Collaborative Projects

Our department offers exciting opportunities for graduates students to get involved in one or more multi-year collaborative projects beyond the classroom. These large-scale collaborative projects are mostly student-initiated and student-run and often include students from other departments. Collaborations take different forms, ranging from our online journal TRANSIT to linguistic fieldwork, annual graduate student conferences, websites, and reading groups. Several of these ventures are supported by UC Berkeley’s Townsend Center for the Humanities, which provides a forum for shared research by faculty and graduate from various fields and departments, and offers a range of interdisciplinary working groups. For our annual conferences, lecture series, and International Networks & Exchanges click here

Within the Department of German, the following collaborative projects are currently active:


Founded in the Department of German in 2005, TRANSIT  is the first refereed multi-media web-based journal dedicated to critical inquiry of travel, migration, and multiculturalism in the German-speaking world. TRANSIT is published once each academic year with a new thematic focus. The journal has also offered a platform for literary translations. TRANSIT seeks to push boundaries: both of traditional scholarship and of print publication. Accepting contributions from the humanities, the social sciences, and the arts, TRANSIT unites the academic rigor of the traditional scholarly review process with the benefits of open-access publication. Timely publication and wide electronic distribution are made possible by the University of California’s eScholarship Digital Information Repository. See current call for papers. Deniz Göktürk is the concept coordinator and the current managing editors are PhD students Michael Sandberg and Molly Krueger. For further details about our current or past issues, how to submit or to contact the editors please visit the TRANSIT website.


Multicultural Germany Project

The Multicultural Germany Project (MGP), is a companion website to the sourcebooks, Germany in Transit: Nation and Migration,1955-2000, edited by Deniz Göktürk, David Gramling, Anton Kaes (University of California Press, 2007) and Transit Deutschland: Debatten zu Nation und Migration, edited by Deniz Göktürk, David Gramling, Anton Kaes and Andreas Langenohl (Konstanz University Press, 2011). In line with the constellative “history in documents” approach of these collections, the website continues the documentation of events and public debates in its chronology and seeks to foster cross-disciplinary research and conversation on questions of migration and culture. While our focus lies on Germany, our research and activities contribute to broader debates on critical migration studies, political challenges to nation-states, the resurgence of nationalisms, and social change in the face of migration, European integration, and globalization.


The Promise of Cinema: German Film Theory, 1907-1933

This website  is a forum for research and scholarship on early German film culture and theory. Building on the Promise of Cinema sourcebook, edited by Anton Kaes and his former PhD students Nicholas Baer and Michael Cowan (University of California Press, 2016), the site offers an archive of digitized film-theoretical books and film journals before 1933, links to films from the period, new translations of documents, as well as suggestions for teaching Weimar cinema through the lens of theory. There are also illustrations of film-technological devices and links to extensive online resources. In addition, the site features original essays by scholars that engage with early German film theory, and a lexicon of media-historical concepts and constellations. We are keen to bring together in one place all relevant materials (books, journals, film excerpts, photos, illustrations) that deal with German film theory in the broadest sense, and numerous students have been employed by this media-archaeological Project as translators or researchers for many years.



This newly launched website WeimarCinema.org is both an online archive and an open forum for the latest research on the films and film culture of the Weimar Republic, one of richest and most consequential periods of German history.  The site provides regularly updates on new publications, film restorations, and web resources.  In addition, it will feature original web-based essays that make use of embedded film clips and links to online sources.  The website will continue to involve the collaboration of current and former graduate students.  A second edition is planned for Spring 2023. 


Berkeley-Tübingen-Vienna-Harvard (BTWH) Working Group

Berkeley has been charter member of the BTWH working group since its founding in 1998. The group focuses on the emergence of modernity (1900-1930) in the German-speaking world. Reading collectively and collaborating regularly with members at our partner institutions, the work done in the BTWH working group over the academic year culminates in a yearly international conference on a cooperatively chosen topic. Historically members have hailed from the departments of German, Film & Media, Comparative Literature, History, and Art History, and new members are welcome to join this unique and inclusive group.



Bay Area German Linguistic Fieldwork Project

Native-speakers of German in the San Francisco Bay Area may have already experienced a phone call or e-mail seeking their language expertise in the Bay Area German Linguistic Fieldwork   Project (conveniently called BAG). Since 1984, graduate students of Germanic linguistics, under the direction of Professor Rauch, have been observing how the German language is changing in the speech of native-speakers of German residing in the Bay Area.

Through interviews with Bay Area German speakers we have rich sets of data on an array of topics which include politically correct (PC) German, the German language of vulgarity and civility, and the grammar of e-mail German, snail-mail German, and German texting. In the case of PC German we also gathered comparison data from German speakers in Berlin, and with the vulgarity/civility project we obtained comparison data from a group in Bonn. In recording the sounds of spoken German in the Bay Area, the BAG fieldworkers interviewed not only German-speaking adults but also first generation German-speaking children (yielding a “Kinderlect”) to compare with the spoken English of both these groups. It allowed us to understand how the sounds of California English have affected the German language. The architecture of the apology and of the lie yielded timely data. A paradigm change occurred with the inclusion of data on gesture and emotion beside verbal language. Another methodological leap is represented in the BAG study which obtained data on human and canine communication. Recently our attention turned to the study of laughter and the contrast of German and English jokes. Most recently published is our work on forensic phonology, specifically the prosodics of German and of English, the latter publication  checking our ear-witness perceptions against findings through the application of the acoustic software PRAAT.

Since the anonymity of the resource persons is strictly observed, we enrich our data analysis by factoring in elicited profile information such as age, sex, education, occupation, duration of residence in the Bay Area of the resource person. This leads to interesting conclusions, for example, the fact that the politically correct Frau, instead of the un-PC Fräulein, to designate eine Person die 23 Jahre alt und weiblichen Geschlechts ist is spoken by three men ages 28, 29, and 30 who hold higher degrees and who have resided in the Bay Area less than five years. Our comparative data yield valuable insights, for example, to the effect that while native German speakers produce the sounds of German better (for example, Kuh, Mehl, so, tun) than do first generation German children, the children hear/perceive the distinction between German and English like-sounding words better (for example, German du, English do). Comparison of elicited data on civil/vulgar German prompted fieldworkers to ask the provocative question whether the Bay Area or the Bonn resource persons are better at swearing.

A given BAG project proceeds as follows: Professor Rauch suggests and introduces one or more research topics, supplies the research literature, lays out the modus operandi, including providing native speaker consultants in the community from whom the necessary data is elicited.The BAG group devises an optimal worksheet for analysis of the data in regular meetings over the two years that one research project entails. The findings are then prepared for publication. The BAG experience affords students the opportunity to acquire the theory and methods of linguistic fieldwork and to co-author a publication that is the shared write-up of the given project, albeit the final script is produced by Professor Rauch. Resource persons who engage in the fieldwork experience by supplying data are often pleased to witness what sorts of educational work academics do. This thirty- year and counting research project continues to serve as a prototype for offshoots here and abroad.

For further information, contact Professor Irmengard Rauch.