Erika Parker ’23

How I and My Great-Grandfather Found a Homeland in a Foreign Country and the Role of German Heritage in the Feeling of Being Home.

My thesis project consisted of researching and examining my German origins. My German heritage began with my great-grandfather, who emigrated from Germany to El Salvador in 1912 but was exiled because of World War II; he was sent to a concentration camp in 1943 and then back to Germany, from where he sent letters to his family in El Salvador. Based on his letters, as well as interviews with my family and other research, I wanted to investigate how he managed to find a home in an unknown place, which for him was El Salvador. I was also interested in the parallels to my own life. I could identify with his story because I also found a home in the United States. Although I am far away from my family and the house I grew up in, I have found great friendships and a new place to call home. I can also identify with it because even though we do not live in Germany, German characteristics and German culture have always been a part of our lives, and German heritage has been passed down from generation to generation in our family.

Advisor: Raluca Cernahoschi, German

Elliott Vahey ’23

Kennen Sie Urban? and Die Legende von Paul und Paula: Liberation from the Private Sphere?

Kennen Sie Urban? (1971) and Die Legende von Paul und Paula (1973) were both written by Ulrich Plenzdorf and produced by the Deutsche Filmaktiengesellschaft (German Film Corporation, DEFA). Although a scholarly study has grappled with questions of self-fulfillment and the collectivism ethos so pertinent to everyday life in East Germany, no literature has put these two particular works by Plenzdorf in conversation with each other. This thesis takes up the question: How do characters in each of these DEFA films align with or counter the GDR’s conception of female emancipation?

Advisor: Raluca Cernahoschi, German

Oliver Russell ’21

Deutsches Blut und japanischer Boden: Arnold Fanck’s Die Tochter des Samurai as a Reflection of National Socialist Values

This analysis of Arnold Fanck’s 1937 film Die Tochter des Samurai attempts to place the picture in the broader German and Japanese exceptionalism concepts. The film can be interpreted as either a reflection of the cultural chauvinism and Orientalist thought which dominated German and Japanese discourse or a repudiation of these tendencies. Is Die Tochter des Samurai a representation of uniquely National Socialist values and anxieties transplanted into a Japanese setting, or a refusal of Germany’s position and an examination of the multi-polar German-Japanese relationship of the Interwar Period?

Advisor: Jakub Kazecki, German

Peter Griffin ’20

The Cult of the Uniform: Changing Attitudes and the Subversion of the German Identity

Today’s perceptions surrounding the German national identity typically focus on its militaristic and masculine characteristics. The foundations of these conceptions are present in German society up through the beginnings of World War I. However, the events of WW1 altered the composition of these characteristics. As the political and social structure of Germany was reconfigured in the Weimar Republic (1919-1933), new ideas surrounding the German identity became prevalent. Women and Jews, previously excluded from the view, became important members of society and actively worked to undermine and change the conceptions of the masculine and militaristic national identity. My presentation analyzes these changes on the example of four films from this period: Nosferatu (1922), Der letzte Mann (1924), Der blaue Engel (1930), and Mädchen in Uniform (1931).

Advisor: Jakub Kazecki, German

Julia Gutterman ’20

The Berlin Film Festival as a Reflection of Change of Berlin’s Identity After World War II

The Berlin International Film Festival, called Berlinale, was a cultural power-play by the West to infuse their politics on a German film industry that was in crisis after World War II. Looking at the Berlinale today, the event is a mecca for Eastern European film and showcases a program of culturally and geographically diverse films. I argue that in tracking the history of films shown at the Berlinale since 1951 alongside the history of German film and its cultural influences, a change can be seen when German film gains back its cultural identity, or rather sheds the heavy influence from the West.

Advisor: Jakub Kazecki, German

Janika Ho ’20

The Development of Meaning and Purpose in Life Among Adolescents in Germany and Maine

This year-long German and Psychology thesis analyzed the development of identity, meaning and purpose in adolescent students from two different cultures through qualitative interviews. The presence of meaning in life has been shown to have physical and psychological health benefits; however what it means to live a meaningful and purposeful life is culturally influenced and may look different in each setting. The qualitative nature of this project provided the opportunity for the students from each culture to share their own ideas of what brought meaning and purpose to their lives and showed the ways in which they interpreted those terms.

Combined year-long thesis in German Studies and Psychology, Honors in Psychology (2020).

