GREAL Alumni Newsletter - May 2014

May 2014
Volume 14, Issue 2


In the past two decades, the Department of German, Russian and East Asian Languages has added four languages to its original four. In addition to German, Russian, Japanese, and Chinese, the department now offers Korean, Hebrew, Arabic, and Hindi. The department name does not take into account three of the new languages or the department's emphasis on culture (literature, film, folklore) as well as language. Two years ago a committee consisting ofrepresentatives from all eight languages was charged with devising a new, more accurate name. Several possibilities were considered, but the best option that emerged was German, Russian, Asian, and Middle Eastern Languages and Cultures. True, this is a real mouthful, but it is accurate and informative. As of July 1, 2014 we will officially be known as GRAMELAC.


As of this spring, we have a total of 106 majors (41 in East Asian Languages and Cultures, 33 in Russian, East European, and Eurasian Studies, and 32 in German Studies) and 190 minors (36 in Arabic, 74 in Chinese, 50 in German, 21 in Japanese, and 9 in Russian and Russian, East European and Eurasian Studies). Students enrolled in the department's intensive summer language programs in China and Germany are preparing for departure, as are many others studying other languages offered by the department. With Miami's institutional emphasis on study abroad, the number of students so engaged increases every year.  We wish you all a good summer and pleasant travels wherever you may go.


German theorist Siegfried Kracauer emphatically underscored the social significance of the crime genre: "As an aesthetic entity, the detective novel allows for a projection of its findings - which are loaded with several intentions - to the specificities of any given society. This projection is closer to reality than the civilized society constructed within the plot." Commonly referred to as Krimi, the German crime genre has received remarkable scholarly attention in the past few years. Although it established as a national concept fairly late, the Krimi has deliberately  distinguished itself from other national genres, for instance by offering a unique social commentary, by focusing on a distinctly German regionalism, and by including comical elements. In addition to establishing a theoretical framework and reading excerpts of crime novels, this course focuses on analyzing the German crime television show Tatort. With more than 900 episodes as of early 2014,  this television series is the longest running crime television series in the world, and the most important representative of the televised Krimi.


The Chinese program had a successful study abroad program in Tianjin, directed by Dr. Liang Shi. The program went from June 22-August 4, 2013. Twenty-five students attended the program, where they studied at the host school, Tianjin Foreign Studies University. When not studying, students toured the capital Beijing and Zhangjiajie National Park.


On November 25-27, 2013, Dr. Noriko T. Reider attended the International Conference on Tradition and Creation in the Culture of Yokai (supernatural beings) and the Strange. This conference was organized by the International Research Center for Japanese Studies in Kyoto, Japan. Dr. Reider presented a paper titled "Haseo soshi: oni to gakusha to kizo bijo" (Tale of Lord Haseo: Demon, Literati, and a Woman Made from Corpse) in Japanese. The paper will be a major part of chapter four of her current book project tentatively titled Seven Demon Stories from Medieval Japan.

Dr. Reider states, "this conference was the most rigorous and fruitful conference I have ever attended. It was worth spending three days just to get to Kyoto, and two days coming back. The three-day symposium had a packed schedule from 8:50 a.m. till 6 p.m. plus welcoming and farewell receptions on two nights. The Japanese scholars whose works I regularly cite in my books and articles attended the symposium and gave me invaluable information."

Other than Japanese scholars, nine scholars were invited from oversea: two from US, two from Europe, one from India, one from PRC, one from Taiwan, two  from Korea. Dr. Reider and scholars exchanged information about their research and Japanese Program in general.


This year's Awards Ceremony took place April 30th at 5pm in the McGuffey Hall Auditorium. Dr. Margaret Ziolkowski, the Chair of the Department, welcomed everyone to the festivities.

Dr. John M. Jeep, the Chief Departmental Adviser, welcomed a special guest, Dr. Ruth H. Sanders, emerita, Professor of German. Dr. Jeep was very proud to announce the Fulbright Scholarship recipients of students in the department. Elizabeth A. Schallip and Casey C. Smitson have been selected for the Fulbright English Teaching Assistant program in Germany. Keary P. Iarussi is an alternate for the English Teaching Assistant program in Moldova. He also introduced the cultural presentations-The Miami Chinese Folk Band and a special Arabic presentation.

