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The North Carolina German Studies Seminar and Workshop Series, 2006 to 2024


The NCGS Series, 2006 to 2020

In 2006, the North Carolina German Studies Seminar and Workshop Series (NCGS) was initiated by Karen Hagemann and Konrad H. Jarausch (both at the History Department at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill) together with an interdisciplinary and inter-institutional group of scholars in the Research Triangle of North Carolina. At the time, the state of North Carolina possessed an incredibly rich and impressive roster of scholars working in German Studies. North Carolina was home to nationally and internationally recognized graduate programs in German Studies and Central European History. Its colleges and universities had incredibly successful undergraduate programs responsible for producing highly proficient speakers and thinkers of Germanic languages, histories, and cultures. Our state also boasted an extensive roster of extremely dedicated and talented high school teachers of German. The first NCGS seminars took place at UNC Chapel Hill in spring 2007.

In order to strengthen the bonds between all these precious assets, the North Carolina German Studies Seminar and Workshop Series sought to foster interdisciplinary and inter-institutional intellectual exchange among students, scholars, and the wider community at both public and private institutions of higher learning. The Series intended on opening academic dialogue to the general public of North Carolina.

The NCGS seminar and workshop series offered not only the opportunity to foster connections with students and faculty from different departments at Duke University, North Carolina State University and UNC Chapel Hill, but also from different institutions beyond the Research Triangle. The seminar has frequently hosted scholars from other institutions, including North Carolina Central University, Elon University, UNC Charlotte, UNC Greensboro, and Appalachian State University.

Among the most important strengths of the NCGS seminar series was its interdisciplinary nature. It brought together undergraduate students, graduate students, and faculty working in history, German language and literature, political science, and other disciplines. One of its major aims was to have a program that consists of well-known national and international scholars as well as faculty of all ranks and advanced graduate students from colleges and universities throughout North Carolina.


The  NCGS Online Seminar Series, 2020 to 2024

When the Corona Pandemic started in spring 2020, we transitioned the NCGS seminar and workshop series to an online format via Zoom. Since then, our events have drawn much larger audiences that included scholars and members of the general public from North Carolina, the United States and several foreign countries. In addition, we inaugurated in spring 2020 the NCGS Challenging Conversations Series Roundtables once a term or year, which focused on contested scholarly questions in the field of German Studies. We continued this online format because we wanted to expand the national and international network of local faculty and graduate students who were and are currently working in the Research Triangle and other parts of North Carolina.


The NCGS Workshops, 2008 to 2022

An important part of the NCGS series became the interdisciplinary workshops that were organized by different faculty with the support of graduate students on behalf of the NCGS. Multiple universities in North Carolina hosted these workshops between 2008 and 2022. Usually, they were financially supported by the respective university, and in addition, generously supported by the German Studies Association (GSA), for which we were very grateful:

  • 2008: UNC Chapel Hill. Germany’s 1968: A Cultural Revolution?
  • 2009: UNC Charlotte. German Cultures of Conflict: Technology, Business, and War
  • 2010: UNC East Carolina University. Popular Belief, Religious Identities, and Conflict in Germany
  • 2011: UNC Chapel Hill. The Holocaust in Eastern Europe: Race, Gender, and Property – The Experience of Nazi Occupation at the Local Level
  • 2012: UNC Chapel Hill. Transnational German Film
  • 2013: Duke University and UNC Chapel Hill. Creating Participatory Democracy: Green Politics in Germany since 1983
  • 2014: Duke University. From Harlem to Hamburg and Back: Intersections of German and African American Culture
  • 2017: UNC Chapel Hill. Burdens and Beginnings: Rebuilding East and West Germany after Nazism
  • 2022: UNC Chapel Hill (Zoom). German Historians in North America After 1945: Transatlantic Careers and Scholarly Contributions


The Konrad H. Jarausch Essay Prize for Advanced Graduate Students in Central European History since 2019

In 2019, the North Carolina German Studies Seminar and Workshop Series added the Konrad H. Jarausch Essay Prize for Advanced Graduate Students in Central European History as a new project. The prize is awarded annually for an article or dissertation chapter written by a current graduate student. The prize recognizes the longstanding commitment to graduate education of Konrad H. Jarausch, who is the Lurcy Professor of European Civilization at the History Department of the University of North Carolina. The prize serves to celebrate and cultivate outstanding new talent in the field of Central European history.

