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Wednesday, December 07, 2016

Renamed Arts and Science department deepens cross-disciplinary focus | Vanderbilt University News

Photo: Ann Marie Owens
"Cultural history, literature, film, media, political culture and thought are among the interdisciplinary areas that faculty and students will explore in the newly named Department of German, Russian and East European Studies." inform

Lutz Koepnick, Gertrude Conaway Vanderbilt Professor of German, Media and Cinema Arts
Photo: John Russell/Vanderbilt

”The department’s former name, Germanic and Slavic Languages, did not capture the range of expertise of our superb faculty or represent the diversity of courses available to our students,” said Lauren Benton, dean of the College of Arts and Science and the Nelson O. Tyrone Jr. Professor of History. “The new name reflects the department’s international leadership in the study of cultural change in a vast and enormously important world region spanning Russia, Eastern Europe and Germany.”

“The past three decades have witnessed a radical expansion of the materials studied and the methodologies used by scholars in German,” according to Lutz Koepnick, the Gertrude Conaway Vanderbilt Professor of German, Cinema and Media Arts and department chair. “While language and literature studies remain a critical component of our curriculum, we now have faculty and students who also work on film, music, media art, intellectual history and much more. Our objects of study are German-speaking cultures in general, and we no longer view language and literature as the only keys to understanding these cultures.”

He also said that traditional concepts such as “Germanic” and “Slavic” have become deeply problematic in times of multicultural openness and global connectivity. They fail to describe the diversity of these cultures and are confusing for students when exploring the curriculum’s offerings.

​Koepnick pointed out that about 20 percent of Germany’s population today comprises people with migrant backgrounds, a majority of whom come from Turkey. One reason to expand the focus of the discipline has been to address the heterogeneity of European cultures in a globalizing world.
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Source: Vanderbilt University News