Earlier this month, the Oxford German Network launched their third annual ‘German Classic Prize’. This is an essay competition for sixth formers (those going from Year 12 into Year 13 over the summer), which is designed to explore and celebrate a different ‘classic’ German text each year.
This year, the prize focuses on E.T.A. Hoffmann’s ‘Der Sandmann’ (1816) – one of the most captivating short stories in German literature and a masterpiece of Gothic fiction. Hoffmann’s eerie and mysterious tale centres on a young, impressionable student called Nathanael, who becomes convinced that he is pursued by a shadowy figure called Coppelius. Filled with Doppelgänger, mechanical dolls, alchemistic experiments, inexplicable fires, uncanny optical toys, and misaddressed letters, ‘Der Sandmann’ explores the power of the imagination as it erupts into a dark obsession.
The Oxford German Network is offering free study packs to Year 12/ Lower Sixth students who wish to take part. You can find more details about this here – be sure to request a study pack by midday on 10 June 2019.
In connection with this prize, the Oxford German Network has also produced a fantastic video podcast series about the text. One of these videos forms part of a special tie-in with our Virtual Book Club.
The episode below is a discussion between doctoral student, Karolina, and three undergraduates about an extract from Hoffmann’s short story. The full story is available here, and the extract under discussion begins ‘Seltsamer und wunderlicher’ and runs until ‘nicht anzufangen.’
Calling all Germanists and aspiring Germanists: the Oxford German Network (OGN) is pleased to announce the launch of this year’s German Olympiad – a prize for German learners aged 9 and up. The theme this year is Tiere und Monster [Animals and Monsters]. There are a range of activities to take part in, depending on your age, and you can submit an entry as an individual or as a group. This year there are also some activities for those of you who might be new to German. Read on for more details, and please consult the full guidelines on the OGN website.
Years 5 and 6 (age 9-11):
Draw a monster and label its parts.
Draw a picture of your home from the perspective of an animal or insect living there. Label the things in it and include a title indicating the type of creature it is.
Find a German fairytale about animals and draw a comic strip retelling it.
Years 7 to 9 (age 11-14):
‘Gibt es wirklich Monster?’ Write a dialogue between two people who disagree about whether monsters really exist.
Create an advertising brochure for a zoo or wildlife sanctuary.
Research the history of the Krampus figure and Krampusnacht, and create a poster explaining them.
Years 10 and 11 (age 14-16):
Research the roles played by animals in the First World War and present your findings in an article.
Paint or draw an animal or animals in the style of the artist Franz Marc and write about the work of art that inspired it.
Retell a story (originally in any language) featuring animals and/or monsters.
Years 12 and 13 (age 16-18):
‘Was tun Zoos für den Artenschutz?’ Write an article using the information on the website of the Berlin Zoo and at least one other German, Austrian or Swiss zoo.
Create a comedy sketch retelling Kafka’s Die Verwandlung. Submit it as a script or a filmed performance.
Write a short story about a female monster.
Open Competition for Groups or Classes (4+ participants)
Create a film or PowerPoint presentation about Tierversuche.
Write and illustrate a short book for children about an animal or a monster.
‘Unser Leben mit einem Monster.’ Create a film or song on this theme.
Discover German – Taster Competition (1-3 participants with no prior experience of studying German)
Years 7 to 9: find words used for animal noises in German, and film yourself saying them together with the equivalent English word.
Years 10 and 11: rewrite (in English) the story of Hänsel and Gretel, setting it in a real modern German city and including 15 German words.
Years 12 and 13: choose three of the following animal nouns: Hund, Katze, Schwein, Pferd, Kuh, Schaf, Hase, Vogel. Find compound words (e.g. Osterhase – Easter Bunny) and idioms (e.g. Schwein haben – to be lucky) that contain them. Write a blog post about how you found them and what differences from English you discovered.
Please spread the word to your Greman-speaking friends. The deadline for submissions is noon on 15th March 2019. If you have any questions please contact the Co-ordinator of the Oxford German Network at firstname.lastname@example.org . We look forward to receiving your entries.
Budding Germanists out there might be interested in delving into a ‘German Classic’: Friedrich Schiller’s Maria Stuart. For the second year, the Oxford German Network is running an essay competition for Sixth-Formers who have studied German at GCSE level (you do not need to be studying German at A Level or equivalent). There are prizes of £500, £300, and £100 to be won. The deadline for submissions is noon on Wednesday 12 September 2018. More information is available here or read on to find out more…
The Prize celebrates a classic text of German literature, with resources to make it accessible whether or not you have experience of German literature. This year, the prize focuses on Friedrich Schiller’s play Maria Stuart, a fascinating historical drama about how Elizabeth I came to have Mary, Queen of Scots executed. The great centrepiece of the play is a gripping confrontation between Elisabeth and Maria – in fact, it never happened but it makes for electrifying drama.
You will find a rich array of material including podcasts and YouTube links on Maria Stuart: http://www.ogn.ox.ac.uk/content/german-classics-prize. Candidates may also request a special reader with extracts from secondary literature on the work (see contact details on the website).
The task: Write a 2000 to 3000-word essay in English, independently and unsupervised, over the summer holidays between Lower and Upper Sixth/ between Years 12 and 13.
The prize, and funding of the accompanying resources, have been generously donated by Jonathan Gaisman, QC, a highly distinguished commercial barrister who was introduced to German literature at school and still finds German literature and culture the most intellectually rewarding part of his life. He would like to give young people the opportunity to be inspired as he was when he first encountered German literature.
Students willing to have a go at undertaking this challenge have the possibility of winning a glittering cash prize worth £500, £300 or £100. All participants will get a certificate of participation.
The prize is aimed at German learners in the UK. It does not assume that participants will be taking English beyond GCSE or that they have a prior interest in literature. The rationale for asking Modern Languages students to write an essay in English is to give an opportunity for UK learners to engage with a linguistically and intellectually challenging German work in the linguistic medium they are most comfortable with. While participants may want to use a translation to support their understanding, we recommend reading the work in the original to get the most out of it and take advantage of the opportunity it offers for expanding German competence. All quotations must be in German.
As with all the Oxford German Olympiad competitions, we aim to create a level playing field for students from different backgrounds, schools, and levels of linguistic competence. The submission form must be signed by the participant’s teacher, who is also asked to submit the essay online. All sixth-formers in UK schools with a GCSE or equivalent UK qualification in German are entitled to take part, including students who are not taking a German A-level or equivalent qualification. Native and near-native speakers of German are not excluded but are required to declare their linguistic status on the submission form. Our prime criterion is the quality of intellectual and imaginative engagement with the work evident in the essay while taking account of prior opportunity.
A blog for students and teachers of Years 11 to 13, and anyone else with an interest in Modern Foreign Languages and Cultures, written by the staff and students of Oxford University. Updated every Wednesday!
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