The Miami Chinese Folk Band played five Chinese folk songs that were very much enjoyed by all in attendance. The members of the band are Wu Yifan (Guzheng), Xu Mengyang (Pipa), Xu Lvnan (Erhu), and Teng Yonghao (Bamboo Flute).

A bagpipe presentation was given by one of our Arabic students, Nicholas Szapponos.

Dr. Ruth H. Sanders presented the Outstanding Graduate Major award in EALC, Katherine C. Youngkin, in German, Casey C. Smitson, and in REEES, Keary P. Iarussi.

The recipients of the Herr Jacques Brietenbucher Scholarship Award were Maura K. Wenk, a German major, and Taylor L. Valley, a major in Russian, Eastern European, and Eurasian Studies.

The Faculty Advisors of each language handed out the awards for the Outstanding Students in each level.

  • Arabic - Christine M. Ostrosky, Nicholas A. Szapponos
  • Chinese - Amanda L. Bruno, Alexander J. Calnon, Grace D. Culver, and Rachel K. Cannon
  • German - Jordan D. Hickey, Kayla M. Wood, Evan M. Binford, Patrick K. Young
  • Hebrew - Allyson M. Ernst and Emily S. Goldberg
  • Hindi - Rahil H. Patel and Brian A. Bernet
  • Japanese - Austin T. Torbeck, Eri M. Coombs, Tianyi Wang, and Richard B. Crawley
  • Korean - Maria K. Moore and Sara E. Wood
  • Russian-Erin F. Umek, Taylor L. Valley, and Jonathan C. Edwards

All graduates were recognized and given a special gift by their Language Advisor. There were seven Arabic minors, eight EALC majors with a concentration in Chinese, five EALC majors with a concentration in Japanese, thirty-eight Chinese minors, two Japanese minors, five German majors, twelve German minors, thirteen REEES majors and one REEES minor.


  • Arabic book awards to majors and minors courtesy of our wonderful donors to the GREAL Gift Fund
  • German book awards to majors and minors courtesy of Dr. Ruth H. Sanders
  • Japanese awards to majors and minors courtesy of our wonderful donors to the G REAL Gift Fund.
  • Japanese publication awards courtesy of Consulate General of Japan in Detroit
  • Russian book awards to majors and minors courtesy of wonderful donors to the GREAL Gift Fund.
  • Korean outstanding student awards courtesy of the Se Yung Chung Fund.
  • Chinese awards to outstanding students, majors, and minors courtesy of The Confucius Institute at Miami University.
  • Arabic, German, Hebrew, Hindi, Japanese, and Russian outstanding student awards courtesy of the Marion Lee Miller Award.


Soviet Heroic Poetry in Context discusses key issues surrounding the composition and recording of folklore as well as its often intensely political aspect and its preoccupation with chimerical cultural authority. These issues are dramatically displayed in Soviet epic compositions of the 1930s and 1940s, the so-called noviny ("new songs"), which took their formal inspiration largely from traditional Russian epic songs, byliny ("songs of the past"), and their narrative content from contemporary, political, and other events in Stalinist Russia. The story of the noviny is at once complex and comprehensible. While it may be tempting to interpret the excrescences of Stalinism as unique aberrations, the reality was often more complicated. The noviny were not simply the result of political fiat, an episode in an ideological vacuum. Their emergence occurred in part because of specific trends and controversies that marked European folklore collection and publication from at least the late eighteenth century on, as well as developments in Russian folkloristics from the mid-nineteenth century on that assumed exaggerated proportions. The demise of the noviny was equally mediated by a host of political and theoretical considerations. This study tells the story of the rise and fall of the noviny in all its cultural richness and pathos, an instructive tale of the interaction of aesthetics and ideology.


Ganeva, Mila

"Miss Germany, Miss Europe, Miss Universe: Beauty Pageants in the Popular Media of the Weimar Republic," in Globalizing Beauty, ed. Thomas Kiihne and Hartmut Berghoff (New York: Palgrave MacMillan, 2013) 111-130.

