Penn State Penn State: College of the Liberal Arts

Department ofGermanic and Slavic Languages and Literatures



June 8, 2021

The German Graduate Student Association of the Department of Germanic and Slavic Languages and Literatures will host its inaugural annual conference at The Pennsylvania State University (hybrid or virtual conference format – TBD) from November 4-6, 2021.

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

The new submission deadline is Friday, September 3, 2021. Abstracts are limited to 500 words (excluding references). Abstracts and presentations should be in English.


April 13, 2021

On Friday, April 30th, Maike Rocker will present her research on the sociolinguistic history of German-Jewish settlers in the Dominican Republic as part of an interdisciplinary workshop at the University of Bamberg on German minorities in Latin America. The workshop begins at 8am ET, more information (including Maike’s abstract) and registration can be found at:



Synagogue in Sosua 2019
February 9, 2021

The Palmer Museum of Art will reopen on Wednesday, February 10th, 2021, with Field Language: The Painting and Poetry of Warren and Jane Rohrer. This major loan exhibition celebrates the work of painter Warren Rohrer and poet Jane Rohrer, partners in life who drew from their shared background in Mennonite farm families to create modern art. Warren’s abstract paintings engage the colors and textures of cultivated fields of southcentral Pennsylvania, while Jane’s poems bring a modern perspective to her own experience bridging traditional agricultural life and the art world.

Curated by Joyce Robinson, Assistant Director of the Palmer Museum, in collaboration with guest curators poet Julia Spicher Kasdorf, Professor of English, and Christopher Reed, Distinguished Professor of English and Visual Culture, the exhibition is accompanied by a multi-author illustrated catalogue available now through Penn State Press or at the Museum Store.  The digital companion to the exhibition was developed by Hannah A. Matangos, dual-title PhD candidate in German Literature & Culture and Visual Studies, and features pairings of poetry and paintings plus a mini documentary series about the exhibition.

Generous funding for the exhibition was provided by Penn State’s Office of the Executive Vice President and Provost as part of the University’s Strategic Arts and Humanities Initiative in 2017.  Additional support was provided by the Art Bridges and Terra Foundation Initiative, the Art History department in the College of Arts and Architecture, and the departments of English and of Germanic and Slavic Languages and Literatures in the College of Liberal Arts at Penn State. The George Dewey and Mary J. Krumrine Endowment and the Max Kade German-American Research Institute at Penn State also assisted our efforts.

Field Language is on view from February 10th through June 6th, 2021.  Timed ticketed entry is free and bookable online.

February 4, 2021

German Ph.D. candidate Valérie Keppenne has received a Language Learning Dissertation Grant to fund parts of her dissertation project “When predictions aren’t Perfekt: The joint role of prediction, corrective feedback and prediction error in L2 learning”. The research investigates the complementary roles of prediction, feedback, and prediction error, and their potential to impact L2 grammar learning, as well as the developmental trajectory of how learners process feedback and compute prediction error in real time during learning. The project unites classroom-based research on corrective feedback with psycholinguistic research on predictive processing and has the protentional to advance our understanding of the underlying learning mechanisms in late second language acquisition. In addition, it has implications at the pedagogical level, for instance for designing effective language learning materials.

February 4, 2021

Dr. Jens-Uwe Guettel has been awarded a National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) Fellowship for his book project on Radical Democracy in Germany, 1871-1923

Radical Democracy in Germany focuses on resistance to a patently undemocratic system. It examines an unlikely coalition of socialists, anarchists and feminists that profoundly altered the semi-autocratic German Empire (1871-1918) even as it was targeted by the country’s authorities. Yet these groups nevertheless increasingly dominated public political discourse; brought about the dismissal of high-ranking state representatives; embarrassed the government in lawsuits and parliamentary proceedings; and eventually marshalled hundreds of thousands of marchers demanding democratic change and close to a million protesters against war and militarism. The project thus highlights the potential for democratic change even under undemocratic conditions, and the chances taken or squandered by those championing democratic reform in Germany before 1918.
January 27, 2021

Today is International Holocaust Remembrance Day, a day to remember and honor the lives of the 6 million Jewish victims and over 11 million other victims of the Holocaust.  In the era of COVID-19, Holocaust memorials, museums, and foundations across the world are offering virtual tours and open houses to explore their collections, in addition to compiling resources for combating Holocaust denial and anti-Semitism.  See the links below to find out more.


Online Holocaust Remembrance Events:

  • 10:00 a.m. EST, Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial and Museum’s commemoration event:

  • 11:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. EST, United Nations, virtual memory ceremony and rouble-table discussion:

  • 1:00 – 1:30 p.m. EST, 2021 United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Remembrance Commemoration:

  • 8:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m. EST, Museum of Jewish Heritage, “18 Voices: A Liberation Day Reading of Young Writers’ Diaries from the Holocaust”:


Virtual Tours and Resources (alphabetical order):

November 6, 2020

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.

June 22, 2020

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

May 30, 2020

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.

April 2, 2020

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: