Dr. Carrie Jackson: Winner of Outstanding Faculty Adviser Award

Congratulations to Carrie Jackson, Professor of German and Linguistics, is the recipient of the 2020 Outstanding Faculty Adviser Award. Dr. Jackson maintains very consistent and excellent ratings in teaching, but perhaps even more impressive are her extensive contributions to undergraduate student success outside the classroom. She has advised four undergraduate honors theses and an undergraduate internship. There are, in addition, the many other undergraduate students whose work she has supervised outside the classroom, including five undergraduates whom she assisted with their funded research projects, and the many research assistants who have worked in her lab. She is fully dedicated to enriching the lives of students.

FALL 2020 General Education Courses to Focus on Central European Culture, History, and Politics

FALL 2020 General Education Courses to Focus on Central European Culture, History, and Politics

First-Year Students Welcome! All readings and discussions are in English!


GER 083, Section 1: Dutch Culture: Art , History and Society
This course focuses upon the rich history, culture, and society of the Netherlands and its inhabitants.

From the founding of Amsterdam by damming off the Amstel River in the 12th century, to the Dutch Golden Age of

world trade domination, to the modern-day country that shines as a beacon of liberalism and democracy, the Dutch have consistently proven that there is something remarkable about their society and way of approaching life.

Course #: 19996


GER 083, Section 2:  Rammstein, punks, and Turn-Tables:  A History of Contemporary Germany through the Lens of Popular Music and Film

Art truly does imitate life in all its facets. In this course popular music and film unveil developments and major historical events in modern German society. Our inspection will pay particular attention to the rise and fall of the former German Democratic Republic (East Germany) and cultural developments following the Fall of the Berlin Wall until today. Through this course we gain a deeper understanding of modern German society through the lens of popular culture (i.e., music and film).

Course #: 29580

GER 190, Section 1: Twentieth Century German Literature in Translation
Narratives of Injustice

   Historically, the twentieth century was a very turbulent century for Germany. It was a century of extreme violence, as witnessed by the years 1914 and 1939 with the outbreak of the First World War and the unleashing of the Second World War and the Holocaust. It was also a century of revolutions: the revolutionary autumn in 1918 and the establishment of Germany's first democracy, the Weimar Republic; and the peaceful revolution of the late 1980s that led to the Fall of the Berlin Wall and the reunification of a country that had been divided into East and West as a result of its defeat during WWII.
   In this class, we seek to understand those complex histories through the lens of major works of literature and film that feature social injustice, e.g., racism, sexism, and other forms of oppression. Sadly, and unjustifiably, some of these works, e.g., Vicki Baum's Grand Hotel, a bestseller in the 1930s that not only made it to the screen, but won the Academy Award in 1932; or Verena Stefan's Shedding, which became arguably the most influential novel for the German feminist movement of the 1970s/1980s, fell into oblivion. Yet, all of the works offer not only an intriguing and important perspective on the time of their origin, but a relevant lesson for readers/viewers in the present.
   We will examine the uniquely German experience of the 20th century by situating these works into their socio-political context, but we will show their relevance and use them to discuss social injustice as a global and timeless phenomenon by tying them to political debates of the 21st century.

Course #: 19764


For his translation of an excerpt from Dilek Güngör’s Ich bin Özlem (Verbrecher Verlag, 2019), the winner of the tenth annual Gutekunst Prize of the Friends of Goethe New York is Duncan Lien. Congratulations!

The jury, comprised of Tess Lewis, book critic and translator, Alta Price, Translator, and Jeremy Davies, editor at Farrar, Straus & Giroux, stated:

"The jury of the 2020 Gutekunst Prize enthusiastically commends Duncan Lien for his engaging and nuanced translation of Dilek Güngör’s Ich bin Özlem. The novel is a finely calibrated exploration of what constitutes and determines identity in the gray zone between an immigrant community and the dominant culture. It charts the awakening of Özlem, a twenty-something second-generation Turkish immigrant in Germany, to a subtext of prejudice, preconception, and ingrained patterns of behavior she had largely been able to disregard or protect herself from.  What makes the book compelling is that she does not spare her own assumptions in her reckoning.

