AGS President Frank Finlay’s letter to the VC of Queens University Belfast

June 24, 2009

Dear Professor Gregson,

I am writing to you on behalf of the subject association for German Studies in Great Britain and Ireland, the AGS.

It is with considerable dismay that I learn of your decision to cease provision of German at QUB and I would urge you to reconsider it. I note in your institution’s ‘Education Strategy’, freely available on the Web, your commendable commitment to a curriculum which “is challenging and inspirational, equipping students for life in a global society and work in a global economy.” How very strange, therefore, that you can now envisage such a curriculum in which the language of the UK’s most important trading partner and one of the world’s economic powerhouses has no place. Are future generations of students in Northern Ireland to be denied the accessibility to international job markets which being a languages graduate affords?

I would also like to draw your attention to the ramifications of your decision for other subject areas. Thus in removing German, your are removing that component from joint degree combinations, with parlous consequences for their longer term viability, in particular for French. Similarly, as the school curricula in Northern Ireland are very responsive to perceptions of the priorities of your institution, there will be an inevitable collateral impact on German provision in the secondary sector. The interplay between both these factors will only serve to exacerbate the predicament highlighted by the British Academy in its recent report, “Language Matters”, namely that the very capacity of the UK’s research base is being seriously compromised by a deficit of language competence.

I would like to make you aware that the decision to withdraw from German as an area of research is one that is rather perplexing to my subject community. In particular, having only recently invested in new posts after considerable prevarication, Queen’s appears to have performed a precipitate ‘U-turn’ in policy. We all know that there can be a disproportionately negative impact on very small units of a lack of clarity of institutional strategy, manifest in delays in investment during the RAE cycle. This can be all the more damaging if it is followed by an expectation of instant results and a reversal of direction when those results fail to materialise in the first instance.

Research needs the seeds to germinate and flower if it is to ‘grow’ and bear fruit, and I should have thought that recent grant capture by colleagues in German, not least a prestigious and highly competitive AHRC/DFG award for a three-year international collaborative research project, ought to be a reassuring indication of a brighter future.

On behalf of some 300 members of my association I urge you respectfully to reconsider your decision and to await the report of the current HEFCE enquiry into the health of modern languages in the UK.

Yours faithfully,

Professor Frank Finlay, President, Association for German Studies in Great Britain and Ireland

What do you think of the AGS blog?

June 24, 2009

The AGS blog is still very new, but what do you think of it so far? Your comments and suggestions are welcome!

NBA: English Language in Contact with Varieties of German

June 19, 2009

Pfalzgraf, Falco (ed). English Language in Contact with Varieties of German. Frankfurt am Main, Berlin, Bern, Bruxelles, New York, Oxford, Wien: Peter Lang, 2009. ISBN 978-3-631-58132-2.

This volume contains a selection of ten papers based on lectures which have been given in the Language & Linguistics section of the Centre for Anglo-German Cultural Relations (CAGCR) at Queen Mary, University of London, since autumn 2006. The first paper discusses the position of Linguistics in British German Studies; subsequent papers discuss not only the influence of English on Swiss German, Austrian German, and German in Germany, but also the German influence on English. Other papers deal with the integration of
anglicisms in the German language, problems of the grammatical gender of anglicisms, their position in Luxembourgish, their role in a multi-ethnic youth variety, and the connections between linguistic purism and globalization.

Contents: Falco Pfalzgraf: Vorwort – Sylvia Jaworska: Where Have All the Linguists Gone? The Position of Linguistics in British German Studies from the mid-19th Century until 2000 – Anthony Stanforth: The Influence of High German on the English Language – Alexander Onysko: Divergence with a Cause? The Systemic Integration of Anglicisms in German as an Indication of the Intensity of Language Contact – David Yeandle: English Loan Words and their Gender in German. An Etymological Perspective – Kerstin Paul/Eva Wittenberg:
«Askim, Baby, Schatz…». Anglizismen in einer multiethnischen Jugendsprache- Rudolf Muhr: Anglizismen und Pseudoanglizismen im Österreichischen Deutsch: 1945-2008. Ein Bericht – Felicity Rash: «Englisch ist cool»: The Influence of English on Swiss German – Gerald Newton: The English Influence on Luxembourgish – Falco Pfalzgraf: Sprachpurismus und Globalisierung – Melani Schröter: Der Thatcher-Merkel-Vergleich in der britischen und deutschen Presse 2005.

