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Themenwochen | Topic Weeks

Queer Perseverance? Exploring the Kaleidoscope of LGBTQIA+ Representation & Expression

Nov. 2024, 2023

The organizing committee thanks all participants, speakers, and lecturers for a great Topic Week 2023. Overall, we are delighted with the numbers of attendants and the productive discussions and conversations during and after the events. The great turnout of faculty members and other participants alike affirmed the importance and interest surrounding this year’s chosen topic of Queer Perseverance. In the following, we can only highlight a few of the many exciting lectures, screenings, seminar sessions, and the craft session that took place.

The first special event of this Topic Week was the Zoom lecture with Professor Anna Wilson. Her online talk, which focused on approaches to queerness in cultural productions in which queerness was not a concept yet, was an insightful start into this week. Prof. Wilson introduced the listeners to a variety of premodern texts and demonstrated how they can be studied through a queer lens to understand their explorations of gender and sexuality. The lecture illustrated the manifold shapes and forms queer representation has taken on through the ages, how they have persevered and how we can learn to uncover them.

The talk of Dr. Lena Mattheis at the LitCult Colloquium introduced the audience to the literary history of pronouns, as well as gendered questions of narration and characterization in storytelling. The talk also sparked a discussion about pronoun use with several participants sharing their experiences and perspectives. Dr. Mattheis beautifully created a setting where both academic inquiry of looking into the past in unusual places as well as meaningful debates about personal stories and day-to-day issues were encouraged and valued alike.

Professor Lemke's insightful sessions on Moonlight alongside the screening of The Man with the Answers (in collaboration with the aka-Filmclub) ignited vibrant discussions about the essence of queer cinema and the art of authentic representation. These seminars delved into a spectrum of thought-provoking topics, ranging from the complexities of intersectionality to the nuances of gatekeeping within the queer community.

Additionally, we hosted an engaging panel discussion Stories We Tell Ourselves To Live featuring Dr. Lena Mattheis and Dr. Jan Wilm on queer studies and literature. Dr. Mattheis (researcher and podcast host) and Dr. Wilm (writer and translator) as agents of queer literature shared their own picks of stories that have been especially meaningful to them and celebrated the milestones queer literature has achieved over the past decades, but also critically examined the gaps that remain. Using an interactive feedback app, the audience participated in curating a collection of everyone's favorite queer stories, which we will also post on the website of the English Department. Jos Fritz Buchhandlung kindly provided us with a selection of queer literature for this event and the audience was able to shop new books inspired by the panel discussion.

Alongside the academic events, we also teamed up with the Regenbogen-Referat for an afternoon dedicated to providing a more informal space to gather. Open to all, the Queer Crafting event brought about a myriad of Christmas decorations, hand-made jewelry, paintings, pronoun buttons, and other beautiful artworks as well as wonderful opportunities to relax, socialize and reflect on the Topic Week and queer life together in a safe space.

The topic of Queer Perseverance will remain relevant to the students and staff of the English Department and we are certain that the impact of this week will continue to be felt in the future.

This is why the English department plans on continuing the concept of an annual Topic Week with various topics regarding our contemporary society and struggles that might be faced by certain groups or all of us together. Stay tuned for upcoming events and more!

If you have any feedback, suggestions, or would like to be involved in organizing the next Topic Week, contact the Fachschaft Anglistik!

Inclusive Language and Cultures of Transformation

Nov. 713, 2022

The English Department and the Fachschaft Anglistik would like to thank you for your active participation in the topic week on Inclusive Language and Cultures of Transformation, which concluded with the evening event Sprache und Denken im Wandel: über kollektive (Selbst-)Zensur, Meinungsfreiheit und das Ringen um Gerechtigkeit featuring author René Pfister and Prof. Sieglinde Lemke. The great interest on the part of students and lecturers motivates the English Department to consider integrating such topic weeks into the anual program in the future.


