Graduate Students

Willi Barthold, PH.D. candidate

Willi Barthold

Willi spent his undergraduate career at Dresden University of Technology, Germany. As a fellow of the German Academic Scholarship Foundation (Studienstiftung des deutschen Volkes) and a student assistant in the German Department’s Professorship of Media Studies and Newer German Literature, he had the opportunity to gain ample experience in interdisciplinary German Studies. His developing interest in Literature and Media Studies culminated in his bachelor’s thesis “Goethe’s Faust II and the Competition between Visual Media and Literature at the Beginning of the 19th Century,” which discusses the effects of the new media constellations around year 1800 on Goethe’s main work and the literature of this period in general. Willi completed his bachelor’s degree in German Literature and History in August 2016. In the last year of his undergraduate studies, he came to Georgetown’s German Department as an exchange student. Working in the excellent academic environment here at Georgetown was a great experience for Willi and led to his decision to join the German Graduate Program in the fall of 2016.

Currently Willi’s research interests center on the period known as “Goethezeit”. However, he is also looking forward to engaging further with 20th century as well as contemporary literature, while also gaining more knowledge about media and cultural theory. One of his current interests is the intersection between memory, space and media as well as media of the collective memory and its representation in art.


Andrea Bryant, PH.D. candidate

Andrea Bryant

Andrea completed a Master's degree in Applied Linguistics through the University of New England (Armidale, Australia) and an MA in German Studies at the University of Oklahoma. She has taught in the United States, Germany, Austria, and China. In the 2015-2016 academic year, she completed an ethnographic project documenting the experiences of four cohorts of Chinese international students at a college preparatory institute in Germany, and is very grateful for the DAAD Graduate Study Scholarship that supported her research year. Her thesis, “From it to you: An autoethnographic journey with Chinese users of German in Germany”, provides an authentic account of how carrying out the project transformed her perspectives.

In addition to her interest in Applied Linguistics, Andrea appreciates a good book. Her favorite genre is poetry and she often memorizes poems so she'll have them later in the event of an emergency. Mary Oliver is her most beloved English-language poet and she also enjoys poems by contemporary German-language poets such as Michael Krüger and Kuno Raeber. One day she hopes to write as intimately about literature as Michael Hofmann or even the great Marcel Reich-Ranicki, but for now is satisfied with learning as much as possible about the sweeping movements that contributed to such great literature. Her research interests currently focus on identity, bilingual identity, and motivation, concepts which she is sure will deepen during her upcoming studies at Georgetown to encompass the multiple identity shifts that can take place in a writer’s life.

Sandra Digruber, Ph.D. Candidate

Sandra DigruberIn May 2015, Sandra received her Master’s Degree in German Studies from Florida State University. In her master’s thesis “A New Perspective on Post-Migration German Identity,” she discussed how German identity changed over time and especially focused on contrasting today’s concept to ideas of the 19th-century. During her studies, Sandra had the chance to independently teach beginning to intermediate German language courses at FSU. Before starting her M.A. in 2013, she completed a dual B.A. in English and French at the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg, Germany. She also spent a term abroad, studying at Rennes 2 in France (winter 2012/13).

Sandra’s research interests include Second Language Acquisition (SLA) in general, which will be the focus of her studies at Georgetown University, and especially teaching with technology and foreign language curriculum design, as well as literature and film.


Forrest Finch, Ph.D. Candidate

Forrest FinchDuring his undergraduate career at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Forrest spent his junior year in Berlin studying at the Freie Universität, where his passion for German scholarship was fomented. His undergraduate honors thesis work analyzed the representation of inter-generational, pedagogical relationships in Robert Walser’s novel Jakob von Gunten using Walter Benjamin’s The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction, as well as primary documents from the early Twentieth Century pedagogue and acquaintance of Benjamin’s, Gustav Wyneken. Receiving a bachelor’s degree in German Language and Literature in 2015, Forrest joined the Georgetown German Department in the subsequent semester.

During his time in Georgetown’s German Department, Forrest looks forward to continuing to engage with critical aesthetic theory, German-Turkish intercultural literary studies, and Berliner Schule cinema, while also broadening his knowledge of Nineteenth and early Twentieth Century German literature.


Julia Goetze, Ph.D. Candidate

Julia Goetze In May 2013, Julia completed her bachelor’s degree in German Literature and American Studies at the Humboldt University in Berlin, Germany. The title of her bachelor’s thesis is „The Traumatized I – Text Structure and Language in Ingeborg Bachmann’s Malina“. During her time as an undergraduate student at Humboldt University, Julia had the chance to participate in a study abroad program, which offered her the opportunity to work as a teaching assistant for the German Department at Occidental College in Los Angeles, California. Here, she independently taught conversation classes at various levels and assisted the faculty in teaching their undergraduate courses. Julia joined Georgetown’s German Graduate Program in the fall of 2013.

Julia is very grateful to given the opportunity to study German literature from a new perspective and to deepen her existing knowledge while she receives guidance from excellent faculty here at Georgetown. Furthermore, Julia developed an interest for Second Language Acquisition (SLA), which will ultimately be the focus of her future studies. Julia’s research interests include German-American tele-collaboration, teaching with technology, the role of technology in the FL classroom, vocabulary acquisition, and advanced writing development in an L2. Julia's CV is available here.


