Tag Archives: Oxford German Network

German Classic: Thomas Mann’s Der Tod in Venedig

Readers familiar with the blog may be aware that the Oxford German Network normally runs a German Classic Prize for sixth formers. While the Covid-19 pandemic has meant that the prize can’t run this year, they have come up with a great alternative way to engage with another Classic piece of German literature. If you study German and are currently in Year 12/ Lower Sixth, this is an awesome opportunity to immerse yourself in a German text and get some feedback from an Oxford academic. Read on to find out more…

A German Classic: Thomas Mann’s Der Tod in Venedig

Participation Guidelines for Sixth-Formers

We are delighted to announce the launch of the 2020 edition of ‘A German Classic’. Although we are unfortunately unable to run it as a competition this year, we would still like to invite you to read with us Thomas Mann’s Der Tod in Venedig (1912) – one of the most famous novellas in German literature and a masterpiece of European modernism. In his inimitably elegant and sumptuous style, Mann tells a transgressive story of Gustav von Aschenbach, an aging German writer, who falls in love with Tadzio, a teenage boy from Poland, during a holiday in Venice in the midst of a cholera epidemic. Often hailed as a break-through work for the queer community, Der Tod in Venedig might resonate differently now, in the era of the #metoo movement and the coronavirus pandemic.

You can sign up for free to receive a physical copy of the German original and an English translation of Mann’s novella, watch a specially recorded lecture that will guide you through the text, and have the opportunity to get feedback on your written commentary on a passage from Der Tod in Venedig from an Oxford academic. While logistic challenges this year mean that we are unable to compile extensive study materials and conduct our usual essay competition, we hope that you will want to join us for an exploration of ‘A German Classic’ in this adapted format.

‘A German Classic’ was launched in 2017 thanks to a generous donation by Jonathan Gaisman, QC. It is designed to celebrate a different literary classic each year and encourage in-depth study by creating a wide range of resources that open up different perspectives on the concerns at the heart of the work. The links to interviews and discussions, articles and performances remain available on our website to inspire ongoing interest in these works beyond the year of the competition. So far, we have featured Johann Wolfgang von Goethe’s Faust (in 2017), Freidrich Schiller’s Maria Stuart (in 2018), and E.T.A. Hoffmann’s Der Sandmann (in 2019).

ELIGIBILITY

Participants must fulfil the following requirements as of September 2020:

  • be beginning their final year of full-time study at a secondary school in the UK (upper-sixth form, Year 13 or S6 in Scotland);
  • be between the ages of 16 and 18;
  • hold a GCSE, IGCSE or equivalent qualification in German offered in the UK;
  • be resident in the United Kingdom.

Participants are not, however, expected to have prior experience of studying German literature.

PARTICIPATION

All interested students should email the German Classic Coordinator, Dr Karolina Watroba (germanclassic@mod-langs.ox.ac.uk), as soon as possible. We will be accepting new participants until the end of July. Students will receive free of charge:

  • Physical copies of the German text of Der Tod in Venedig and an English translation. Shipping will be administered by the Blackwell’s online bookshop. Students will need to provide an address in the UK to which they would like the books shipped, by which they consent to having their address passed on to Blackwell’s. Shipping may take up to a few weeks. Editions received may vary as they will depend on the availability of stock. Since we depend on the availability of stock, which is currently subject to potential disruption, we cannot unfortunately guarantee shipping: orders will be placed on a first come, first served basis.
  • Access to a specially recorded, hour-long, university-style online lecture. The lecture will introduce Thomas Mann’s life and work, guide students through Der Tod in Venedig, and discuss additional resources on the text that are freely available online.
  • A choice of three short commentary passages from Der Tod in Venedig alongside a guide on how to write a good commentary. Students will be encouraged to write and submit their commentaries (c. 1500 words) by email by 1 September 2020. All students who submit a commentary by this date will receive individual written feedback on their work by 1 October 2020. The feedback will not include any ranking or mark. It will be designed purely as informal academic comment on the piece of work submitted.

We would like to ask all students who request access to these materials to let us know the name and type of their school (non-selective state-maintained; selective state-maintained; non-selective independent; selective independent; other) so we can monitor whether we are reaching a diverse range of schools around the country.

Oxford German Olympiad – Round 2 launches

Readers of the blog may remember that Round 1 of the ever-popular Oxford German Network’s Olympiad opened in September, this year on the theme of ‘Natur und Technik‘. We are now pleased to announce that Round 2 has now launched, with a further set of competitions for students in Year 10 upwards. The deadline is 24 April 2020. Read on to find out more about Round 2, and remember – Round 1 remains open until 13 March 2020.

Task 1 – for students in Years 10-13

Ludwig van Beethoven. Prize: £100

Task:
Ludwig van Beethoven (1770–1827) is reckoned to be the most widely performed composer in the world. Contribute to his 250th anniversary!

Write a blog post (max. 350 words) or create a video (max. 4 minutes) on one of the following topics, or invent your own:

  • Der taube Komponist
  • Beethoven und die Französische Revolution
  • Rock mit Beethoven

Alternatively write a review of a real or fictional Beethoven concert (max. 350 words).

For full details of the competition, download the entry guidelines. Enter using the online form.

Task 2 – for students in Years 12-13

White Rose Project:

In 1943 five students and a professor at the University of Munich were arrested, interrogated, tried, and executed. They were members of The White Rose (Die Weiße Rose), a group that secretly wrote and distributed leaflets calling on the Germans to resist Hitler. The White Rose Project is a research and outreach initiative at the University of Oxford telling the story of the White Rose (Weiße Rose) resistance group in the UK. It currently works in collaboration with the Munich-based Weiße Rose Stiftung, whose mission is to uphold the resistance group’s memory and ‘to contribute to civic courage and individual responsibility and to promote democratic consciousness’.
 