"Ruth Goetz." Women Film Pioneers Project, ed. Jane Gaines, Radha Vatsal, and Monica Dall’ Asta. Center for Digital Research and Scholarship. New York, NY: Columbia University Libraries, 2013. Web. September 27, 2013

Gerhards, Sascha

"Ironizing Identity: The German Crime Genre and the Edgar Wallace Wave of the 1960s." Generic Histories of German Cinema: Genre and its Deviations. Ed. Jaimey Fisher (Rochester, NY: Camden House, 2013).

lvanova, Mariana

"Die Prestige-Agenda der DEFA: Koproduktionen mit Erich Mehls Filmfirma Pandora (1954-1957)." Trans. Michael Wedel. DEFA International: Grenziiberschreitende Filmbeziehungen vor und nach dem Mauerbau. Eds. Michael Wedel, Barton Byg et al. Wiesbaden: Springer vs. 217-232.

Shi, Liang

"Mirror Rubbing: A Critical Genealogy of Pre-Modern Chinese Female Same-Sex Eroticism," Journal of Homosexuality.

"Contextualizing Chinese Lesbian Cinema: Global Queerness and Independent Films," New Cinemas: Journal of Contemporary Film.

Ziolkowski, Margaret

Soviet Heroic Poetry in Context: Folklore or Fakelore, University of Delaware, 2013


Christine Marie Ostrosky, first year
Major: International Studies (Middle East concentration) Minor: Arabic

I chose this path because I find it useful and interesting, as well as suitable for my professional and personal goals. In the future, I want to work for an international humanitarian organization or NGO (such as UNESCO, UNICEF, UNDP, World Ed, Women's Global Education Project, etc.), specifically focusing on increasing the availability and accessibility of education to women. Women's education is the single most important factor that positively influences developing countries and provides more opportunities not only for women, but also for their children, which triggers a lasting generational effect. I believe women's education is vitally important to the future of the world. The areas that most require this development are in the Middle East and Africa, which is why I have chosen to focus my studies there.

Matthew James Reed, senior
Major: Political Science
Minors: Arabic and Middle Eastern Studies

Politics and political philosophy are two passions of mine. I figured if I am going to spend four years studying something, then I better enjoy it, so I declared a political science major. But my Arabic and Middle Eastern Studies minors are a bit of a different story. I actually enrolled at Miami in 2007- I began taking Arabic and Middle Eastern Studies courses my sophomore year only to fulfill some degree requirements. I did not plan on making them my minors or my career.

I enlisted in the Marine Corps during my freshman year and went to boot camp that summer of 2008. I was a reservist so I figured I could continue going to school, but chances were I would have to take a break for deployment. I ended up withdrawing from Miami after fall semester of my sophomore year to complete training and deploy to Iraq. I was in Ramadi, Iraq, by mid-summer of 2009. My experiences on the ground, interacting with the people of Iraq, are what sparked my interest in the Middle East and the Arabic language. I saw how America's lack of knowledge in this area and inability to communicate were impeding our progress. It was frustrating, and I wanted to help create more effective and beneficial policies and guidelines. I figured that further studying Arabic and the Middle East was a good way to do this.

During the end of that deployment, I went to Afghanistan in the early months of 2010. After I came back, I reenrolled at Miami for the fall semester and subsequently withdrew in the spring for another deployment to Afghanistan from the summer of 2011 till the spring of 2012. Now I'm back at Miami to finish my senior year. I was accepted into the University of Michigan's "Arabic for Professional Purposes" graduate program in their Near Eastern Studies Department. I will be going there this fall to obtain my master's degree. After grad school, I'm not exactly sure what I want to do. I have no plans to go back to the Marines. I could see myself working for the State Department or a private firm, but I would really like to return to Iraq and help them rebuild their agricultural sector.

Aislyn Wise, senior
Majors: EALC (Japanese concentration) and Linguistics
Minor: Spanish

I chose my majors and minor because I love foreign languages, in particular I am fascinated by Japanese language and culture.

To further develop my understanding of both, I studied abroad in Osaka, Japan, for 11 months at Kansai Gaidai University as an exchange student. I made so many friends that I still talk to and visited a lot of cultural sites in Kyoto, Hiroshima, Nara, Kobe and Tokyo. I spent the first semester with a host family and the second semester living on my own. Through both of these experiences, I feel like I really immersed myself in the culture.