Duncan Lien’s supple translation not only persuasively captures Özlem’s voice but also the contradictory and complementary emotions and tones that shift throughout the narrative. There is a sense of shame pervading her account but also one of pride, impatience with her heritage and nostalgia for it, genuine affection for her family and a longing to shed what they represent. Sometimes these emotions alternate, sometimes they overlap. His accomplishment in these eleven pages is having found the register, vocabulary, and rhythm to make them tangible.

This year the 34 entries were particularly strong but Duncan Lien’s stood out for its inventiveness and sprezzatura."

Lien wrote the following on his experience of translating Güngör’s text:

"Dilek Güngör’s 2007 work Das Geheimnis meiner türksichen Großmutter was one of my first encounters with Turkish-German writing so it was a particular pleasure to return to her latest novel Ich bin Özlem as a translator. I can’t say whether this put me at an advantage, especially since more than a decade has passed. Since then I have lived in Turkey and come to a position of familiarity with Turkish culture as an intimate outsider. Although fundamentally different from the protagonist Özlem, who is born in Germany to Turkish parents, this did offer me a privileged position to appreciate her often ambivalent relationship to elements of Turkish culture. Moreover, it helped to make clear that neither the character nor her story can be understood solely in terms of cultural conflict.  

Although references to Turkish culture and the incorporation of Turkish words into the text is quite striking, this is only one of many aspects which demand the translator’s attention. The real challenge was to capture the range of emotions and registers of speech in the text, particularly in flashbacks to Özlem’s childhood. One such example is conveying the narrator’s perplexment at the place settings and stern enforcement of table manners when eating Vesper (the Swabian term for a light evening meal) at a friend’s house. An encounter with middle school bullies hinges on ethnic slurs with no obvious English equivalent and is a crucial scene in establishing Özlem’s obsession with how she smells. Happily, I found that understanding of the place of these passages in the narrative helped open up solutions to the translation problems I faced in the text."

You can read Duncan Lien's prizewinning translation of an excerpt from Dilek Güngör’s Ich bin Özlem here:


Duncan Lien© Özge Şat-LienDuncan Lien is a third year Ph.D. candidate in Comparative Literature who specializes in transnational German literature with a focus on German-Turkish literary relations. His dissertation project examines the intersection of Cold War-era labor and political migration in the genesis of Turkish-German literature. The project considers authors' engagement with transnational debates over realism and the plurilingual strategies employed by writers, asking how these issues inflect the various conceptions of political and artistic collectivity found in the Turkish-German archive. Additionally, Duncan has published on Turkish-Albanian literary encounters and his article “Rehearsing Better Worlds: Poetry as A Way of Happening in the Works of Tomlinson and MacDiarmid” appeared in Philosophy and Literature. Other teaching and research interests include translation, visual narratives and the relationship of history and literature.


In 2010, the Goethe-Institut New York received a generous donation in memory of Frederick and Grace Gutekunst. A prize was created to identify outstanding young translators of German literature into English and assist them in establishing contact with the translation and publishing communities. As of 2017, the prize is supported by the Friends of Goethe New York.

The Gutekunst Prize of the Friends of Goethe New York is open to college students and to all translators under the age of 35 who, at the time the prize is awarded, have not yet published, nor are under contract for, a book-length translation.

GSLL Department Awards and Graduation Ceremony

Virtual Awards Ceremony April 22, 2020, from 5 to 7 pm

German and Russian majors, minors, and outstanding students will be honored at an online ceremony to be held on 22 April, from 5-7p.m. For information, updates, and the eventual link, bookmark:

Dr. Lara Bryfonski to give talk and interactive workshop on task-based language teaching

The Department of Germanic and Slavic Languages & Literatures and the University Park Allocation Committee will co-sponsor an invited talk and interactive workshop by Dr. Lara Bryfonski (Georgetown University) on task-based language teaching. Light refreshments will be served.  RSVP here!

Invited Talk: Task-Based Language Teaching: Current Trends and Future Directions

Friday, March 20, 2020
3:00 - 4:00 p.m.
167 Willard Building

The talk will explore some of the foundational theories of TBLTand highlight current trends and challenges. The talk will begin with an introduction to the various frameworks proposed for organizing task-based education and an overview of the main components of a TBLTprogram. Next, Dr. Bryfonski will present on recent research investigating the role of teachers and teacher training in the TBLT implementation process, including the results of recent program-level implementations and meta analytic findings. The talk will end with a discussion of the challenges in translating TBLT research findings to diverse pedagogical contexts.



