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Volume 12, Edition 2: October 2012 *20 year Anniversary*

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Susanne Rinner & Katrin Sieg
Dr. Susanne Rinner (L) introduces guest speaker Katrin Sieg (R) from Georgetown University
German Weeks 2012: Think Transatlantic!

By Dr. Susanne Rinner, Assistant Professor of German Studies, Languages, Literatures & Cultures Department

This fall, the German Program at UNCG is one of only twenty-five campus partners nationwide participating in German Weeks 2012: Think Transatlantic! The event is supported by a grant from the German Embassy in Washington, D.C. and provides students with the opportunity to study the transatlantic relationship between Germany and the United States from a variety of perspectives.

In the eighteenth century, “America” existed in the German imagination as a symbol of freedom and opportunity. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe expressed these sentiments famously in his poem “America”, stating that the new world offers a rare chance of living without the burden of the past and provides the hope of new beginnings. Beginning slowly in the nineteenth century slowly and

UNCG's Rock "Thinks TransAtlantic"
Professor Dwyer and her German students celebrate German Unification Day on October 3 at The Rock
with full force in the twentieth century, these optimistic and even utopian readings and appropriations were overshadowed by a perhaps more realistic understanding of the United States as a country that had built its own history. Germany, first as a divided country during the Cold War and then as a unified country in a new global constellation after the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, served as an important partner in the exploration of the discourse on freedom and its political, legal, social, economic, and cultural ramifications. Historical events such as the liberation of Europe from Nazi rule by the Allie, the American support of European recovery after 1945, and the uprising against the threats posed by the Eastern bloc during the Cold War provide ample evidence of the urgency to develop a sophisticated albeit still accessible notion of freedom. In conjunction with the discourse on freedom, the United States, particularly its cultural and academic institutions, has begun to participate in discourses on memory that aim to shape the significance of the past to create meaning for the present and the future.

The interest in freedom and memory on both sides of the Atlantic further strengthen the transatlantic relationship. While maintaining its status as the new world, processes of remembering and its flipside, forgetting, and their conscious manifestations via memorials, museums, and celebrations acknowledge the coming-of-age of the United States as a country with a history that has to preserve its legacy like the old continent. These shared concerns shape processes of globalization and ensure that the West remains relevant within a new global constellation that decenters the West but does not deem it irrelevant.

UNCG Reception for Think TransAtlantic
Guest speaker Professor Andrew Zimmerman from George Washington University and German students enjoy refreshments
There are numerous opportunities for all to engage with German Weeks 2012: Think Transatlantic! The course, GER 406/GEO 491: The Transatlantic Relationship, facilitates a discussion of the past, present, and future of the relationship between the United States, Germany, and Europe with a focus on the repercussions of issues such as energy, security, migration, and human rights. The first week of class provided an opportunity for a live meeting with visiting Fulbright students from Germany. Everybody engaged in a lively discussion about German and American perspectives on education, politics, and the economy. Under the guidance of Drs. Corey Johnson (Assistant Professor of Geography, UNCG) and Susanne Rinner (Assistant Professor of German Studies and Director of Undergraduate Studies in German, UNCG), students are reading a variety of texts, analyzing contemporary political and social issues, and contextualizing the transatlantic relationship within a global context. Students will prepare to participate in campus competitions, which will be held in the last week of the semester. Campus winners will have the opportunity to participate in a meeting at the German Embassy in Washington, D.C. in the spring where national finalists will be chosen. If selected, students will then go on a free trip to Berlin!

In conjunction with German Weeks 2012, the German Program hosted an interdisciplinary speaker series that brought three experts to campus who shed light on different aspects of the transatlantic relationship. Dr. Andrew Zimmerman, Professor of History and International Affairs at George Washington University, spoke about the triangle between the American South, Germany, and the German colonies in Africa in a talk entitled Booker T. Washington and the German Empire in West Africa. Dr. Katrin Sieg, Professor of German at Georgetown University, spoke about the history of Africans and African-Americans in Germany in a talk  titled “Transatlantic Transfers: Performing Race Transnationally.” Steve Szabo, Executive Director of the Transatlantic Academy in Washington, D.C. spoke about “Germany as a Geoeconomic Power: The Case of Russia.” His talk focused on issues of energy dependency and security in the twenty-first century.

Most recently, the German Program celebrated the German Day of Unity on October 3, 2012 and German-American Day on October 6, 2012. On Friday, October 26, Dr. Britta Kallin, Associate Professor of German at the Georgia Institute of Technology, will present a talk in commemoration of the 200th anniversary of the first edition of the brothers Grimm’s Fairy Tales! The talk will take place at 10:00 am in McIver 028. All are welcome to attend! For more information about German Weeks, please contact Dr. Rinner at s_rinner@uncg.edu

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