MASNEWS 02/2007: Of Elder Statesmen and Senior Professors
Welcome to the quarterly MAS newsletter of the Heidelberg Center for American Studies
at the University of Heidelberg! This edition covers some exciting
spring time highlights: from our lunchtime reception with Henry A.
Kissinger, the transatlantic Seminar in Berlin, Interkunsturell at
Heidelberg, the 2007 Spring International Meeting of the Democrats
Abroad at the HCA, as well as our Alumni activities and and an unexpected honor bestowed upon the writer of these lines.
Please feel free to forward our newsletter to anyone interested in American Studies. Of course, we appreciate any feedback you would like to share with us.
Many thanks and best wishes,
Prof. Dr. Dr. h.c. Detlef Junker
HCA Founding Director
Lunchtime with Henry A. Kissinger
On March 19, the MAS Class of 2007 had the chance for a lunchtime meeting with former U.S. Secretary of State, Henry A. Kissinger in Stuttgart. Kissinger was in the Baden-Württemberg capital to receive the state’s Medal of Honor.
(picture bw) Our MAS students met Kissinger at Stuttgart’s Robert Bosch Foundation. Kissinger, who had served during the administrations of U.S. presidents Richard M. Nixon (1969-1974) and Gerald R. Ford (1974-1977) as both national security advisor and secretary of state, had been awarded the Baden-Württemberg Medal of Honor by Minister President Guenther Oettinger. He received this distinction for successfully advancing German-American relations, which are of “vital importance for the State of Baden-Württemberg,” as Oettinger stated during the ceremony.
The Baden-Württemberg Medal of Honor is the state’s highest distinction. It is awarded by the Minister President for outstanding achievements in politics, society, culture, and economics benefiting the common good.
The discussion at the Bosch Foundation provided an opportunity for Dr. Kissinger to exchange views with a select audience of students and young professionals. Members of the MAS Class of 2007 made use of the occasion to pepper the elder statesmen with questions on the state of transatlantic relations, the war in Iraq, and Kissinger’s role in the American decision making process During the ensuing lunch reception MAS students continued the discussion with other distinguished guests and students from regional colleges.
The MAS Class of 2007 is made up of 16 students from around the world. They hail from China, Germany, Georgia, Japan, the Kyrgyz Republic, Romania, Russia, Ukraine, and the United States.
Berlin Seminar 2007: MAS Student Trip to the German Capital
Seth Tinkham (MAS 2007) reports on this year’s transatlantic seminar in Germany’s capital, Berlin.
Continuing an annual tradition, students and staff from the HCA traveled again this year to Berlin. Taking a break from American Studies, we spent some time absorbing German history and learning about German-American relations during our five-day excursion. Germany’s current EU presidency provided us with the chance to explore the ways in which the relationship between the United States and Germany (both divided and united) has evolved.
Beginning first with a visit to the newly opened Museum The Kennedys, where our group from the HCA was featured on the internet television station WatchBerlin. We saw the deep connection, both political and personal, many American leaders have had to the city. After our visit to the museum, we met with John Bauman of the US Embassy who explained to us the context of American diplomatic relations in Germany as well as the current political objectives of the US for Germany and the EU as a whole.
The exchange of ideas and people between the United States and Germany is not limited to politics, and a variety of institutions support programs that focus on the longstanding trans-Atlantic relationships between these two countries. At both the J.F.Kennedy-Institute of the Free University of Berlin and the American Academy, we saw the ways in which intellectual exploration of America continues.
Of course, our trip was not merely scholarly, we also found time to tour the Bundestag, the controversial Denkmal für die ermordeten Juden Europas, and the Mauermuseum at Checkpoint Charlie. We noted that the “soldiers” currently guarding the crossing have themselves profited from German-American partnerships—while they wear American uniforms and carry oversized American flags, they are just as German as a Berliner, or an Amerikaner, even.
Interkunsturell in Heidelberg
Svetlana Makeyeva (MAS 2007) shares with us her experiences in preparing the exhibition art is not a foreign language by Interkunsturell, Heidelberg in April 2007.
Svetlana saw an add in the Heidelberg students’ paper ruprecht. The artists of Interkunsturell were planning an exhibition with the topic “art is no foreign language”. Individual works and workshops should creatively tackle this topic. The conveners were looking for artists who would like to present their works and would want to take part in the workshops.
