Two new Teaching Assistants at the German Department

Liebe Studierende,

this year, two new Teaching Assistants from Germany are joining the German Department at Aston. Our names are Esther and Thoralf and we will be more than happy to help you with improving your German language skills. We are students at the University of Paderborn and while Esther studies English and German, I study English, French and History and both of us aim to become teachers.

Feel free to come and visit us during our Drop-in clinics (Tuesday and Thursday, 11-2) or, in case you cannot make it, send us an e-mail to set up a meeting. You can always come to us if you have any questions or need help, be it concerning vocabulary, grammar, writing skills or other matters. Of course a nice chat about whatever topic you?d like can also be arranged.

Those of you who are on their year abroad right now can also profit from our presence at Aston. Send us your texts (see German Support Materials on Blackboard, in IBML and LSS Year Abroad – Assessment Guides) and we will provide feedback to help you improve your writing skills.

Our e-mail addresses are and We are very excited about our work at the German Department and look forward to meeting you all.

Bis bald,
Esther & Thoralf


Aston visits Wolverhampton Grammar

Last week, our Head of German Studies, Dr Stefan Manz, paid a visit to Wolverhampton Grammar School to talk to their Year 10 students taking GCSE German about the many advantages of studying a foreign language, especially with regard to career prospects.

This was the first in a series of school visits the German group is planning to various schools in the region to inspire MFL students to take their language study to A-level and – hopefully! – beyond.

Dr Simone Schroth Wins Student Choice Award For “Most Motivational Academic”

As university lecturers, most of our time and effort goes into ensuring that our students have a positive and beneficial learning experience – at least that’s what we would like to be able to say as another mind-numbing admin task rears its ugly head. But in all seriousness, lecturing is a wonderful and rewarding job that allows us to share our knowledge and interact with enthusiastic young people.

Most days, every new lecture gives us a good idea whether we are succeeding at what we are trying to achieve, namely educate the next generation, or if, as may well sometimes be the case, we “must do better”. But even when we are quite certain we’re doing well, it’s always nice to see that subjective impression confirmed. True, there are student evaluation questionnaires that form part of regular quality assurance processes, but that doesn’t mean that we’re not happy to see our work acknowledged in other ways. We therefore very much welcomed the “My Astonishing Aston Academic” awards which were launched by the Aston Students’ Union this year.

They provide a chance for students to nominate and celebrate their favourite academics in the following student elected categories:

–          Most motivational academic

–          Best personal tutor

–          Academic who made the most difference

–          Academic who inspired your career choice

–          Outstanding feedback

–          Most engaging use of learning technology

At the awards ceremony, held on 1 March, the winners were announced, and German at Aston is very proud to say that our sessional lecturer Dr Simone Schroth was presented with the award for Most Motivational Academic in the School of Languages and Social Sciences.

Simone, whose background is in comparative literature and translation studies, has only been with us since the beginning of the academic year. An accomplished translator, she is currently working on translations from English and Dutch into German, including writings by world-famous diarist Anne Frank. But above all, she is a very experienced lecturer who has previously taught at universities in Dublin and Newcastle. Simone was delighted to receive the award last night and to see her work appreciated in this way. She says: “Being nominated was a lovely surprise, as was being presented with the award. Now I feel even more motivated myself – thank you very much and my best wishes to you all!”

A full list of winners and nominees from all four Schools at Aston can be accessed here.

“Changing Germany”: Film Season at Birmingham International Film Society

In February, Birmingham’s International Film Society is teaming up with the Goethe-Institut to show a short season of  recent films from Germany. Following the theme “Changing Germany”, the films have been chosen for their various perspectives on contemporary Germany and the country’s social and political changes.

The season kicks off on Tuesday, 5 February, with two films about migration. They will be introduced by Leila Mukhida from the University of Birmingham and Dr Claudia Gremler, Lecturer in German here at Aston. The screenings will take place at the Library Theatre in Paradise Forum (map). For students, tickets are £3.50 per film or £6 for the double bill.

 The first film is Feo Aladag’s directorial debut “Die Fremde” (“When We Leave”), a powerful portrayal of a young woman’s struggle to lead a self-determined life. Having grown up in Germany, Umay now lives in her native Turkey with her abusive husband. When she decides to leave him and returns with her young son to her parents’ house in  Berlin, she fails to foresee the dramatic consequences of her actions.

Starring Sibel Kekilli, who rose to fame in 2004 with Fatih Akin’s highly appraised “Gegen die Wand” (“Head-On”), another Turkish-German drama that dealt with the challenges of interculturalism, “Die Fremde” was very well received. It won numerous international awards for its candid depiction of the private dimensions of cultural conflict  and the effects of male control over women’s lives.

The second film for the evening will be Hans Christian Schmid’s “Lichter” (“Distant Lights”). Schmid is known to British audiences for hard-hitting dramas that often focus on characters in crisis.

In 2006, his remarkable film “Requiem” told the true story of a devout Catholic student in the German province, who attempts to combat her epilepsy with exorcism and suffers fatal consequences. Three years later, Schmid embarked on an international co-production, “Storm”, which explored the legacy of the Yugoslav wars.

“Lichter”‘s sobering subject matter is in line with many of Schmid’s other works. The film is set in the border region between Germany and Poland, in the years before Poland joined the EU. Inspired by Robert Altman’s “Short Cuts”, the film combines a multitude of characters and many different episodes to offer a fascinating yet sad portrayal of life in a region which is shaped by struggle and disillusion. In the film we encounter a group of economic migrants from Eastern Europe, attempting  to cross the border into Germany. But it’s not easy to escape police control and whom do you turn to when you are stranded in a foreign country? Schmid carefully dissects his characters’ naive hopes and dreams and demonstrates the misleading allure of life elsewhere.

Two more films will be shown on 27 February. They deal with the role of memory and remembrance in contemporary Germany. We will bring you more details nearer the time, so watch this space!


Book launch Uwe Schütte: Urzeit, Traumzeit, Endzeit. Versuch über Heiner Müller

Do you remember the last staff publication we presented to you on the 5th of October?

Uwe Schütte’s new book “Urzeit, Traumzeit, Endzeit” will be envisaged by himself, tonight. Following Dr. Schütte will discuss his new cultural anthropologic essay with B. K. Tragelehn. This event is a prelude to the series “Müllermontag” which is dedicated to Müller’s work.

Agenda of the opening event:

  • Buchvorstellung
  • Weiterer Gesprächspartner: B.K. Tragelehn
  • Moderation: Falk Strehlow
  • Eine Veranstaltung des Literaturforums im Brecht-Haus

The event is taking place tonight at 8pm in the Palais am Festungsgraben in Berlin

Address: in the premises of the Saarland gallery, Am Festungsgraben 1, 10117 Berlin

New book publication by Uwe Schütte

Following his recent major study of Heiner Müller’s hitherto much neglected prose works, Uwe Schütte revisits key texts by this controversial East German writer in his latest book. Schütte shows how concepts of cultural anthropology can serve to open new perspectives on Müller’s works, providing a fresh analysis of some of his most influential plays as well as a fruitful exploration of his less familiar short prose and poetry.

Click here for more details.