This year I helped to run the German festival, partly due to my keen interest in German life and culture. The festival was great fun and overall a massive success, so I wanted to share my personal thoughts on the experience, and give you an overview of what kind of things happened.
Saturday 8th October: Poetry Events at the Winchester Discovery Centre
Translation Duel 12:30- 1:30 pm
Karen Leeder and Iain Galbraith (Academics with expertise of interpreting German poetry and translation) read and discussed their translations of the poem: Mitad del Mundo (a contemporary poem written by the Austrian Raoul Schrott, based upon eighteenth century French explorer Condamine’s journey to measure the equator). It was fascinating to see how two composers could have such different interpretations of a poem about love, science and the nature of the universe amongst other themes. Iain adopted a much more literal translation, while Karen’s views were more metaphorical. Part of my role during the day was to ask about people’s reaction to the event afterwards. There were many mixed and interesting responses about how successful both of the interpretations were and which of these the audience found the most engaging. This showed a broad, but engaged reaction from the majority of the audience. The reasons for the various reactions to the poetry readings could be because of the mixture of students and academics present, but perhaps it also highlights just how personal and flexible responses to a poem can be.
European Voices featuring Jan Wagner, 5:30- 6:45 pm
Later on, Iain and Jan had a more general discussion about a wider collection of German poems.
Wednesday 19 October: Film Night
The movie shown was Alamanya, Wilkommen in Deutschland – Translated to – Alamanya, Welcome to Germany, at the Phoenix Film Theatre. This film follows a Turkish family living in Germany, and their dilemma of whether they should return home or not. Migration of Turkish Guestworkers entering Germany is a contentious political issue in the country. Making this humorous film quite dramatic and very relevant so it is worth a watch.
The trailer of the film can be viewed here:
Friday 21st October, 5pm: Photo competition and a website launch
This night marked the launch of the SoGerman Website (an online tool recently set up by the University of Southampton German Department to promote Germanic culture) . There was also a talk from Simon Winder, who was keen to share his interest in all things German; he focused on how fragmented German political identities have affected German culture in today’s society. Before the talk there was also an opportunity for visitors to socialize with the German Consul for Southampton, German academics and Anne Curry, Dean of Humanities. There was some meaningful “andere Blick” (untold pictures) displayed, which were taken by various Southampton language students on their year abroad in Germany and Austria, as part of a photo competition. These fantastic photos reflected the quaint German scenery and are still on display until the 11th November in the north ground corridor of Avenue Campus, so why not take a look?
Saturday 22 October: some of the events that were designed to highlight German/ Austrian cultural included:
- Viennese Bake Off, sounds perfect right? There was an Austrian and German baking competition, with even some members of the German Society committee entering bakes! Interested in learning how to make German cakes, click on this link for a great guide: http://germanfood.about.com/od/cakes/
- Brecht style acting workshops and an Austrian and German and dancing workshops, for those with a love for performing arts.
- Dance courses in Waltz and Latin Dancing with Southampton University Ballroom society.
- German quizzes and Language tasters- if you are interested in learning this language in a fun and engaging way and you want to find out how to access the SoGerman website, then you should join the German Society. The link is here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/gersocsoton/
To sum up the success of the festival and the really hard work that the committee of the German Society put in, I spoke to GerSoc President, Elizabeth Prentice:
“The whole of the committee really enjoyed getting involved with the German festival, whether attending the poetry translation duel or making cakes for the baking competition. GerSoc helped the German Department with the general organization of the festival so many thanks to them also. Overall this event was a great way to show off German culture at Southampton, and engage the students and the general public!”
I hope having read this article that you have also developed more of an interest in German culture and life and perhaps might attend future German festival ran by the University!