Explaining why she chose to study in Germany, Svetlana observes, “I had been to Germany once before, and I fell in love with this country. I thought, this is the place where I would like to receive an M.A. Germany is very famous for its universities and educational programs all around the world! I also want to continue studying the German language.” Heidelberg was of particular interest for her because, “In beautiful Heidelberg there is a prestigious university offering an MA in American Studies in English.” Reflecting on the exhibition, she continues: “I had been thinking of presenting this small project long ago, and Interkunsturell provided me with this wonderful opportunity. Actually, these are recollections of the first several months in Heidelberg when I felt very lonely, and my allergy became acute. Now things have changed: I do not feel lonely in Heidelberg anymore thanks to new friends, wonderful professors, rediscovered beautiful places, some personal changes, and the HCA’s enthusiastic spirit, in general. I am eager to work, create and contribute. However, memories remain. And this project is exactly about those. My purpose is not only to entertain with shapes and contrasting colors (black, white and sometimes red). Fifteen million people worldwide suffer from hand eczema (a form of allergy). I want to draw attention to such people, and try to help to understand them a little bit. My main character imagines in a fairy-tale why she has exacerbation of the hand eczema. She provides us with metaphors to explain how she feels. In the end, she uncovers the “truth”.
I hope this exhibition is a small but very important start. Heidelberg has inspired me to create more graphical images. I hope I will have several more opportunities to get you acquainted with my characters: both sad and happy. Some of them appeared as a result of my acquaintance with fellow MAS students and HCA professors .
If you are interested in further information on “Interkunsturell”, please email firstname.lastname@example.org
Life after the MAS: From Hong Kong to Iowa
What became of Amanda Chiu (MAS 2005) and Florian Vlad (MAS 2005) after graduation? Amanda reports on her work for the Hong Kong Tourism Board and Florian gives us his update on his life as Ph.D. student in the U.S.
(cr) Amanda came to Heidelberg to endulge in American Studies, “because it is a comprehensive program with many interesting fields, so it can satisfy my greed to learn everything. I chose to come to Heidelberg because it is a historical place with famous people and a town of cute buildings!” Now, two years after graduation she is back in Hong Kong working for the Hong Kong Tourist Office.
Florian looks back on the MAS: ” Yes, there is life after the MAS,
believe it or not. After graduating, I finally entered the real world
(if working in academia can be described as “the real world”). I am
currently as an instructor at Ovidius University,
teaching composition seminars to American Studies and Journalism
students. However, I will be going back to school in August. I was
lucky enough to be awarded a Presidential Fellowship by the University of Iowa
to pursue a Ph.D. in American Studies and I’m very much looking forward
to an exciting and challenging experience. And I would also to visit
Heidelberg again and meet up with the other alumni, with the staff and
with the current students. I haven’t practiced my German lately, but I
can still order a Döner mit scharfe Sosse, ohne Pepperoni. As for the MAS,
it has been successful in attracting students from all over the world,
and, from my experience, the international nature of the program is
helpful both academically (since it encourages a plurality of
perspectives) and socially. The MAS was intellectually stimulating, but I also enjoyed the relaxed and friendly atmosphere at the HCA.”
Further News from the HCA
Democrats Abroad convene at the HCA
Professor Dr. Dr. h.c. Detlef Junker, Founding Director of the HCA hosted the DA Germany Country Committee Reception in the Curt und Heidemarie Engelhorn Palais.
John Mc Queen (Democrats Abroad, Germany) is familiar with the HCA and the MAS. In the run up to the 2004 Presidential Election, he introduced our students to the U.S. electoral system. Between March 15 and 19 he now introduced his fellow Democrats Abroad to Heidelberg and the HCA. You can read more about the Democratic Party Committee Abroad (DPCA) Spring International Meeting in John McQueens weekly newsletter DA Wednesday Wire No. 95, 21 March 2007. The meeting featured representatives of Democrats Abroad from 24 countries, 130+ participants, including the largest number of Asia/Pacific country committees ever to be represented at a DPCA meeting. The opening reception was held at the Bel Etage of the HCA, the baroque interior of which provided just the right ambience for such a festive opening. The HCA’s director Prof. Junker welcomed the party representatives and introduced to the history and mission of the HCA. The HCA was proud to host such a gathering, since serving as a forum for public debate is one of the Center’s primary functions. However, Prof. Junker also stressed that the HCA is a non-partisan institution and that it is not endorsing one party organization over the other. Special guests at the reception were Phil Murphy, DNC Finance Chair, and Mark Brewer, President of the Association of State Democratic Chairs, Executive Chair of the Michigan Democratic Party and a Vice Chair of the DNC, as well as Elizabeth Kucinich, wife of presidential candidate Representative Dennis Kucinich.
