Across the ocean – 10 Years Notre Dame Exchange
Participants and organisers 2019; Photo: Bettina Brandt, Stephan Fasold
Across the ocean – 10 Years Notre Dame Exchange
This year our cooperation project Notre Dame - Bielefeld will be 10 years old. International perspectives on history and sociology, discussing research projects and being on the road in the "windy city". All of this makes our exchange so special.
According to this pleasant anniversary, we want to look back on exciting exchange years, present concepts of the workshop - and of course we are curious: How was 2019?
The idea of exchange
Since 2009, the Department of History of the University of Notre Dame (USA), the Department of History of the University of Bielefeld and the BGHS have been cooperating in doctoral training. Every year, a theory and method-oriented PhD workshop is held for the historians and sociologists, the venue of which changes every year: in one year at the University of Notre Dame and then again in Bielefeld.
The aims of the workshop are international networking, transcultural learning and intensive exchange between doctoral students and academics from both institutions.
What will be done?
The workshop focuses on the research papers with which the participants present a chapter, a methodologically interesting aspect or the analytical design of their doctoral project. Bettina Brandt, scientific director in the Department of History and organiser of the workshop on the Bielefeld side, explains the programme to us: "The participating doctoral candidates from both history departments and the BGHS exchange their research papers, and each paper receives a detailed commentary from a doctoral candidate from the partner institution during the workshop. Then follows a plenary discussion, in which experienced scientists from Notre Dame and Bielefeld also provide feedback."
Doctoral students practice formulating constructive, professional feedback and expand their English-language proficiency both orally and in writing. Bettina Brandt adds: "They learn from the peers in Notre Dame not only linguistically, but also with regard to different narrative and argumentative strategies. Conversely, the Bielefeld-based doctoral students' orientation towards theory ensures intensive discussions and new perspectives".
Theresa Hornischer has experienced this year what this can look like in concrete terms. She reports: "It was interesting for me to see how our American colleagues work as historians. One noticed the difference between the theoretically designed University of Bielefeld and the American Catholic Notre Dame University. The group from Bielefeld all had an analytical frame of reference in their projects - theory as an important tool of a historian - the doctoral students at Notre Dame University were more able to convince with the way of transforming their analyses in a narrative.”
Between Skyscrapers, Amish farmer's lifes and Sandwiches - The exchange from 5-10 May 2019
After two dense days of discussion in the midst of Notre Damer campus life, there was again a varied offer for doctoral students this year. Especially impressive was the excursion to Chicago with an Architecture Boat Tour and a visit to the Indiana Dunes. Theresa Hornischer likes to remember this highlight: "We were offered a spectacular skyline of different architectural styles with world-famous unusual skyscrapers. A world metropolis located directly on the shore of Lake Michigan; this connection between the element water and the modern skyscrapers impressed me. I can understand Frank Sinatra that he dedicated a song to this "windy city" and confessed his love for this giant city."
This year the group also travelled together to the historic Stahly-Nissley-Kuhns Farm in Nappanee, Elkhart County, Indiana. Theresa tells us: "Not only was I able to learn about the Amish farmer's life in stark contrast to the modern cosmopolitan city of Chicago, but I was also offered a culinary treat in the beautiful dreamy restaurant, far away from burgers and deep dish pizza: a toasted cheese chicken sandwich made from homemade bread with nuts and cranberries - what a treat!”
Many participants appreciate the great group feeling of the exchange and the shared experiences. Theresa agrees and sums it up personally: "For me it was an unforgettable, exciting and beautiful time and the opportunity to travel to the USA for the first time - and this is exactly what I appreciate about the BGHS: the international orientation and cooperation that we are offered as doctoral students. I am grateful to have been there."
Bettina Brandt was also impressed by the hospitable and inspiring atmosphere: "The conversation will be continued at dinner in the house of the event director there.”
What was developed as an idea 10 years ago still works today. “The direct conversation and experience of the different academic, social and political cultures are irreplaceable, and the fact that they are possible across the ocean is a peculiarity," says Bettina Brandt.
Participants from Bielefeld and their topics in 2019:
- Lena Gumpert, “Me, Myself and Jerome: Practices of Self-Comparing in the Twelfth Century”
- Simon Siemianowski, “Like Father, like Son? Generational Succession in 15th and 16th Century Italian Family Book Writing”
- Stephan Fasold, “Auctions as Practices of Property Valuation and Pricing in Great Britain and German Territories Between 1750 and 1870”
- Julian Gärtner, “On ‘L’homme’ and ‘Race’: Comparing in Alexis de Tocqueville’s Political Anthropology”
- Gladys Vásquez Zevallos, “Sovereignty and Representation of Space after Hispanoamerican Independence: The Congress of Panama (1826)”
- Theresa Hornischer, “‘I am Nonsense’: Maneuver and Intervention Strategies of Female Intellectuals—A Case Study of Léo Wanner”
- Daniele Toro, “The Complexity of Transnational Fascism: Empirical Challenges and Theoretical-Methodological Responses”