Summer Film Institute


This project was funded by a $175,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities, with additional support from the program in Germanic Languages and Literatures and the DEFA Film Library at UMass Amherst; the DEFA Stiftung, the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD); Smith College; Academy of Music; the vice provost for research at UMass and the Dean of the College of Humanities and Fine Arts at UMass. 

German and European Studies in the U.S.:

Changing World, Shifting Narratives

Historical developments of the 1990s and early 2000s – the creation of the European Union, the end of the Cold War, and events since 9/11 – transformed Europe and Germany and their relation to the U.S. Our 2005 NEH Summer Institute examined the ways in which these changes challenged the unique transatlantic cultural connections of past decades, as well as the asymmetrical historical narratives that have been presumed by disciplines closely associated with German studies in the U.S.


Participants, faculty and guest speakers included over 40 German and U.S. scholars at varied stages in their careers. These participants, who came from nine different academic disciplines, included members of two transatlantic research collaborations involving UMass Amherst: the Black European Studies Project and the Black German Studies Project. Together, this group of scholars reflected on the intellectual history of German studies in the U.S., assessed its transnational dynamics, and asked how differing contemporary experience and disciplinary narratives equip German and U.S. scholars for creative, informed and relevant study of Europe.


One week was devoted to exploring how discourse in each discipline relates to the National Socialist past, Cold War divisions, German reunification after 1989, and the post-9/11 present. The four thematic areas of the institute were:


•  Transatlantic Agendas in Contemporary History and a “New European Historiography”
•  Film and History / Film as history / Film History
•  Issues in Feminism and German Studies
•  A Multicultural Germany in a Globalizing World? The Case of Black Germans


The institute also featured screenings of more than 20 European films, including several rare 35mm prints as well as the award-winning films Head-On and Grill Point by up-and-coming directors Fatih Akin and Andreas Dresen.


Keynote Speakers: Konrad Jarausch, University of North Carolina / ZZF Potsdam; Katie Trumpener, Yale University; Patricia Herminghouse, University of Rochester; Tina Campt, Duke University.


Resident Faculty: Sky Arndt-Briggs, Barton Byg, and Sara Lennox – University of Massachusetts Amherst; Patricia Herminghouse, University of Rochester; Thomas Lindenberger, Center for Contemporary Historical Research Potsdam (ZZF).


Guest Scholars: from the UMass / ZZF exchange in German cultural history 2001-2005, and from the research project “Black Europe: The Forgotten History of a Continent” (University of Mainz / UMass Amherst).


Participants: Twenty-five U.S. college and university teachers are supported for participation in the seminar by an NEH stipend.

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