Interactive Workshop: Task-Based Language Teaching

Saturday, March 21, 2020
9:30 a.m. - Noon
167 Willard Building

While traditional approaches to language instruction organize syllabi and curricula around grammar points, task-based language teaching (TBLT) utilizes authentic tasks driven by the needs of the learners, and resulting linguistic forms, as the units of instruction (Long, 1985, 2015). The aim of TBLT pedagogy is to provide students with the linguistic skills they need to engage in meaningful interactions outside the classroom. This hands-on, interactive workshop is designed to provide language teachers and researchers at Penn State the opportunity to apply concepts from TBLT to their own teaching or research domains.

New Course, RUS 101, on Russian Cinema with Dr. Yuliya V. Ladygina, Fall 2020

This course will investigate representations of ethnic minorities and cultural “others” in Soviet and post-communist Russian cinema and will examine the relationship between film and Marxist-Leninist politics, the Communist International, dissident culture, and Russia’s search for its new post-Soviet identity. The main focus of the course will be on such cinematic legends as Vertov, Eisenstein, Dovzhenko, Aleksandrov, Kalatozov, Parajanov, Tarkovsky, Mikhalkov, and Loznitsa. Students will come away with techniques in film analysis and a deepened understanding of the relationship between society and film in the context of one of the most fascinating signposts of the twentieth century. 

The course is taught in English, fulfills the General Arts, Humanities, and Interdomain requirements, and is designated as an International Cultures course.

For more information, contact Dr. Ladygina at




Sounds of Migration - Call for Papers

The German Graduate Student Association of the Department of Germanic and Slavic Languages and Literatures (GGSA) will host its inaugural annual conference at the Pennsylvania State University from September 10 – 12, 2020.  

Sounds of Migration - Call for Papers

Submit Abstract

Keynote speakers:


The growing flow and circulation of migrants and refugees across the world introduces unfamiliar voices and sounds into new environments. This conference will examine the diverse expressions and echoes of what we call the sounds of migration. Drawing from Arjun Appadurai’s (1996) definition of technoscapes, we conceptualize “the sounds of migration” as encapsulating the fluid nature of sounds, bodies, and cultural elements coming together to construct imagined worlds, as seen in a globalized space. We invite a broad range of submissions that explore various aspects of the oral and aural dynamics related to migrations, displacements, refugees, and diasporas. How do minority voices emerge? What impact do experiences of migration have on everyday life, both from those relocating and the receiving society? How is literature, language, music, and/or other forms of culture and artistic expression created? How do languages in contact influence each other and lead to changes in pronunciation, word formation or sentence structure?

Possible topics may include, but are not confined to:

  • Phonetics / Phonology
  • Syntax
  • Morphology
  • Contact languages and languages in contact
  • Performance / Stage
  • Mixtures of dialects and languages
  • Archives of migration
  • Literature about refugees’ experiences
  • Music in exile
  • Visual culture and arts
  • Displacement and memory in art and theory
  • Migration and education


We welcome papers across languages and disciplines which engage with the theme of “Sounds of Migration.” Presenters will be allotted 20 minutes of presentation time, followed by 10 minutes of discussion. The submission deadline is Sunday, March 15, 2020. Abstracts are limited to 500 words (excluding references).

  • Professors, faculty, and graduate students are encouraged to apply.

Keywords: dialects, displacement, exile, memory, migration, minority, morphology, musicology, phonetics, phonology, pedagogy, translation, sound studies, syntax


Kinoabend - Selection of German Films

Spring 2020

Join the German Graduate Student Organization and the Department of Germanic and Slavic Languages and Literatures as we present this semester's selection of German films, along with faculty-led-introductions and discussion. Films will be shown in German with English subtitles.

Questions? Please email

Assistant Professor Yuliya V. Ladygina Publishes Book on Ukrainian Woman Writer

Congratulations to Dr. Yuliya V. Ladygina (German and Slavic Languages and Literatures), whose book, Bridging East and West: Ol’ha Kobylians’ka, Ukraine’s Pioneering Modernist, has been published with Toronto University Press earlier this month.

