Course listings · Uncategorized

Kicking Off the Spring Semester with our Course List!

Yep, it’s that time again, Germanophiles and Russianists!  Time to leap into the spring semester, just like these Olympic snowboarders:

Snowboard in Sochi

If you didn’t make the cut for Sochi and it looks like you won’t be going to Pyeongchang, either, never fear: we have plenty of classes that will allow you to flex your (mental) muscles.  Read on for the complete list of learning opportunities the German and Russian department is offering this semester.

FYS YYY 100 “Russia at WAR” CRN 20004–Professor Clark


In this FYS, students will read, watch, and listen to contemporary Russian-language books, movies, and songs about the conflicts in Afghanistan, Chechnya, and the Donbass, and speak with Russian, Chechen, and Western veterans-turned-authors of these conflicts.  Throughout the course we will contemplate important questions such as: what are the differences and similarities in these different soldiers’ experiences?  What are the effects of a conscript vs. a volunteer army vs. mercenary forces?  What are the short- and long-term effects on society of these long-running, asymmetrical conflicts?

RUS 111 “Elementary Russian 1st Semester” CRN 22367–Professor Hamilton

Маша первый раз

Why take an off-cycle 111 class?  Professor Hamilton explains why:

We started that first “off-cycle 111 course” with 12 students and kept 9 of them to the end of the course.
 What did the ones do who wanted to continue right away?  They went to summer school elsewhere.  TJ actually went up to Middlebury Summer School where they make you speak only Russian and “send you home” if they catch you speaking English.  By the time he came back to us, as I remember, he was ready to take Russian at the 3rd year level, or above.
 TJ himself went on here to major in Russian, and actually got a job working for NBC at the Winter Olympics in Sochi (we let him get back to school late, in February…)  We have continued offering the off-cycle spring course ever since; it seems to work out for all of us, and it’s really fun.
This might happen to you if you sign up for RUS 111 in the spring, as you can this spring.  Russian is like, well, let’s say, Blue Grass Music: some people, when they hear it, “get hooked for life”.  Others drift away.
Thanks for reading this, and I’ll see you on the chairs out in front of Greene this spring if it’s not raining.

GER 112 “Elementary German 2nd Semester” CRN 15534 and 18749–Professor Knight


Taken German 111 and looking to keep making progress?  Professor Knight will be offering two sections of GER 112 this semester, so there’s no reason not to find time for it in your schedule!

RUS 112 “Elementary Russian 2nd Semester” CRN 10743–Professor Clark

Быстрее выше сильнее

Took RUS 111 in the fall (or last year) and now you’re ready to go Faster, Higher, Stronger?  RUS 112 is just right for you!

GER 113 “Intensive Elementary German” CRN 16883–Professor Wiggers

German Smart Idea

Have you been meaning to take German but didn’t get around to signing up for GER 111 in the fall?  Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered!  Cover an entire year’s worth of German with Professor Wiggers in GER 113.

GER 153 “Intermediate German” CRN 10692–Professor Boyer


Ready to take your German to the next level?  Sign up for Professor Boyer’s GER 153.  Here’s what she has to say about it:

I am teaching German 153 this semester which provides an overview of the grammar everyone learned in 111 and 112. But the exciting thing about the course for me is that we get to read a mini-novel called “Gefährlicher Einkauf” a crime mystery. I am also looking forward to sharing various weird and quirky German short movies throughout the semester.

GER 210 “Encounters with the German-Speaking World” CRN 13521–Professor Howards


Want to expand your knowledge of the German-speaking world?  Take GER 210 with Professor Howards, where you’ll find out about the political history of the German Democratic Republic, as well as daily life: were bananas really impossible to buy?  Did kids really get sent away from home at the age of six to start training for the Olympics?  And who is this guy?

RUS 210 “Russians and Their World” CRN 24075–Professor Shaw


If you’ve never been to Russia and/or would like to know something about everyday life there, check out Prof. Shaw’s RUS 210 course, The Russians’ World.  It’s a little bit of history, a little bit of pop culture and a good introduction to what the Russians are all about.  Readings are in Russian and you’ll be sure to get your vocab vitamins, too!  Plus there’s Cheburashka!

