Teaching & Professional Development

Teaching Responsibilities, Language Coordination, and Mentoring

Teaching is a required component of the graduate program in German at Penn. All of our graduate students teach during their second and third years at Penn. Teaching is often counted as one of the most gratifying experiences our graduate students have. It is also an essential part of preparation for the academic profession. Teaching assistants are first assigned to teach either elementary German (101 and 103) or intermediate German (103 and 104). Teaching assistants teach one course per semester. Advanced graduate students (i.e., students in their fifth or sixth year) may be selected to teach language or literature courses beyond the basic language program or to lead recitation sections for popular literature courses taught in English. In both cases students receive substantial training and mentoring.

All beginning teaching assistants must participate in an intensive week-long, interdepartmental orientation session prior to the beginning of the fall semester. During the course of the semester, our teaching assistants work together with the Language Coordinator and TA Supervisor and her assistants in planning quizzes, tests, and lesson plans. The Coordinator has the primary responsibility of guiding the teaching assistants through the teaching experience in first or second year German. The coordinator also observes the teaching of each of the teaching assistants at least once per semester. Reports are filed with the Undergraduate Chair and shared with the respective teaching assistant. Such reports are useful for the preparation of letters of recommendation, the teaching portfolio, and for teaching award nominations. The Coordinator also conducts a bimonthly pedagogy roundtable for each level of the basic language program. Active participation in the roundtable is mandatory for all teaching assistants.

The University of Pennsylvania has a rigorous language requirement for all undergraduates, regardless of their major. Every student must take 4 semesters of a language or the equivalent. In addition, students take an oral proficiency interview as well as proficiency examinations in the other skills and a grammar exam in order to complete the requirement. For this reason, it is essential that our graduate students learn how to administer oral proficiency interviews. Every year, at the end of September or beginning of October, a weekend-long intensive training session is held; participation is mandatory for our beginning teaching assistants. Teaching assistants hold weekly office hours during the academic year, and participate in the administration and grading of the Departmental proficiency examination (biannually).

Professional Development

The graduate curriculum includes a thorough professional development program, covering topics such as: preparing a c.v., writing and presenting scholarly papers, publishing articles, preparing a teaching portfolio, analysis of job descriptions and the job market, and mock interviews. The Department pledges to help students subsidize travel to one scholarly conference per year, provided the student is presenting a paper. Funding is available from GAPSA, SASgov, the Dean, and the Department. Application must be made several weeks before travel. No reimbursements can be made after the fact.

Annual Graduate Student Conference 

Penn graduate students were among the first to initiate an annual graduate student conference. Under the broad heading of "Intersections," our students organize and run an interdisciplinary conference that brings graduate students from major German programs across the United States and other countries as well (Canada, UK, Germany). Recent conferences include: Exchanges Between German and Religious Studies"; Gender Questions/Questioning Gender; and Concerted Dissonance.

Guest Professors, Lectures, and Conferences

The Department believes it is important for students to enjoy maximum exposure to prominent scholars, writers, critics, and filmmakers from the United States, Germany, Austria, and Switzerland. For that reason, we endeavor to have at least one guest professor every semester and to maintain a regular and frequent program of guest lectures and conferences.

Recent guest professors include: Sara Poor (Stanford), Daniel Purdy (Pennsylvania State), Rolf-Peter Janz (Berlin), Hendrik Birus (Munich), Stephan Braese (Bremen), Silke Roth (DAAD visiting professor), Ulrich Baer (NYU), Noah Isenberg (The New School for General Studies), Philipp Gassert (DAAD visiting professor), Hartmut Boehme (Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin), Gunnar Hindrichs (DAAD visiting professor, University of Heidelberg), Gertrud Koch (Freie Universitaet Berlin), Grit Schwarzkopf (University of Heidelberg), Birgit Recki (Universitaet Hamburg).