Themenwoche "Studienzweifel" | Workshop
"Weiter gehts?! Vom Studienzweifel zu einer guten Entscheidung"

Die Zentrale Studienberatung lädt ein:

Du zweifelst, ob dein aktuelles Studium wirklich das Richtige für dich ist...? …weil die Inhalte dich doch nicht so interessieren, wie du eigentlich dachtest, oder du das Gefühl hast, die Anforderungen nicht erfüllen zu können? Vielleicht bist du nicht so richtig angekommen? Machen es dir familiäre oder gesundheitliche Umstände schwer, dich auf dein Studium zu konzentrieren? Fehlt dir der Kontakt zu anderen oder vielleicht einfach auch die Perspektive, wohin dein Studium dich beruflich führen könnte?

Damit bist du nicht allein! Studienzweifel gehören bei Vielen zum Studium dazu. Die aktuellen Umstände machen es vielen aber auch besonders schwer: zu inneren kommen äußere Unsicherheiten und Hindernisse hinzu. Solche Zweifel können manchmal aber auch eine Chance sein, deine Situation zu verbessern: entweder indem du etwas an deinem aktuellen Studium oder deiner Lebenssituation veränderst, oder indem du ganz neue Wege gehst.

In Freiburg gibt es viele Unterstützungsangebote für Studierende mit Zweifeln an ihrer Studienwahl: Informationen, Beratung, Coaching, Workshops und Onlinetools, die dir helfen können, deine Studiensituation zu verbessern oder neue Perspektiven zu entwickeln. Wie, das wusstest du nicht?

Workshop "Weiter gehts?! Vom Studienzweifel zu einer guten Entscheidung"

Ein Workshop der Zentralen Studienberatung für alle, die sich nicht (mehr) sicher sind, ob sie in ihrem aktuellen Studium richtig sind. An vier Terminen nähern wir uns verschiedenen Entscheidungsaspekten zum Studienzweifel, tauschen Erfahrungen aus und erarbeiten konkrete Strategien für die eigene Situation.
11.04.2022; 25.04.2022; 02.05.2022; 09.05.2022
Jeweils von 16:00-18:30 Uhr

Anmeldung über HISinOne

Inclusive Language and Cultures of Transformation

Nov. 713, 2022

Topic WeekWe are witnessing major changes and shifts in the ways in which different kinds of speech and language use more generally are viewed and discussed in society. What is clear is that the linguistic issues are inextricably linked to broader cultural and societal debates. As an English Department, we are particularly sensitive to these issues because we engage so closely with the concerns and discussions in anglophone contexts, and we thus have a special responsibility in terms of building bridges between the cultures. We recognise and acknowledge the urgency to address what we have termed cultures of transformation.

As a first step, we are going to devote the week beginning November 7 to discussing and critically reflecting on topics that pertain to current criticism and debates in how we use our words, how and why we should or shouldn’t use them, and what wider consequences our decisions may have on free speech and the debating culture at universities and in society at large. It is vital to us that our teaching, learning and research environments offer safe spaces for our students and staff while tackling often challenging issues and a wide spectrum of viewpoints. Language use is thus but the entryway into a wealth of ongoing discourses of inclusivity and change. All of us are in a process of learning, and we wish to create a forum for exchanging views, ideas, and arguments in an open, respectful and intellectual framework of academic discussion.



Students are cordially invited to attend the special sessions and join the discussions.

  • Lectures can be attended without further notice, simply come to the sessions you are interested in!
  • If you would like to audit any of the seminars mentioned below, please e-mail the lecturer.