GER 212 “Introduction to German Short Fiction” CRN 16523–Professor Boyer


In 212 we are getting serious this semester. Not only are we covering subjunctive and passive but we will be reading an entire novel. The course is centered on Anti-Semitism and the book is called “Es geschah im Nachbarhaus.” It is set in a small German town in the early twentieth century, where a child is found murdered and an innocent Jewish family suddenly find themselves accused of the crime. It’s based on real events and shows the difficult and painful history of Anti-Semitism in Germany.

RUS 317 “Seminar in Russian Literature” CRN 24076–Professor Shaw

Преступление и наказание

Prof. Shaw will also be teaching RUS 317, Seminar in Russian Literature, where you’ll learn a little about 19th-century sexual tensions, the habits of evil pawnbrokers, what to do if you’ve suddenly got a talking dog on your hands and much, much more!  Readings and discussions are по-русски.

GER 318 “German Conversation” CRN 13543–Professor Wiggers


By the end of this course students will be able to converse in German on a variety of topics that include both everyday aspects of the language (e.g. traveling, holidays, food and restaurants) as well as more specific topics (environment, German universities, immigrants in Germany).  Special attention is given to broadening students’ vocabulary and is reinforced through vocab quizzes.  Students will also be able to speak in German for longer periods of time (presentations, free speaking).  Another emphasis in this course is listening comprehension through exposure to various sources (German news and short documentaries on Deutsche Welle, German songs).  Another important component of German 318 is strengthening German pronunciation and enhancing fluency.

The course covers some very interesting topics, such as The German Basic Law (Germany’s equivalent to a Constitution), the environment and environmental problems, people with migration background living in Germany, and What is happiness for Germans?  

GER 321 “German Culture and Civilization II” CRN 24072–Professor Knight

Brandenburg Gate

Really want to give your German-speaking and German-reading muscles a workout?  Check out Professor Knight’s GER 321!  The course is taught in German, and we’ll be covering German literature and culture from 1750 to the present day.

GES 331 “Weimar Germany” CRN 24073–Professor Thomas


Curious to know more about Weimar Germany?  Check out Professor Thomas’s GES 331, where you will learn about the art, literature, music, and film of Weimar Germany, 1919-1933, in historical context.  Taught in English.

GES 340 “German Masterworks in Translation” CRN 2297–Professor Thomas


Discover the literary riches of the German-speaking world!  GES 340 examines selected works of German, Austrian, and Swiss fiction in English translation by such writers as Goethe, Schiller, Kafka, Mann, and Schnitzler.

RUS 340 “Seminar in Translation” CRN 24077–Professor Hamilton


This class is always a good time for advanced Russian students!  Here’s Professor Hamilton’s description of it:

For the second time in memory, I’ll be teaching RUS 340 Translation to a nice group of about 7 or 8 advanced students. Anybody with RUS 321 experience or the equivalent is welcome to join us.
The first time I taught the course was about two or three years ago, when it became (in)famous for being called “The Donald Trump Course”.  How did that work?  Well, we were choosing, as a class, texts to translate from various genres (literature, via Dostoevsky; sports; politics; economics, and so on).  One week we spent three class periods on one sentence of Dostoevsky’s, trying to get the English exactly right, as if that were totally possible.
  How did Donald Trump enter the picture?  Well, back then, nobody had any idea that he would become a daily event in the life of America.  So, in all innocence, I started getting grumpy when a student would translate something from Russian into English and the English wouldn’t be standard or there would be a typo.  I would pretend to be Trump, who had asked for a translation of something Russian that had caught his eye. (This was also a prescient fantasy, since we had no idea how much Trump had to do “in and with” Russia back then…)
  I would summon the student to the “chopping block” and I would say say “I am Donald Trump!  Donald Trump doesn’t know a word of Russian, but he sure knows a sentence that doesn’t make any sense in English when he sees it, so you’re fired! 
 The fired student would have to spend 30 seconds out in the hall, then we’d continue.
  I’ll leave it to your political brains to imagine how that feels to me now, looking back. Better left unsaid.
 So this semester we won’t be bothering The Donald, we’ll just have to invent some other powerful employer who can complain if the English doesn’t come out standard.
  And we will go both ways.  Even a total heritage speaker of Russian will have some work to perfect in creating the matching English.
  Then we will test our skills against the computer.  Sorta like what happened in the Ballad of John Henry (which I always sing to the class at some point): John Henry swore he was going to “beat the steam drill” at laying track, and he did, but “he drove so hard that he broke his poor heart, laid down his hammer and he died, Lord, Lord.”
  Our students will plug items into their cell phones or laptops, get the English, then take up their hammer and try to beat the steam drill.
  We know that sometimes the machine gets off track.  The funniest machine translation we stumbled across recently was an article in Russian with the title Крым наш referring to the Russian takeover of the Crimea a few years ago.  Although the body of the text was fairly successful, the title appeared above it, reading Krim our.  No kidding.
   I do wonder if, fifty years from now, teachers like us will be out of work when it comes to the matter of learning Russian and translating things back and forth.  Will we still be able to beat the machine, as John Henry did long ago?
   And if we do, will we “die with a cell phone in our hand, Lord, Lord?”

