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Germanic Studies receives national recognition





The IU Germanic Studies department was recently ranked among the top two programs of its kind in the nation by the National Research Council.

According to the Germanic Studies website, the department has hired more specialized faculty since it was first ranked by the council in 2006. It has received grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities and prestigious German institutions and staged the DEFA Film Project, featuring works from an East German studio that concentrated on regional strife around the time of the Berlin Wall’s collapse.

Kari Gade, the Germanic Studies department chairwoman, said the recognition has rubbed off on opportunities for many types of students, not just college-level scholars.

“We can do outreach work with nearby high school teachers and students to help incoming college students place into higher levels of the German language,” Gade said. “Our faculty has received new invitations to conferences and university-to-university professor exchanges.”

One reason for the department’s national prestige is their sense of interdisciplinary curiosity, she said. The department focuses on comparative literature, philology, gender studies, linguistics and medieval/modern culture, among other topics.

Michel Chaouli, an associate professor of German and an adjunct professor of cognitive science, said there is no singular mission statement or profile in the school’s department.

“Students come in from all angles. They want a window to some other way of seeing issues,” Chaouli said. “The department doesn’t close itself off like others of its kind elsewhere.”

Gade agreed with Chaouli’s statement on the diverse student profile and said there are several triple majors currently studying in the program.

Gade said the department’s range of interests is a plus — when she’s not directing, she is one of six international editors of a ground-breaking collection of Old Icelandic poetry, and she teaches undergraduate courses on various topics.

Chaouli said while interested students can check out the department’s website, the site “doesn’t capture the degree to which every single faculty member is involved in each others endeavors.”

“It’s a congenial atmosphere,” he said. “It’s not a tense place. The faculty knows the students, and the students know the faculty.”

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