Walk and talk: our German Wandertage 

wandertage 2018

On 14 October 2018, lecturers Giles Harrington and Yasemin Cigiltepe organised a circular walk in the peak district from Grindleford for all students of German. Our Wandertage take place each semester, and are a great opportunity to practice German outside of the classroom, socialise, and explore the area of natural beauty that lies between the university-side of Sheffield and Manchester: the Peak District National Park.

The tradition in our German section goes back at least twenty years, but Germans first wandered through — and wrote about — the Peak in the 18th century.

Seán Williams, lecturer in German and European Cultural History, followed in the footsteps of 18th century Germans. Seán has spoken about the Romantic German tradition of walking on the BBC and at the Proms, and published on the cultural website The Public Domain Review. Walking as a leisurely and writerly activity began in the 18th century.

Seán Williams: Rambling Reflections

Lectures in Collaboration with Sheffield Cathedral

Henk de Berg, Head of Germanic Studies, is the co-organiser of the University’s Arts and Humanities Prokhorov Lectures. The Prokhorov Lectures are delivered by world-leading scholars and public intellectuals such as Sir Christopher Clark, who has presented several history programmes on German television, and Dame Marina Warner, known above all for her ground-breaking work on the Brothers Grimm fairy tales.

The Prokhorov programme includes the “God and the Good” lecture series about religion and ethics, which are a collaboration with Sheffield Cathedral. The most recent “God and the Good” speaker was Mona Siddiqui.

Siddiqui holds the Chair in Islamic and Interreligious Studies at the University of Edinburgh. Her research areas are Islamic jurisprudence and ethics as well as Christian-Muslim relations. Among her publications are 50 Ideas in Islam (2016), Muslim-Christian Encounters (2016), Hospitality in Islam (2015), My Way: A Muslim Woman’s Journey (2014), Christians, Muslims, and Jesus (2013), The Good Muslim: Reflections on Classical Islamic Law and Theology (2012), and How to Read the Qur’an (2007).

Mona Siddiqui is well known internationally as a speaker on religion and ethics. She is known especially for her appearances on BBC 4’s Thought for the Day and The Moral Maze and she has been a guest on Desert Island Discs and Private Passions. In 2011, Mona Siddiqui was awarded an OBE for her contribution to interfaith services.

More about the Prokhorov Centre

In October 2018 Henk de Berg interviewed Mona Siddiqui in two parts: 

Miranda Carter: Three World Leaders and One World Class Spy Germanic Studies'

Novelist and writer Miranda CarterHenk de Berg has conducted a two-part interview with historian and novelist Miranda Carter. Miranda Carter has written a best-selling collective biography of King George V, Kaiser Wilhem II, and Tsar Nicholas II, the three world leaders when Britain entered World War I. Even more fascinating is her study of Anthony Blunt. Blunt joined MI5 during World War II and later, as Surveyor of the King's (and then the Queen's) Pictures, became Britain's most important art historian -- all the while working as a Russian spy.

In addition to her biographical work, Miranda Carter has written three detective novels, the Blake and Avery Mystery Series. 

Miranda Carter on Anthony Blunt  Miranda Carter on her detective novels

Luther and the Reformation

Luther small imageOn 22 and 23 February 2018, Diarmaid MacCulloch (Professor of the History of the Church at Oxford) gave a Prokhorov Centre lecture on "Christianity: The Big Picture" and a masterclass on "Luther and the English Reformation".

The lecture was attended by well over 200 people. Organisers were Profs Henk de Berg (Germanic Studies) and Evgeny Dobrenko (Russian & Slavonic Studies) in the School of Languages and Cultures.

Christianity: The Big Picture

Henk de Berg also conducted a three-part interview with Diarmaid MacCulloch 

Interview 1 Interview 2 Interview 3

Coffee and Poodles and Classical Music

Hairdresser in 18th centuryStaff in Germanic Studies believe in bringing their research to the broader public. So you will be taught by lecturers who regularly feature on the radio and tv — here in the UK, and abroad!

Dr Seán Williams has made a programme on the history of the hairdresser with BBC Radio 3, and is making another on coffee, poodles and classical music in eighteenth-century Germany, too — to be broadcast on 22 October 2017.

Seán has also broadcast on “Sentimentality” - another aspect of German eighteenth-century life that inspired philosophy and literature that you’ll learn about in Sheffield — as well as on Nietzsche, and even the Holocaust. He has been on Swiss Radio, the World Service, and appeared on BBC One and BBC Two.

If you think these are odd subjects for a Germanist, the eighteenth century saw the birth of consumer culture in Europe, which influenced the arts of that age and shaped the world as we know it today. Germanic Studies at Sheffield interrogates these important influences. We appreciate the significance of quirky as much as profound historical phenomena. Who’d have thought that Goethe found coffee consumption so scandalous?

Dr Seán Williams teaches on various modules in Germanic Studies and SLC including the Second Year  “German Literature and Culture” seminar. 

The History of the Hairdresser     Sentimentality

It is all about the Ohrwürmer

Student with flagNathan Wright (BA German and Linguistics) started his own German-English radio show. 

"As a Second Year student of German I motivate myself by listening to German-speaking radio stations. My favourite is an Austrian radio station – think BBC Radio 1. The show combines German and English so it is perfect for German learners, and I noticed I was making Spotify playlists not to lose track of my new favourite "Ohrwürmer".

I decided I wanted to share these songs with course mates and also to discover their very own "Lieblingslieder". So I approached the student-run Forge Radio, part of the University of Sheffield's Students’ Union to help me set up my own show. They were happy to oblige and I was handed the 9 pm Sunday slot.

