Big Give, Berkeley’s 24-hour fundraising blitz, is back – and bigger than ever! Just as the Cal community consistently reaches higher, aims farther, and imagines a better world beyond our own needs, the second annual Big Give is thinking even bigger: your gift of any amount this year makes an even bigger impact on students.

Mark your calendar! Visit the Give to German link on the department homepage to contribute any amount. Together we will continue to dream bigger and do better – keeping Berkeley the No. 1 public university in the world.

The German Department at Berkeley welcomes this year's Max Kade Distinguished Visiting Professor, Professor Helmuth Lethen (IFK, Vienna). Professor Lethen is offering a compact seminar entitled "Brecht's Hauspostille." He will also participate in Prof. Kaes' seminar on the Avant-garde throughout September.

Professor Lethen will give a public lecture on "Der Schatten des Fotografen" on September 18, 4-6 pm.

The upcoming conference sponsored by the German Department aims to explore Freud’s place in current debates on secularism and post-secularism, featuring new research on the intersections of theology, Judaism and history in Freud’s psychoanalytic theories. Freud’s own attempts to suggest a new paradigm for thinking the religious, beginning with the place of monotheism and Judaism in his theories, will be brought into more general debates on the place of the secular in Jewish thought and in psychoanalysis. The conference will bring together established scholars not only in psychology, religion and Jewish studies but also philosophy, history and literary studies.

The conference will be preceded by a Graduate Student Workshop on Freud and Moses, beginning at 9 am on Wednesday, October 7, in 370 Dwinelle Hall.

370 Dwinelle Hall, UC Berkeley
Wednesday and Thursday
October 7-8, 2015

Call for Papers:

Berkeley Germanic Linguistics Roundtable
Friday/Saturday, April 1-2, 2016
The Faculty Club
University of California, Berkeley

Invited Speakers:
David Bamman, University of California, Berkeley
Frans Plank, University of Konstanz
Henning Reetz, University of Frankfurt
Theo Vennemann, University of Munich
Joseph Voyles, University of Washington

Scholars (faculty and students) interested in Germanic Linguistics,
its near and/or distant related languages, diverse approaches, synchrony and/or diachrony, historical and/or contemporary language are invited to submit a one-page abstract of a twenty minute paper by January 31, 2016 to the conference organizer:

Irmengard Rauch, Department of German
Univ. of California, Berkeley; Berkeley, CA 94720-3243
phone/fax (707)746-7480;

Lodging: Reservations can be made at: The Faculty Club (510) 642-1993/(510)-540-5678, UC Berkeley, Berkeley CA 94720; The Durant Hotel (510)-845-8981, 2600 Durant Ave., Berkeley, CA 94704, or The Hotel Shattuck Plaza (866)-257-5990, 2086 Allston Way, Berkeley, CA 94704.

Professor Jeroen Dewulf has received the Clague and Carol Van Slyke Article Prize for 2014, awarded by the New Netherland Institute, for his article entitled "Emulating a Portuguese Model: The Slave Policy of the West India Company and the Dutch Reformed Church in Dutch Brazil (1630-1654) and New Netherland (1614-1664) in Comparative Perspective", which appeared in the Journal of Early American History.

The departmental awards committee selected the essay "Subjectivity and Greece in Hölderlin's 'Hälfte des Lebens'" as the winner of this year's Berkeley Prize for Undergraduate Essays in German Studies.

We congratulate the author Kyungtae Na from New York University on this wonderful success! The winning essay will be considered for publication in our electronic journal TRANSIT, and the winner will be awarded $500. The essay submissions provided us with a good cross-section of undergraduate research in the field.

On April 17, 2015, nearly 100 scholars from all over the world gathered on the Berkeley campus to celebrate the illustrious career of German Department Professor Claire Kramsch, who is retiring at the end of this year. The event, Claire Fest, marked Kramsch’s 25 years at Berkeley as a Professor of German and affiliated faculty of the Graduate School of Education. Kramsch’s distinguished and extraordinary service to the University was recognized at the end of the event, when she was awarded the prestigious Berkeley Citation Award. The award, presented by Catherine Koshland, Vice Provost of Undergraduate Education, was a surprise even to Kramsch, and the announcement was met with a thunderous standing ovation from the attendees.