Co-advisors: Raluca Cernahoschi, German, and Rebecca Fraser-Thill, Psychology

Jacob LeMoine ’20

A Tale of Two Countries: An Analysis of Selected Works of Fatih Akin

The thesis analyzes the works of worldwide renowned Turkish-German director Fatih Akin, whose films often display insights into societal views of multiculturalism. Akin uses representations of cultural space, conflict resolutions, and the style of film noir to present an image of hybridized identity on-screen. This thesis aims to view the specific ways in which Akin uses those methods in the films Short Sharp Shock (1998), In July I (2000), Head-On (2004)and In the Fade (2017). The thesis argues that the utilization of these methods in these films is key in Akin’s idea of representing the dual acceptance of supposedly opposing cultures.

Advisor: Jakub Kazecki, German

Claudia Glickman ’19

An Analysis of Intercultural Depictions in German Children’s Literature

This project analyzes modern German children’s books to uncover the ways in which they depict (or don’t depict) intercultural environments and interactions. Starting from the history of children’s literature and the emergence of intercultural communication as its own subgenre, I develop criteria for analysis to look more closely at a collection of popular contemporary books. The children’s books are compared and contrasted for their approach to the topic of interculturality, as well as for the messages they send to their audience about the diversity of German culture.

Advisor: Raluca Cernahoschi, German

Katie Ziegler ’19

The Repurposing of 19th-Century Tenement Buildings in Present-Day Berlin

Berlin’s tenement buildings, or Mietskaserne, were widely criticized when they were first built in the late 19th century. Today, the tenement buildings house desirable modern apartments, and in some cases, boutique shopping complexes. This thesis discusses the question: How do narratives of nostalgia for the late 19th-century and images of the working-class tenements interact with the forces of gentrification? Supporting evidence includes photographic documentation of the buildings, a comparison of historical and contemporary discussions of the tenements in the press, and a discussion of the reception of artistic depictions of the historical Mietskaserne.

Advisor: Jakub Kazecki, German

Kelsey Elizabeth McDermott ’17

Freud’sche Sichtweisen in der österreichischen Literatur: Stefan Zweig und die Allegorien von Sex und Tod

Advisor: Craig Decker, German

Devin Ullerick ’17

Bruch aus dem altmodischen Verfilmungsstil: eine Analyse des männlichen Blicks in den Filmen von Rainer Werner Fassbinder

The thesis focuses on the films from the critically acclaimed German director Rainer Werner Fassbinder. It analyzes specifically his two films, Ali: Fear Eats the Soul (1974) and The Merchant of Four Seasons (1971). They highlight how Fassbinder moved away from the “male gaze,” a term that was first proposed by Laura Mulvey in Visual and other Pleasures (1988). The thesis argues that Fassbinder uses the male gaze in shots containing secondary characters to set up a contrast with how he frames his protagonists within the scene. The two films contain what have been called “castrated-male” main characters and function especially well as examples for two types of gaze that Fassbinder uses in his other films.

Advisor: Jakub Kazecki, German

Stefan Enzo Stadlinger ’16

Pflichtbewusstsein, Neutralität und die Kronen Zeitung: Eine Analyse der Berichterstattung der Kronen Zeitung vor der Wehrpflicht-Volksbefragung 2013 in Österreich

Advisor: Jakub Kazecki, German

Eric Adamson ’15

The German ‘PISA-Shock’ and Changing Attitudes Towards Comprehensive Schooling

During the 1960s and 1970s, Europe experienced a wave of reforms in its school systems, including the creation of comprehensive schooling programs. A striking exception to reform was Germany, which was never able to succeed in creating a fully comprehensive school system nationwide. In 2000, with the release of the PISA scores, an international test given to 28 OECD countries measuring 15-year olds’ math, reading, and scientific abilities, found that Germany scored significantly below average. This work focuses on the media reaction to the PISA results as well as the shifting German perspective to international comparison, specifically looking towards Finland and Sweden, largely considered the success stories of PISA, for insight to the factors that contributed to the poor performance and efforts to improve education throughout the country. Previous lack of school reform in Germany can primarily be attributed to 1) the strong tradition of the Gymnasium and vocational programs, 2) Germany’s decentralized federalist structure, making it difficult to have a unified movement backed by a leading political party to overcome conservative resistance and carry the momentum of reform. With the 2000 test results, the long-held belief of German academic excellence was shaken, but it was not clear that the “PISA-shock” would result in sufficient public and political support to reverse a 50-year trend of resistance to the development of a national comprehensive school program. Were PISA to be as great of a shock as the media made it out to be, then it is to be expected that real reforms would be made to the education system as public pressure mounted. Initial media reactions show a unified look to Scandinavia, but a deeply divided public opinion nearly identical to the political gridlock of the 1970s on how to improve German schools.

