Goethe Center: weekend symposium

Jacqueline Condon and Molly Wierman, Staff Writer and News Editor

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Attendees of the Goethe symposium enjoyed panels on philosophy, literature and Goethe’s idea of America. Photo by Anthony Garnier.

The German program of the University of Dallas Modern Languages Department commemorated the 50th anniversary of the Dallas Goethe Center last Friday with a Goethe Symposium, which was co-sponsored by the department and held on campus.

The symposium lasted all day, beginning in the morning with panels by UD professors and international scholars hailing from China, Switzerland and Australia, and ending with a reception featuring soprano Mary Fougerousse, ’15, pianist Brian Bentley and a screening of the film “Young Goethe in Love,” according to the University of Dallas website.

Junior Mary Lindberg, a German major, said that the presenters and attendees at the symposium displayed a deep enthusiasm for the works of Goethe, which united them despite differences in age.

“It was like what [Dallas Goethe Center Executive Director] Dr. [Barbara] Berthold said: there was definitely a cross-generational theme, and with many different ages present, there was such an enthusiasm to learn,” said Lindberg. “There’s no way anyone could say [the symposium] wasn’t a success . . . Even if you didn’t know what to ask [the presenters]        . . . you could still benefit from observing all you heard.”

Lindberg cited Fougerousse and Bentley’s performance at the reception as one of her favorite moments of the symposium.

“I study both German and music, so it was good for connecting both areas,” Lindberg said. “Goethe really was a big deal — you have people like Mozart and Beethoven putting his poems to music.”

The Symposium concluded an exciting year for the German department.

The Dallas Goethe Center moved to UD at the beginning of the semester, but “has already started to bring interesting programs to our students,” Modern Languages Department Chair Dr. Jacob-Ivan Eidt said.

The center is a non-profit promoting German language and culture in North Texas.

Lindberg, who has been volunteering with the center since she was a freshman, said that even before the main office came to UD, it had supplemented and helped give meaning to her German studies.

“You get a good sense for the worth of studying German,” Lindberg said.

One of the most important developments for the department besides the move of the Center to upstairs Anselm is that the first- and second-year German classes required for the Core are now offered on the intensive model, meaning that they meet every day and allow students to accomplish four           semester’s worth of work in one year.

In an email, Eidt cited the benefits of this system.

“Not only do we avoid interruption in language learning [due to Rome] but the students also get a lot of exposure to German,” Eidt wrote. “My current students could not speak German at all in September.  Just this week they had really impressive discussions about East Germany, the oppression under the Communist regime and the fall of the Berlin Wall. It is challenging but UD students rise to the occasion.”

He added that enrollment in the program has gone up.

Lindberg, who has served as the program’s teaching assistant, said that she has enjoyed being involved with tutoring the intensive students.

“I tutor six different students, and every one has been able to teach me new skills,” Lindberg said. “It’s ideal if you want to dive in headfirst.”

UD has now formed a partnership with Dr. Eidt’s alma mater, the Katholische Universität Eichstätt-Ingolstadt, the only Catholic university in the German-speaking world.

Students can study there for greater immersion, as well as credits toward a German major or concentration.

Two students are already planning to take advantage of this opportunity.  Junior Mary White will be doing so with the help of a scholarship from the Dallas Goethe Center.

“We hope that more students can go to Eichstaett in the summers (prepared by the intensive course) and compete for scholarships to make it happen,” Eidt wrote in an email.  “Germany is a great place for visiting, studying, and working.  Now UD students can do all three if they wish—and learn something about life, Western Culture, and themselves in the process.  We are excited about all of it.”

Lindberg said that the German curriculum has always been fantastic.

“I never knew I would learn so much about literature, film, grammar and writing skills,” Lindberg said. “The Eidts are so amazing.”

One final boon for the department over the 2015-2016 academic year has been the revival of the German Club, with Lindberg as president.

“[The club work has allowed me] to be related to all the students and faculty in the department,” Lindberg said.

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