MASNEWS 01/2009: Spring in Heidelberg, Berlin & Tashkent
Welcome to the Heidelberg Center for American Studies’ MAS newsletter!
This edition covers some exciting spring time highlights: the 2009 Berlin Excursion, an introduction of our most recent Fulbright scholar, a report on the Spring Academy 2009, as well as our Alumni activities.
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
From March 23 to 27 the students of the Class of 2009 went to Berlin to learn more about their host country, to attend events, and visit institutions devoted to transatlantic relations. Current student Mashid Mayar writes about her experiences and impressions of the trip.
Three days after having finished the first semester and its assignments, everybody deserves a real break, away from books and articles, and into images and words. And the opportunity is offered in form of an early morning train to Berlin. Almost a score of early birds from the Heidelberg Center for American Studies, students and two staff members, met at the Hauptbahnhof, to take a train headed for Germany's capital city. After nearly 6 hours, they got off the train to take a tour of Berlin, getting an insight into how history is linked to the future in a city divided and reunited within the last 6 decades. The tour guide introduced Berlin, as a "driving museum", through every garden, every square, every monument, and every piece of the wall, which bears a sign of the history. Museums and monuments, modern architecture and governmental buildings introduced, students got to plan for their time in the city, from East to West.
March 24 started cloudy, yet colorful; the Deutsche Guggenheim offered an exhibition called "Picturing America". The guided tour informed students about techniques used and ideas expressed in the paintings which, at the first, second and third look, still resemble enlarged photos. After the lunch break, the real enlarged photos of John F. Kennedy, his family and his visit to Berlin, greeted the MAS group at the entrance to the Kennedys Museum, near the Brandenburg Gate. The exhibition includes a film of JFK's famous trip to Berlin, photos of the Kennedy family, their life and lifestyle, as well as objects from JFK's college years, war service, and election campaigns. The final event was a tour of the Reichstag, home of the German parliament. The building bears scars of history , though it is rebuilt in an amazing melding of old and new. The rest of the day was left for the students to explore the city on their own.
The third day finally offered a sunny welcome at last. The group took an early train to the Freie Universität, where Prof. Michaela Hampf introduced the John F. Kennedy Institute.Following the introduction students were taken on a tour of the library with its impressive collection of books and documents on North American studies. Subsequently students returned to downtown Berlin for diversion and lunch, to visit the botanical garden or to take photos at the riverside. At 2 p.m. the group reassembled at the American Embassy by the Brandenburg Gate to meet the acting deputy chief of mission. Mr. Jay Anania welcomed the MAS students on the first floor of the recently completed embassy building explaining its function as a transatlantic gate. The talk was followed by an engaging question and answer period. Leaving the embassy students were free to visit places they had marked during the initial city tour. Dozens of museums, gardens, cathedrals, and restaurants and cafes beckoned..
March 26 offered more time for exploring the city. At the Checkpoint Charly Museum, the group was introduced to the 20th century history of Berlin through a detailed exhibition. Though discomforting to eye and mind, it provided a glimpse of Berlin as a divided city. After visiting the museum, one might marvel at how division has been replaced by a strong reunion of the capital city of one of the most powerful countries in the world. Photos are taken from streets and squares of Berlin and students get to view the city through a historically-informed lens. The last scheduled event of the trip was a speech at the American Academy in the evening. Located on the waterfront of the Wannsee, the American Academy hosted scores of scholars and students eager to learn more about the historical analogies to the present day situation in Iraq. Introduced by the famous German journalist Peter Scholl-Latour Dr. Susan Pederson gave a lecture on the British occupation of Iraq during the 1930s, "Getting out of Iraq (in 1932)." The speech ended with a questions and answer period, and the students got the opportunity to visit the library and learn more about the history of the American Academy and its activities.
The final day offered everybody an opportunity for some final sightseeing before boarding the train back to Heidelberg in the late afternoon. Students returned to Heidelberg with new insights and ideas of the dynamics of life in the capital of their host country and ready to start their second semester at the HCA.
On March 31, the deadline for the applications for the MAS 2011 expired. The HCA received applications from 17 different countries such as Iran, Pakistan, Vietnam, Mexico, but also from the United States, Germany and other European countries.
Online applications for the MAS class of 2012 will be accepted starting October 2009, with March 31, 2010, being the closing date for applications.
Since 2005 87 students from 30 countries have enrolled in the MAS. The MAS offers its students the opportunity to gain inside knowledge on the United States from an outside perspective.
Note: Due to a structural change of the MAS from a two semester to a three semester program there will not be a MAS Class of 2010.
Gulchekhra Makhkambaeva, a graduate of the MAS 2008, returned to her native country Uzbekistan after graduating. She reports on current professional activities.
Since I came back I have been working at the newly organized Management Development Institute of Singapore at Tashkent. I teach English (Academic Skills) as well as Communication Skills tutorials. Together with my colleague from my previous job, who also studied abroad in 2007-2008, I organized a private training center where we prepare students for IELTS and TOEFL tests. So, I have two jobs at the moment and I really enjoy both. Overall, my expectations about coming back home and finding work at a university came true, which makes me very happy. Of course, the degree that I gained at the HCA has helped a lot. I am very thankful to all the teachers and HCA staff for having provided me with such great opportunities. The course gave me not only professional but also personal confidence.
Further News from the HCA
The sixth HCA Spring Academy was held March 30 to April 3. The HCA welcomed 21 young talented scholars from 11 nations who came to Heidelberg to present their Ph.D. projects and swap ideas with their peers.
A first glimpse of summer bestowed the Spring Academy's participants a warm welcome to Heidelberg. As always, the panels and workshops were held on the premises of the Internationales Wissenschaftsforum Heidelberg, a university guest house with comfortable accommodations and assembly rooms.
The topics discussed during that week dealt with questions of "Visual Culture", the relations between Orient and Occident, immigration, the relationship between Politics and Avant-Garde in late 20th century America, "Intellectual Designs", geography, environment, religion, and American Conservatism and the Civil Rights Movement. Additionally, participants attended four workshops held by American visiting professors Robert Cherny, Kirsten Fischer, Jeanette Jones, as well as the HCA’s own Alexander Vazansky. This year's bearer of the title "Mr. Spring Academy" was Dr. Wilfried Mausbach who chaired most of the panels.
The success of both the present and the previous Spring Academy gatherings underlines its role as a transnational forum for young scholars from all over the world, helping them to establish an academic network with other aspiring researchers.
Prof. Robert Cherny (
I've been interested in history since I was a child. That was my major at the
I'm the author of three books on American politics between the Civil War and the mid-1920s and co-author of a fourth. I've been most interested in movements for social change; much of my work has also focused on the American West. I'm also a co-author of two textbooks, one on
My current work is on the Pacific coast dock workers, their unions, their leaders (especially Harry Bridges), and their politics. I'm also interested in the Communist party in the Pacific coast states. I've published several articles on these topics, and expect to complete two books, one a biography of Harry Bridges and the other a history of the CPUSA in the Pacific coast states.
My interest in the CPUSA came about because of an unusual research opportunity with the large collection of CPUSA papers in
I was quite pleased to be offered a Fulbright appointment at the
Heidelberg Center for American Studies (HCA)
Curt und Heidemarie Engelhorn Palais
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