Advisors: Jakub Kazecki, German & Jim Richter, European Studies/Politics

Margaret Lane Peterson ’15

Lewiston, Munich, Hausach: The Search for Home. Approaches to the Poetry of José F. A. Oliver

Advisor: Raluca Cernahoschi, German

Josh Arenstam ’14

Cooking up Identity: The Creation of Identity Through the Use of Food Symbolism in French and German Cinema

Advisors: Raluca Cernahoschi, German, & Laura Balladur, French and Francophone Studies

Ashley Braunthal ’14

Macht der Kurst im Dritten Reich: Ein Vergleich zwischen Hitlers Kunstwerk und dem Reichsparteitag 1934

Advisor: Raluca Cernahoschi, German

Peter Cowan ’14

Essen, Arbeit, Wärme: Weit, hinter den Wäldern und das Überleben im dörflichen Siebenbürgen in der Nachkriegszeit

Advisor: Raluca Cernahoschi, German

Taylor Timothy Guss ’14

Richard Wagners Reputation im deutschen akademischen und Pressediskurs nach 1945

Advisor: Jakub Kazecki, German

Wil Mark Muller ’14

Images of the 2004 Eastward Expansion of the European Union in the German Press: A Case Study of Poland

Advisor: Jakub Kazecki, German

William H. Frank ’13

How to Desire: Understanding the Presentation of National Socialism through Film, 1927-1935

Advisor: Craig Decker, German

Thomas Norris ’13

Hypocrisy: A Study of Social Anxiety in Schnitzler’s Vienna

Advisor: Craig Decker, German

Jeffrey Erik Berry ’12

Sigmund Freud, Arthur Schnitzler, and the Birth of Psychological Man

The Wiener Moderne, the modernist movement that took place in Vienna between roughly 1890 and 1910, is unique in its contributions to modern thought. The imperial capital produced Sigmund Freud and psychoanalysis; the artist Gustav Klimt; the writers Arthur Schnitzler, Hugo von Hofmannsthal, and Karl Kraus; the philosophers Ludwig Wittgenstein and Karl Popper; the composers Gustav Mahler and Arnold Schoenberg; and the politics of Zionism, anti-Semitism, and Austro-Marxism. Many of these intellectuals and artists demonstrated a close correspondence in thought across disciplines. Scholars explain these similarities with the expression, “the ideas were in the air.” Unsatisfied with such a terse write-off, this thesis looks to Sigmund Freud and Arthur Schnitzler for answers. The two men never met in person; in a letter to Schnitzler, Freud confided that he avoided a meeting out of fear of facing his own doppelgänger (Doppelgängerscheu)––an expression of their extraordinary intellectual alignment. Both were Jewish, at least by heritage, and both were neurologists, at least by training. Though Freud wrote as psychoanalyst and Schnitzler as playwright, in their respective works they each explored questions about hysteria, dreams, free association, repressed (or perhaps in Schnitzler’s case, unrepressed) sexuality, and Jewish identity. By examining Freud and Schnitzler’s stances on these questions, as well as their biographies, this thesis aims to ground the air-borne ideas and identify some of the characteristics of Viennese modernism at the turn of the century.

Berry, Jeffrey Erik, “Sigmund Freud, Arthur Schnitzler, and the Birth of Psychological Man” (2012). Honors Theses. 10.

Honors Thesis. Advisor: Craig Decker, German

Keti Vashakidze ’11

Die deutsche Volksgemeinschaft durch die Lupe der Nazipropaganda betrachtet

Advisor: Craig Decker, German

Anne Connell ’10

Re-picturing the Role of Women in World War II Germany: Issues of Gender, Guilt, and Passivity in Film

Advisor: Craig Decker, German

Emily Chandler ’09

Representing Empress Elisabeth: A Comparative Study of Biography in Twentieth Century Austria

Advisor: Craig Decker, German

Cem Kurtulus ’09

The Problem of Distinctions in Franz Kafka’s Verwandlung: The Insect qua Gregor and The Sovereign Riposte

Year-long thesis. Advisor: Craig Decker, German

Arta Osmanaj ’09

Identitätsfragestellungen in der türkisch-deutschen Literatur: Die erste und zweite Migrantengeneration

Advisor: Craig Decker, German

Svitlana Orekhova ’09

Kulturelle Stereotype im Diskurs der deutsch-türkischen Identität

Advisor: Craig Decker, German

Dana Burgard ’08

Fragen der Gerechtigkeit in den Werken Friedrich Dürrenmatts

Advisor: Craig Decker, German

Erica Foulser ’08

The Problem of Cultural-Personal Identity for Second-Generation Turkish-Germans

Advisor: Craig Decker, German

Timothy Charles McCall ’08

‘Was hinter der Fassade steckt’: A Critical Examination of Johann Nestroy’s Der böse Geist Lumpazivagabundus, Freiheit in Krähwinkel & The Censor

