Visiting Instructor of German and Russian Studies Peggy Piesche participated at the Second Annual Convention of the Black German Cultural Society of New Jersey (BGCSNJ) Aug. 10-11 at Barnard College. The theme of the conference was “What is the Black German Experience? History, Performance, Popular and Visual Cultures.”
Piesche presented her work on a panel titled “Teaching the Black German Experience.” According to Piesche, the “panel brought together five scholars currently grappling with the pragmatic and theoretical issues attending the teaching of Black Studies in the field of German Studies.” With representatives of both large research institutions and small liberal arts colleges, the panel aimed to create a public dialogue that appealed to all convention participants engaged in the development of courses and curricula in Black German Studies.
Piesche discussed her newly designed courses in Black German Studies and how the courses “expand our sense of curricular mission and, with it, our student base.” She stressed the notion that “we are confronting our German majors with questions of race and power that bridge the German-American divide in unprecedented ways.”
Among the issues addressed by the panel were: how to efficiently provide students with the analytical skills they need to understand the Black German experience; how to address Black German topics effectively in courses that enroll both minority students, who contend daily with assumptions about the meaning of “race,” and white students, who may have thought very little about the meaning of “race;” and how to encourage students to recognize similarities and differences in definitions of Blackness and “race” in the United States and Germany.