Post-Wall Germany: Integrating Post-Unification German Culture into the High School Classroom--1998 & 1996 NEH Summer Institutes


DEUTSCHLAND nach der Mauer

Links für die Gruppenprojekte

A Webpage created by Donna Van Handle, Mount Holyoke College, for the NEH Summer Institute

1998 Participants

1998 Project Links

1996 Participants

1996 Projects

The Program

Since November 9, 1989, when the Berlin Wall was opened, Germany has undergone profound changes. The dissolution of the Eastern Bloc and the subsequent unification of Germany have had far-reaching implications in many areas, ranging from the way Germans perceive themselves and their nation to Germany's role as a member of the European Community and to its international image. To explore the changing cultural landscape of the unified Germany, the NEH Summer Institutes focused on four critical debates currently in the forefront of German public discussion:

Drawing on the rich academic and cultural resources of the Five College Area of western Massachusetts, each Institute provided twenty-five high school teachers the opportunity to work with scholars active in these debates and to study and discuss relevant materials produced in Germany: selected literary texts, film and video, news media, and the internet.


Conducted entirely in German, the Institute allowed participants to immerse themselves in the German language for four weeks by speaking, hearing, reading, and writing German for over eight hours a day, five days a week. In addition to discussing and writing about their own responses to the lectures and readings, participants will devote part of each week to projects adapting current and authentic materials for classroom use, including the use of new technologies such as the internet. UMass graduate credit and Massachusetts Professional Development Points (PDP's) can be awarded. Previous participants can be contacted to share materials and information with colleagues in their areas.

The Location

Located in the beautiful Connecticut River valley of western Massachusetts, the program had rich cultural offerings for leisure time as well as during the course instruction.

The area is also home to Hampshire, Mount Holyoke, Smith, and Amherst Colleges. Visiting scholars have access to the libraries and facilities of these colleges which are served by a bus system. Mountains, rivers, hiking trails, and historic villages are also availble for exploration. Boston is two hours away and New York city is three and one-half hours away. The variety of cultural programs in the Berkshire Mountain region, such as Tanglewood or Jacob's Pillow, is also a little over an hour from Amherst.

Resident Faculty and Staff of the 1998 Institute

Resident Faculty and Staff of the 1996 Institute

1998 Guest Lecturers

1996 Guest Lecturers


Topic I:
"Past and Present" will examine the question of Germany coming to terms with its past ("Vergangenheitsbewaeltigung"), including the legacy of the Holocaust. The program emphasized debates around parallels and differences between the two authoritarian systems in National Socialist Germany and the GDR and explore how critiques of GDR socialism have been used to advance West German political agendas. Participants have thus become part of an ongoing discussion taking place in the media and in virtually every German cultural institution, from schools to museums, the theater, and the arts.

Topic II:
"East and West" treats the economic, political, and cultural strains of melding together inhabitants of countries that, for over forty years, developed in quite different directions. Particular attention was paid to the political and social transformation of the "Five New States" of the former GDR since 1989 and the emergence of new regional identites and allegiances.

Topic III:
"Women and Men" explores changes in gender relations since unification. The relationship between women and men in a society that was strongly patriarchal in the 19th century and male-dominated during the Nazi dictatorship changed dramatically in both German States after World War II. Statistical material, political debates, and personal narratives will provide a context for study of how women attempt to reconceive their lives in the new Germany.

Topic IV:
"Germans and Foreigners" examines the status of different groups considered "foreigners" in Germany, including "guest workers" and asylum seekers, as well as the outbreaks of violence against them since unification. The growth of Neo-Nazi and other extremist groups, debates over asylum policy and liberalized naturalization laws have accompanied Germany's new demographic situation in post-Cold War Europe. As Germany reexamines its identity among the nations of the world, it is also undergoing the transformation from a country of emigration to a country of immigrants.

Each topic's material included selections from contemporary literature and one film in addition to the presentations by the speakers. Further readings and multi-media were available for study during free time, including constant access to Deutsche Welle TV.

Contact us:

NEH Summer Institute
Department of Germanic Languages & Literatures
Herter Hall, Box 33925
University of Massachusetts
Amherst, MA 01003-3925
Telephone: 413-545-6671 or 413-545-6681
Fax: 413-545-6995

This program is sponsored by the National Endowment for the Humanities (#ES-22898-95). Endowment programs do not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, handicap, or age. For further information, write to the Equal Opportunity Officer, National Endowment for the Humanities, 1100 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20506. The opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed on this Web page are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

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