Advisor: Craig Decker, German

Tristan Beach ’06

Grass and His World: The Grotesque and History in Günter Grass’s Die Blechtrommel

Year-long thesis. Advisor: Craig Decker, German

Tiffany L. Kasper ’06

Vaterliteratur: Eine literarische Analyse der österreichischen Vaterliteratur an Beispielen von Brigitte Schwaigers Lange Abwesenheit und Peter Henischs Die kleine Figur meines Vaters

Advisor: Craig Decker, German

Zana Djapo ’04

Die Neurose des unidentifizierten Ichs in der österreichischen Öffentlichkeit und der Literatur

Eine Analyse der literarischen Werken Heldenplatz von Thomas Bernhard, Steins Paranoia von Peter Henisch und Gebürtig von Robert Schindel im Bezug auf den andauernden Antisemitismus, die ‘Vergangeheitsbewältigung’ und Identitätskonflikte der Juden und Nicht-Juden in der Zweiten Österreichischen Republik.

Advisor: Craig Decker, German

Martins Masulis ’03

Imagining the German Nation in the Political Lyric of Freiligrath, Geibel, and Herwegh

This thesis applied the modernist theories of nationalism by Benedict Anderson and Ernest Gellner to analyze the political and cultural context of the 1848 revolutions in the German lands. The study first looks at the general evolution of national imagination among German intellectuals leading up to the revolution and proceeds to a closer examination of national symbolism and mythology as represented in the political lyric of three poets in the 1840s. Particular attention is devoted to how previous intellectual tradition has shaped the nationalist rhetoric of Ferdinand Freiligrath, Emmanuel Geibel, and Georg Herwegh and to the reconciliation of liberal and nationalist ideologies in their work on the eve of the 1848 revolutions. The study seeks to test the modernist contention that the (German) nation is largely a modern concept, initially constructed and imagined by a small elite of intellectuals and then passed onto the masses to achieve political realization.

Honors Thesis. Advisor: Craig Decker, German

Kirsten H. Erichsen ’01


Honors Thesis. Advisor: Craig Decker, German

John Chapin ’00

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe: Dichtung und wissenschaftliche Methode aus der Natur

Advisor: Craig Decker, German

Daniel J. Gavin ’00

Die komische Figur im Volksstück: Meister der Verschmelzung von Komik und Ernst

Honors Thesis. Advisor: Craig Decker, German

Erin C. Daniels ’00

The Development and Implementation of a German Foreign Language Curriculum in Lewiston Kindergarten Classrooms

Honors Thesis. Advisor: Craig Decker, German

Forgan C. McIntosh ’00

Studies in Austerity: Selected Translations of the Poetry of Georg Bydlinski

Honors Thesis. Advisors: Craig Decker, German, and Robert Farnsworth, English

Gintare Balseviciute ‘15

Putinism and Russian Cultural Values

Recent events in Crimea sparked my interest in Russian political life. The event shows that even in the twenty-first century Russia and the West have key ideological differences. To be able to understand the roots of this on-going conflict I will examine the importance of cultural values. In particular, I will focus on the transition period from planned to open-market economy arguing that cultural factors guided the Russian response to economic reforms, which led to a different outcome than expected. Even though Russia adopted the “Western” economic model, it does not necessarily mean that Russia will become more “Western”. Economists often overlook the importance of cultural values and do not recognize that for the transition to a market economy you need to revolutionize more than just the industrial and economic conditions of the society. What is necessary is a far-reaching change in the structure of life itself and on people’s thinking. Not taking that into account, a set of values exceedingly different from those in the West distorted Western policy recommendations. Giving the example of the importance of cultural values in the economic development, I will show what should have happened in theory after the transition period and what has actually happened factoring in the importance of cultural values. I will argue that constant undermining of the cultural Russian heritage is continuing to cause strife between Russia and the US even nowadays.

Advisor: Dennis Browne, Russian

Benjamin Brimelow ‘15

Sacred Ground: Nationalism in Crimea and Kosovo

A comparison of Vladimir Putin’s 2014 actions in Crimea and southeast Ukraine with the politics of Slobodan Milošević in Kosovo in the 1980s and 1990s. The similar appeals to imagined communities based on shared history and religion are the features which are central in the political actions of the two leaders.

