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German Studies Guest Speakers

We regularly invite scholars to W&M to speak about their research. Keep an eye on our calendar for the next one!

 Armin Langer

Armin Langer (2018)

Armin Langer, Publizist and activist from Berlin who heads up the Initiative Salaam-Shalom, an intercultural/interfaith organization that brings Muslims and Jews together, spoke about the challenges and opportunities of the Muslim minority in contemporary Germany. Author of Ein Jude aus Neu-Koelln ( (Aufbau Verlag, 2016; English translation A Jew from the No-Go Area [forthcoming]), Langer is a regular contributor to Die Zeit, Der Tagesspiegel, Frankfurter Rundschau and the taz, and is often in the news as an articulate and passionate defender of minorities in Germany.

Helmut Puff

Helmut Puff (2016)

Helmut Puff, Professor of German, History, Women's Studies, and affiliate in the History of Art and in the Program in History and Anthropology at the University of Michigan, is one of the most innovative voices in German Studies, Early Modern History, Gender and Queer Studies, the History of Sexualities, and Media Studies today. His work is characterized by its far-reaching interdisciplinarity, its precise philological and textual analyses, its nuanced grasp of terms and their uses, and an astonishing breadth of knowledge of the institutions and the social, legal, political and medial contexts within which such terms are deployed. Helmut Puff is the author of Lust, Angst und Provokation: Homosexualität in der Gesellschaft (1993); Von dem schlüssel aller Künsten / nemblich der Grammatica": Deutsch im lateinischen Grammatikunterricht, 1480-1560 (1995); Sodomy in Reformation Germany and Switzerland, 1400-1600 (2003); and Miniature Monuments: Modeling Destruction and German History (2014) in addition to numerous edited volumes, book chapters, and articles. At W&M, he spoke on his new book project, A History of Waiting, and led a workshop in German on Textuality and Visuality around 1500.


James E. Young (2016)

Author of Writing and Rewriting the Holocaust:Narrative and the Consequences of Interpretation (1988), The Texture of Memory:Holocaust Memorials and Meaning (1993), and At Memory's Edge : Afterimages of the Holocaust in Art and Architecture (2002), James E. Young is the preeminent scholar of Holocaust and Memory Studies in the world. His teaching, writing and public engagement have been concerned primarily with post-war literary, artistic, architectural, cinematographic and memorial responses to the Nazi genocide of the Jews. Professor Young taught Rob Leventhal's Freshman Seminar Responses to the Holocaust on Art Spiegelman's MAUS and delivered a lecture on his current research/book project: The Stages of Memory.

Michael SamanMichael Saman (2016)

Michael Saman received his Ph.D. from Harvard, and has taught at William & Mary, Brown, Princeton, UCLA and, most recently, The College of the Holy Cross. He is well-known for his expertise on Goethe and Goethezeit, philosophy and literature, and Modern German Thought. He has received awards from ACLS, the Fulbright Commission, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and the Goethe Society. He has co-edited, with Charlotte Szilaghyi and Sabrina Rahman, Imagining Blackness in Germany and Austria (Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2012), and is currently preparing his book Peculiar Analogues: Goethe as a Reader of Kant for publication. He has many articles already published, forthcoming and in progress -- on Schiller and Hegel, Leopold Sedar Senghor, Goethe and the origins of Structuralism, Constructions of Kant and Goethe in German Intellectual Culture at the beginning of the 20th century, just to name a few. Michael presented "On Faust and the Souls of Black Folk: Goethe, W.E.B Du Bois and the Ethics of Progress."

Early Modern Germany: A Symposium Joy Wiltenburg and Alisha Rankin (2015)

GS with speakersWith the generous support of Medieval and Renaissance Studies, European Studies and the Corcoran Department of History, the German Studies Program sponsored an Early Modern Germany Symposium in April 2015 featuring two guest speakers: Joy Wiltenburg, Professor of History at Rowan University, and Alisha Rankin, Assistant Professor of History at Tufts. Joy Wiltenburg is the author of Disorderly Women and Female Power in the Street Literature of Early Modern England and Germany (1992) and, most recently, Crime and Culture in Early Modern Germany (University of Virginia Press, 2013). Alisha's first book, Panaceia's Daughters: Noblewomen as Healers in Early Modern Germany, was published by University of Chicago Press in 2013.