Recent guest lecturers include: Anton Kaes (Berkeley), Eric Rentschler (Harvard), Alice Kuzniar (North Carolina), Stanley Corngold (Princeton), Judith Ryan (Harvard), Jeannette Lander (Berlin), Frank Stern (Ben Gurion, Israel), Lisa Lewenz (New York filmmaker), Gabriele Duerbeck (Rostock and Bremen), Stephan Braese (Bremen), Rolf Horstmann (Humboldt University Berlin), Rebecca Comay (Toronto), Caroline Walker Bynum, (Princeton), Hans-Joachim Ruckhaeberle (Bavarian State Theater, Munich), Belinda Davis (Rutgers), Claudia Benthien (Humboldt-University, Berlin), Jane K. Brown (University of Washington), Anita Norich (University of Michigan), Istvan Varkonyi (Temple University), Dieter Borchmeyer (Heidelberg), Julia Hell (Michigan), Lutz Koepnick (Washington University), Peter Krupnikow (University der Bundeswehr, Munich), Esther Dischereit, (German poet and writer), Djelal Kadir (Penn State), Yoko Tawada (Japanese--German author), Stewart Stehlin (NYU), Lutz Kuntzsch, (Gesellschaft fuer Deutsche Sprache), Klaus Bergdolt (Cologne), Friedrich Vollhardt (Muenchen), Anna Parkinson (Cornell), Imke Meyer (Bryn Mawr), Kristin Gjesdal (Temple University), Wilfried Barner (Goettingen), Philipp Gassert (Heidelberg), Daniel Weygandt (Austrian, German and Swiss Affairs in the Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs), Heinz Ludwig Arnold (Goettingen), Hans-Juergen Heimsoeth (General Consul of the Federal Republic of Germany), Tim Mehigan (University of Otago, New Zealand), Birte Britta Pfleger (California State University, L A), Gerhard Richter (University of California, Davis), Svetlana Boym (Harvard), Peter Fenves (Northwestern), Ulrich Baer (NYU), Thomas Lehr (Berlin Author), Felicitas Heimann-Jelinek (Juedisches Museum in Vienna, and Spertus Museum, Chicago), Elisabeth Young-Bruehl (psychoanalyst in Manhattan and Columbia Center for Psychoanalytic Training and Research), Werner Herzog (German filmmaker), Michael Brenner (Munich), Klaus Hoedl (Graz), Wolfgang Emmerich (Bremen), Christiane Hertel (Bryn Mawr), Kelly Barry (Columbia), Christian Delage (Yeshiva University), Gunnar Hindrichs (Univ. of Heidelberg), German Experimental Women Filmmakers UTE AURAND - MILENA GIERKE - RENATE SAMI, Christiaan Hart-Nibbrig (University of Lausanne), Anke Ortlepp (German Historical Institute in Washington, DC), Klaus Scherpe (Humboldt-Universitaet, Berlin), David Sorkin (U. of Wisconsin-Madison), Dovid Katz (Vilnius University, Lithuania), Gert Hofmann (National Univ. of Ireland, Cork), Anat Feinberg (University for Jewish Studies in Heidelberg, Germany), Arthur Caplan (Center for Bioethics), Max Cavitch (Dept. of English), Frederick Fisher (Psychoanalytic Center of Philadelphia), Sharrona Pearl (Annenberg School for Communication), Katherine Sender (Annenberg School for Communication), Nele Bemong (Breughel Visiting Asst. Prof., K. U. Leuven, Belgium), Christian Kohlross (The Hebrew University of Jerusalem), Roland S. Kamzelak (Deutsches Literaturarchiv Marbach, Germany), Paul Peucker (Moravian Church Archives), Peter Burgard (Harvard University), Jacob Eder (Dept. of History), Barbara Vinken (Ludwig-Maximilians-Universitaet Muenchen), David Engel (NYU), Samuel D. Kassow (Trinity College), Ann Marie Rasmussen (Duke Univ.), Paul Franks (Yale Univ.), David Berona (Plymouth State Univ.), Paul M. Malone (University of Waterloo, Canada), Marc Legendre (author), Charles Burns (author), Marcel Lepper (Deutsches Literaturarchiv Marbach, Germany), Azade Seyhan (Bryn Mawr College), Nina Berman (Ohio State Univ.), Gerhild Scholz Williams (Washington Univ. in St. Louis), Ken Frieden (Syracuse Univ.), Larry Silver (History of Art), Barbara Kosta (Univ. of Arizona), Andrea Bachner (Penn State Univ.), Andre Dobrowski (History of Art), Anita Norich (Univ. of Michigan), Xiaojue Wang (East Asian Languages), Kevin Platt (Slavic Languages & Literatures), Lawrence Venuti (Temple Univ.), Yoko Tawada (author), Leslie Adelson (Cornell Univ.), Tom Cheesman (Swansea Univ., UK), Chi-ming Yang (Asian American Studies), Mark Harman (Elizabethtown College), Bettina Brandt (Penn State Univ.), Susan Bernofsky (author), Charles Bernstein (Dept. of English), Heike Bauer (Birkbeck, Univ. of London).

Recent conferences, colloquia and similar events include: Constituting The Field of German Film Studies; The Future of German-American History; The Culture of Exchange; The GoetheFest; The KafkaFest; Boundaries, Borders, and Gender: A Workshop on Women and/in German Cinema; and Style; "The Long Shadows of the Berlin Wall: Fifteen Years after Its Fall"; "Gender Issues and Women's Movements in the Enlarged European Union"; "How Many Genders Has German"; "The Decline of the West? The Fate of the European Community after the Cold War."; "Picture This"; "Beyond Memorials: New Perspectives in German-Jewish Culture"; IAWIS/AIERTI 7th International Conference on Word & Image Studies: "Elective Affinities"; North American Conference of Swedish Teachers; Penn Humanities Forum on Travel; "Freud’s Jewish World"; "Uniting Sound & Text"; "Reel Travel- Displacements of Film"; "The Treasured Hunt: Collecting Medieval and Renaissance Manuscripts, Past, Present, and Future"; Thinking Urban Space; "Posthumous Lives: Literary Archives in the Twenty-First Century"; Becoming Modern: The German-Jewish Experience; Herder, Music, and Enlightenment: An Interdisciplinary Symposium; German-American Day and German-American Week in Philadelphia; "Envisioning the Real: Nineteenth Century German Literature and Art and Its After-Effect"; "The Wolfman Paints!" Symposium and Exhibit; "Round and 'Round we go: The Endless Carnival"; "Mater(ia) Familias: Family Matters"; "Graphic Exchanges: Comics without Borders"; "Un/Translatables" an interdisciplinary conference on questions of translatability across Germanic languages and cultures.

University-Wide Policies for Graduate Students can be found at this web site https://www.sas.upenn.edu/graduate-division/resources/policies-procedures. Although the Department and Graduate Chair will advise students as they progress through the program, it is the responsibility of the graduate student to be familiar with and comply with all policies of the University of Pennsylvania.