Advisor: Dennis Browne, Russian

Elena Mandzhukova ’15

Catherine the Great: The Portrayal of the Empress of All Russias in Art and Cinema

Several global factors and events have to be taken into account to explain the optical illusion which affected Western European judgment of Russia at the turn of 18th century. One must first place itself in a broad historiographical context in order to bring its distinctive features into relief. The Enlightenment culminated in the French and American revolutions influenced the philosophy and science, which prominently expended across the globe. Intellectuals, such as philosophers and mathematicians dreamed of a brighter age, in which society would be able to expand their knowledge on regular basis. Little they knew at the time that their dream would be turned into reality by several European monarchies who embraced Enlightenment ideals, among which Catherine the Great of Russia played a noticeable role.

Advisor: Dennis Browne, Russian

Luke Spiro-Wilson ‘14

Naftaly A Frankel: His Life and Legends

Naftaly Aronovich Frenkel was a foreign-born merchant criminal who rose from a prisoner in the Solovetsky camps to a top administrator of the GULag system in the Soviet Union. His importance in the formation of the GULag system in the Soviet Union is widely debated. Frenkel is mentioned in many memoirs of GULag survivors, as well as in many scholarly works. Curiously, however, very few works have been written specifically about him. One reason for this may be that reliable information about him is difficult to come by and there is often conflicting information presented in historic and academic literatures. On the one hand, GULag survivors tell stories about Frenkel that they had heard in the camps, often colored by their own assumptions or impressions and therefore not necessarily true or accurate. Another problem is that many researchers use these accounts as the basis for their discussion of Frenkel, simply regurgitating the questionable information about him. They combine real details of his life with legends about him from the camps until their discussions are a complex mix of fact and falsity. Thus, even the most scholarly work on Frenkel must be picked apart carefully to say which bits were truthful and which were not. This thesis attempts to unravel fact from fiction and present not just snippets of Frenkel’s life, but instead the entire story of the man.

Advisor: Dennis Browne, Russian

Neil O’Connor ‘12

American Expeditionary Forces (AEF) Siberia 1918-1920

A project in which historical and personal documents from a US Army Lieutenant involved in the American Expeditionary Forces in Siberia during the Russian Civil War were digitally restored and archived.

Advisor: Dennis Browne, Russian

Cosmin Ghita ’11

Understanding Russia: A Practical Study of the Translation of Russian Policy Papers

Advisor: Dennis Browne, Russian

Nicholas Klinovsky ‘06

The Superfluous Man: The Russian Continuum of Alienation, from the Literature of Alexander Pushkin to the Rock Music of Viktor Tsoi

Much like his peers, Tsoi helped change the paradigm of the alienated and tragic superfluous man of the 19th century, to that of a passionate creator whose artistic drive to write songs about everyday people’s alienation in late Soviet Russia attracted a whole alternative culture of people who felt they had finally found an identity for themselves in the guise of rock music.

Advisor: Dennis Browne, Russian

Sarah Rorimer ’02

Not Only Beautiful, but Like a Prince: The Characterization of Princess Yaroslavna in Borodin’s Prince Igor

Borodin struggled to keep women’s higher education courses going and he well understood the difficulties that women were facing. Similar to Yaroslavna, the women scientists were striving to serve the Russian masses and were all along receiving less respect than a man performing the same duties. Society and the aristocracy during the reign of Alexander III suppressed higher education for women creating obstacles that were by nature similar to the barriers that Yaroslavnva encountered. Borodin transferred his feelings of frustration concerning the women’s struggle into his major life’s work, Prince Igor and used composing as an outlet for his emotions. Although his involvement with the women’s movement is not usually considered when Borodin’s name is mentioned, the ideas and challenges that were a predominant part of his endeavors shine through to this day via his opera Prince Igor.

Advisor: Jane Costlow, Russian

Dassia Robertson ‘93

The Overcoat: An Adaptation of Nikolai Gogol’s Short Story for the Stage

What is so remarkable about this story…is not the plot itself, but the language through which it is expressed. Vladimir Nabokov, in his book Nikolai Gogol, makes the following observation: “Great literature skirts the irrational… With Gogol this shifting is the very basis of his art… His work, as of all great literary achievements, is a phenomenon of language and not of ideas.” The greatest challenge for me in writing the adaptation into a play has been to capture this language and express it through both words and images… As a playwright and director, my attempt here is not merely to retell the plot, but to play the role of narrator, with the same aspect of the bizarre and unusual juxtaposition of words, ideas, and images.

Advisor: Dennis Browne, Russian