GES 395 “Special Topics in German Studies–Luther” CRN 24074–Professor McAllister


This course will focus on early Luther and his 3 main writings: “Babylonian Captivity,” “To Christian Nobility of German Nations,” and “The Freedom of the Christian.”  We will also look at his writings on translation and his anti-Semitic views, and read some literature from that time period and examine art work by Albrecht Dürer and Lucas Cranach.

GER 399 “Seminar in the Major–German Comedy”–Professor McAllister


Professor McAllister tells us that the fun thing about this topic as that German comedies are usually not all that funny, but rather somewhat tragic and/or grotesque. All the 18th and early 19th comedies are pretty traditional (and include a resolution of conflict along with the punishment of the antagonist). Beginning with Kleist questionable resolutions and satire take hold and finally after 1945 it seems only tragic comedy is possible.

So there you have it!  More course offerings than you can shake a stick at!  And don’t forget you’re welcome to join us for German and Russian conversation hours and other fun department events, which we will post about here.  Have a great semester, everyone!
Department Events · Uncategorized

Coffee, Tea, and Spring Snow

Well, that was quite a surprise, wasn’t it?  Sometimes you think spring has arrived, and then…

Snow in spring

But that’s okay!  A little spring snow just makes you appreciate the warmth all the more.  In the meantime, if you’re casting about for some indoor activities this week, come check out our Russian and German conversation hours!

Chas Peek will be this Tuesday the 13th, 4-5pm, Greene 341.  Come for the snacks, stay for the Russian!


And Kaffeestunde will be on Wednesday the 14th, 4-5pm, also in Greene 341.  Clearly Greene 341 is the happening place to be this week!


Department Events · Trivia Questions · Uncategorized

Films and Fun Before Spring Break

Is spring break here yet?  Wait, nope, not *quite* yet 🙂  In fact, if your week is anything like ours, it’s probably full of pre-break exams.  But never fear! We also have some fun activities for everyone to drop by and unwind at.

German Film, Tuesday February 27, 7pm, Greene 341

German film

Learn German, watch movies, AND get snacks!

As always, you can win cool prizes in the German trivia contest!

Trivia Questions

So whether you’ll be spending your spring break skiing in Sochi

Skiing Sochi

or Austria

Skiing in Austria

snorkeling in Hawaii


or just recovering from the first half of the semester

Resting Corgi

be sure to come say hi to us before you go, and good luck on midterms!

Ни пуха ни пера




Faculty research · Uncategorized · Winston-Salem History

German and Russian Faculty Accomplishments

Well, sometimes you just can’t help but brag!  WFU German and Russian faculty have recently had some big accomplishments, so obviously  we had to share here.

Last week our very own Alyssa Howards was given an Excellence in Advising Award at Founders’ Day Convocation!  You can read more about it here.

Alyssa receiving award

And Heiko Wiggers was recently featured with a Teacher-Scholar Portrait for his work directing academic internships in which students translated documents from Old Salem.

Teacher-Scholar Portraits

You can find out more about the kind of documents they translated in the full write-up here.

Stay tuned for more exciting news about our faculty and students, and for updates on upcoming events!

Department Events · Uncategorized

Coffee and Pizza–This Week’s Events

After all the excitement of the past couple of weeks, I think everyone is glad to take things a little easier this week–but never fear, we still have plenty of activities (and tasty snacks) lined up!  And all on Wednesday, too!

First of all, don’t forget to submit your German trivia answers to the department by noon on Wednesday!

Trivia Questions

You can find the question on the department bulletin board.

Kaffeestunde is this Wednesday–come by for some coffee (or other snacks) and conversation.