For further details, please see:

NBA: The Politics of Place in Post-War Germany: Essays in Literary Criticism

June 17, 2009

The Politics of Place in Post-War Germany: Essays in Literary Criticism, edited by David Clarke Renate Rechtien (Lampter: Edwin Mellen, 2009)

The Politics of Place in Postward Literature

The Politics of Place in Postward Literature

This collection of essays by British and German scholars takes the case of post-war Germany as its focus and addresses a range of literary texts from East and West Germany, as well as from the post-unification period. The essays not only highlight the particular complexities and contradictions of the experience of place in the German case, but also offer a range of theoretical approaches to place in literature, which will find interest beyond German Studies.

NBA: Schiller the Dramatist

June 17, 2009

Schiller the Dramatist
A Study of Gesture in the Plays

John Guthrie

Recently, Schiller’s pioneering work in poetics and aesthetics and as a historian has been the focus of much scholarly interest. But his dramas, which continue to be performed regularly, still hold the most attraction. Despite his connection with idealist philosophy, Schiller is a dramatist of psychological conflict rather than of abstract ideas, and he had a unique grasp of how to portray such conflict on stage, not least through the use of gesture. This study begins with the origins of the gestures he employs. It then considers Schiller’s use of gesture and related aspects of stagecraft in his nine completed dramas. It is concerned with the interpretation of gesture, often marginalized in studies of Schiller’s works, and with the interrelationship between gesture and verbal text. The study also considers Schiller’s relationship to the theater of his day, and discusses the first performances of his plays and their more recent stage history in both Germany and Great Britain. Appearing in the 250th anniversary of Schiller’s birth, this study treats his dramas as plays written to be performed – as works that reach their fullest potential in the theater.

See our website at for more details.

Forthcoming conference: The Good German

June 16, 2009

‘The “Good German” in Literature and Culture’, An International Conference at the Institute of Germanic and Romance Studies, University of London, Senate House, WC1; 1-2 October 2009; conference organisers: Prof. Pól Ó Dochartaigh (University of Ulster) and Dr. Christiane Schönfeld (MIC, University of Limerick)

German under threat at QUB

June 16, 2009

German is under threat at Queens University Belfast and our colleagues there need our support. David Robb of German at QUB writes that the subject is in good health at the University and that any attempts to close it could threaten the viability of other languages at degree level in the University.

He writes:

‘We have three lecturers in total and a DAAD-Lektorin. Two of the colleagues are in their first
full-time academic post and were only appointed in 2006.

Usually we have around 25 students in first year (post-A-level and Beginners) on joint degree pathways. No single honours. Our Beginners mostly drop away after first year leaving us
usually with a hard core of 15-18 students for each remaining year. Our small final year of 8 students this year is an exception to the rule.

So right now we have 65 students (this figure includes those on the year abroad). Most do joint with French and are generally of an extremely high tarif. French therefore feel considerably weakened by this move to discontinue German. We are very well integrated in the School of Languages, Literatures and Performing Arts at both undergraduate and postgraduate level. We teach an UG Brecht module together with Drama Studies and a module on 20th Century German Cinema together with Film Studies. We contribute to the School Research Methods module for MA students and in 2006 we introduced a School-wide MA in Performance and Representation.

We have reinvigorated our German Studies MA in recent years and have been recruiting from our own UG students. This year we had 2.5 students on the MA. We also offer degree combinations outside our School, for example, the International Management degree with languages and Science with Extended Studies in Europe. We offer an optional module in German Language and Culture for students of Medicine, which regularly attracts 10-12 students.

Our relationship with Northern Irish schools is excellent. We have had a rigorous recruitment programme in place over the last ten years. Our activities include annual Debating competitions for AS and A-level pupils (very popular with the schools), an annual A- and AS-Level Day and school visits. We think these activities have contributed to our student numbers holding up over the last 10 years while numbers studying German in schools has gone down.

Our performance in the RAE was admittedly disappointing. We have, however, clearly moved up a gear since the RAE deadline and have secured considerable external research funding: an AHRC/DFG grant (collaboration with the University of Freiburg) worth £90,000 in total (£60,000 of which for Queen’s) and British Academy small grants worth £10,500 in total. We hosted one international conference last year and more are planned.’

Welcome to the AGS blog

June 16, 2009

Welcome, everyone, to the new Association for German Studies blog. This blog aims to provide a discussion forum for the Association and to supplement the website with up-to-date information. At the moment, all posts will be moderated, so please be patient if your post doesn’t appear immediately.