GREAL Alumni Newsletter - May 2004

Vol. 3, No. 2
May 2004

Films as 'text': GREAL goes to the movies

Literary devices, styles, poetic language, metaphors-these are the nuts and bolts of the study of the written word. But as the world turns its attention to photographic and moving images, education in language and culture increasingly means the ability to 'read' film too. Accordingly, GREAL offers a variety of film courses.

This sprinqs Chinese Film Series was part of a course examining thirteen films including Yellow Earth (1984), To Live ( 1994), Farewell my Concubine (1993), and Spring Subway (2002), all with English subtitles. 'Two films were chosen to illustrate the history of Chinese film and to link film with Chinese culture," said Dr. Shi Liang.

Dr. Noriko Reider's "Japanese Cinema and Culture" featured films with English subtitles as well, for example /I Taxing Woman (1987) and Alkira (1988). German film is featured in courses offered In translation as well as courses in German.

Two symposia on films were held by GREAL this spring: "Out of the Shadows: Berlin in German Cinema after the Wall," featured three guestspeakers,and "Early Holocaust Cinema and the Vanishing Jews," a lecture by Professor Stuart Liebman of City University of New York at Queens.

'The Reel Russia", sponsored by the Havighurst Center, featured Russian films. Additionally a course on Russian film is regularly offered, which focuses on "the meaning of symbols, patterns of development, movement on screen ... and different directors' styles," says Dr. Paul Mitchell.

In translation or in the original, film courses are a solid part of the GREAL curriculum.

Alumni News

Stewart Combs '90 is a study-abroad consultant for Penn State and has two wonderful daughters.

Anne McClure '94 worked in global investments, focuses on Portuguese and Spanish as well as German. Matthew Kurlinski '94 finished law school at Case Western,joined the Foreign Service, perfected his German, and now enjoys the climate of Malta.

Greg Lewis '83 teaches American studies, has been married 1 8 years, has two children, Lauren, 1 0, and Austin, 5. Sean Killian worked in Vienna after grad school in Berlin, now lives in Washington D.C. and works for Chemonics International. >»

Jenniter Henthorn Smith '98 is working in the Global Business Unit of Aon Risk Services in Chicago.

Karen Kindler '77 is a colonel in the USAFR and works with German counterparts in the war on terror in Germany.

Randy Wheeler '90, after three years in Dusseldorf. has two German-born children, Michael and Sara, and now works for PepsicoT ropicana in Florida.

Will Unser visited GREAL recently and reported that after studying in Austria, he completed a master's in education and is now an upper-level social studies teacher at Robinswood High School, Bellevue, near Seattle, Washington.

Brian Hock '94 visited GREAL to speak to the Russian Club on his nine years in Russia. His accountancy training firm maintains branches in Russia, Kazakhstan, Ukraine, China and the U.S. Kristin Diane Phillips '96 is completing a Ph.D. in anthropology and policy studies at U. of Wisconsin, will research in Tanzania.

Jane Collette '95 works in Global Mobility at Ernst & Young in London, England.

Joe Decker '97 has written a novel, Couch, which is being serialized at Facsimilation Magazine, http// facserialization/. His short story "Take Me Out of the Ballgame" also appeared.

German-Americana in new Foundation course

Kindergarten, the gramophone, and Conestoga wagons: all these are innovations brought to America or invented in America by German-speaking settlers. These and other little-known facts about the role German immigrants played in American culture beginning in 1607 are part of a new Miami Plan (University requirement) Foundation course developed and team-taught by Professors Peter Carels and Edward M.V. Plater.

The sixty-nine Miami students in the course this year, who are not required to know German, explore not only innovations, but also the cultural context brought with them by the GermanAmericans, such as the work ethic, family values, cultural and social conscience, and labor unionization.

As a final project, students interview German-American immigrants, who have a story of their own immigration to tell. As personal stories merge in the telling with historical events, students may contempl ate how history is made by individual acts. "The project provides a series of eyeopeners about the important role played in U.S. history by a largely unseen minority," Dr. Carels says.

Over one-quarter of U.S. citizens claim some German heritage. Since southwest Ohio was originally settled largely by German-speaking immigrants, probably an even larger proportion of Ohio residents have some German background.

But in Ohio as well as elsewhere, World War I, in which Germany was the enemy of the U.S., brought a sense to German-Americans that they would do better to downplay that heritage. It was a time of sauerkraut being renamed Victory Cabbage,' and of a decline of German-language schools. Along with other groups, German-Americans became more American and less European. -KC.

From the Chair:

Dear Alums: We've had a busy and productive year, graduating twent-three German major and minors, three Russian majors and minors, eleven Japanese minors, and five Chinese minors in 2003-2004. Here you can see some of them at our annual reception for graduating seniors, made possible with financial support from alumni contributions to the GREAL Gift Fund. Their thanks and ours to you! Greetings!

-- Robert DiDonato

GREAL Program News

"Berlin: A cultural history," "Weimar Germany" and "Passionate friendships in literature and culture" are some of the course titles in the German program's revised curriculum, to be taught for the first time in its entirety for academic 2004-2005. Courses at the third and fourth-year level which focused exclusively on literature have been revised to reflect a broader emphasis on German Studies.

GREAL's language enrollments continue to grow. There will be two full sections of elementary Chinese (101) for 2004-2005, as there were for 2003-2004.

Newly offered in GREAL, Arabic has proved popular and will grow to two sections of Arabic 101 for fall, in addition to one section of Arabic 201.

A Chinese Floor is planned for Wells Hall for fall 2004.

Student writing in foreign language will be the focus of a department program for next year under the aegis of Miami's Writing Center. Faculty members in German, Russian, Chinese, Japanese, Hebrew and Arabic will develop strategies for improving student writing. In addition nationally recognized specialists in foreign language composition will offer faculty workshops.