The Center for German & European Studies Marks its Twenty-Fifth Year

Prof. Halle addressing the audience as the keynote speaker. Photo by Emmanuel Figueroa.

On December 1-2, 2023, scholars, students, and members of the public gathered for lectures on the “Cultures in Motion” theme to celebrate 25 years of the University of Wisconsin-Madison Center for German and European Studies (CGES), a German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) Center of Excellence funded by the German Federal Ministry.

Randall Halle, Klaus W. Jonas Professor of German Film and Cultural Studies and Director of European Studies at the University of Pittsburgh, presented his keynote lecture, “Germany and Eurafrica: From Colonial Territory to Developmental Partner in Foreign Policy and Film Practice.” Professor Halle’s lecture centered around the institutionalization of Eurafrica within the context of European integration, notably marked by the signing of the Treaty of Rome. His presentation utilized the medium of film, including newsreels and documentaries. By examining the cinematic portrayals, Halle provided a visual journey through Germany’s changing attitudes and approaches, capturing the complexities of this historical shift. The anniversary proceedings also included an appearance by noted German writer Ronya Othmann, who read excerpts from her Mara Cassens Prize-winning novel, “Die Sommer” and shared poetry from “Die Verbrechen,” both with original English translations done by Jon Cho-Polizzi.

Dean Frances Vavrus introducing Randall Halle at CGES’s keynote lecture. Photo by Emmanuel Figueroa.

During the celebration, Professors Sonja Klocke (Director, Center for German and European Studies, University of Wisconsin-Madison) and Ela Gezen (Associate Professor of German at the University of Massachusetts Amherst) finalized their two-year project on the theme of “Cultures in Motion: Migration, Exile, and Refuge. This international group of specialists included Natalie Bayer (Director of the FHXB Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg Museum), Gülşah Stapel (International Council of Museums), Nâlân Erbil-Erkan (University of Wisconsin-Madison), Jon Cho-Polizzi (University of Michigan-Ann Arbor), Caludia Breger (University of Columbia), Jeannette Oholi (Dartmouth College), Maha El Hisyy, and Maria Roca Lizarazu (University of Cambridge), Elisabeth Kimmerle (Leibniz Center for Contemporary History, Potsdam), Feng-Mei Heberer (New York University), and Zach Fitzpatrick(University of Wisconsin-Madison). The conference featured a diverse range of panels, each offering unique insights into aspects of literature, culture, and socio-political dynamics, which will be published in the near future.

Dean Frances Vavrus, who recently began her appointment as Vice Provost and Dean of the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s International Division, introduced the keynote speaker, Professor Halle, a UW-Madison alumnus. CGES thanks Dean Vavrus for a fantastic introduction, Professor Halle, Ronya Othmann, and all others for enlightening talks. This event was funded by the University in part, but mostly by the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD), for which specialists at the University of Wisconsin-Madison have much to celebrate.