Close Cooperation between the HCA and the American Academy in Berlin
In April both institutions launched a new program: The Baden-Württemberg-Seminar of the American Academy in Berlin.
Coordinated by the HCA, the American Academy will send its Fellows to Baden-Württemberg to present their research and give lectures.
On Wednesday, April 25, 2007, 12:00 p.m., the American Academy in Berlin launched its Baden-Württemberg-Seminar in cooperation with the HCA at the Neues Schloss in Stuttgart. The inaugural lecture was given by Richard C. Holbrooke, Vice Chairman, Perseus Consulting, and Chairman, American Academy in Berlin. Holbrooke, former U.S. Ambassador to Germany and former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, spoke about “The World Crisis: An American Perspective.” The inaugural lecture was hosted by Günther H. Oettinger, Minister President of Baden-Württemberg and introduced by Berthold Leibinger, Chairman of the Supervisory Board, Trumpf Gmbh + Co. KG, and supporter of the American Academy in Berlin.
The American Academy in Berlin is a private, non-profit, and non-partisan center for advanced study. Based on a residential fellowship program, its mission is to foster intellectual and professional ties between Germans and Americans in the humanities, public affairs, and the arts.
The profound interest in the United States in Baden-Württemberg is reflected in a myriad of cultural, political, and economic institutions, companies, museums, and libraries. Thus, when the American Academy decided to direct its network of American scholars, writers, journalists and policy experts to another German Bundesland, Baden-Württemberg was the obvious candidate.
From the outset, the American Academy has believed it imperative to make its visitors available to other institutions dealing with issues relevant to Germany and the US. Beginning in spring 2007, the American Academy in Berlin will select fellows and other visitors to travel to various institutions in Baden-Württemberg in order to present current work and discuss issues of transatlantic interest. Supported by its already existing network of partners in Baden-Württemberg, the American Academy in Berlin will organize this progam in close coordination with the HCA. The Academy is proud to present this first effort to a regular and sustainable bond with Baden-Württemberg.
The current program of the Baden-Württemberg-Seminar can be found here
HCA Founding Director Detlef Junker appointed Senior Distinguished Professor
Nobody expected the surprise that University Rector Professor Peter Hommelhoff had in store when he visited the Curt und Heidemarie Engelhorn Palais, the new home of the HCA, early in May.
The whole thing came as a complete surprise. On Wednesday, May 10, Professor Detlef Junker, Founding Director of the Heidelberg Center for American Studies (HCA), had invited the Rectorate of the University of Heidelberg to inspect his new premises. The intention was first to demonstrate the progress made in the renovation of the Curt und Heidemarie Engelhorn Palais, Hauptstraße 120, since the Center moved there in summer 2006. The renovation work is in fact almost complete. Prof. Junker also wanted to take this opportunity of thanking Rector Prof. Dr. Peter Hommelhoff once again for his commitment to the HCA, as a number of institutional barriers had to be negotiated before the Center could be established. What Detlef Junker did not know was that the Rector, accompanied by vice-Rectors Professor Silke Leopold and Professor Vera Nünning and CAO Dr. Marina Frost, had some very gratifying news for his host.
After a tour of inspection of the impressive new premises, the Rector returned the compliment by thanking Detlef Junker for his outstanding role in establishing the new Center. He went on to disclose the fact that Professor Junker was the figure on which the modalities for the new “distinguished senior professorship” had been modeled. This professorship is designed as a distinction for researchers and academic teachers with a record of outstanding service to the University as a whole. It also enables the University to draw especial benefit from their rich fund of experience when they have retired or become emeriti.
Detlef Junker, said Hommelhoff, had been something like the prototype for the functions a senior professor might be requested to perform.
The only minor fly in the ointment was the fact that this honorable title, bestowed for the first time on the geographer Professor Peter Meusburger in February, had not yet been officially conferred on Heidelberg’s USA expert. Accordingly, the Rector produced the corresponding document and to the surprise and delight of the recipient and the applause of the staff members present declared Detlef Junker new senior professor of the University of Heidelberg.
Heidelberg Center for American Studies (HCA)
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