GREAL Alumni Newsletter - May 2005

Volume 4, No. 2
May 2005

From the chair:

All of us on the faculty are particularly proud this time of year when our students graduate and go out into the world. We wish them the same success that you, our alumni, already enjoy!

-- Robert Di Donato, Chair

German Program Receives $850,000 Bequest from Alumnus

Ralph Martin Hovel Graduated in 1935

Scholarships for Miami German majors will grow significantly thanks to a generous bequest from an alumnus German major and his wife.  Ralph Martin Hovel ('35) and his wife, Joan Van Vliet, left $850,000 to be used for students of German, the department recently learned. "Needless to say, we are thrilled by this," commented department chair Robert DiDonato. "We have never had, and never expected to have, such a generous bequest."

After graduation with a German major and a French minor from Miami, Hovel earned an M.A. from Ohio State. In Miami's 1940 Alumni catalog his address is listed as Maryville College, Maryville, Tennessee. He was probably a faculty member there, explained Robert Schmidt of'Miami's library, who researched the alumnus.

In 1962, Hovel completed a Ph.D. at the University of Southern California, with a dissertation, The image of the artist in the works of Frank Wedekind, in 1966.  Though no one at GRE.A.L remembers the donor or his wife personally, Ralph Hovel's research on German literature left its mark on Miami faculty research. "His name rang a bell immediately when I saw it," commented Miami Professor Emerita of German Audrone Willeke. "While researching my dissertation on Wedekind (Stanford 1972), I read his dissertation and owned it in microfilm."

Hovel died in 1979 in Palos Verdes Peninsula outside of Los Angeles. After his widow died in January of this year, Miami was notified of the bequest. Income from the Ralph and Joan Hovel Scholarship Endowment Fund will serve to meet Miami's First in 2009 Campaign goal of increasing endowed scholarships.


From Western China to Istanbul and points in between, the ancient Silk Road provided a route not only for the East-West silk trade, but for mercantile, cultural and linguistic contacts of all kinds.

Now, with the aid of a $140,000 grant from Title VI of the U.S. Department of Education, GRE.A.L will build a major in Russian and Eurasian Studies to explore the cultures, peoples, manufacturing, minerals, and governments represented on the Silk Road, still a major trade route.

Courses will draw on several academic disciplines and will comprise more than twenty courses in history, social sciences, languages and literatures, geography, and political science, said Dr. Margaret Ziolkowski (Russian), project co-director with Dr. Robert DiDonato (German).

Miami's Havighurst Center for Slavic and East European Studies will play a large role in the program's development and implementation, with Center Director Dr. Karen Dawisha as overall project director.

"The Department of Education would love to have us teach Eurasian languages like Uzbek and Uighur," said Dr. Ziolkowski. "Part of the grant is for us to look into the teaching of these languages, maybe in a nontraditional way such as distance 1 earning."

The money will be used for course development, outside consultants, library holdings, and start-up costs for new f faculty.

A related project, next summer's four- to six-week Silk Road study tour for faculty and students, was funded by $70,000 from the Fulbright Commission.


Dr. Ben Sutcliffe (Russian) will be teaching literature in St. Petersburg and Moscow as part of the Havighurst Study Tour in Russia. Dr. Liang Shi (Chinese) will participate in a technology workshop, read, and "maybe travel a little."

Dr. Ruth Sanders (German) will leave Oxford in July to become Visiting Research Professor at the University of Munich for 2005- 2006. She will work on a book manuscript and attend a conference in Krakow, Poland.

Dr. Robert DiDonato (German) will travel to Italy and Germany and then oversee an English program for Korean students at Miami. He will also work on a new edition of his textbook Deutsch: Na klar! and strut another text.

Dr. Margaret Ziolkowski (Russian) will finish up her book, "Alien Visions: The Chechens and the Navajos in Russian and American Literature."

Dr. Mila Ganeva (German) is looking f forward to a summer spent mostly working on her book on Weimar fashions. She will travel to film archives in Germany and meet friends in Berlin and Wiesbaden.

Dr. Alicia Carter (German) will travel to Italy and Berlin before starting her new job at Christopher Newport University in Virginia.

Dr. Noriko Reider (Japanese) will give a paper on Japanese folklore and symbolism in Cambridge, England.

Dr. Michael Bachem (German) returns from Luxembourg, will teach Summer I, then to Maine for the summer to edit a section of a book on Doderer.

Dr. Mleko Ono (Japanese) will attend a workshop on designing placement tests, at University of Hawaii, and will travel to Japan and participate in Zen meditation in Kyoto.


Dr. Noriko Reider (Japanese) gave a paper on "Yamauba, Japanese Mountain Witch in Literature, Folklore and Art," at the Association for Asian Studies in Chicago in April. Dr. Robert DiDonato (German) will see his book (The big Yellow Bookof German Verbs, coauthors Paul Listen and Dan Franklin) published and in bookstores May 31. Dr. Ben Sutcliffe (Russian) presented his work on women, homosexuals and the Russian state at the University of Bath, England, in April, and accompanied three students to the Midwest Slavic Conference, where they gave papers.

The Russian Club had its annual Easter Dinner with Russian food and a student rock band.

The Chinese program will be offering fourth-year courses in Chinese language (401,402) next year for the first time, thanks to increased demand.

The German Floor of Wells Hall completed a four-part filmed soap opera -at GREAL's Website. German, Russian, Chinese and Japanese language courses (201, 202, 301) were approved for the first time as Miami Plan Thematic Sequences.

Intern sought: Spiegel Online is looking for a native English-speaking editorial intern in Berlin for summer and autumn. Fluent German and journalism experience req'd, Send e-mail and clips to with An English(wo)man in Berlin in the subject line.