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.
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.
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.
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 http://kramschconference2015.berkeley.edu/.