A birthday that almost never happened
by Felix Leidner
Thanks to an accidental revelation, the Department of English and American Studies (IAA) can celebrate its 100th anniversary this year. This is a short text (I promise!) about how everything unfolded and why the department deserves a “party”.
There are some people, like me, who can’t remember birthdays. It’s a trait that usually leads to awkward situations in which you have to apologise for having missed someone else’s birthday at least once every year. What is even worse: when the condition becomes so serious that you forget your own birthday. And that’s exactly what almost happened to the IAA, the Department of English and American Studies at the University of Rostock.
Currently, the history of the IAA in the GDR is being investigated for a PhD-project and during a presentation an actually unrelated fact came to light. A hundred years ago – surprisingly while the First World War was raging in Europe – the “Seminar für Romanisch-Englische Philologie” was split and as a result the “Seminar für Englische Philologie” was born.
The Brits finally “took back control” from the continental languages and and became an independent department (this is totally not trying to allude to Brexit but if Nigel Farage had lived in 1917, he would have put on his very weird and disturbing grin). So, in October 2017, the IAA turns 100 and everyone almost missed it.
After gaining experience within the last 100 years, the IAA has developed into more than just a philological seminar and shows that studies in languages are diverse, exciting and relevant. Five professors and more than a dozen researchers solve mysteries in linguistics, literary studies, cultural studies and teaching methodology. Current research projects include the colonial and decolonial construction of American antiquity and the relation between language, cognition and neural processes. Important social issues like inequality of all kinds, racism or sexism are critically dealt with as well as very recent political developments, like Brexit, Donald Trump and populism (Nigel, you can stop grinning).
The IAA rightly decided to use the unexpected opportunity to celebrate and to reflect back on the work and research that has been and is being done at the department. Everyone who would like to join the “party” is welcome to the main building auditorium (Aula) on 30 October 2017, 10am (sharp).
Members of the department will present their thoughts on cultural studies, teaching methodology and linguistics, and discuss future challenges of the discipline. A ceremonial address is presented by Prof. Ursula Schaefer (Uni Freiburg), while Prof. Kersten Krüger and Tobias Tanz will reflect back on 100 years of history in their presentations.
Click here for the official notification on www.uni-rostock.de.
Foto: Felix Leidner