Professor Claire Kramsch receives the pretigious Berkeley Citation Award
Professor Claire Kramsch receives the prestigious Berkeley Citation Award

The one-day event featured a series of academic presentations by former students, colleagues, and collaborators. The keynote address was given by Catherine Chvany, Professor Emerita at MIT, where Kramsch spent the first half of her academic career. The talks addressed some of the diverse areas in which Kramsch’s scholarly work has had a significant impact, including discourse analysis and the language classroom, multilingualism and subjectivity, literature and aesthetics, and technology in foreign language education. Among the presenters was Department of German alumna Chantelle Warner, an Associate Professor of German Studies and Second Language Acquisition and Teaching at the University of Arizona, whose paper was entitled “Whose game are we playing? Foreign language literacy as play.”

Several of Kramsch’s colleagues from campus also offered tributes to particular aspects of her work, such as the Berkeley Language Center, which was founded by Kramsch in 1994 and serves as a model for other language resource centers across the country, or the L2 Journal, of which she is founding editor since 2009.


Participants listen to talks given in Professor Kramsch's honor
Participants listen to talks given in Professor Kramsch's honor

In the concluding session, participants were invited to give brief testimonies about the influence that Professor Kramsch has had on their professional and personal lives. For example, German Department graduate student Seth Elliott Meyer confessed that he had to make space in his course notes so that he could capture not only the content of the seminar but also Kramsch’s exemplary pedagogical practices. Another former student from the Graduate School of Education described the warmth and intellectual exchange that characterize dinners at Kramsch’s house, where scholars and students interested in applied linguistics and language education often gather.

The organizing committee, self-dubbed the Clairevoyants, consisted of a group of former students and current lecturers, including German Language Program Coordinator Niko Euba. Euba also offered a tribute to Kramsch, a parody ‘Kramschian’ reading of the 18th century poem “Der Mond ist aufgegangen” by Matthias Claudius. Euba’s comic homage demonstrated the critical awareness of linguistic style and aesthetic effect, for which Kramsch is renowned among her students and colleagues.

Language Program Coordinator Niko Euba acknowledges Kramsch's lasting influence on the German Department

Claire Fest was sponsored by the Berkeley Language Center, De Gruyter Mouton, the Department of German, and the Graduate School of Education.

A full schedule of the event can be found at

Photo by Stephanie Peltner
Photo by Stephanie Peltner

The Alumni Conference “The Future of the Past” was truly a unique event. Special thanks are due to the organizing committee – Nina Berman, Noah Isenberg, Jennifer Kapzcynski, and Barbara Kosta – for putting together a well-composed program, as well as the other alumni speakers – June Hwang, Susanne Baackmann, Sara Hall, Robert McFarland, Kristin Kopp, Nancy Nenno, Kurt Beals, Rick McCormick, and Eric Ames – who travelled to Berkeley for this homecoming. We owe the pleasure of this reunion to one very special person, Professor Anton Kaes, who was the advisor on the dissertations written by all these former students. Our colleague and collaborator, who served as chair of German and chair of Film for many years in the past, has significantly shaped the way we do both German and Film Studies here at Berkeley and beyond. With his book Shell Shock Cinema: Weimar Culture and the Wounds of War, he taught us, once again, to unfold potential possibilities for the future in our readings of the past. With this key idea he gave the title to this alumni conference, which created an opportunity for past, present and even future students of the Department of German to meet and engage in conversation. As this conference demonstrated, he has initiated a “Berkeley School” that lives on across the country. Warm thanks to all participants!

We also celebrated the forthcoming volume The Promise of Cinema: German Film Theory, 1907-33 (a substantially expanded English edition of Kino-Debatte, many years in the making and co-edited by Anton Kaes, Nicholas Baer, and Michael Cowan), as well as the 10th anniversary of TRANSIT, the department’s electronic Journal of Travel, Migration, and Multiculturalism in the German-speaking World.

A full schedule of Friday's events can be found here, and Saturday's here.

Photo by Stephanie Peltner
Photo by Stephanie Peltner