As a leader in the field of Germanic Languages and Literatures, the department continues to attract world-class artists, authors, and academics to the University of Michigan, We sponsored many events in the fall of 2018 which brought together an incredible amount of talent and a broad range of perspectives. Importantly, these events also provided exciting outside-the-classroom learning opportunities for students, faculty, and the broader university and southeast Michigan communities.

Group shot © 2017

BeTroit. Berlin. Detroit.

Places where devastation is still visible alongside new opportunities. Cities that are rough and at the same time interesting and beautiful. In 2016, artists from both cities—poets, emcees, singer/songwriters, beat producers—came together in Detroit and created an entire album in just one week of rich collaboration. In September, the department hosted many of those artists in Ann Arbor for a screening of Philip Halver’s inspiring documentary about the process alongside live artist performances. We also welcomed a delegation of social workers from Berlin to the event for an evening that was an inspiring, cross-cultural and multi-media. For more information visit

Still from film Havarie (Collision) © Philip Scheffner.

Havarie (Collision)

In October, author Merle Kröger and filmmaker Philip Scheffner brought a fascinating collaboration to Ann Arbor. Havarie (Collision), combines a web of stories in which worlds intersect and collide—refugees in the Mediterranean, a Miami-based cruise ship, Russian and Ukrainian tankers, and a Spanish maritime rescue crew are set against a flood of news images about the refugee crisis. Havarie (Collision), Scheffner's film and Kröger's novel, radically redirects our imagination of Europe to a set of coordinates in the Mediterranean Sea. The novel is a maritime thriller by one of Germany’s most celebrated crime writers, building suspense through the eyes of a diverse array of memorable characters. The film premiered at the 2016 Berlin Film Festival and won the German Film Critics Award for Best Experimental Film of 2016.

Global Cultural Encounters between the Material and the Immaterial, 1750-1950

Global Cultural Encounters between the Material and the Immaterial, 1750-1950, was a three-day interdisciplinary workshop in August which explored our world’s interconnectedness since the modern era. It brought together scholars from many disciplines, including history, anthropology, religion, performance studies, Germanic languages & literatures, and East Asian studies. Assistant Professor Kira Thurman presented her paper on the musical diaspora, "Encountering Beethoven in Rural Alabama: German Music and Black Education in the United States, 1870–1940."

Einshoch6 performing.


German students from area high schools and U-M enjoyed a live musical performance by the Munich hip hop group EINSHOCH6 in November. This free concert was held at the Neutral Zone, Ann Arbor’s teen community center. The band also conducted an on-site workshop for our language classes. You can view their music videos in German through Deutsche Welle and the Einshoch6 Youtube channel. U-M students have been particularly enjoying "Deutschlehrerin" and "Lass uns reden."

2017-2018 Speaker Series

The Department of Germanic Languages & Literatures 2017-2018 Speaker Series included many significant names in the field and beyond, bringing together students and professors to explore:

"Weather as a Problemin Media Theory" with John Durham Peters, the María Rosa Menocal Professor of English and Professor of Film and Media Studies at Yale University. Peters is an interdisciplinary media historian and theorist with allied interests in cultural and intellectual history, anthropology, religious studies, philosophy, sound studies, and the history of science and technology.

"Presence as Profanation: German Naturalism's Anti-Apotheoses" with Erica Weitzman, Assistant Professor Northwestern University. Weitzman’s teaching and research interests include German literature, philosophy, and culture of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries; aesthetics and poetics; theories of the comic; realism and naturalism; critical theory, phenomenology, and psychoanalysis; law and literature; fin-de-siècle and World War I; and literatures of Mitteleuropa and Southeastern Europe.

Medieval blacksmiths illustration by Jost Amman, 1568.

Werner Grilk Memorial Lecture

The 2017 Annual Werner Grilk Memorial Lecture on "Music, Work, Society: Speculations and Mediations at the Jahrhundertwende." was presented by Professor Celia Applegate, Vanderbilt University. Applegate studies the culture, society, and politics of modern Germany, with particular interest in the history of music, nationalism and national identity. She is the William R. Kenan, Jr. Chair of History and Professor of History at Vanderbilt University and an Edward T. Cone Member in Music Studies.