Monday | Nov. 7

  • 10–12am | Lecture Introduction to Linguistics | HS 1098 | Christian Mair
    - 10:15-10:30 | What’s in a word? – 131 years of woke | Ch. Mair
    - 10:30-10:45 | How German listeners rate African accents of English – results from ongoing studies | J. Müller & Ch. Mair
    • 10–12am | Seminar PS Phonetics and Phonology of English | R3, Peterhof | Axel Bohmann
      Topic: Accent discrimination
      - "Teaching children how to discriminate (What we learn from the Big Bad Wolf)." (ch. 7 in Lippi-Green, Rosina. 2012. English with an Accent. Milton Park: Routledge, 101-129.)
      - Baugh, John. 2003. "Linguistic profiling." In S. Makoni, G. Smitherman, A. F. Ball, A. K. Spears (eds), Black Linguistics: Language, Society, and Politics in Africa and the Americas. London: Routledge, 155-168.
    • 10–12am | Seminar Ü Psycholinguistic Experminets | HS 1243 | Alice Blumenthal-Dramé
      Topic: Inclusive design of experimental stimuli | Inclusion criteria for empirical studies
    • 12–2pm | Seminar Ü Theoretische Grundlagen linguistischer Forschung | HS 1231 | Alice Blumenthal-Dramé
      Topic: Guidelines for inclusive language use
    • 4–6pm | Lecture Introduction to Cultural Studies | HS 1199 | Sieglinde Lemke
      Topic: Race in the US: On ‘Culture Wars’, ‘Critical Race Theory’, ‘Political Correctness’, and Wokeism’
      - “Brilliant Mistake.” The Chair, written by Amanda Peet, Annie Julia Wyman, and Jennifer Kim, Netflix, 2021 (≈ 30mins)
      - “The Town Hall.” The Chair, written by Amanda Peet, Annie Julia Wyman, and Jennifer Kim, Netflix, 2021 (≈ 30mins) and “ASU students who filmed incident at multicultural center say they’re facing disciplinary action” (≈ 3mins)
    • 4–6pm | Seminar PS Gender Constructions on the Contemporary Stages of Ireland and Britain | R 00 006, Wilhelmstr. 26 | Sarah Busch
      Topic: The Bad Feminist? | Focus on Phoebe Waller-Bridge's Fleabag
      Read and play:
      - Season 1 of the television series on Amazon Prime or find clips on YouTube
      - Additional: Interview with Roxane Gay about "Bad Feminist"
    • 4–6pm | Seminar HS Variation in World Englishes – Corpus-based Approaches | HS 1139 | Christian Mair Topic: Taboo and prescription – vocabularies of race/ethnicity across varieties of English | Dr. Samsondeen Ajagbe

Tuesday | Nov. 8

  • 10–12am | Lecture English Linguistics: Structures | HS 1199 | Bernd Kortmann
    Topic: Inclusive language and the structures of English
  • 10–12am | Lecture Experimental Cognitive Linguistics | R 00 006, Wilhelmstr. 26 | Alice Blumenthal-Dramé
    Topic: Categories, binarity, and markedness in a cognitive trajectory
  • 12–2pm | Seminar HS Language in the Mind | R 00 016, Wilhelmstr. 26 | Alice Blumenthal-Dramé
    Topic: Effects of stereotypes on language processing
  • 2–4pm | Seminar HS Mechanisms of Language Change | R1, Peterhof | Lotte Sommerer
    Topic: Taboo avoidance and euphemistic language use as mechanisms of language change
  • 2–4 pm | Lecture Survey I: English Literature | HS 3118 | Kirsten Sandrock
    Topic: Early Modern Women Writers
    - Aemilia Lanyer, "The Description of Cook-ham"

Wednesday | Nov. 9

  • 10–12am | Seminar Contemporary Drama | HS 1140 | Kirsten Sandrock
    Topic: Border-Crossing and Nationhood in David Greig's Europe
    - David Greig, Europe
  • 2–4pm | Lecture Critical Mediavalism | Zoom | Eva von Contzen & Racha Kirakosian
    Topic: Weaponizing Medievalism: A Tool for Racism in and out of the Academy | Mary Rambaran-Olm (University of Toronto)
    - Please e-mail for the Zoom link
  • 2–4pm | Seminar PS A State in the Guise of a Merchant - 18th-century Depictions of the East India Company | HS 1236 | Cornelius Beckers
    - Touchstone, Timothy (1792). Tea and Sugar; or the Nabob and the Creol.
    - Nechtman, Tillman (2006). Nabobs Revisited.
  • 4–6pm | Seminar HS Critical Literacies and Sustainability | HS 1134 | Sieglinde Lemke
    Topic: Critical Diversity Literacy
    - Douglass, Frederick. Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave. 

