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Katharine Malia Shumaker '15
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Sherella Williams ’12 has accepted a Fulbright Teaching Assistantship to teach in Linz, Austria. Williams, who is an English major with a minor in German, began studying German in middle school—but it wasn’t until Bryn Mawr that she truly fell in love with the language and Germanic literature. (Read More...)
Bi-Co News article
Fulbright Winner Indira Neill: An Eye on Culture
(Article written by Claudia Ginanni, Bryn Mawr Now, May 10, 2007)
Indira Neill, a double major in history of art and German, has an interesting hypothesis about why she will be especially effective as a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant in Bremen, Germany, next year. She's perfect for the job, she says, because she doesn't have a natural talent for languages. Of the 10 AP tests she took during her senior year in high school, German was the only one for which she prepared but did not earn a high enough score to get a Bryn Mawr credit.
"Learning languages is a challenge for me," she explains, "so I'm very conscious of strategies that help. I've always relied on the enthusiasm and skill of language teachers to get me through. I know what it's like to struggle with a foreign language, and I know what it takes to overcome the difficulty and reach the point of enjoying the material."
Neill took her first German course at Bryn Mawr to fulfill a requirement, but she found the coursework so interesting that she signed up for another. German courses continued to appeal to her until she realized that she had already accumulated enough credits to constitute a minor, and she decided that the German department could be her second academic home.
Neill's job as a Fulbright teaching assistant will extend beyond language teaching; she will also be expected to introduce German students to American culture. As a student of art history with a particular interest in film and new media, Neill has an unusually acute critical perspective on the topic.
Her senior thesis in history of art deals with two film representations of the Leopold and Loeb murder case: Alfred Hitchcock's Rope of 1948 and Tom Kalin's Swoon, released in 1993. Leopold and Loeb admitted to killing a 14-year-old boy in 1924 simply because they believed their superior intellects would enable them to commit the perfect crime and escape detection.
"In Rope, the motive for the crime seems inadequate," Neill says, "and the criminals' identity becomes the substitute or equivalent of the motive. Leopold and Loeb were both Jewish and homosexual, and the public associated those characteristics with the murder. Hitchcock reinforces that association by making the viewers look for clues that reveal their Jewishness and homosexuality, putting them under cultural surveillance in a context where the viewer expects to look for clues about the crime.
"Kalin, on the other hand, is much more explicit about their homosexuality, but he disrupts the association of identity with motive by ‘queering' a lot of other figures in the film — introducing characters whose racial identity makes their presence in the roles they're assigned conspicuously anachronistic, for example."
After she has completed her Fulbright year, she plans to enter a graduate program in either film and media studies or cultural studies.
"The kind of work I'm interested in doing is interdisciplinary," she says. "I could approach it from several directions."
Neill is fascinated by the interaction between spectatorship and new media.
"My generation is the first that grew up knowing how to use computers. I want to look at how that affects film spectatorship. Is computer access to independent film, for instance, encouraging people around the world to watch films made in their own countries, or will Hollywood and Bollywood film maintain the kind of dominance that they have now?
"I'm also interested in the cultural specificity of violence — what kinds of representations of violence are acceptable or standard in one cultural setting as opposed to another. And I'm interested in video games, because they are cultural products that are from their inception intended to be circulated internationally."
Neill is a prime example of the computer-literate generation to which she belongs. At eight years old, she helped her mother create a PowerPoint presentation for a scholarly conference, for which she was credited at the lecture.
"A bunch of the people at the conference started joking with my mom about using child labor," she recalls.
Her facility with computers led to a job at the help desk in Bryn Mawr's Guild Computing Center, which in turn shaped a Bryn Mawr-funded summer internship at the Chicago History Museum.
The museum, whose visitors are drawn largely from Chicago city schools, was developing interactive gallery stations called activity carts.
"I applied for an internship writing tour scripts, but when they saw how much experience I had with computers, they put those skills to work. I spent some time processing data about visitors so that it could be used in reports and grant applications, and I spent some time with the education department, working on the activity carts. We brought school groups in to test the activities, and it was fascinating to see which activities flew and which were ignored."
As for a career, Neill says that the choice between museum work and teaching is a difficult one. A year of language teaching in Germany might help her decide.
