German, Scandinavian & Dutch Studies

Germany: a home away from home


By Ellen Litecky

Sisters Elaine and Amanda Benke share a passion for the German language and culture. The natives of Inver Grove Heights, MN, heard a lot about their German heritage growing up, and fell in love with the language once they began studying it in high school. Now, as a college senior and sophomore, respectively, they are each pursuing a minor in German. Amanda, an architecture major, cannot imagine not studying German. “Germany is my other home,” she says. “You just gotta keep learning about it.”

Building connections through swedish studies

By Sarah Overholt

Brian Kays did not expect to fall in love with Swedish. The recent graduate's passion for the language and for Nordic culture is evident: he volunteers at the American Swedish Institute, holds an internship at the Swedish Council of America, spends his summers teaching Swedish at the Concordia Language Villages, and last year served as Lena Norrman’s teaching assistant for intermediate Swedish. He is a fixture of the University's Swedish club and even organized a fika crawl for the group, in which Den Svenska Klubben members meet monthly at Scandinavian cafes throughout the Twin Cities to share coffee, pastries, and conversation.

seeing europe through a complex lens

By Amanda Haugen

GSD graduate student Moritz Meutzner has long been interested in examining German and European history from a transnational perspective and studying language and culture through a multidisciplinary lens. The University of Minnesota has been the perfect place for him to develop those interests.

reaching out

By Kyle Tsuchiya

A linchpin is a pin passed through the end of an axle to keep a wheel in position. It plays an essential role, which is why it is frequently used to describe someone who is vital to an organization. It’s the word that GSD Chair Charlotte Melin reaches for to describe Dr. Helena Ruf’s connections to many different areas of the department. It’s easy to see why: Ruf teaches German language classes, coordinates the first-year German program, is the Director of Language Instruction for one of the largest programs of its kind in the US, and serves as a co-chair of the departmental outreach committee, among many other things.

Mining the gap: james parente on studying the unstudied

By Amanda Haugen

As a professor of German, Scandinavian and Dutch literature, and Director of the Center for German and European Studies, Professor James A. Parente, Jr. spends a lot of time thinking about research that bridges topics across Europe and beyond. But while his work is undeniably focused on connections, Parente is also uniquely focused on “gaps.”

memories in munich

By Kyle Tsuchiya

Sophie Grieger was drawn to the University of Minnesota for its many opportunities for educational growth and recreation, and she is certainly taking advantage of its diverse offerings, pursuing a psychology major along with minors in neuroscience and German. Remarkably, her journey with the German language started only recently. "I was a little late in the game," she explained. "I didn’t start taking classes in German until my sophomore year of college, but I was able to catch up by taking the intensive intermediate-level courses in the summer."

giving serious thought to german humor

By Ellen Litecky

Professor Rüdiger (Rudy) Singer will tell you that examining a culture’s humor is enlightening as well as fun. He is a visiting professor from Germany, teaching in the German, Scandinavian & Dutch department on a DAAD (Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst or German Academic Exchange Service) professorship. This program brings German faculty to American universities to teach about German culture. DAAD professors also devote much of their time to research, which means that Singer is giving some serious thought to German humor.

we're just getting started: a new collaboration for students of finnish

By Lauren Myhra

The University of Minnesota is one of only a handful of universities in the country to offer courses in Finnish. University students can take up to six semesters of Finnish language study—all taught by senior lecturer Daniel Karvonen—with the support of a Fulbright Foreign Language Teaching Assistant (FLTA) from Finland.

behind the scenes with jenneke oosterhoff

By Amanda Haugen

What does the life of a language instructor really look like? It involves a lot more than classes, lesson plans, and office hours! Senior Lecturer Jenneke Oosterhoff gives us a glimpse of what keeps her busy beyond the classroom.

to the aid

By Amanda Haugen

Professor Ray Wakefield shares his experiences working in a refugee camp

using multiple languages to educate global communities

By Mitchell J. Cress

Nick Ott is one the busiest and most passionate language students in Folwell Hall. He is currently studying German and Spanish while pursuing a marketing degree from the Carlson School of Management and completing the DirecTrack to Teaching program. Nick balances his liberal arts education with his other studies: “The U has given me the opportunity to be enrolled in three colleges at once—CLA, CSOM, and CEHD.”

what Drives Kiley Kost to Study the Connections Between Culture and Environment?

As a PhD student in German, Scandinavian & Dutch (GSD), Kiley Kost researches the connections between people and the environment within the field of German studies by using the theory and interpretive practices of ecocriticism to approach and analyze texts. Kost has spent many years developing her interest in this field, both at the University of Minnesota and in German-speaking areas of the world.

environmental humanities course expands internationally

University of Minnesota Professor Charlotte Melin (chair; German, Scandinavian, & Dutch) and Professor Dan Philippon (English), in partnership with the Rachel Carson Center (RCC) and Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität (LMU) brought graduate students from seven different areas of study together to explore interdisciplinary practices of ecocriticism in the seminar course Transatlantic Environmental Humanities.

deciphering the origins of the english language

By Mitchell J. Cress

Etymology is the study of the origin of words and how the meaning has changed throughout history. Anyone interested in English language etymology, soon finds that the expert in this field is an unlikely man. Professor Anatoly Liberman has worked for decades to produce the largest English language etymological dictionary that contains both suggestions as to the origin of words and a complete survey of previous scholarship.

Q&A with annamarie Moline

By Kyle Tsuchyia

Get to know second year student Annamarie Moline, one of GSD’s exemplary students and an active member of the University of Minnesota Swedish club.

delving into jewish culture

By Kyle Tsuchiya

Leslie Morris smiled as she talked about how she came to the German, Scandinavian, and Dutch department by a “very circuitous route.” She grew up in Chicago in a family in which French and Hungarian were spoken, but resolved to receive her BA in English at Smith College. “However, I was somehow bitten by the bug of German in my last year of college,” she explains. “As soon as I graduated I left for Germany.”

sharing the german language with high school students

By Kyle Tsuchiya

College in the Schools (CIS) is a nationally accredited program that gives ambitious high school students the opportunity to experience the rigor of college-level courses and earn transferable college credits at their own high schools. The German department was one of the first departments at the U to create a CIS program. Originally, two high schools participated. Now, over 500 high school students participate from twenty-four different schools across Minnesota that stretch as far north as Mora and as far south as Winona.