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German

Visit the German department site.

A MiddLab Project

CCSRE Life Stories Project: Roman Graf

Learn more about the Comparative Study of Race and Ethnicity  at Middlebury College.

“Life Stories of Middlebury College” is a multi-phase initiative intended to gather people’s experiences while at the college, particularly reflections that highlight issues of diversity. In his interview, Roman Graf talks about his reluctance to teach at a liberal arts college in New England, the politics of Jeans Day, the difficulty of individual expression in a professional environment before tenure, his prejudices of small-town living, the difference between America and Europe in terms of sexism, racism, and homophobia, learning to say “yes”, why working as a diversity administrator created a daily experience of negativity, how a blind student helped him improve teaching, and why we need “theory checks” instead of “reality checks”.

People

Roman Graf
Professor of German and Head of the Brainerd Commons

Susan Burch
Associate Professor of American Studies; Director, CCSRE; Head of Life Stories project

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For thousands of years, the written word contained only streams of capital letters, with unseparated words and sentences. Punctuation appeared in only rudimentary forms in the early centuries A.D., and was invented specifically to prevent those who read aloud in church from misreading on misinterpreting a passage of the scriptures. Spaces between words did not appear until the 700s A.D., after the development of the Carolingian Miniscule and the establishment of Benedictine rule, and it was not until the 1100s that they became common place. Suddenly, readers no longer needed to mumble through passages to discern their meanings, and began to read as we do most commonly today: in silence. The new written form inspired the first alphabetized glossaries, made books more compact and personal, and made literacy a more widespread goal. But it also triggered a sense of independence and empowerment as yet unknown in medieval society, causing a rise of critical thinkers and skeptics, and, in turn, inciting fear of heresy in the church. Indeed, without punctuation and the space between words, would we have the same capacity for questioning that we do today?

People

Melissa Hirsch
Researcher

Louisa Burnham
Sponsor & Associate Professor of History

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It is impossible to understand a nation’s motivations and actions without being familiar with its national identity and the circumstances that shaped it. In the early twentieth century, Germany and Italy were both governed by authoritarian regimes that intertwined extreme nationalism with fascist ideology. After WWII, each nation faced the difficult task of redefining the political, social, and ethical terms of its national identity. We ask the question “How did Italy and Germany come to terms with their fascist past, and to what extent is the legacy of fascism still alive in national discourse?” Our research, which uses Italian, German and English sources, shows that despite underlying similarities, each nation has taken a different approach to integrating their fascist past into national identity. We look, for example, at how Hitler and Mussolini are differently remembered and the effect of their political and cultural legacies. The larger aim of this presentation is to show how, generally speaking, memory is a key factor in national identity.

People

Ashley Litzenberger
Mark Turpin
Researchers

Natasha Chang
Sponsor & Professor of Italian

Natalie Eppelsheimer
Sponsor & Assistant Professor of German

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A MiddLab Project

Curricular Connection: Exploring the piano

Learn more about Music History, and the Performing Arts Series at Middlebury College.

Dr. Bettina Matthias FYSE class, The Cultural History of the Piano, has spent some time exploring the piano in the Concert Hall and met with visiting artist Paul Lewis.  Ross Commons Heads  Pavlos Sfyoeras and  Maria Hatjigeorgiou graciously invited the students, along with some Ross students, to a reception for Paul in their home.  Diana and Emory Fanning, along with Town Hall Theater director Doug Anderson, mixed with students until Paul’s arrival.  Then the questions began…

People

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