MarcelMarcel Wehn (2015)

Documentary film director Marcel Wehn (Berlin) returned to W&M this spring to screen and discuss his film, Unter Bruedern, about the Hells Angels in Stuttgart, Germany.

Berel LangBerel Lang (2014)

Berel Lang, Visiting Professor of Philosophy and Letters at Wesleyan University, is one of the foremost scholars on the representation of the Nazi Genocide of the European Jews in the world. His books include: Faces and Other Ironies of Writing and Reading (1983); Writing and the Holocaust (1989); Act and Idea in the Nazi Genocide (1990); The Anatomy of Philosophical Style (1990); Heidegger's Silence (1996); Writing and the Moral Self (1991); Holocaust Representation: Art within the Limits of History and Ethics (2000); Post-Holocaust: Interpretation, Misinterpretation, and the Claims of History (2005); Philosophical Witnessing: The Holocaust as Presence (2009) and, most recently, Primo Levi: The Matter of a Life (2013). Berel Lang gave a public lecture based on his new book -- "Primo Levi as Writer and Thinker" -- and taught Rob Leventhal's GRMN 387 class "Germans and Jews since 1750".

BrockmannStephen Brockmann (Fall 2014)

Stephen Brockmann, Professor of German at Carnegie-Mellon University, former President of the GSA, Editor of the Brecht-Yearbook, and recipient of the DAAD Prize for Humanistic Education, is the author of A Critical History of German Film (2010); Nuremberg: the Imaginary Capital (2006); German Literary Culture at the Zero Hour (2004) and Literature and German Reunification (1999) and numerous articles. He is also a public intellectual, whose pieces have appeared in many forums. Stephen gave two talks while at William & Mary, Sept 10-12, 2014: "German Culture, Globalization, and Transnationalism" (in English) and "DDR-Film und der Zweite Weltkrieg."

WellmonChad Wellmon (2014)

Chad Wellmon, Associate Professor of German at the University of Virginia and Fellow at the Institute for Advanced Cultural Studies, gave a talk on his current book-project, Organizing Enlightenment: Information Overload and the Invention of the Research University. Wellmon is the author of Becoming Human (2010), "Touching Books: Diderot, Novalis and the Encyclopedia of the Future," Representations 114:1 (2011): 65-102; "Goethe's Morphology of Knowledge, or the Overgrowth of Nomenclature," Goethe Yearbook 17 (2010): 153-177; "Kant and the Feelings of Reason," Eighteenth-Century Studies 42:4 (2009): 557-580; "Lyrical Feeling: Novalis' Anthropology of the Senses," Studies in Romanticism 47:4 (2008): 453-478 and other essays. He is editor/moderator of the blog The Infernal Machine.

WehnMarcel Wehn (2014)

Berlin-based documentary filmmaker Marcel Wehn presented his One Who Went Forth: The Early Films of Wim Wenders (2007) at the German Studies Mini-Symposium on the same topic (March 18-20). In his introduction to Wenders' Hammett (1982), Bruce Campbell traced the roots of Noir, its relation to urban detective fiction, and Wenders' film, followed by Rob Leventhal moderating a discussion on The American Friend (1977). Wehn's film brilliantly weaves people, places, and films together, providing textured insight into Wender's early corpus.

Jonathan HessJonathan Hess (2013)

Jonathan Hess, Professor of German Studies and the Moses M. and Hannah L. Malkin Professor of Jewish History, Director, Carolina Center for Jewish Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, presented his most recent research on the construction of Jewish identities in 19th century Germany. Professor Hess is the author of three monographs: Reconstituting the Body Politic: Enlightenment, Public Culture and the Invention of Aesthetic Autonomy (Wayne State University Press, 1999); Germans, Jews and the Claims of Modernity (Yale University Press, 2002); and, most recently, Middlebrow Literature and the Making of German-Jewish Identity (Stanford University Press, 2010), as well as numerous articles on aesthetics, Jewish cultural history, politics and modernity. His pathbreaking research has opened up new ways of thinking about Jewish cultural identity in the 19th century, particularly what we can learn from "middlebrow" literature and culture.

