Graduate Student Exchanges and European Study Opportunities

Germanic Studies Graduate Students frequently spend time doing research or attending universities abroad and it is the policy of the Department to help them find access to the international situation that best fits the particular student’s intellectual itinerary. However, the Department maintains three regular exchange programs with institutions with which we have an especially vital history of intellectual and academic change. All of these exchanges, which are Department-based, are flexible, unburdened by complex application procedures, and based in strong relations between our faculty and the faculty at our partner institutions.

Universität Konstanz
We have a regular exchange with the Universität Konstanz, which was the first Exzellenzuniversität in the human sciences in Germany and has, since its founding, consistently been a source of influential movements within literary studies. It was the intellectual home of the famous research group Poetik und Hermeneutik, the  theories of reader reception and reception history were formulated here, and its faculty and students have been key figures in the cultural turn of recent years. Konstanz and Chicago are especially congenial partners because of their shared emphasis on interdisciplinary research. Arrangements for our students to spend a semester or even a year at Konstanz are easily made. In addition, the campus-based culture of the Universität Konstanz and the flexible and open academic community make it an especially hospitable environment for our students.

Freie Universität Berlin
Students who choose the FU Berlin are hosted by our exchange partner, the Friedrich Schlegel Graduiertenkolleg für Literaturwissenschaft. The Schlegel Kolleg is an internationally oriented doctoral program in Comparative Literature and, as a matter of fact, the only Kolleg in Germany especially devoted to literary study. The Schlegel Kolleg gives our students an institutional support system within the broader context of the FU. Using it as a base, students can take advantage of the entire array of offerings at the FU and, for that matter, at the Humboldt Universität as well. Berlin provides what many regard as the most creative and exciting urban environment in Europe. Its many intellectually oriented institutions (e.g., the Zentrum für Literaturforschung, the American Academy, the Akademie der Künste) provide ample opportunity to attend lectures, readings, and roundtable debates. In addition, the archival resources Berlin offers are boundless. Our exchange with the Schlegel Kolleg serves as a platform from which graduate students can take advantage of this unique literary and cultural milieu.

Universität Leipzig
The exchange with the Universität Leipzig is the most recent addition to our regular exchange programs. It is a particularly attractive program for students interested in adding a genuine philosophical dimension to their doctoral work. Leipzig is today arguably the center for the study of German Idealism and its impact on contemporary philosophical debates. For this reason, this particular exchange is run in cooperation with the University of Chicago Department of Philosophy. An interesting feature of the Chicago/Leipzig partnership is that it includes mini-seminars conducted on both sides of the Atlantic with faculty and students from both institutions. We see the Leipzig exchange developing in the years ahead as a key component of the Chicago Germanic Studies Department’s subspecialty in German philosophy.

Germanic Studies and the College’s Study Abroad Office run an autumn quarter Civilization Core program for undergraduate students, “Vienna in Western Civilization.” Three faculty from the University of Chicago teach the Civ sequence and one graduate student from Germanic Studies teaches 2-3 levels of German language. The student accompanies the group on its excursions both inside and outside Vienna (destinations in past programs: Prague, Budapest, Dresden, Graz, Munich). The student will have opportunities for interaction with the University of Vienna, the Wien Museum (directed by a U of Chicago alumnus), and other institutions in the city.

Over the last decade several leading philosophers affiliated with the University of Ljubljana and the Slovene Academy of Sciences have found their way to the University of Chicago in a variety of different contexts. Slavoj Zizek was a Critical Inquiry Visiting Professor. Mladen Dolar was Visiting Professor at the Center for Disciplinary Innovation (fall 2013) and a Romberg Visiting Professor in the Department of Germanic Studies (fall 2015). Alenka Zupancic (along with Zizek and Dolar) has given lectures and conducted seminars at the Franke Institute for the Humanities. Two students of Dolar and Zupancic, have given lectures for the Workshop on Central Europe. Eric Santner, the Philip and Ida Romberg Distinguished Service Professor in Modern Germanic Studies, has given numerous lectures in Ljubljana and taught with Zizek, Dolar, and Zupancic in a summer institute for experimental critical theory at the University of California at Irvine. Currently, a graduate student in Slavic Studies, is doing research in Ljubljana for a dissertation project on the intellectual history of the “Ljubljana School” of psychoanalytic theory. Another graduate student in Germanic Studies is conducting research there for his project on the nineteenth-century novel in which the theoretical perspective of the Ljubljana School will play a significant role. A number of faculty members of the University of Chicago have made extensive use of the writings of Zizek, Dolar, and Zupancic in their research and teaching. Malynne Sternstein and William Mozzarella have taught seminars specifically focused on these materials. A Neubauer Collegium faculty workshop on the voice placed Dolar’s seminal work on the voice, above all his book, A Voice and Nothing More, at the center of their investigations (their capstone conference in November, 2015 was called “A Voice and Something More”; Dolar will gave the closing remarks at the conference). Several students who participated in Dolar’s seminars will include him as an outside advisor of their dissertations. The department and the university are currently at work in establishing the structures that would sustain and further develop the connections between Chicago and Ljubljana.