The past winners of the prize were:

  • 2019: STEFANIE M. WOODARD (Former doctoral candidate, Emory University, Department of History): „Keeping the ‘Recovered Territories’: Evolving Polish Attitudes toward Indigenous Silesians.”
  • 2020: PETER B. THOMPSON (Former doctoral candidate, University of Illinois—Urbana-Champaign, Department of History): “The Pale Death: Poison Gas and German Racial Exceptionalism, 1915-1945.”
  • 2021: JOHNATHON SPEED (Former doctoral candidate, Vanderbilt University, Department of History: “A ‘Child Export’: The Swabian Children at the Austro-German Border, 1897-1914.”
  • 2022: YANARA SCHMACKS (Former doctoral candidate, The Graduate Center, City University of New York, Department of History): „We always also did this for our children’: Motherhood in the GDR between Socialism and Opposition.”
  • 2023: MIRA MARKHAM (Former doctoral candidate, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Department of History): “Operation Velehrad, 1950: Communism, Catholicism, and Popular Tradition in Czechoslovakia.”

The prize will be continued. The current prize committee includes:

  • Dr. James Chappel (Duke University)
  • Dr. Karen Hagemann (Speaker, UNC-Chapel Hill, email:
  • Dr. Donna Harsch (Carnegie Mellon University),
  • Dr. Thomas Pegelow Kaplan (University of Colorado Boulder)
  • Dr. Adam Seipp (Texas A&M University)
  • Dr. Andrea Sinn (Elon University) and
  • Dr. Teresa Walch (UNC-Greensboro).


The NCGS Sponsors and Supporters

The work of the NCGS seminar series would not have been possible without the continuous and generous support offered by various departments and centers, both within and outside Duke University and UNC Chapel Hill, including:  the Duke University Department of History, the Duke University Department of Germanic Languages and Literatures; the UNC-Duke Graduate Program in German Studies, the UNC Department of History,  the UNC Department of Germanic and Slavic Languages & Literatures, the Carolina Center for Jewish Studies, and the UNC Center for European Studies. Over the years we had an excellent collaboration in our NCGS Steering Committee that supported the different NCGS organization teams. The collaboration between several faculty and graduate students in the Research Triangle and other parts of North Carolina was crucial to keep the NCGS series going. But also important was the willingness of so many local, national, and international scholars over the years to present their work in an NCGS seminar. We would like to thank them all!


The End of the NCGS Series in April 2024

With the end of the academic year 2023/24, we will end the NCGS Seminar and Workshop series. The current NCGS organizers Karen Hagemann (UNC Chapel Hill), who has been involved in its organization since the beginning, Andrea A. Sinn (Elon University) and Teresa Walch (UNC Greensboro) are responsible since 2019/20. Nobody wished to take over after this academic year, a fact which reflects much larger challenges faced by German Studies, in particular German history, in North Carolina, even at its former strongholds Duke University and UNC Chapel Hill. The situation is not much better elsewhere in the United States.

For this reason, we have decided to conclude the NCGS series with an NCGS Challenging Conversations Series Roundtable titled A Decline of German Studies & German History in the United States?, which will take place on April 12, 2024 (2–4:30 pm EST, Zoom Seminar). The shrinking number of tenure-track jobs and the decline of undergraduate and graduate programs in German Studies and German history in recent years is alarming. Both developments threaten the future of the field. This development is part of two larger trends: on the one hand, changes in the field of history in the United States, mainly the move away from European/Western history towards global history; on the other hand, the increasing shift of resources at American colleges and universities away from the humanities and social sciences to the STEM disciplines (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) as well as professional schools (economics, law, medicine). The final NCGS event will address this development by discussing the following three questions with experts in the field:

  1. What is the current situation in German Studies and German History? Is it the same for both fields?
  2. How can we explain the developments?
  3. Which consequences does it have for the future of the field and what can be done to change it?


The NCGS Organizing Team, 2023-24

  • Karen Hagemann (Speaker, James G. Kenan Distinguished Professor of History, UNC Chapel Hill, Department of History)
  • Kevin J. Hoeper  (P.D. Candidate, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Department of History)
  • Madeline James (Ph.D. Candidate,  University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Department of History)
  • Andrea Sinn (Associate Professor of History, Elon University, Department of History and Geography)
  • Teresa Walch (Assistant Professor of Modern European History, UNC Greensboro, Department of History).