Doria Killian, Ph.D. Candidate

Doria Killian Doria first fell in love with foreign language study as an undergraduate here at Georgetown, where she began learning German her freshman year. After completing her B.A. (2011) in German and English, Doria spent a year as a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant in Zwönitz, Germany, a small town in Saxony near the Czech border. Simultaneously teaching students a foreign language while refining her own knowledge of German language, literature, and culture caused Doria to realize where her true passions lie and upon returning to the U.S. in the fall of 2014, she joined Georgetown’s German Graduate Program.

Her research interests include the construction and performance of postwar German identity, literary representations of historical memory, the intersection of religion and literature, as well as a burgeoning fascination with Second Language Acquisition. She is looking forward to refining and exploring these interests further and working with the exceptional German Department faculty and students.



Lenna Knoerr, PH.D. candidate

Lenna Knoerr

Lenna completed her BA in German Culture & Literature and Anthropology at Franklin and Marshall College in 2016. A native German speaker, she was able to focus on higher level literature courses and complete multiple semesters of independent research. She primarily worked with German, English, and American literature directed at teenage girls from World War I. She identified a very clear distinction between the German and Anglo-American literature in terms of women’s roles alongside men in the warfront setting and their roles in the domestic setting during the men’s absence. She took part in a pilot program allowing advanced language students to assist in entry-level classes by shaping and leading class sessions. Here, she confirmed her desire to teach German culture and literature at a college level. Lenna also received a grant in 2015 for a class at the Moravian Church Archives in Bethlehem, PA. Here she learned to read and write German script from the 17th through the early 20th century. She then transcribed and translated handwritten German manuscripts dating back to 1631.

Lenna’s research interests include Women’s and Gender Studies of the last century, as well as the historical memory of the nation and the individual. Her work centers around primary sources directed at youth, such as children’s and teen’s literature, in addition to school curriculums.

Aliza M. Atkin Kroek, PH.D. candidate

Aliza Kroek

Aliza completed her Master's in Second Language Teaching at Utah State University in May of 2015. Her Master's studies culminated in the publication of Teaching Language Through the Words and Works of its Peoples, which drew on the love of German literature that had been the focus of her undergraduate work at Brigham Young University and the years of teaching experience and research in SLA that gave a practical edge to her graduate studies.  

As a Master’s student, Aliza was able to participate in a conference here at Georgetown and was so invigorated and drawn to the program that she is thrilled to be a part of it now as a doctoral candidate. As she enters the PhD program her research interests are centered on the effects of SLA on identity and what potential SLA holds to mitigate intercultural clashes not only between nations, but within them. Aliza's CV is available here


Justin Quam, Ph.D. Candidate

Justin Quam Justin received his BA in Political Science from Yale University in 2010. Since graduation, he has taught English through the Fulbright Commission in Bruck an der Mur, Austria, and worked as a grade school assistant at the German American School in Portland, Oregon. His interest in language learning stems from the twelve summers he spent teaching German at Waldsee, an immersion language program in northern Minnesota, where he taught German students of all levels and ages. He currently leads the Märchenwald high school credit program, a content-based learning program that uses the lenses of medieval history and theater to engage students in learning German. 

Justin's primary interests include second language acquisition, identity, and foreign language curriculum development; in particular, he is interested in examining the reasons why learners maintain the study of a second language over long periods of time. In his spare time, he sings with the 18th Street Singers, a local choir of passionate amateurs. Justin's CV is available here.


Noelle Rettig, Ph.D. Candidate

Noelle Rettig

Noelle earned her B.A. (2011) in German Language and Literature with a minor in English Literature at CUNY Hunter College in New York City. During her undergraduate studies, she lived in Berlin for several years, where she completed a year of study at Humboldt University, took language classes at a number of Sprachschule, and worked as an English tutor for German elementary school students. She joined the graduate department at Georgetown in the spring of 2013.

Noelle's research interests now center on the long eighteenth century, particularly representations of melancholia, madness, mourning, illness, and grief in the novel of Sensibility, Sturm and Drang drama, and the classical Bildungsroman, which she approaches from the intersection of medicine and literature as well as techniques of discourse analysis and genre theory. Recent projects include a study of Shakespeare's influence on the German stage and depictions of early psychology in Karl Phillip Moritz's Anton Reiser. Currently she has begun work on her dissertation, which is tentatively titled “From Aesthetic to Pathology: Reading Literary Case Studies of Melancholy, 1775-1850.” As a graduate student instructor, Noelle teaches first, second, and third year German to students at Georgetown and has helped in curriculum development. Noelle's CV is available here.


Ghazal Saba, Ph.D. Candidate

Ghazal Saba Ghazal received her MA in German Studies from University of Florida. In her thesis Crossing Borders: A Study of Select 21st Century Immigration Films, she inter-textually studied the cinematic representations of immigrants with regard to their minority statuses in their host countries by particularly contextualizing them in their socio-cultural, historical, and political backgrounds. In the course of her studies at the University of Florida, Ghazal taught intensive German classes every semester and assisted in teaching Literature. She spent the summer 2014 in Germany as part of the UF intensive German program at the University of Mannheim where she was immersed in German language and culture.

