The Rehumanization of Art and Literature. His new book, All the Graphs: Soviet Factography and the Emergence of Avant-Garde Documentary, is forthcoming from Chicago University Press.


Three German Concentrators elected to Phi Beta Kappa

Congratulations to the following for being elected to Phi Beta Kappa:

Philip Daniel Mooney
Cody Lee O’Neil
Margot Byrd Pinkerton

Professor Emeritus Walter Hinderer to Receive Golden Goethe Medal


Walter Hinderer will receive the Golden Goethe Medal, which has been given since 1910 as the highest honor of the Goethe-Gesellschaft, at a public ceremony on May 28th at the National Theater in Weimar. Previous recipients of the Golden Goethe Medal include Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, Lew Kopelew, and Victor Lange, who taught at Princeton from 1957 to 1977. Hinderer joined the faculty of the German Department at Princeton in 1978. He is one of the premier scholars of the Goethezeit. One of his areas of expertise is the so-called Weimarer Musenhof, founded by Anna Amalia and frequented by figures such as Goethe, Wieland, Herder, and Schiller.

Besides teaching at Princeton, Hinderer was a fellow at the Institute for Research in the Humanities at the University of Wisconsin, Madison (1976-1977), the Wissenschaftskolleg in Berlin (also Institute for Advanced Study, Berlin) (1985-1986), and the Rosenzweig Research Center for German-Jewish Literature and Cultural History at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem (1995).

Hinderer has been the recipient of a number of other highly distinguished awards, including the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany (1995), the Alexander von Humboldt Prize (1998) and the Austrian Cross of Honor for Science and Art (2006).

84. Hauptversammlung der Goethe-Gesellschaft – Programm

German major Cody O’Neil awarded ReachOut Fellowship

Cody O’Neil, along with Princeton University senior Bina Peltz, have been awarded 2015 fellowships from ReachOut 56-81-06, an alumni-funded effort that supports yearlong public service projects after graduation. Each student will receive a stipend of $30,000.

O’Neil, whose home is in British Columbia, is a German major who is focusing on philosophy and intellectual history. He is also pursuing a certificate in planets and life. He has received the 1956 ReachOut International Fellowship, and will be working with the National Research Centre for Truth and Reconciliation in Winnipeg, Manitoba, to explore the effectiveness of reconciliation initiatives of Aboriginal Canadians.

Further reading on the award article here: Two seniors awarded ReachOut fellowships…

Prof. Inka Mülder-Bach (LMU-Munich) returns to Princeton for Spring Semester 2015

Professor Inka Mülder-Bach, one of three Permanent Visiting Professors on the German Department faculty, will be in residence in Princeton for the Spring semester 2015 during which she will teach a graduate seminar (GER 515/COM512) entitled “Studies in 19th-Century Literature and Culture: The Art of the Plot” and an undergraduate class (GER 306) on “Labyrinths of Literature.”

Prof. Mülder-Bach’s graduate seminar will take place on Wednesday afternoons from 1:30-4:20pm and will be conducted in both English and German. She describes the class — which will consider works such as Euripides’ Iphigenia in Tauris, Shakespeare’s Othello, Schiller’s Die Verschwörung des Fiesco zu Genua and Wallenstein, Goethe’s Iphigenie, and Büchner’s Dantons Tod — as follows:

Though plotters and intriguers usually are up to no good, their scheming is closely related to the art of drama and narrative. Storytellers and dramatists create entanglements, set snares and tie knots which then somehow have to be disentangled and untied. The Aristotelian notion of plot (mythos) as “construction of events” thus encompasses the two complementary operations of desis and lysis, “complication” and “denouement.” The seminar will examine plot structures, figures of the intriguer, metaphors of intriguing and their transformation in tragedies and historical dramas from Greek antiquity to German literature of the early 19th century.

Regarding the undergraduate class, which will be taught on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons from 1:30-2:50pm, Prof. Mülder-Bach writes:

In literature, art, dance and architecture the labyrinth delineates a path that has been interpreted in various ways, as a figuration of the polarity of chaos and order, for example, or as a trajectory of initiation symbolizing the experience of separation, disorientation and rebirth. On the basis of selected pictorial material as well as selected readings of the myths of Theseus and Dedalus, the seminar will focus on the relation between the structure of the maze and narrative structures in 20th century German literature.

The reading list for this seminar, which will be taught in English, includes Ovid’s Metamorphoses (selections), Joyce’s Ulysses ((selections; 1922) Kafka’s Der Bau (1923/24), Robert Walser’s Der Räuber (1925), Walter Benjamin’s Berliner Kindheit um 1900 (1932ff) and Thomas Bernhard’s Das Kalkwerk (1970).

Prof. Mülder-Bach received her PhD from the University of Tübingen after academic training at Tübingen, Oslo, and Berkeley. Before joining the Institute of German Philology at Ludwig Maximilian Universität (LMU) in Munich in 1998, she held positions at the Freie Universität and the Zentrum für Literaturforschung in Berlin. Mülder-Bach has been a visiting professor at Columbia University (New York), the IFK (International Research Center for Cultural Studies, Vienna), the Heinrich-Heine-Universität (Düsseldorf), and New York University. Her research focuses on German literature from the 18th to the 20th century in a comparative perspective, traditions of aesthetics and poetics, theories of narration, scenes of origins and constructions of the beginning of modernity, and Robert Musil. She is editor of the works of Siegfried Kracauer and co-editor of POETICA.

Prof. Mülder-Bach is a Vertrauensdozentin der Studienstiftung des deutschen Volkes. In 2008-09 and 2010-11 she held an Excellence-in-Research professorship at the LMU Munich, and from 2009-2010, served as Vice-President of the LMU. In 2013 she was awarded the Federal Cross of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany.