GSAI Annual Conference, Maynooth University 26-27 November 2021

This year’s conference is organised by the German Dept. at Maynooth and will be held online.

Blending in interkulturellen Kontexten

In modern society, almost every context can arguably be characterised as intercultural, requiring us as human beings to engage in reflection and blending as we engage in the iterative process of identity negotiation in constructing our ‘self’. This can also easily be seen in the diverse disciplines comprising fields of enquiry in German Studies in Ireland, ranging from literary, cultural and film studies through to Applied Linguistics, particularly given the necessity of supporting intercultural development as part of our students’ language learning journeys. The annual GSAI conference 2021 hopes to bring together Germanists nationally and internationally to exchange ideas on blending in intercultural contexts across the aforementioned sub-disciplinary boundaries to create a stimulating and fruitful forum for discussion.

Registration is here.

Virtual GSAI 2021 Recorded Sessions

Thanks to everyone who participated in our virtual conference this year! Below are recordings of some of the sessions (just click the links), and please also be sure to browse our virtual book table.

Joseph Twist (UCD) – Brown Spectres in the Black Spring: The Fall of the Wall and Memory Debates in Zafer Şenocak’s ‘Berlin vor dem schwarzen Frühling’ 

Meryem Choukri (Warwick) – Archives of Resistance: Feminist Alliances of Women of Color in Germany

Stephan Ehrig (UCD) – ‘It’s not the GDR, it’s the 90s that created an East German identity’: East Germans Reclaiming and Shifting Perspectives on 1989/90 (and beyond)

GSAI Virtual Conference Programme (26th Feb)

9.30Welcome from the Austrian Ambassador H. E. Dr. Thomas Nader and the German Ambassador H. E. Deike Potzel
10.00 – 11.30Panel 1 – Alternative Perspectives on German Reunification (Chair: Leila Essa)
Joseph Twist (UCD) – Brown Spectres in the Black Spring: The Fall of the Wall and Memory Debates in Zafer Şenocak’s ‘Berlin vor dem schwarzen Frühling’ 
Meryem Choukri (Warwick) – Archives of Resistance: Feminist Alliances of Women of Color in Germany
Stephan Ehrig (UCD) – ‘It’s not the GDR, it’s the 90s that created an East German identity’: East Germans Reclaiming and Shifting Perspectives on 1989/90 (and beyond)
12.00-13.30Panel 2 – Current Irish Research (Chair: Jürgen Barkhoff)
Rachel MagShamhráin (UCC) – A Kleist of One’s Own: Kleist’s Sister
Sandra Aline Wagner (MIC) – Lovecraft’s Cosmic Horror in the German pen-and-paper game FHTAGN
Caitríona Ní Dhúill (UCC) – Reading Austrian Literature in the Anthropocene
16.00-17.00Virtual Launch of Germanistik in Ireland, Vol. 15 (2020): Zeitgenossenschaft/Contemporaneity by Anne Fuchs

GSAI Virtual Conference, 26th February 2021

Due to the pandemic, the GSAI conference has had to be postponed and it will take on an online format. The current plan is to have a one-day virtual conference on Friday 26th February 2021, with research papers in the morning, and the AGM and Yearbook launch in the afternoon. There will be no specific conference theme, but rather one panel on ‘Alternative Perspectives on the Fall of the Wall’ and one on ‘New Irish Research’.

The GSAI conference usually gives us the opportunity to catch up with colleagues and to hear the latest research in German Studies from across the island. This virtual conference aims to replicate this as best as possible, allowing us to keep in touch and stay connected in these uncertain times.

We will update you with a conference programme soon!

NB: Although there is no conference this year, and the next one is online, please do remember to pay your subscription for 2020. Bank details are on the website: – Resource for Teaching and Learning is a free-of-charge, non-commercial interactive workbook for learners of German. Regularly expanded and updated, it is easy to navigate and visually appealing with activities at levels A1 to C1 of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages.

The activities go beyond simple multiple-choice and matching exercises and offer the learners as much support as possible. They are often based on authentic materials and are designed to promote an active engagement with the language, stimulate curiosity and foster greater competence. Cultural information about Germany is – wherever possible – included in the activities. The grammar explanations are geared towards the various language competency levels to avoid cognitive overload.

The website was created and is curated by Dagmar Fischer, who holds an MBS (Diplom-Kaufmann) from the University of Mannheim, Germany (1989), and an MA in German from University College Dublin, Ireland (1994). She has been teaching all levels of German to business, tourism, science and engineering students at Technical University Dublin (formerly Dublin Institute of Technology) since 1990. “Deutschland Erleben”, her German textbook for students in higher education in Ireland, was published by Gill & MacMillan Publishers, Dublin, in 2000.

