Mareike Lange is a Ph.D. student and teaching assistant in German Studies at the University of Cincinnati. She has a Bachelor’s in Education (Erziehungswissenschaft) and Sociology from the University of Potsdam in Germany. Her Master’s thesis is titled: "Die männliche Herrschaft und die weibliche Lebensführung: Der vergeschlechtlichte Habitus in Arthur Schnitzlers Frau Berta Garlan“. Her research interests include intellectual history, social history and theory and gender studies, focusing on the writings of the Frankfurt School, Michel Foucault, Karl Marx, and Pierre Bourdieu.
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We asked Mareike a few questions about her work and experience:
1. What sparked your interest in pursuing an academic career in German Studies? And in the United States in particular?
I actually never wanted to go further than a Bachelor’s degree, so I knew that if I would start a Master’s, it would have to be something different from what I had done in Germany. The United States had been the first country I traveled to alone and ever since then (I was 15 when I first traveled to America), I had a soft spot for this country. It didn´t take me long to find the German Studies program at the University of Cincinnati because of their cooperation with German Universities. I gave it a shot and here I am with a Master’s degree, pursuing a PhD.
2. You entered the 2019 DAAD Photo Contest. How did you hear about the photo contest? Describe the background behind your submitted picture and why you chose it.
In April 2019, our DAAD Visiting Associate Professor, Dr. Svea Braeunert, sent an email informing us about the contest. I was interested right away, and I also knew which picture I would submit.
The picture was taken in 2018 in the early morning hours at the May-Ayim-Ufer in Berlin. I had the opportunity to assist with the annual Berlin-Trip that our program offers. As everyone who is traveling between different time zones knows, jetlag can hit you hard sometimes. And I was not the only one experiencing this. In this sense, the picture very much symbolizes these first hours in Berlin with my students, as well as that feeling of jetlag. I chose it because so much comes together in this one image. A landmark that once signified separation because it was the site of the Berlin Wall. Taken while it is not yet day and no longer night, the image shows the actual and its reflection and it connects history to the present, particularly within the context of the debate on renaming this street. I thought it is a good fit for the theme “Beyond Borders“.
3. You won the second prize – a GoPro Hero 7 – in the 2019 DAAD Photo Contest. How do you plan on using it? Any trips planned in the next months?
I recently discovered wakeboarding as a great way of spending myleisure time and by that I mean I just started learning how to stand on a wakeboard. Winning the GoPro Hero 7 was a great opportunity for me to capture my first attempts. I am actually planning a weekend trip with my friends and their boat and the GoPro will certainly be in my purse.
4. What was the most challenging experience you have ever had in pursuing studying abroad?
I remember that getting all the paperwork together for the application, applying for a visa, and the whole onboarding process were challenging, because I was constantly worried that I missed something important. But, after the bureaucratic work was done, every academic challenge turned out to be a great opportunity to grow personally and professionally.
5. What was the most 'German' experience you have had back in the United States?
I have come across a couple of German experiences here in Cincinnati, mainly because both the city and the surrounding region have a tradition of German culture. It is very interesting that Germany is as present as it is in this region, yet for me, it is a hybrid form of German/American tradition. It is astonishing how interested people here are when it comes to Bavarian culture as a stand in for Germany.
6. What advice would you give to students who are thinking of choosing your field of study?
German Studies in America, especially the German Studies program at UC, gives you a range of possibilities to connect topics and fields, be it Film and Media Studies, Art or Linguistics. My advice is that if you like to read a lot and if you are interested in the German culture and history, then you should simply go for it.
7. What advice would you give to North American students and researchers who are thinking of studying abroad in Germany? Or alternatively to German students who are thinking of studying abroad in the United States?
In any case, I fully support studying abroad. To German students I would say: You should experience how close faculty and students work together. Coming from the German system, it is heaven on earth. For the North American students, it is a great chance to become more independent. I think, studying abroad should be a mandatory experience; there is no other way to experience a different culture and to widen your horizon then to go and live it.
8. Which pictures, plants or unusual objects are there on your desk?
During the break, the only thing on my desk was the Panic Button. I introduced it in the office as a little pick-me-up. It has a number of countdowns on it until “panic” breaks loose and it really comes in handy before presentations or deadlines. Now that I am teaching a summer class, my desk is full of folders, my laptop is on it of course, lots of books and paperwork. I like to be organized, so if my desk gets chaotic, it says something about my stress level and workload.
9. Can you cook a German dish without a recipe? If so, which one?
Absolutely, I am going ahead and name three, because I have learned to cook these from my grandma, and they are my favorite dishes. Frikassee (Fricassee), and because it is a chicken dish it was always accompanied by a chicken soup, so chicken soup is the second and last but not least Graupeneintopf (a type of barley stew).
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