Thursday | Nov. 10

  • 10–12am | Seminar PS Variationist Sociolinguistics | ÜR 2, KG IV | Katharina Ehret
    Topic: Language Attitudes
  • 10–12am | Lecture English(es) around the World: The British Isles | HS 1016 | Bernd Kortmann
    Topic: Inclusive Language and its Sociolinguistic Dimension
  • 10–12am | Seminar PS Semantics | HS 1032 | Alice Blumenthal-Dramé
    Topic: The debate on the gender star
  • 10–12am | Seminar PS Climate Change Screen Cultures | HS 1134 | Maria Sulimma
    Topic: Cli-Fi Techno-Fixes and Colonial Fantasies: Snowpiercer (2013)
  • 12–2pm | Lecture Introduction to Semantics | HS 1016 | Lotte Sommerer
    Topic: Linguistic Relativity and the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis
  • 12–2pm | Seminar PS Language Use on the Web | HS 1021 | Katharina Ehret
    Topic: Toxicity and trolling
  • 4–6pm | Seminar PS African-American Urbanism | HS 1142 | Maria Sulimma
    Topic: Nella Larsen’s Passing (1929)
    - The first three chapters of the novel


Plakat PfisterEvening talk | Nov. 22

  • 6.15 pm | HS 3042

The English Department and the Fachschaft Anglistik would like to invite you to the following evening talk:

Sprache und Denken im Wandel:
über kollektive (Selbst-)Zensur, Meinungsfreiheit und das Ringen um Gerechtigkeit

The talk will be held by best-selling author René Pfister (ein falsches Wort, 2022), chief of the SPIEGEL-bureau in Washington D.C., and Prof. Sieglinde Lemke (American Studies, English Department). It will be moderated by Maria-Xenia Hardt (Science Communication, University of Freiburg).




Queer Perseverance? Exploring the Kaleidoscope of LGBTQIA+ Representation & Expression

Nov. 2024, 2023

Topic Week 2023.pngA poll by the English Department revealed that a large group of our students identify as queer. This result corresponds with a 2022 Gallup poll that found that 20% of US-American Gen Z identify as queer (10% millennials, 4% Gen X, 2,5 % baby boomers).
The rising visibility of queer identities and sexual orientations and the increasing commodification of queerness through various corporations ("pinkwashing") may cloud our understanding of the continuing forms of discrimination that queer folks experience. And, Queer Studies and Trans Studies further ask about the role of Queer Theory as an intervening, norm-challenging theoretical and activist tradition in these times.
These questions and many more will be addressed in the second annual topic week at the English Seminar. Organized by the department together with the student-led Fachschaft, the week's topic is Queer Perseverance? Exploring the Kaleidoscope of LGBTQIA+ Expression and Representation. During this week (November 20 - November 24), several classes and courses will engage with Queer Studies, Queer History, and Queer Representation and are open to anyone interested. Additional events like lectures, film screenings, or discussions will also take place, including a panel discussion on the evening of November 22 with Dr. Lena Mattheis and Dr. Jan Wilm on We Tell Ourselves Stories to Live: Queer Studies und Literatur. We cordially invite you all to participate and are looking forward to an exciting week! The entire program can be found here and is still being expanded continuously.


Monday | Nov. 20

Tuesday | Nov. 21

  • 10.15: Queering the Victorians: Christina Rosetti's 'Goblin Market'. Short presentation and discussion
    HS Victorian Women Writers | HS 1139

    Prof. Dr. Stefanie Lethbridge

  • 10.15: Que(e)r(y)ing Grammar
    VL English Linguistics: Structures | HS 1199
    Prof. Dr. Dr. h.c. Christian Mair

  • 12.15: Queering Intersectionality and Queer Phenomenology
    HS Queer Theory and Queer Narratives | HS 1228
    Prof. Dr. Sieglinde Lemke
    Please watch Moonlight (Dir. Barry Jenkins, 2016) in advance.

