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Gueneli shares a transnational vision of German cinema and literature

Alan Flurry

Franklin College faculty member Berna Gueneli brings a strong sense for study abroad—and broad study—to her classroom and her research:

“Most of my classes are not strictly on film or literature. They are a combination of various media, often with a thematic focus,” she said. “I try to bring in already established canonical voices, like a text by Thomas Mann or Günter Grass, but in the same class, I might also have equally important work by Afro-German artists such as poet May Ayim or filmmaker Amelia Umuhire, as well as work by Turkish-German filmmakers like Ilker Çatak. Such classes create a juxtaposition of multiple voices in the art world—whether literature, film or music—to produce a diversification of German studies.”

In this vein, Gueneli also regularly brings scholars and artists to Athens in the hope of starting a conversation on diversity across campus. In March, she will screen Oray at Ciné with the Turkish-German director Mehmet Büyükataly in attendance, and in October she will host Nigerian-German filmmaker and actress Sheri Hagen at UGA.

Germanic and Slavic studies courses are primarily in German, but Gueneli also teaches a survey course in English for majors and nonmajors on 20th-century German culture.

“The cultural studies course touches the history and the sociopolitical changes that took place over the turbulent 20th century in Germany, but using the arts to decipher people’s attitudes to certain changes,” she said.

It’s a compelling method for developing a critical sensibility in students that has a lot in common with how Gueneli herself developed from student to teacher.

Full Columns profile here.

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