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German Studies

Wahrheit oder Lüge: Die Logik der Fiktion (Truth or Lies: Logic of Fiction)

Edie Harris ('13); Mentor: Friederike von Schwerin-High,  Hans Rindisbacher

Abstract:  Wahrheit oder Lüge: Die Logik der Fiktion (Truth or Lies: Logic of Fiction), a lecture series and German immersion summer school program in New Mexico, examined truth inference and construction in German literature, philosophy, and media from the 18th-21st centuries. By attending the Sommerschule and following up with a rigorous reading list, I achieved my SURP’s twin goals of improved German fluency and familiarity with contested truth claims in three broad areas: a) Heinrich von Kleist’s post-Enlightenment regression from certainty to skepticism, to suicide, in his literary labyrinths and philosophical meta-narratives; b) the difficulties of reaching “true” judgments, both individually in Franz Kafka’s absurd psychological fiction and socially in case studies of mistrials in the German legal system; finally, c) literature and interviews that assess the role traditionalist Turkish gender expectations and domestic environment play in the current high Turkish female suicide rate in Germany, and lies, shame, and silence involved in the phenomenon. 
Funding Provided by: Pomona College SURP  

Vernünftiges Deutsch: How Teacher Attitude Effects English Learning in a Berlin Multikulti Classroom

Carolyn Hite ('12); Mentor: Friederike von Schwerin-High

Abstract:  Vernünftiges Deutsch. Translated into English this phrase may be “German diction that is judicious, rational or sensible.” In each translation there is an element of artificial, contrived language. The context in which I learned this phrase, however, was within a group of people for whom language learning and usage should be the most natural of processes – children. Claiming that not one of her students spoke vernünftiges Deutsch, the teacher under whom I worked in Berlin, Germany devoted instruction time to improving students’ German. Consequently, she forewent the 3 hours of weekly English instruction stipulated by Berlin’s curriculum guide, offering instead 2 hours of memorizing nursery rhymes. My research focused on the effect of teacher perception of student capabilities on their achievement. Turkish-Germans achieve Germany’s highest secondary school diploma less than half the national average. English instruction (for bilinguals – English as Third Language) served as a vehicle for investigating this phenomenon.
Funding Provided by: Pomona College SURP  

Research at Pomona