Professor Irmengard Rauch’s BAG—Bay Area German Linguistic Fieldwork Project (New York: Peter Lang 2015, 359 pages) offers fifteen chapters of twenty-nine years of research into the changing language of native speakers and first-generation American-German speakers residing in the San Francisco Bay Area. An introductory chapter details the modus operandi of linguistic fieldwork within contrastive linguistics.

Co-authors Alex Estes, Michael Fragomeni, Carolyn Hawkshaw, Chris Little, Stephanie Peltner, Lindsay Preseau, Christine Vais, together with Irmengard Rauch, have published “BAG XIII: On Laughter: German and English Jokes” in the Interdisciplinary Journal for Germanic Linguistics and Semiotic Analysis 19, 2: 143-171.

Special Guest Speaker Professor Claire Kramsch delivered an illuminating lecture at the 2015 German Studies Conference Barriers entitled: "Discipline and Punish in the Language Classroom. Does Foucault Still Hold Today?":

"In Discipline & Punish, Foucault compares the modes of punishment in pre-modern and modern times for the transgression of political/religious rule in the 16th century, the infringement of juridical laws in the 17th and the violation of societal norms in the 18th. Rule, law and norm were so many barriers that both facilitated and impeded the proper functioning of society and the construction of the good citizen. While the punishment in the 16th century was meant to undo the crime and restore the monarchical Law, in the 17th it was meant to punish the offenders for what they had done by recoding the crime and reeducating the person, and from the 18th century on it was meant to punish the delinquents by monitoring their every move and restraining and retraining their bodies. The three forms of punishment, he says, are still with us today but they have given way to a disciplining society that manifests itself in particular through academic practices such as tests and exams, classification and hierarchizing of students, and in general through a homogenization of behaviors, goals and values.

I would like to explore to what extent a Foucauldian analysis can illuminate the practice of learning and teaching foreign languages..." (see full text of lecture here)

Professors Claire Kramsch and Tony Kaes. Photo by Stephanie Peltner.
Professors Claire Kramsch and Tony Kaes. Photo by Stephanie Peltner.

This past weekend marked the 23rd annual Interdisciplinary German Studies Conference. This year’s topic, Barriers, attracted a diverse crowd of scholars from across the globe, including speakers from Egypt, Russia, Slovakia, Germany, Austria, the UK, Ireland, Canada and the United States. Topics ranged from the theoretical to the concrete, from contemporary European migration to medieval depictions of race relations and war. Through the media of literature, film, language and material culture, conference attendees challenged us to reimagine barriers as catalysts for social and political change, examining the role of theory and scholarship for evoking real transformation in an increasingly globalized world. Guest speaker and visiting professor Dr. Clemens Ruthner concluded Saturday’s panels with a presentation on the roles of liminality and monstrosity in popular culture, while Sunday’s panel concluded with a presentation by Professor Claire Kramsch which placed the last 50 years of second-language learning pedagogy into dialogue with Michel Foucault’s Discipline and Punish, challenging us to reassess the future of foreign language acquisition as both students and teachers. Thank you to our many participants, sponsors, organizers and volunteers!

Organizers from left: Jon Cho-Polizzi, Alicia Roy, Cara Tovey, and Stephanie Peltner
Organizers from left: Jon Cho-Polizzi, Alicia Roy, Cara Tovey, and Stephanie Peltner


Professor Niklaus Largier has been one of eleven scholars selected by the Alexander von Humboldt-Foundation for the Anneliese Maier Research Award. This award is granted to humanities scholars and social scientists for a five-year research collaboration with a host institution in Germany. Professor Largier will be working with the University of Cologne's Department of German Language and Literature 1 in researching the dimensions of the possible.

Please save the date for our Annual Poetry Party, hosted by the Department of German and Dutch Studies, to bring us together as a community before the close of this year:

Thursday, December 11th, 3:00pm-5:30pm (RRR-week), in
370 Dwinelle Hall

We will have Weihnachtsplätzchen, Kaffee, Tee, Glühwein, and other light refreshments. If you would like to bake for us to complement what we offer, please let us know!

You are encouraged to share poems and songs, written by others or written by you, in German (all dialects welcome), Dutch, and Yiddish.

If you would like to share a poem, or a song, please contact Stephanie at no later than December 8th with your poem/song selection.

We look forward to seeing you there!

The Berkeley Undergraduate Essay Prize is awarded annually by the Department of German for outstanding unpublished papers written during the previous calendar year by undergraduate students enrolled at a North American university/college. Thus the 2015 prize will consider papers written during 2014 on a broad range of topics in German studies. The winning essays carry a cash award of $500 each and will be considered for publication in the department’s electronic journal TRANSIT.

Essays for submission may be written in German or in English; one submission per student. They should be double-spaced, between 3000 and 5000 words in length (including notes and references), and without the student’s name on the paper, since the Awards Committee reads the essays anonymously. A separate cover sheet with the student’s name, major, year of study, title of the paper, address, phone number, e-address, and plans for graduate school (if applicable) should accompany the essay. The essay may be submitted in hard copy or electronically.

The paper has to have been written in the 16 months prior to the essay deadline.

The submission deadline is March 13, 2015; winners announced May 1. Send to:

Undergraduate Essay Prize
Attn: Nadia Samadi
German Department
University of California, Berkeley
Berkeley, CA 94720-3243