For me, studying German at Bryn Mawr consisted of taking classes in the Tri-Co, studying abroad for a year in Freiburg, TA'ing and tutoring for Elementary German, being active in the Stammtisch and also the Deutsche Hip Hop Enthusiasts Group, and writing my Anthropology senior thesis about the role of the German Ethnic Association in the lives of Germans living in present day Philadelphia. This multi-directional approach in getting better acquainted with the German language and culture helped to give me a well-rounded understanding of the discipline of German.
Now that I've graduated, my only consistent uses of/exposures to German are faithfully listening to German Hip Hop and corresponding with relatives in Switzerland (though whether Swiss German actually qualifies as German remains a matter of debate.)
I am currently concentrating more actively on my interest in Anthropology though I hope to eventually once again incorporate more German into my life. At present, though, I'm enjoying my job at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City in the Textile Conservation Laboratory of the Anthropology Department. There I work with archaeological Peruvian textiles, organizing the collection and re-housing the collection into more modern storage units.
I hope to travel to Ecuador next year to teach English as well as learn Spanish in one of its many cultural settings. To prepare, I've started to take a Spanish class and have experienced what is by now the unfamiliar sensation of learning a language from the very beginning. And for some strange reason when I speak Spanish the verbs tend to find themselves at the end of my sentences...
(Article written by Claudia Ginanni, Bryn Mawr Now, April 15, 2004)
Alice Goff '04, a double major in history and German who is renowned on Bryn Mawr's campus for her revival of the collegial tradition known as Coffee Hour, has been awarded a 2004 Fulbright Grant to support a year of teaching in Germany. The Fulbright Program, an international educational exchange sponsored by the U.S. Department of State, was established by legislation introduced by former Senator J. William Fulbright of Arkansas in 1946 to "increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries." Fulbright grantees are chosen for their academic merit and leadership potential.
Goff will spend a year in Germany teaching English; her grant will cover transportation costs and a living stipend. Recipients of Fulbright teaching grants are also entitled to register for one or more college courses, if they are placed in university towns, and they are encouraged, but not required to pursue research during the Fulbright year.
"I've been placed in Lower Saxony (Niedersachsen), which is in the northwest corner of the country, west of Berlin," says Goff, "but I don't know yet which city. I indicated a preference for cities that are historical centers of the book and print industry because I want to do research into the history of the book. I'm interested in what motivates the preservation of historical technologies, and I think printing and bookbinding are areas where people are particularly conscious of the past."
The digital revolution has sparked considerable interest in the early history of the printing press and the book, says Goff. "It's given many more people access to facsimiles and information about rare books, but it also calls into question the form and structure of the book as the primary vessel of information. When the method of storing information changes, reading and writing change along with it," she explains. "This happened when the printing press came into use, and it's happening today with the World Wide Web."
Goff would like to serve an internship in the print shop at the Gutenberg Museum in Mainz after her Fulbright year, she says, and will probably apply to graduate programs in history eventually. In addition to hosting Coffee Hour, a weekly gathering for Bryn Mawr students, faculty and staff, Goff is completing a senior thesis that looks at German university students' attempts to affiliate themselves with the state during the Third Reich, using the book-burning of 1933 as a case study.
Rachel Olvitt ’04, a German major who graduated magna cum laude with a minor in History of Art, was awarded a prestigious Max Kade Fellowship for graduate study at the University of Washington’s Department of Germanics, one of the top 10 German programs in the nation. In addition, Rachel received one of the University of Washington Graduate School’s Top Scholar Awards for the academic year 2004-2005. After spending the summer in Germany and France, Rachel will move to Seattle in the fall to pursue a graduate degree in Germanics. Herzlichen Glückwunsch, Rachel!
Julie Zaebst '03, who graduated magna cum laude with a double major in German and Feminist and Gender Studies, spent her post-graduation year working as a residential volunteer for Girls Hope Boys Hope, a home for at-risk adolescents in Pittsburgh. In March of 2004, Julie moved back to Philadelphia and joined the Greater Philadelphia Coalition Against Hunger as a Volunteer Coordinator.
At the Bryn Mawr Commencement Ceremony on May 18, 2003, the coveted European Traveling Fellowship was awarded to Trecia Amora Pottinger '03, who graduated summa cum laude with a double major in German and The Growth and Structure of Cities Program. She will pursue a Ph.D. in American Studies at the University of Minnesota. Pottinger received one of 94 Andrew W. Mellon Fellowships in Humanistic Studies awarded nationwide in 2003 to first-year doctoral students. The award is "designed to help exceptionally promising students prepare for careers of teaching and scholarship in humanistic disciplines."