  • 16.15: The They of it all: Pronouns in Literary History
    LitCult Colloquium
    | HS 1224

    Prof. Dr. Eva von Contzen & JProf. Dr. Maria Sulimma
    Dr. Lena Mattheis (University of Surrey)
    Dr. Mattheis’ lecture combines Gender Studies, Queer Studies, and Trans Studies to explore the literary history and contexts of pronoun use. She is host of the podcast Queer Lit.

  • 20.00: Movie Night
    The Man with the Answers / Sprung ins kalte Wasser (2021)
    Großer Hörsaal der Biologie (Schänzlestr. 1)
    Collaboration with the aka-Filmclub
    Gr. OmU, 80min.
    After his grandmother‘s death, Victoras leaves Greece to visit his mother in Germany. During his trip he meets Mathias and the bumpy romantic journey takes its course. Queer road trip film with emotional resonance and depth.

Wednesday | Nov. 22

  • 10.15: Gender Identities and Identity Labels in English and German
    PS Linguistics in the Classroom – Contrastive Approach to the Verb Phrase | HS 1132
    Dr. Mirka Honkanen

  • 10.15: Screenwriting & The Female Gaze
    HS American Film | HS 1139
    Prof. Dr. Sieglinde Lemke
    Please prepare the following:
    • Thelma & Louise. Directed by Ridley Scott, 1991.
    • Ann Putnam, "The Bearer of the Gaze in Ridley Scott's Thelma and Louise." 1993, pp. 291-302.
    • Jon Lewis, American Film. 2007, pp. 351-357.
    • "Thelma and Louise: Film Analysis and Screenwriting Tips." YouTube, uploaded by Script Sleuth,

  • 12.15: Linguistic relativity – does the language we use influence the way we see the world?
    VL What does it mean to mean? An Introduction to Semantics | HS 1009
    PD Dr. Lotte Sommerer
    We will be discussing the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis and – among other things – topics like euphemistic, gender-neutral and politically correct language.

  • 14.15: Queer Desire and Dis/Connection
    VL (Dis-)Connection | HS 1009
    Prof. Dr. Sieglinde Lemke
    Please watch Moonlight (Dir. Barry Jenkins, 2016) in advance and prepare the following:
    • Janine Jones. “Moonlight Riff: Examining Rifts Between Presentations of Black, Gay, Male Humanity and Representations of Black, Gay, Male Non-Humanity in Moonlight.” (2019): 90-103.

  • 16.15: Gender Identities and Identity Labels in English and German
    PS Linguistics in the Classroom – Focus on World Englishes | HS 1108
    Dr. Mirka Honkanen

  • 18.15: We Tell Ourselves Stories to Live: Queer Studies und Literatur
    Panel Discussion | Max-Kade-Auditorium 1
    Dr. Lena Mattheis & Dr. Jan Wilm (Author & Translator)
    Moderation by Dr. Maria-Xenia Hardt

    The panelists will discuss approaches and concepts of Queer Studies alongside prose, poems, or plays that they find groundbreaking, moving, and illustrative of Queer Studies, queer activism, and queer life. Expect to be inspired by the recommendations of these two academics who also serve as agents of queer literature through a popular podcast (Mattheis) and translations of queer books such as Maggie Nelson’s The Argonauts (by Wilm).

    The event will be in German.

Thursday | Nov. 23

  • 12.15: Queerness: Identity, Class, and the Politics of Coming Out
    HS Inequality and Identity | HS 1139
    Prof. Dr. Sieglinde Lemke
    Please watch Moonlight (Dir. Barry Jenkins, 2016) in advance and prepare the following:
    • Johnson, E. Patrick. “In the Quare Light of the Moon: Poverty, Sexuality and Makeshift Masculinity in Moonlight.” Western Journal of Black Studies, vol. 43, no. 3/4, 2019, 70–80.

  • 16.15: Queer Crafting
    Breisacher Tor, R 204 & 206
    Collaboration with the Regenbogen-Referat
    Bring your best Bastelschere!
    A relaxed afternoon dedicated to offering a safe space to get together, talk, craft and create. All are welcome!
    Materials provided.

Our special events can also be found in the myUFR app: in Filter, select Fachübergreifend from the options.