Living on my own was much different than living with the host family because I was only living with my friend, and we had to do everything ourselves. It was interesting trying to read the directions on the laundry detergent or on the cooking ingredients, and figuring out how to tell when it was going to rain so we could take our laundry inside! (No one uses dryers in Japan; they hang the clothes out to dry.) But of course, I also had more freedom, so it was more of an independent life, inviting friends over but mostly spending time out of the house. It was much closer to school, so I bought a bicycle and went that way, and starting using buses more rather than taking the train to get to school like I did first semester.

At the moment I am looking for any kind of job with which I can use and improve my Japanese and/or Spanish and get work experience. In the future I think I would like to either enroll in a masters in translation program or study for a certificate. Eventually I would like to break into the translation industry.


Perry Manross (GER 2002), has been promoted to Head of Integrated Communications, SAP Australia & New Zealand.

Christopher Kovach (GER 2014 and GREAL Student Office Assistant), passed the CPA exam and has been hired by Lubrizol, a chemical company headquartered in the Cleveland area.


In late November through early December of 2013, Dr. John M. Jeep attended a conference at his alma mater at the University of Munster in Germany. While there he spoke about German studies in the United States.


Sarah Wenger graduated trom Miami University in 2009 with a degree in Russian, East European and Eurasian Studies. Sarah chose this major because she was interested in this part of the work and fascinated by Post-Soviet changes related to the social sciences. Throughout her time at Miami, Sarah studied abroad in Czech Republic twice, for one academic year and one summer term. Following graduation and

her stint with the Peace Corps, Sarah pursued her dream of working in Washington, D.C. in International Development. Her degree in Russian, East European and Eurasian Studies provided her with a background on a region very few understand. The material and her knowledgeable professors have shaped who she is today by teaching her to think critically and accept multiple viewpoints.

Matthew Rust graduated from Miami University in 2010 with degrees in Finance and German. Although Matthew wanted to pursue a career in business, his German heritage influenced him to double major in order to integrate his German expertise into his field. Matthew always looked forward to his German classes and highly regarded all of his professors as exemplary teachers and people. Since graduation, Matthew has worked for a Swiss company, which has allowed him to exercise his knowledge of the German language and culture. Working with so many Germans and Swiss, he uses the language daily, which has differentiated him from his American colleagues and given him career opportunities beyond what he imagined in college.

According to Matthew, "Learning a language is much more than just learning words and how to put them together. It's also about learning a new culture and how to better interact with people around the world regardless of their linguistic background. The foundation that Miami's German department and professors helped me to build has literally carried me throughout my entire career thus far and will continue to do so."


Megan Eisman graduated from Miami University in 2009 with a degree in German. Her passion for the German language started in high school, which led her to pursue the language further and study abroad in college. Megan studied in Lueneburg, Germany, for a semester and highly recommends that students experience living abroad. Her favorite part about the GREAL department was how small and friendly it felt to her. She got to know most of the German prof essors and other students in the major, which provided her with a close-knit community. Since graduation, her knowledge of German has helped her learn other languages, which she uses for her research work. Having a broader cultural perspective from what she ahs experience abroad and the program has helped improve her ability to interact with people from other countries.


Dr. Elizabeth M. Bergman

  • Middle East Studies Association Annual Meeting, New Orleans, LA. October 10-13, 2013.

Dr. Mila Ganeva

  • Stockholm Workshop on Fashion and Film, University of Stockholm, Sweden, June 7-9, 2013.

Mariana lvanova

  • 37th Convention of the German Studies Association of America, Denver, CO. October 4-7, 2013.

Dr. Noriko T. Reider

  • Midwest Japan Seminar at the Midwest Conference of Asian Affairs. Michigan State University, Michigan. October 25-27, 2013.
  • Japanese at the International Conference on Tradition and Creation in the Culture of Yokai and the Strange. International Research Center for Japanese Studies, Kyoto. November 26, 2013.

Dr. Nicole Thesz

  • German Studies Association conference, Denver, CO, October 2013.
  • Second Berlin Program Summer Workshop, Berlin, Germany, June 2013.