Theses in Focus: ‘Self-presentation and Identity: German-Jewish Writing Today’ by Hanna Maria Rompf

The second installment of ‘Theses in Focus’ comes from Hanna Maria Rompf and her PhD thesis ‘Self-presentation and Identity: German-Jewish Writing Today’. She is a PhD candidate and Departmental Assistant in the Department of German Studies at Mary Immaculate College Limerick, where she is jointly supervised by Dr. Sabine Egger and also Prof. Dr. Sascha Feuchert (Justus Liebig University Gießen). Hanna was awarded her Magister Artium: German Literature, History of the Middle Ages and Early Modern History from the Justus Liebig University Gießen. Her broader research interests include contemporary literature, Holocaust literature, migration literature and Paratexts, and she has a publication forthcoming in this area entitled ‘Zeitgenossenschaft als Voraussetzung für politische Literatur. Dmitrij Kapitelmans Das Lächeln meines unsichtbaren Vaters’, set to appear in the 2020 edition of Germanistik in Ireland, which Hanna is also co-editing. Her theses was runner-up in the 2019 Women in German Studies Book Prize competition.


I have been interested in Jewish culture and history for a long time and the fact that I grew up near Frankfurt, which is home of the second biggest Jewish community in Germany, is a central factor. It strengthened my awareness of the events of the Shoah and of memory culture. I wrote my Master’s thesis about Holocaust literature and in particular about witness reports of Holocaust survivors and the depiction of history in their texts.

My fascination for contemporary Jewish literature started when I noticed that there is an increasing number of published texts by young writers with a Jewish background who cover questions of identity. Those writers undermine the public perception of contemporary Jewishness in Germany considerably and, most notably, create an image of a modern urban Jewish generation, which seeks to emancipate itself from its history and negotiate conventional cultural heritages as well as the role as victims in the German memory discourse. For instance, Max Czollek, who is spokesman of a Berlin-based group of Jewish artists, stimulated a controversial debate with his polemic appeal “Desintegriert euch!” (“Be disintegrated!”; Max Czollek, 2018).

I also realised that in many cases these writers came to Germany from the former Soviet Union and hence are part of the “Eastern turn” (Brigid Haines, 2008) in German literature. I became curious about how they deal with recent developments in society and with the Shoah as an event of memory culture. This group of authors, the so-called “Kontingentflüchtlinge” (quota refugees), migrated to Germany from the former Soviet Union in the 1990s and are, as a result of their specific cultural background, exceptional within German-Jewish writing. Due to their unique experience of living in a communist state, their approach to the Shoah and other historic events differs significantly not only from the memory culture in Germany but also from former generations of Jewish authors. Young writers such as Dmitrij Kapitelman, Kat Kaufmann or Olga Grjasnowa no longer consider the Shoah as the main impetus for their writing but, instead, life in the Jewish diaspora, their relationship to Israel and their sense of belonging to a multicultural world. My PhD project therefore investigates contemporary autobiographic novels of Jewish writers from the former Soviet Union and how they, through their respective works, represent their specific understanding of Jewish identity in their texts.

While working on the subject, I became aware of the fact that this group of writers not only writes prose but is, at the same time, active in other media. Given the emerging role of digital media, as Georg Franck argues, the cultural sector is more and more transforming into a commercial market, an “economy of attention” (Franck, 1998). Self-presentation in different media seems to play a significant role for those writers in order to generate such attention, but also to point out their specific perspective on intercultural experiences. My research up to date supports the idea that the so-called epitexts (Genette, 2001) are in a large extent part of a marketing strategy in order to establish a strong position in the Literarisches Feld (literary field; Pierre Bourdieu, 1992). Journalism and social media provide additional platforms in order to establish that image beyond literature. I would argue that such attempts of generating attention in public prove the ambivalence of the cultural sector, causing growing opportunities of self-presentation but simultaneously an increasing competitive pressure, and the writer’s refusal to participate in Germany’s Holocaust discourse. To ascertain how the depiction of this concept of an urban modern Jewishness is extended to other media is thus another main aspect of the project. 

My dissertation seeks to illustrate the changing nature of German-Jewish authorship as well as German-Jewish memory culture under the influence of global migration and digitalisation. It is thus the first study to undertake a comprehensive examination of the close interaction and correlation of intercultural as well as intermedia phenomena in the context of current German-Jewish writing. In view of migration and dislocation as an everyday reality, questions of belonging or identity are currently of a fundamental relevance in a wider European context. My research project enables me to participate in this contemporary discourse.