Ghazal has previously completed an MA in English Literature at the University of Science, Malaysia, where as a research student, she wrote a dissertation applying postcolonial theories to study select colonial literary works and history of Southeast Asia. She did her undergraduate studies in English, German, and architecture in Iran. Her research interests are film, cultural, gender, and comparative studies, with her focus being on contemporary representations of immigrants and refugees in German speaking Europe. She looks forward to further exploring her research interests and to developing professionally at the excellent academic environment of the Department of German at Georgetown.


Joshua Seale, Ph.D. Candidate

Joshua Seale Josh joined the German department in fall 2013 as a joint student concurrently enrolled in both the PhD program in German and the MAGES (Master of Arts in German and European Studies) program at Georgetown’s School of Foreign Service. He graduated with a BA in Germanic Studies from the University of Chicago in 2012 and spent the following year on an Austrian Fulbright teaching assistantship in Hollabrunn. His BA thesis at UChicago examined the history of the German forest as a quasi-mythic place in the German cultural imagination since Romanticism and its role as a complex and powerful symbol in the Heimatfilm of the 1950s.

His research interests include: postwar conceptions of Heimat, identity and belonging for expellees/refugees in border regions, and cultural representations of the German forest in literature, art and history (as well as its exploitation and politicization). He is also interested in the Polish-German relationship and the various constellations of their polemical history in film, literature and art, in addition to political institutions of memory. In his free time, Josh enjoys playing soccer, hiking, and traveling.


Emily Sieg, Ph.D. Candidate

Emily Sieg The tension between political theory and cultural context has long played a role in driving Emily’s academic endeavors. Prior to her arrival at Georgetown, Emily received a Bachelor’s in International Affairs as well as German Language from The George Washington University, and gained valuable practical experience as an EMGIP fellow at the Parliamentary Committee for International Affairs in the State Parliament of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern and as an IPS fellow at the German Bundestag in the office of MdB Omid Nouripour. From 2012-2014, she completed her Master’s studies at the Center for German and European Studies at Georgetown University, where she explored the interplay between electoral systems and the rise of small far-right parties in Western Europe.

Presently, Emily looks forward to cultivating her interests in competing and overlapping political identities in German-speaking Europe during the 19th century through PhD-level coursework and rigorous engagement with the department faculty. Emily’s CV is available here.


Aleksandra Starcevic, Ph.D. Candidate

Aleksandra StarcevicAleksandra’s passion for foreign languages started at the age of seven when she began learning English. This was her first foreign language after her native language, Serbo-Croatian. She was immersed in German culture when she lived in Germany for seven years as a war refugee. There, she learned German and French. Living in Germany, she completed Realschule and two years of Wirtschaftsgymnasium, where her major was English, before her family moved to Atlanta, Georgia in 1999. She completed her bachelor’s and master’s degree in German Language and Literature as well as bachelor’s degree in Sociology at Georgia State University. Her master thesis “Das Kapital and Capitalism: A Marxist Critique of the Film Wall Street” discussed capitalism in depth by looking at Karl Marx’s theories and how they are represented in film. While at Georgia State University, she taught beginning and intermediate level German courses and also worked as a tutor in the language lab. Stepping out of the classroom after teaching her very own first German course, Aleksandra knew that this is what she wanted to do for the rest of her life. After graduation, Aleksandra taught beginning and intermediate level German courses at several schools, ranging from German Saturday School (an accredited Saturday morning school), two year colleges, and four year universities. At the same time, she worked for the German American Cultural Foundation on a project “German for South” that was established to teach and promote German language and culture.

Aleksandra’s research interests are divided between literature and second language acquisition. She is very much interested in literary and cultural studies of the nineteenth through twenty-first centuries, Holocaust studies, postwar literature and society, questions about identity, migration, and Heimat as well as film studies. On the other hand, she would also love to research the areas of foreign language pedagogy, teaching with technology, vocabulary acquisition, foreign language curriculum design and development, and blended language education. Aleksandra is very grateful for the opportunity to explore both literature and second language acquisition fields with the excellent German faculty and students at Georgetown University, and to find the focus of her future studies. Aleksandra’s CV can be found here.


Helena Steinbach, Exchange Student

Helena Steinbach

Helena is an exchange student from the University of Trier. She studies German, English and History to become a teacher. In December 2014, she completed her bachelor’s degree in German Literature. The title of her bachelor’s thesis is “Formen des Scheiterns in Novellen Kleists." Besides Heinrich von Kleist’s works, Helena’s research interests include 18th and 19th century literature, especially the Romantic period in Germany. Helena is very happy and grateful to study at Georgetown University for one semester and hopes to discover new perspectives on the German language.

Helena has already gained experience in teaching. She successfully completed several internships at German grammar schools and has been tutoring pupils aged 6 to 19 in German, English and Maths at the ‘Studienkreis’ institute in Trier.