Four King’s students presented papers they’d written at the Sixth Annual Undergraduate Colloquium in German Studies at the University of Toronto last weekend (Nov. 17), representing half the total number of presenters at the conference.
These fourth-year students, all of whom major or minor in King’s honours Contemporary Studies Program, studied Memory, Politics and Place: Berlin’s 20th Century in Germany’s capital last summer through one of King’ study abroad options. Impressed by the quality of their course work, when the call for papers went out their professor, Dr. Sarah Clift, nudged them to turn their course work into submissions to the U of T conference.
“I was delighted. I couldn’t stop smiling,” Sarah says, of learning the four had been accepted to the conferences with their travel and accommodation expenses paid. “But I wasn’t surprised. I’d worked on their proposals with them and was excited about them all…I knew they were all good. I firmly believe we have outstanding students.”
The four students—Sean Galway, Clare Sully Stendhal, Ethan Speigel and Rachel Colquhoun—presented their papers on topics related to German literature, art and gender studies.
“I felt a real sense of community among the four of us,” says Rachel. “We had a genuine interest in each other’s work.”
Sean said they all brought a level of cohesive thinking to Toronto, and, “It felt nice to have that [consistent] presence.”
The four students were inspired by their Berlin course which challenged them to consider collective memory, public space and historical trauma in Germany’s capital.
“Our papers were different but informed by Sarah’s view on the philosophy of memory,” Ethan says.
Clare said being in Toronto with her peers made her nostalgic for their intense study abroad experience together. “It was kind of like an extended version of a conversation we might have had in Berlin.”
The students acknowledged the experience they gained presenting at smaller conferences at King’s in preparation for the national stage, and the support they’ve also received from the German Studies Department at Dalhousie University.
“Our students are punching well above their weight. They’re doing graduate student-level work already,” says Sarah, mentioning how impressed the German scholars there were with the King’s students’ conference presentations. “I don’t need confirmation that our students are remarkable, but it’s always nice to get it.”