Sander GilmanSander Gilman (2010)

By invitation of the German Studies Section of Modern Languages and Literatures, Professor Sander Gilman, Distinguished Professor of the Liberal Arts and Sciences and Professor of Psychiatry at Emory University, was a guest at William & Mary Wednesday, November 17th, 2010.

Professor Gilman gave a more informal talk with the title "Whose Body Is It Anyway? Sexual Transformation in Germany (1890-1933)" and a more formal lecture: "From the Nose Job to the Face Transplant: A History of the Authentic Face." Both events took place in Washington Hall, and were attended by students and faculty from numerous disciplines and programs. Sander Gilman's visit was made possible by generous contributions from Arts and Sciences, The Charles Center, The Programs in Literary and Cultural Studies and Jewish Studies, the Departments of Modern Languages and Literatures, Religious Studies, English, History, and Psychology.

Michael BrennerMichael Brenner (2008)
Michael Brenner is Chair of Jewish History and Culture at the Universität München and 2008-2009 Ina Levine Fellow at the US Holocaust Museum's Center for Advanced Studies, spoke on "The Politics of Jewish Historiography: How to Construct a Usable Past" in the fall of 2008.

Andy MarkovitsAndrei Markovits (2008)

Andrei Markovits is Arthur F. Thurnau Professor and the Karl W. Deutsch Collegiate Professor of Comparative Politics and German Studies at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. He is the author and editor of many books, scholarly articles, conference papers, book reviews and newspaper contributions in English and many foreign languages on topics as varied as German and Austrian politics, anti-Semitism, anti-Americanism, social democracy, social movements, the European right and the European left.Professor of German, Political Science, and History, University of Michigan.

Geoff EleyGeoff Eley (2008)

Professor Geoff Eley, Chair of the German Studies Department at the University of Michigan, Karl Pohrt Distinguished University Professor of History, gave a seminar on Wednesday, March 28th, 2007 "Rethinking German Modernities: What Comes After the Sonderweg?" and a lecture "Empire by Land or Sea? Germany's Imperial Imaginary, 1871-1945." Professor Eley has published widely in German history of the 19th and 20th centuries, including books on the German Right between Bismarck and the 1920s, and the idea of the Sonderweg in German history, as well as essays on a wide range of subjects. His recent books include: A Crooked Line: From Cultural History to the History of Society (University of Michigan Press, 2005) and Forging Democracy: The History of the Left in Europe, 1850-2000 (Oxford University Press, 2002).

Jerome J. McGannJerry McGann (2007)

Jerome J. McGann, John Stewart Bryan University Professor of English at the University of Virginia, Co-Founder of UVA's Institute of Advanced Technology in the Humanities and the Speculative Computing Laboratory.

Sasha Mueller-KrennerSascha Mueller-Krenner (2004, 2006)

Sascha Müller-Kraenner is one of the founders and a Partner of Ecologic Institute, Berlin. In April 2008, he became Vice-Chairman of the Ecologic Institute in Washington DC - Ecologic's newly incorporated presence. Sascha Müller-Kraenner is Senior Policy Adviser and the European representative to The Nature Conservancy, a leading international conservation organisation with over one million members and supporters as well as programmes in 30 countries. From 2003-2006, Sascha Müller-Kraenner served as the Heinrich Böll Foundation's Director for Europe and North America, as well as head of the Foundation's program on foreign and security policy. From 1998 - 2002 he served as Director of the Foundation's office in Washington DC. Sascha Müller-Kraenner serves on the Advisory Board of the Humboldt Institution on Transatlantic Issues, he is a Member of the Working Group on Global Issues of the German Council on Foreign Relations, the German Society for the United Nations, Birdlife Germany, as well as of the Indo-German Forum on International Environmental Governance.