Visiting Researchers

The Waterloo Centre for German Studies has work space available for researchers. This consists of a shared office with two desks.  We can also provide guest access to wireless Internet (Eduroam) and access to the University of Waterloo Library.

Below you will find some profiles/written experiences of previous visiting researchers.

For information about our space and its availability, please contact either WCGS Director James Skidmore or our Administrative Assistant Kira Youngblut.

Mac keyboard, mouse, and pens on a yellow desk.

Previous Visiting Researchers

Nora Kruse 2022

Headshot of Nora Kruse

In 2022, I spent four months as a visiting researcher at the Waterloo Centre for German studies. Being a sociolinguist, my research interests include language- and identity-related topics, with a focus on (forced) migration and the concepts of home and exile, and especially their representation in autobiographical texts. For my PhD, I had already spent several months in Canada to do fieldwork in the Canadian-Latvian community, investigate the level of Latvian heritage language maintenance in Canada and the community’s immigration history. The time in Waterloo gave me the chance to continue doing research in the Canadian context and start working on a project that focuses on German and Baltic-German immigration to Canada, including autobiographical life stories of community members and heritage language maintenance within the community.

My time in Waterloo was however also characterized by some rather unexpected opportunities. In addition to the research I conducted, I came across a course on language teaching that I spontaneously decided to sign up for. I have been working as a language instructor for over ten years and appreciated the new perspectives on my teaching and theinspiration I got in that course. These are now feeding into a new project on blended learning.

I really enjoyed my time in Waterloo. It was a very productive time at UW, and I appreciated the quiet workspace I was offered and the infrastructure. Moreover, I got to know the city and met some great people that made these months really special.

Kristin Weiser-Zurmühlen 2018

Kristin Weiser-Zurmühlen is a research associate at the University of Bielefeld, Germany, Department of German Studies. She also teaches linguistics, media, didactics and communication analysis on university level: 

“My main research focus is the social aspect of interaction, i.e  to not merely study the way we talk, but rather what we exactly do when we talk and how we do that. That’s why I use Conversation Analysis as a method for exploring the ‘fine-tuning’ processes and subtle negotiating of meaning within social encounters. These processes are closely linked to what we call ‘identities-in-interaction’: How do we tell others the way we see them and how do we guide them in which way to see us?

I am especially interested in two aspects that play a crucial role when answering these “big identity questions”: The interactive organization of knowledge and assessments. We continuously display, redefine and reject what we know about something or what others claim to know about something. Also, we often display, redefine and reject how we or others assess something. In my PhD project, I analyse how people position themselves and others through displays, shifts and changes of such epistemic and affective stances. I collected video data of group discussion by students and young adults about their favourite tv series. It turned out that the interactants constantly implicitly negotiate their assessments and knowledge of series and media. In order to understand these dynamics properly, I argue that taking the ‘known’ and/or ‘assessed object’ into account is also relevant for identity management. The focus group topic permits a further research aim , I try to figure out what we can learn about the participants’ understanding of popular media.

Professor Grit Liebscher is one of my PhD supervisors, she is an expert for methodological questions and research subjects related to my thesis. I came to Waterloo from March to May 2018 as a visiting researcher to get to know her in person and to discuss my current research. Grit turned out to be very kind and exceedingly helpful in providing me with rich advice and coaching for my PhD project. Furthermore, she introduced me to her colleagues and other PhD students who work in the same field as I do. I invited them to data sessions on my videos, thus gaining new perspectives on my research and findings, which was very inspiring and encouraging. I was offered my own desk at the Waterloo Centre for German Studies, a peaceful and quiet setting for writing some chapters of my thesis. Yet, I also got the chance to gain insight into the academic and social life of UW and the city. Everyone I met was friendly, caring and helpful. I had a really good time in Canada and would definitely come back again!”

Michael Schart 2017-2018

Michael Schart Headshot

I was very pleased and honored that the Department of Germanic and Slavic Studies and the Waterloo Centre for German Studies affiliated me as a guest professor over a 10-months period in 2017/ 2018. This not only gave me the chance to realize a joint project with Barbara Schmenk – editing two issues of the journal InfoDaF with focus on current tendencies in German Studies and German language learning worldwide (volume 45/ 2018, no 4 and 5). Furthermore, as someone teaching in German Studies programs at Japanese Universities for more than 15 years, I’ve got deep insights into the daily routines in a German Studies program which differs in many respects from the program I’m responsible for at the Faculty of Law at Keio University Tokyo. I learned, for example, much about the integration of online courses in a program structure and the effective involvement of students from German Universities (on exchange or from a joint program). I participated in several seminars, which were exhilarating regarding the topics as well as the higher education didactics. Therefore, I left Waterloo with many new ideas about the reasonable organization of online and offline learning opportunities in a German studies program.

No less important were the numerous inspiring conversations with the colleagues and the students. They opened to me new perspectives to both my teaching approach and my research agenda. A lasting impact came from Grit Liebscher and Emma Betz. They introduced me to the world of Conversation Analysis, and we identified ways to merge our different views to classroom interaction in a very productive manner. The results of our joint endeavor will feed into an edition which is foreseen to be published in the first half of 2019.

While the joint publications are only the tangible results of my time at the Department of Germanic and Slavic Studies, what is far more important to me are the people I’ve got the chance to meet. I’m very grateful for their hospitality and support. The months at Waterloo University will remain as a profound experience for my further activities as teacher and researcher in the field of foreign language education.