The Waterloo Centre for German Studies publishes an annual report of its activities.

Previous years below.

Annual Report 2017 - 2018

students learning in Berlin

Berlin, summer 2018: a lovely time for a group of students to learn more about Germany’s capital by visiting the city itself. They were part of a Berlin seminar organized by Professor Nina Woll of the Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières. Eight of these students received a travel scholarship from the Centre’s Fred and Ruth Stork German Studies Awards.

The Centre has had another splendid year facilitating research into the society and culture of the German-speaking world, helping students (like those from the Université du Québec above) spend time in Europe, and organizing events and cultural programming for the Waterloo Region. The following will outline some of the highlights from the past year and some of the upcoming plans.

The past year was marked by a change in administrative staff. Lori Straus, who had been with the Centre since 2013, left to devote herself to some of her own projects and to pursue a PhD. Luckily, Lori’s replacement is just as capable and efficient. Misty Matthews-Roper joined the Centre in January 2018 and has been making her mark with her professionalism and organizational skills.

Which is good, because there is a lot to organize! Surveying the Centre's activities from 2012 to 2017 yielded impressive results (see pie chart breakdown). In a period of a little over five years, the Centre has sponsored over 90 separate activities. These range from large-scale research initiatives such as organizing colloquia to much smaller affairs such as providing support to classes to attend German-themed film or stage presentations. What’s most impressive is that so many of the Centre’s activities, being open to anyone, serve to bring the general public into contact with the scholarly exploration of German-language culture and society.


open pianoThis past year was no exception in that regard. In cooperation with the Austrian Cultural Forum and Conrad Grebel University College, the Centre helped organize the standing-room only recital of Anna Magdalena Kokits, a young Austrian pianist who toured Canada as part of Government of Austria’s celebration of Canada’s 150th birthday. University of Waterloo President Feridun Hamdullahpur, Conrad Grebel leaders Jim Pankratz and Marlene Epp, and Austrian Cultural Forum Director Bernhard Faustenhammer were all in attendance. The evening of the recital was also the opening of the CALLIOPE Austria – Women in Society, Culturepeople reading posters at the Calliope exhibit and the Sciences. The Centre contributed to the cost of mounting that touring exhibition, and it was wonderful to see so many people taking it in. The Centre also started cooperating with the embassies of Switzerland, Germany, and Austria to bring German-language films to the Princess Cinema in Waterloo each May.

Role of the Imagination Workshop PosterThe Centre was also very happy to support a two-day colloquium and workshop organized by Andrea Speltz and Barbara Schmenk. “The Role of the Imagination in German Educational Thought” attracted some 40 people who spent two days thinking about how the imagination can be educated in the pursuit of social justice. Other events this past year included a workshop organized by Alice Kuzniar on the Romantic poet Novalis that featured York professor Joan Steigerwald, and the Centre hosted a reading at the Open Sesame Shop in Kitchener with Carl Skoggard introducing his new translation of Siegfried Kracauer’s novel Georg. The sponsorship of research can take other forms as well: in 2017 editors Michael Boehringer, Belinda Kleinhans, and Allison Cattell published a volume of essays, Belief Systems in Austrian Literature, Thought and Culture, that was subsidized by the centre, and scholars Emma Betz, Alice Kuzniar, and Angelica Fenner received grants to support their research endeavours.

Thanks to a surplus in our Fred and Ruth Stork German Study Awards fund, the Centre was able to award more travel scholarships than usual. A little advertising was all it took to attract applications from across the country. Many Canadian universities offer excellent study abroad opportunities in German-speaking Europe, and the Centre is very happy to support these expensive undertakings with modest but extremely helpful scholarships. 35 students from across Canada – including 10 from the University of Waterloo – received support to attend programs in Kassel, Bamberg, Mannheim, and Berlin. The Centre also continues to manage the Cecilia and Late George Piller Graduate Research Award, available to excellent UW students researching any aspect of the German-speaking world (see graphic of awarded funds).

The upcoming year promises to be a very good one for the Centre. The 2018 Grimm Lecture, the flagship lecture series of the Waterloo Centre for German Studies, will be held on Thursday, September 20th, 2018, at 7pm at the Balsillie School of International Affairs in Waterloo. 2018 is the bicentennial of Karl Marx’s birth and, love him or hate him, his impact on human history can’t be ignored. Cambridge professor Gareth Stedman Jones, FBA, well known for his exhaustive 2016 biography of Karl Marx, will be delivering a lecture on whether it’s possible to separate Marx from Marxism. And on Wednesday, October 24th, 2018, at 7pm, also at the Balsillie School, indigenous playwright and filmmaker Drew Hayden Taylor will screen his CBC documentary “Searching for Winnetou” about the continuing German fascination for the romanticized version of the Old West found in Karl May novels and summer western festivals. This will be a great opportunity to consider issues surrounding cultural appropriation in Germany.

Personal Note from the Director: Since taking on the directorship of the Centre a year ago, I have been reviewing past activities and, along with the Centre’s Executive Committee, thinking about where the Centre needs to be focusing its energies and resources. The University of Waterloo is incredibly fortunate to have an institute like the Waterloo Centre for German Studies; not many research institutes have the opportunity or ability to connect with a larger public the way we are able to do. It’s very important that the Centre continue to maintain a presence in both the scholarly and public realms in order to help bridge the gap that often divides the two, and we are exploring ways of doing just that. One new initiative that is already underway is the WCGS Book Prize. This prize has been established to recognize books published in 2017 that improve our understanding of any aspect of German-speaking society. One of the award’s criteria is the book’s potential to contribute to broader public discourses. In next year’s annual report, I’ll be able to tell you about the winning book.

Written by James Skidmore

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Quick Facts about the Waterloo Centre for German Studies

Director: James Skidmore – Skid is a professor in the University of Waterloo’s Department of Germanic and Slavic Studies.

Administrative Assistant: Misty Matthews-Roper – Misty joined the Centre in January 2018. She has an MA in German from the University of Waterloo.

The Centre is an official Research Institute of the University of Waterloo. It is managed by the Director with the assistance of an Executive Committee made up of University of Waterloo faculty members.

The Centre’s activities are funded by an endowment of approximately $3.1 million. These monies were donated by members of the Waterloo Region German-Canadian community.

Centre expenditures fall into three categories:
Scholarships – ca. $19,000/year
Research Support and Events – ca. $40,000/year

Administration – ca. $35,000/year


pie chart of 2012-2017 expenditures

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graph representation of funds distributed for fred and ruth stork awards

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