And then, also on Wednesday, Russian students are invited to a pizza party at Professor Hamilton’s house!

Pizza Party

See you there!

Department Events · Uncategorized


For the fourth year in a row, the Russian program and the Russian Club hosted a Maslenitsa celebration, in which Russian students cooked pancakes in the atrium of Greene Hall and handed them out to the campus community.

Maslenitsa has its roots in Slavic pagan celebrations of the end of winter, but with the coming of Christianity to Eastern Europe, it was transformed into the Slavic version of Carnival week. Central to the week-long celebration is the cooking and eating of bliny, the Russian version of pancakes, along with visiting, merrymaking, burning effigies, and even fist-fighting!  You can read more about it here.  For our celebration at Wake Forest we leave out the fist-fighting and the setting things on fire, but we do make lots of pancakes :).

The banners 1

We set up in the atrium of Greene Hall.  Thanks to Tara Ogletree for helping out so much with the organization and set-up!

The banners 2

The Russian Club was also instrumental in getting things ready.

Want to learn more about the Russian Club?  The Russian Club strives to promote Russian and Slavic language, culture, activities and more at Wake Forest. Interests such as Polish politics, Ukrainian cooking, and Russian cinematography are all a part of the Russian Club. During the fall semester, we took part in the World Cultural Festival and exhibited Russian society alongside the cultures of the world. Join us this spring as we go ice skating in February and celebrate the holiday of Maslenitsa by cooking bliny! To be a part of the Russian Club, please contact David Burch ( or Juleo Amosah (

Making the batter

First-year students practice making the batter.

Russian major and first year

A Russian major demonstrates using the griddle to a first-year student.

First Year Students at the Griddle

Action shot of first-year students working the griddle!

Andy and Rachel

An important part of the process is making and trying test pancakes before you serve them!  First-year students trying their test pancakes.

Lining up for pancakes

Hungry pancake-lovers start lining up for pancakes!

Musical accompaniment

Professor Hamilton (seated) plays Russian folk songs to provide the right ambience for the event!


Department Events · Uncategorized

Movies, Maslenitsa, and More!

It’s another big week for the German and Russian department!  So let’s dive right in:

First of all, on Tuesday, February 13, Dr. Boyer will be hosting a screening of “Schindler’s List” for the German Film Series.  7pm, Greene 341.

Schindler's List

Come see the Academy-Award winning movie Schindler’s List with your fellow German students!

There’s no Kaffeestunde this week, but there are other opportunities to practice your German!

Drop by the office to find out what the German trivia question of the week is, and maybe win some fun prizes.

Trivia Questions

And Stammtisch will be at Krankie’s Wednesday evening:


And finally–MASLENITSA!

This Thursday, February 15, we will be celebrating Maslenitsa (Russian Mardi Gras)! Stop by the lobby of Greene Hall (3rd floor – main level) any time from 10:00 to 1:30 and grab some delicious bliny. And don’t forget to tell your friends!


Would you like to help set up for Maslenitsa, learn how to cook bliny, distribute the bliny, or become an expert in the art of sour cream? Email David Burch, the president of the Russian Club,  ( or Dr. Clark ( and let us know if you’re willing to volunteer, or just stop by any time from 9:30 to 1:30 on Thursday. Set up starts at 9:30!

For more info on the holiday of Maslenitsa, check this out.

Department Events · Travel Abroad · Uncategorized

Four German and Russian Students Chosen as Wake Forest Fulbright Finalists

The Department of German and Russian is delighted to announce that of the 16 WFU finalists for Fulbright awards this year, four of them are from our department!  It just shows what kind of opportunities studying German or Russian can get you.  All of them are now finalists for English Teaching Assistantships in their respective countries and their applications have been forwarded on to the next stage in the process.  We offer them a huge congratulations on getting this far and wish them the best of luck in the next stage.

Our finalists are:

Kimberly Annas, German Major, Teaching Assistant, Germany

Kimberly Annas

David Burch, Russian Major, Teaching Assistant, Czech Republic

David Burch

Tatiana Ostwalt, Russian Major, Teaching Assistant, Russia


Will Teuscher, German Major, Teaching Assistant, Germany

Will Teuscher

Once again congratulations to our students and best of luck!  Whatever happens they definitely have an exciting year ahead of them.