The White Rose Project Writing Competition. Prize: £100. The winning essay will also be featured on the White Rose Project website.

Find out about the White Rose resistance group (die Weiße Rose) and write an essay in German (max. 350 words):
„Was können wir heute noch von der Weißen Rose lernen?“

You can find out more about the group here and on the White Rose Project website.

For full details of the competition, download the entry guidelines. Enter using the online form

Task 3

For undergraduates (second year and above) and postgraduates of German studying at a British or Irish university.
Prize:
£100. The winning translation will also be featured on the White Rose Project website.

Writing Resistance – ‘Flugblattentwurf von Christoph Probst’ (1943)
(Please download the draft of the leaflet here.)
Each submission should consist of two parts:

  1. Produce a translation into English of the draft leaflet written by Christoph Probst in January 1943. Had it been completed and printed, it would have been the seventh leaflet produced by the White Rose group.
  2. Write a commentary on the text (max. 400 words), in English or German,
    referring both to the leaflet itself (its style and historical references) and your approach to translating it.

The competition will be judged by members of The White Rose Project. The judges’ decision is final and no correspondence will be entered into.

For full details of the competition, download the entry guidelines. Enter using the online form

Task 4: Camden House Book Proposal
Competition open to postgraduates and early-career researchers at a UK or Irish university

Prize: £250 and consideration for publication with Camden House.

Task:
Submit a book proposal for a book that would fit the profile established by Camden House in German studies. In association with Camden House.

For full details of the competition, download the entry guidelines. Enter using the online form

If you have any questions about the Olympiad, please contact the coordinator at olympiad@mod-langs.ox.ac.uk.
We hope to see lots of entries to both rounds of the German Olympiad. And to all the Germanists out there – viel Glück!

2020 German Olympiad: NATUR UND TECHNIK

The Oxford German Olympiad 2020 launched on 26 September 2019, the European Day of Languages! The topic is NATUR UND TECHNIK (Nature and Technology). There are tasks for learners of German in Year 5 to Year 13, tasks for group entries, and even some tasks for complete beginners.  The deadline for entries is noon on Friday 13 March 2020. You can find the full competition and submission guidelines here. Read on to see an outline of this year’s tasks…

Years 5 and 6 (age 9-11):

  • Design a robot and label its parts, and write what it can do.
  • Draw a picture of your home city, town or village from a Vogelperspektive – bird’s eye view. Label the things the bird is most interested in.
  • You’re going to set up a community on Mars – draw your spaceship and the fifteen most important things to take, and label them.

Years 7 to 9 (age 11-14):

  • Create a poster explaining Klimawandel.
  • Find out about Ötzi, the Tyrolean Iceman. What technical invention would he choose to take back to his community if he could time-travel? Draw Ötzi with a speech bubble explaining his choice, and illustrate and describe the invention.
  • Create a blogpost on a topic of your choice, with 3-5 photos taken by yourself, for a German-language online conservation magazine.

Years 10 and 11 (age 14-16):

  • “Ein Tag ohne Technik” – Write a story or create a video or website on this theme.
  • Paint or draw a landscape in the style of Caspar David Friedrich and write about the work of art that inspired it.
  • “Machen wir unsere Erde unbewohnbar?” Write a dialogue between two people who disagree about the answer.

Years 12 and 13 (age 16-18):

  • “Klimawandel – was können Jugendliche tun?” Plan a conference for 16-18 year olds including the advertisement and programme with keynote lectures and topics for roundtable discussion.
  • “Vorsprung durch Technik – Rückschritt für die Natur?” Write a blogpost or create a video with this title.
  • Record yourself giving a presentation on “Fahrerloser Verkehr – Utopie oder künftige Wirklichkeit?” or “Techno-Pop – Typisch deutsch?” .

Open Competition for Groups or Classes (4+ participants)

  • Create a film or PowerPoint presentation with the title “Amazonas in Gefahr”.
  • Write and illustrate a short book for children about a migrating bird.
  • “Ein Roboter in der Schule!” – Create a video or song about a robot designed for helping with practical tasks in your school.

Discover German – Taster Competition (1-3 participants with no prior experience of studying German)

  • Years 7 to 9: Find 10 inventions from German-speaking countries and the German word for each invention. Film yourself saying the German and the English word for each of your 10 examples.
  • Years 10 and 11: Rewrite (in English) the Grimm Brothers’ story of “The Frog Prince” (Der Froschkönig) with the title “The Robot Prince”, setting it in a real modern German-speaking city and including 15 German compound nouns (like Frosch+König).
  • Years 12 and 13: Write a blogpost on the topic “Will machine translation make human translators obsolete?” and support your argument with examples from German.

 

German Classic Prize – ‘Der Sandmann’

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.’

Launching the 2019 Oxford German Olympiad!

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 ogn@mod-langs.ox.ac.uk  . We look forward to receiving your entries.

Krampus figure in Salzburg, Austria (photo by Matthias Kabel). https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Krampus_Salzburg_2.jpg

Announcing the 2018 German Classic Prize!

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.

Friedrich Schiller by Ludovike Simanowiz

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.

Any questions should be addressed to the German Classic Prize Coordinator: Joanna Raisbeck, joanna.raisbeck@some.ox.ac.uk.

Viel Glück!