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By Leslie Adelson, Former Director of the Institute for German Cultural Studies (2007-2013) and Jacob Gould Schurman Professor, Department of German Studies
Established in 1992 under the aegis of the College of Arts and Sciences, the Institute for German Cultural Studies is a research-oriented initiative designed both to recognize extraordinary cross-disciplinary strengths in the study of German culture at Cornell University and to foster cutting-edge scholarly exchange pertaining to the interdisciplinary study of German culture from the medieval era to the present. Events ranging from large conferences, bi-weekly colloquia, focal workshops, special lectures, a faculty summer seminar co-sponsored by the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD), and an artist-in-residence program create a vibrant intellectual forum for deepening our understanding of German culture in its own right and in its broad significance for critical inquiry throughout the humanities and social sciences. Participants include scholars, students, teachers, and community members engaged in diverse fields such as German Studies, Comparative Literature, Philosophy, History, Music, Theatre, Film & Dance, Anthropology, Sociology, Government, Science & Technology Studies, City and Regional Planning, Jewish Studies, European Studies, Feminist, Gender & Sexuality Studies, Africana Studies, Architecture, and the Society for the Humanities, and they additionally reflect international partnerships with selected universities in Germany. Such partnerships have involved the Humboldt University of Berlin, the Justus-Liebig-University of Giessen, and the University of Bremen in particular. Transnational influences on German culture in earlier historical periods and our current age of globalization increasingly inform our discussions as well.
The Institute for German Cultural Studies regularly brings together thoughtful innovators and diverse audiences to advance the critical enterprise of interdisciplinary German Studies and to consider how knowledge of German-speaking cultures can enhance our grasp of cultural formations, intellectual history, literary studies, visual studies and media arts, political constellations, and public spheres writ large. Devoted in part to mentoring graduate students in their professional development, the IGCS additionally provides undergraduate students with a rich palette of activities and opportunities to expand their intellectual horizons and international perspectives through the multi-faceted study of German culture. As of May 2008, German Culture News is also archived electronically through Cornell University’s digital repository known as eCommons. Inaugurated by the Institute for German Cultural Studies in 2008 in connection with our artist-in-residence program, the Cornell Lectures on Contemporary Aesthetics (Corneller Vorlesungen zur Ästhetik der Gegenwart) are published in relevant issues of German Culture News as well. IGCS-sponsored conferences occasionally result in scholarly publications with academic presses or major journals. The Institute for German Cultural Studies is above all a lively venue for serious, shared, and interdisciplinary reflection on what it means to study German culture.