Congratulations to Dr. Yuliya V. Ladygina (German and Slavic Languages and Literatures), whose book, Bridging East and West: Ol’ha Kobylians’ka, Ukraine’s Pioneering Modernist, has been published with Toronto University Press earlier this month. Dr. Ladygina’s work explores the literary evolution of one of Ukraine’s foremost modernist writers, Ol’ha Kobylians’ka, who was a major contributor in the most significant intellectual debates of her time. Investigating themes of feminism, populism, Nietzscheanism, nationalism, and fascism in her works, Bridging East and West presents an alternative intellectual genealogy in turn-of-the-century European arts and letters whose implications reach far beyond the field of Ukrainian studies. Kobylians’ka emerges in this study as an unlikely, but no less active, trailblazer in the social and aesthetic theories that would define European debates about culture, science, and politics in the first half of the twentieth century.

For more information about the book, please visit Toronto University Press website at

Cultural Immersion in Post-Soviet Georgia: All RUS Courses

Spring 2020 embedded program in Post-Soviet Georgia Tbilisi, Georgia-Springbreak

Program Summary

This one-credit embedded course in Georgia provides a one-week immersion in Georgian culture combined with lectures on the long history of Georgian-Russian love-hate relations. Georgia is famous for its ancient culture, beautiful nature, exquisite cuisine, and unparalleled hospitality. The course is open to all students enrolled in an eligible Russian class (listed below) regardless of the level of language proficiency. It can also be combined with area study courses. Students of Russian will receive training in Russian by the faculty leaders.

The program includes a tour of the Georgian capital Tbilisi and its surroundings, as well as visits to several museums and monasteries, and interaction with local students. The program is organized and supported by the School of Russian and Asian Studies, a leader in innovative programming in the post-Soviet space for over 20 years. The students will receive one credit at the level of the residential course in which they are enrolled.

Embedded Course Information

Eligible participants must be enrolled in a Russian class (RUS 002, RUS 100, RUS 142Y, RUS 143, RUS 200, RUS 400, RUS 403, RUS 496, and RUS 83) at University Park or Altoona campuses for the Spring 2020 semester. Participants will also be enrolled in the one-credit course associated with this embedded program that corresponds with the level of their residential Russian course in Spring 2020 (ex. RUS 199, 299 or 499).

Prerequisites: Varies by RUS course

This additional credit may or may not add to a student’s cost of tuition depending on their part-time vs. full-time student status. Please visit the Penn State Tuition website for additional information about tuition costs. Tuition costs are NOT included in the embedded program fee.

Faculty Leaders

Professor Irina Mikaelian (

Estimated Program Costs

  • Embedded Program Fee: $1,461
  • Airfare: Approx. $700-1,000
  • Transportation to Domestic Airport: Approx. $250-150 depending on the number of participants
  • In-Country Costs: Minimum $150 for meals in-country, plus additional money for souvenirs

*NOTE: The Embedded Program Fee will be billed to participants’ PSU Bursar Accounts in late December/early January and the payment will be due January 22, 2020.

The Embedded Program Fee for this program includes: accommodations; transportation in-country related to academic activities; all breakfasts and one additional meal per day; fees related to academic activities/walking tours/speakers

The Embedded Program Fee for this program does NOT include: airfare, domestic transportation to/from the airport, meals, spending money (souvenirs, etc.), gratuities, or tuition

Application Deadline and Process: Commit by November 20, 2019

Eligible participants must be enrolled in a Russian class (RUS 002, RUS 100, RUS 142Y, RUS 143, RUS 200, RUS 400, RUS 403, RUS 496, and RUS 83) at University Park or Altoona campuses for the Spring 2020 semester.

Submit your interest in the program by completing this interest form: Interest Form: Cultural Immersion in Post-Soviet Georgia, All Russian Courses

Interested students should also enroll in one of the Russian courses listed above for the Spring 2020 semester.

Commit to the program by thoroughly reading and submitting the commitment form by November 20, 2019Official Embedded Program Commitment Form: Cultural Immersion in Post-Soviet Georgia, Spring 2020

Students may contact the faculty leaders with questions: Professor Irina Mikaelian,