Work began in earnest. My aim is to cater all those interested in German language and culture so I have angled it to be accessible to beginners but also featuring native material for more advanced speakers.

At the time of writing, several episodes have been made available on the streaming site Mixcloud – as a completely free resource. Also, check out additional posts and visual content on Facebook."


Is the EU Doomed to Fail?

Germanic Studies' Henk de Berg conducted an interview with the Belgian historian David Engels about his book Auf dem Weg ins Imperium. Die Krise der Europäischen Union und der Untergang der Römischen Republik.

Developing ideas originally put forward by Oswald Spengler (the author of one of the most successful books of the twentieth century, the two-volume "Der Untergang des Abendlandes", 1918/22), Engels argues that the EU is likely to end up with the same kind of strong-man Caesarism as that which followed the downfall of the Roman Republic.

David Engels, a member of the German-speaking community in Belgium, is Professor of Roman history at the Free University of Brussels.

The interview consists of two-parts: the first part looks in some detail at Engels's thesis, while the second part explores possible criticisms of his work.

Interview David Engels Part 1      Interview David Engels Part 2

Prokhorov Centre Lecture: Christopher Clark

Christopher ClarkOn 26 May 2017, Sir Christopher Clark, Regius Professor of History at Cambridge and best-selling author of The Sleepwalkers: How Europe Went to War in 1914, delivered a public lecture on "The Geopolitics of Revolution in 1848".

Clark explored the European dimension of one of the most momentous series of events of the 19th century, the many national revolts and revolutions of 1848. He paid particular attention to the role of Switzerland, and drew parallels with the Arab spring.

The lecture was part of the Prokhorov Centre conference "Constructing Europe(s)", organised by Henk de Berg and Evgeny Dobrenko in the School of Languages and Cultures.

Full lecture by Christopher Clark
three staff members Germanic Studies

Staff in Germanic Studies are regularly approached by national and international media to share their expertise, offer their opinion, or comment on specific issues. These can be research or teaching related or because their opinion carries weight in the field. Below is a snap shot of the June 2017 media activity.

Professor Michael Perraudin provided a commentary on the UK general elections for Dutch national radio. Perraudin shared his expertise on the high profile current affairs programme Met het oog op morgen. Michael Perraudin is Professor of German and an excellent speaker of Dutch. 

Dr Seán Williams is a BBC New Generation Thinker and a Vice-Chancellor’s Research Fellow in Germanic Studies. In his article ‘Empathy? Not in my book’, which he wrote for the Times Higher Education, Williams takes issue with the wide-spread belief that reading literature improves one’s capacity for 'fellow feeling'.  

As part their 25th anniversary, the digital journal neerlandistiek.nl invited significant people in the field to reflect on the future of (international) Dutch Studies. In her opinion piece, 'Gerard Reve is a Brit', Dr. Henriette Louwerse argues that a Modern Languages degree should recognise the cultural and linguistic specificity and be aware that, in a global and digital age, literature and culture always resonate beyond national borders or language areas. 

Met het oog op morgen< Literature and Empathy 'Gerard Reve is een Brit'
Winners Academic Awards 2017

2017: Two Academic Award Winners in Germanic Studies

Each year Sheffield’s Students’ Union honours those members of the academic community that make a difference to learning, teaching and student life. These special people are nominated and voted for by the student and staff community. Germanic Studies are proud to announce that we have two Academic Award winners in our midst.

Dr Caroline Bland is an award winner in the category Best Personal Tutor. For many years, Caroline Bland has been the figurehead of the Germanic Studies Pastoral Care arrangements. That is just one of the many areas for which we rely on Caroline Bland’s commitment, knowledge and experience.  

The second winner is Cyd Sturgess who took away the Academic Awards for Best PhD Student who Teaches. Sturgess gained the award for her design and delivery of a Final Year culture module for our Dutch Programme. In her teaching, Sturgess wants to unlock the critical creativity of her students. She argues: 'if we want our students to think outside of the box, tutors will have to start teaching more innovatively too.'  

We congratulate our winners!

Video of Cyd Sturgess' Award Winning Teaching

Sheffield victorious at Sauerkraut 2017

From our own correspondent, Peter Sledge (BAML)

Germanic Studies Football team

25 March 2017 saw the return of the most prestigious event of the footballing calendar for our Germanic Studies students – the Sauerkraut Cup. Competed for by university teams from across the country, Sheffield’s Vfb SLOG came out as victors once again, repeating their triumph of last year, though this time away from home.

Manchester was the location of this year’s tournament where Sheffield’s success ran further than simply the winners: the 'Sheffield B Team’ reaching the final and giving 'Sheffeld A’' a real run for their money. The tournament was settled by an excruciating penalty shoot-out.

Sheffield’s large crowd of supporters enjoyed a sunny March day in Manchester, and came home cheering; the two Sheffield teams having dominated the tournament. The after-party was in full flow within an hour of arriving back in Sheffield. The success of the both Sheffield teams shows great promise for the coming years.

Germanic Studies at Sheffield has an active and succesful football team (above) as well as a keen and ambitious netball team.


Wunderschönes Wetter im Mai - da heisst's nichts wie 'raus für die deutschsprachige Frühlingswanderung!

Students from all years and the Erasmus exchange had a fantastic day on the lovely route from Hope to Hathersage. We finished our German day out with "Kaffee und Kuchen" – although it was actually tea and Bakewell Pudding, as we were in Peak District after all. We are looking forward to the Herbstwanderung already!

The German Wanderung is one of many co-curricular events we organise in Germanic Studies. We believe that doing things together strengthens our student and staff community, gives us the opportunity to speak (yet more) German, and in this case, gets us to enjoy the beautiful Peak District.

Photos of students on a country walk