Karein Goertz

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Karein Goertz

Lecturer, German, Arts and Ideas in the Humanities Program

Office Location(s): 1624 East Quad
Phone: 734.647.4349
goertz@umich.edu

  • About

    After receiving my PhD in Comparative Literature (UT Austin), I joined the RC faculty in 1999. I primarily teach German language, literature and culture classes (in German), but also offer seminars in the Arts and Ideas, First Year Seminar and Literature programs (in English). Here is a sampling of the courses I have taught:

    “Intensive German” (German)
    “Representing Berlin” (German)
    “Multicultural German Literature” (German)
    “Life Stories” (German)
    “Intro to 20th Century German Literature” (German)
    “Vienna, Paris and Berlin: Centers of Modernism” (Arts and Ideas)
    “The Holocaust in Literature and Film” (Arts and Ideas)
    “The City Observed” (Literature)
    “The Art of Walking” (First Year Seminar)

    While I have published articles, most of my research goes towards developing undergraduate courses and being the best teacher I can be.  I enjoy guiding students through the challenging, but immensely rewarding process of becoming proficient in German and introducing them to German culture through the literary and visual arts. Whether teaching a language, literature or cultural studies course, my goal is to cultivate intercultural literacy in students. By this I mean an appreciation for similarities and differences between cultures. This awareness begins in the very first semester of language learning (e.g. when students learn the etiquette of formal address or the significance of grammatical gender) to more advanced level classes (e.g. when they understand why Germans approach notion of patriotism or freedom of speech differently than Americans do, or how German exiles shaped mid-twentieth century culture throughout the world). An exciting dimension of foreign language teaching is making students aware of their own culturally determined values and expectations, and prompting them to see how these effect their understanding of a different culture. Ideally, learning German should help students strengthen the understanding of their own language and culture, while gaining a new, more global perspective.

    Another critical aspect of my teaching involves the interdisciplinary scope of my classes. In my course on the Holocaust, we approach issues such as survival, injustice and memory from the perspectives of psychology, literature, and historiography. The ethical and aesthetic questions that are raised when considering Holocaust representations are best illuminated by examining documentary accounts in conjunction with literary accounts, or verbal accounts in comparison with visual or aural expressions. Likewise, the subject of cities encompasses a range of fields: urban studies, literature, sociology, architecture, and history. When we examine modernist movements that emerged in cities, such as Fin-de-Siecle Vienna, we consider the close collaboration across disciplines between artists, scientists, writers and musicians.

    Experiential learning is another important component of my teaching since it allows students to apply what they have learned in the classroom to other, less structured and more student-centered contexts. Outside of the classroom, they are forced to synthesize and reframe what they have learned. I have incorporated experiential learning locally—field trips to the Holocaust memorial center, literary salons designed by students, walking tours, interviewing Holocaust survivors, walking meditation exercises, exploring Third Places within the community. I have also done this internationally. From 2000-4, I led a study abroad trip to Berlin in which students made films, maps and partook in a variety of cultural activities. I hope to offer such trips again in the near future.