Remote Teaching & Learning Forum

As we manage the transition away from face-to-face and towards online teaching and learning, this forum will serve as a platform to share materials, ask for advice and discuss issues related to pedagogy and assessment.

To participate, you just have to register for free, after which you can reply to posts and write your own.

Colleagues should also be aware of the similar initiative Digitale Lehre Germanistik, which might also be useful, especially for content modules.

Theses in Focus: ‘The Role of Albania and Kosovo in the “South-Eastern Turn” in Contemporary German Language Literature’ by Chloe Fagan

The first installment of ‘Theses in Focus’ is devoted to Chloe Fagan‘s doctoral research on German writers of Albanian and Kosovar background. She is a PhD candidate based in the Department of Germanic Studies at TCD and her supervisors are Prof. Jürgen Barkhoff and Prof. (emer) Moray McGowan. She received a Bachelor’s Degree in German and English from TCD and currently works for Goethe-Institut Irland. Her broader research interests include German migration literature, cultural trauma, and contemporary Albanian and Kosovar culture and history. She has published ‘Translation and the Renegotiation of Albanian-Austrian Migrant Identity: Ilir Ferra’s “Halber Atem” as a Critique of Migrantenliteratur’ in Moving Texts, Migrating People and Minority Languages (2017) and “Albanian Literature in Translation” in ITIA Bulletin 2/2015.

After completing my Bachelor’s degree in German, I expressed my interest in pursuing a doctorate in German literature to my undergraduate thesis supervisor and I began to consider focusing on Migrantenliteratur. However, he advised me that there was a great amount of research and secondary literature being produced on Turkish-German literature, and that for a PhD it would be better to focus on another aspect of this literature. Whilst searching for ideas. I read the list of winners of the Adelbert von Chamisso Preis, a prize awarded to authors who produce texts in German though it is not their mother tongue. The prize was won in 2012 and 2013 by an author with an Albanian background: Ilir Ferra and Anila Wilms, respectively. There was little attention given to this Albanian presence in contemporary German-language literature, and this formed the beginnings of my research as I sought to fill this gap.

In The Turkish Turn in Contemporary German Literature (2005), Leslie A. Adelson analysed the biggest group in producing texts in the area of migration-linked writing in German literature, at that point Turkish, or hyphenated Turkish-German authors. Following on from Adelson’s work, Brigid Haines in The Eastern Turn in Contemporary German, Swiss and Austrian Literature (2008) has described an “Eastern Turn” in German language literature; that is, a new wave of migrant writing in Germany, Switzerland and Austria produced by authors from Eastern Europe and former Yugoslavia. Haines points to this being evident in the trend of the Chamisso Prize winners in recent years, with authors of Eastern European origin superseding Turkish-German authors who had previously dominated. Research on this “Eastern Turn” has failed to failed to include authors with Albanian or Kosovar background writing in German, or  texts which take Albanian and Kosovar issues and recent history as their primary focus. The primary objective of my thesis then became addressing this gap and to expand this turn into a “South-Eastern Turn”, which would include such Albanian and Kosovar migrant authors.

My doctoral work examines the image of Albania and Kosovo in contemporary German language literature, and assesses how Albania and Kosovo are represented by authors of different nationalities writing in German, and how the issues of migration, Albania’s Communist regime and its legacy, and the Kosovo War are treated in these texts.

As I learned more about Albania and Kosovo’s histories (as well as learning the Albanian language), my own interests shifted more to the issues of cultural traumas and how they are processed. Stuart Taberner in Transnationalism and German Language Literature in the 21st Century (2017) posits that the archive of transnationalism and writing by migrants coming to German-speaking countries is an archive of trauma. I wanted to highlight the memory work being done by these authors in their texts treating the issues of the Hoxha Communist dictatorship in Albania or the Kosovo War in societies where such memory work is absent in the official discourses in the two countries. These Albanian and Kosovar authors would be unable to publish their texts in their country of origin, and so in treating national traumas which are not part of the official national narrative, they then become part of a diasporic counterdiscourse. Ultimately, one of the main concerns of the “South-Eastern Turn” in German language literature is to disrupt the smooth official narrative produced by the dominant discourse in Albania and Kosovo, and to make readers aware that there are other voices, previously excluded, to complicate and problematize the understanding of this history.