Diversity in Germany: A Historical Perspective

Dr. Cornelia Wilhelm
Miller Learning Center, Rm. 147

The lecture, given by Dr. Cornelia Wilhelm, will explore the changing perceptions of “diversity” and “cultural difference” in Germany and will show how they were central in the construction of “self “ and “other” throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries affecting minorities such as Jews, Poles, and others, ultimately culminating in a blind and destructive racism, nationalism, the Holocaust and World War II.  After 1945 the two Germanies, deeply shattered as a nation and split in two states, sought to depart from their Nazi past, while they stood at the center of the largest migration crisis in the 20th century, but did neither understand the historic connection between their racist and exclusionary attitudes and the outcome of World War II and the Holocaust, nor the importance to deal with still existing xenophobic attitudes for the democratic process. The lecture will explain how  this and the pressures of the Cold War prevented a thoroughly new understanding of “self” and “other” in Germany, will highlight how this affected relationship with immigrants and minorities , particularly the Turkish labor migration, until 1989.  It will make suggestions why the re-united Germany at the end of the Cold War concluding the postwar era, was finally able to reconsider immigration and naturalization legislation and break ground for a new approach to diversity in Germany. It will highlight how changing perspectives on the memory of the Holocaust and World War II and the immigration of Jews from the former Soviet Union were central to this process. The lecture will conclude with Germany’s asylum policy during the peak of the Syrian refugee crisis in 2015/2016 and will analyze the unique challenge this recent migration poses once again to today’s Germany, which since 2012 ranks today only second to the United States as “country of immigration” and seeks to develop a coordinated  European immigration policy.

Dr. Peter Rehberg Talk

Dr. Peter Rehberg
Miller Learning Center, Rm. 214

The ethnic, religious, and cultural “otherness” of migrants has been mostly visualized by means of the female body. For example, the “Kopftuchmädchen” (“headscarf-girl”) became a protagonist within the anti-immigration discourse in Germany over the past ten years. Since the so-called “refugee crisis” in 2015, however, images of Arab men have been increasingly circulating within the European and German media landscape. While aiming to illustrate specific events that range from the new German “Willkommenskultur” (“culture of welcoming”) to the assaults on women at New Year’s Eve in Cologne, they are often embedded within a long tradition of colonial and racist depiction of Arab masculinity and sexuality. One of the prevailing questions since then has been, how can a project be articulated that is both anti-racist, yet also anti-sexist? Intersectionality offers the instruments to take into account diverging social forces, but can it also do justice to the contradictions at stake here? By analyzing photographs and pictures from different archives, in this talk, I am presenting some of the ideas of a research project that tests the potentials and limits of our critical language of post colonialism in dealing with social conflicts and their representation within contemporary Germany and Europe.

The Stefan Zweig Revival and the World of Yesterday

Mark Gelber Lecture
Miller Learning Center, Room 214

The Department of Germanic & Slavic Studies would like to invite you all to join us on Tuesday, September 5th, for a lecture by Dr. Mark Gelber, from Ben-Gurion University, Israel. Dr. Gelber’s lecture is titled, “The Stefan Zweig Renaissance and the World of Yesterday” and will explore potential reasons for such a renaissance and whether new insight to Stefan Zweig’s work can supplant the long-standing views already in place.

Dr. Gelber is an American-Israeli scholar of Comparative Literature and German-Jewish Literature and Culture. He has been working at Ben-Gurion University since 1980, and has additionally been an honored guest professor at 9 esteemed universities throughout Europe and the United States. He was the recipient of the Alexander von Humboldt Research Fellowships in 1991-92 and in 2004, and has also received multiple DAAD research stipends. His research has led him to publish over 100 scholarly works, articles and monographs spanning the fields of literature, history, religion, cultural studies, sociology, and philosophy.


An Evening with the Author: Ulrich Woelk

Miller Learning Center, Reading Room (3rd Floor)


Ulrich Woelk is an award-winning author from Berlin, Germany. Since publishing his debut novel, Freigang (1990), which was awarded the Aspekte Literaturpreis, Woelk has written ten novels, one of which, Die letzte Vorstellung, was turned into the award-winning film Mord am Meer (2005). Ulrich Woelk has also written several plays, radio plays, short stories, and essays, as well as the libretto of an opera about Wernher von Braun, a notorious Nazi engineer whose postwar career included working on the American space program in Huntsville, Alabama. Woelk’s novels focus on the German past and present, as well as the role of science and scientists in modern times. Woelk, who has a Ph.D. in Astrophysics, will be traveling to the United States in connection with the solar eclipse and will be visiting UGA to read from his 2013 novel Was Liebe ist. The reading, which will be in both English and German, is scheduled for August 22, 2017, 5:00 p.m. in the Reading Room of the Miller Learning Center (Third Floor). There will be a reception immediately following.

We hope to see you there!

Jewish Authors in the GDR - Historical and Literary Perspectives on a Controversial Topic

Dr. Ulrike Schneider
Institut für Jüdische Studien und Religionswissenschaft und Institut für Germanistik
Universität Potsdam
MLC Room 147

Dr. Ulrike Schneider, from Potsdam University, Germany, is the Spring 2017 Max Kade Distinguished Visiting Professor for the Department of Germanic and Slavic Studies. She will be leading a talk on Jewish authors in the German Democratic Republic.

Narrative Patterns in Right-Wing Radicalization

Dr. Sarah Colvin
Department of German and Dutch
MLC Room 147

Dr. Sarah Colvin, the Schroeder Professor of German at Cambridge, will be coming to Athens to give a talk about right-wing radicalization in Germany: 

“Radicalization” is a tricky notion: the idea of the “radical” has come to signal mainstream society’s Other. I’ll present some narrative evidence that people who have “radical” beliefs often also share conventional or mainstream beliefs, and consider the implications of that. One hypothesis of this paper that there are strong reasons to listen to accounts that reject the dominant ideology, most particularly when it would be more comfortable to dismiss them as crazy.

My case studies are young men who were involved in far-right-wing violence in Germany in the 1990s, and I draw on narrative theories across disciplines, including the emerging field of narrative criminology, to unsettle notions of the absolute difference of cultural from counter-cultural constructs.

Reading with Hiccups: Goethe's Faust, Climate Change, and YOU

Faust Poster
Dr. Simon Richter
Professor of German and Environmental Humanities
University of Pennsylvania
Miller Learning Center, Room 214

Can a major work of world literature from the nineteenth century speak to us today about how to live in the age of climate change? Goethe’s Faust, the sprawling tragedy of a man’s relentless striving for knowledge, may at once be the most universal and the most personal work of literature ever written. Through its remarkably expansive sense of the “here and now” of the act of reading, it offers us a way to orient ourselves relative to evolutionary history, global warming and sea level rise. No prior knowledge of Goethe’s Faust is required. We’ll get all the help we need from the hiccups we’ll encounter.

European Populism: What's Happening, What's Coming Up, and What it Means

Joe Brown Lobby

Dr. Alexander Sager, along with Dr. Cas Mudde, an associate professor in the School of Public and International Affairs at UGA and internationally recognized expert on European radical right movements and populism, will lead a discussion on current and upcoming political events in Europe, including several approaching elections, and discuss their importance for both Europe and the world.