The workshop is for students who are interested in traditional Chinese culture. It consists of two courses: CHI 272 Experience Traditional Chinese Culture and CHI 273 Experience Traditional Chinese Culture 2. You will travel to the heartland of ancient China and other extent places in China, students will learn, compare and analyze various aspects of traditional culture and language.

This study abroad opportunity is being offered during the 2015 winter term (201515). The workshop dates are December 27, 2014 through January 16, 2015.

Visit the Global Initiative website for further details. FuseAction=Programs.ViewProgram&Program_ID=11956

If you have questions, you may also contact the workshop Director:  Lihong Wang, 162 Irvin Hall,,  (513) 529-2521


Monika Sierkowska, a wonderful colleague and enthusiastic teacher of German in the department of GRAMELAC, will be leaving Miami to begin graduate studies in German at UC Davis. She came to us in Fall 2010 and has since taught all levels of the German language, as well as supporting the department by directing the German Language Living Learning Community, organizing a German Stammtisch, and editing the bi-yearly newspaper Das Fenster. In addition to German, Monika has also pursued studies in French literature and linguistics, as well as being a talented soccer player. Her humor and kindness will be very much missed, and we wish her all the best on her upcoming adventures.


At the end ot December 2013 Mrs. Lolita Holmes, who had served as GREAL Administrative Assistant for several years, retired. Mrs. Holmes was a joy to work with and will be greatly missed. The department celebrated her retirement with a farewell dinner at Kona Bistro. Mrs. Holmes was replaced by Ms. Juanita L. Schrodt, who formerly worked in the Department of French and Italian. Ms. Schrodt brings a great deal of financial and other expertise to the position. This has made the transition as smooth as it could possibly be.


Dr. Sabine Hake from the University of Texas at Austin will talk about the representation of National Socialism in the context of US cinema. Her lecture is scheduled for October 23, 2014 at 4pm and is entitled Exiled in the American Century: Revisiting the Hollywood Anti-Nazi Film. The location has yet to be determined. Be sure to watch the GRAMELAC website for full details.

Her most recent research focuses on the way National Socialism was portrayed in films since the 1930s, both in the North American and the European contexts (including reactions in the US, France, Britain and Italy). In her recent book, "Screen Nazis: Cinema, History and Democracy" (University of Wisconsin Press, 2012), she is looking at the enduring fascination of European and American filmmakers with Nazi leaders, rituals, and symbols, making scores of films from Confessions of a Nazi  Spy (1939) and Watch on the Rhine (1943) to Inglourious Basterds (2009), and beyond.


This coming fall semester Bollywood  and Indian  Culture, HIN 268, will be  offered again.  This course is crosslisted with Film Studies and Asian/ Asian American Studies.  An introduction to major Indian historical, social, and cultural issues through representative Bollywood films. Screening of films from cinema legend Raj Kapoor's 1951 tour-de-force "Awaara," inspired by Charlie Chaplin's "Little Tramp," to Director Richard Attenborough's 1982 Academy Awards' Best Picture -winner "Gandhi," to "Slumdog Millionaire" precursor "Salaam Bombay!" directed by Mira Nair in 1988. Thrillers such as 'Kai Po Che!" "No One Killed Jessica," and "Kahaani" are included in the course.  Lectures, discussions, and readings in English.  Classes meet Mondays and Wednesdays from 1pm to 2:20pm. The screenings are every Monday at 4pm. Both meet in 40 Irvin Hall.  Contact Mrs. Lalita Satyal at if you have any questions about this course.


The Department of German, Russian, East Asian Languages encompasses eight languages which are deemed of critical importance in today's multicultural world. Development and cultivation of any of these languages may enhance your earning or hiring potential in any field of science or business. Fulfilling the Global Perspectives part of the Miami Plan requirements for graduation becomes much easier with a language as study abroad options become wide-open avenues for personal, and future career development.


We are very proud of all our programs. This summer we are running intensive summer language programs in Germany and China. We hope to run an Arabic program in Oman during Winter 2015. In this connection we have just established a specifically designated departmental Travel Award Fund for students studying abroad for the summer, the semester, or the year. With Miami's institutional emphasis on study abroad, the number of students so engaged increases every year. Any contributions you may make to this endeavor will be very welcome. Your support is very much appreciated!