Graduate Students

Willi Barthold, PH.D. candidate

Willi Barthold

Willi completed his Bachelor’s degree in German Literature and History at Dresden University of Technology, Germany in 2016. 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 Modern German Literature, he had the opportunity to gain ample experience in interdisciplinary German Studies. His 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. During the last year of his undergraduate studies, he came to Georgetown’s German Department as an exchange student. The excellent academic environment at Georgetown convinced him to pursue his PhD here, and he joined the German Graduate Program in the fall of 2016.

Willi’s research interests focus on the interplay between literature, media and social change. Working at the intersection between Literature Studies, Cultural Studies, and (Visual) Media Studies, he seeks to explore how the advent of new media technologies in different time periods triggered transformation processes in human perception, social interactions, and modes of communication that ultimately affected literature and other art forms that, in turn, reflected on the altered medial disposition and modes of perception of their time. Willi sees the examination of literature and art as a way to explore how earlier generations perceived as well as construed reality due to their medial conditioning. This endeavor ultimately enables us to gain a better understanding of the present and develop means to conceive and analyze current medial, aesthetical, cultural, social, and political changes as well. Although he currently focuses on German literature of the 19th century, his interests broadly include literary, visual and sequential works of art that have been published between the 18th and the 21st century.

Willi’s CV is available here.


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 Digruber

In 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 discusses how German identity changed over time, focusing in particular on the differences between today’s concept and ideas from the 19th-century. During her studies, Sandra taught beginning to intermediate German language courses at FSU. Before coming to Georgetown University, she also completed an M.Ed. degree in English, French, and Educational Studies with a concentration in foreign language instruction at the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg, Germany. 

Sandra’s research interests lie predominantly in the field of Second Language Acquisition (SLA). She has developed a special interest in Systemic Functional Linguistics (SFL), which she will explore further in her dissertation research by investigating the topic of classroom discourse. Apart from that her research interests also include teaching with technology as well as foreign language curriculum design. 


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.

Thinking critically about representations of class, gender and agency, questions of free will and modes of expression, as well as crises of technological change in the German medium, Forrest engages with theoretical lenses including critical theory, semiotics, systems theory, anthropological approaches, and discourse analysis in a variety of German media from the 18th Century to the present, ranging from dramas, novels, short stories, and film, to social media, photography, and conceptual art. Forrest currently teaches intermediate German and he is excited to pick a dissertation topic dealing with intermediality in 18th Century literature. 


Julia Goetze, Ph.D. Candidate

Julia Goetze

Julia joined Georgetown’s German Graduate Program in the fall of 2013 after completing 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."

At Georgetown, Julia developed an interest for Applied Linguistics (AL) and Second Language Acquisition (SLA), which are the focus of her current and future studies. Julia’s research interests are very interdisciplinary and include language teacher psychology, emotions in the foreign and second language classroom, foreign language pedagogy, and research methodology. Julia's CV is available here.


Michelle Hardy, Ph.D. Candidate

Michelle Hardy

Michelle received her B.A. in German and Russian from the University of Iowa in December, 2014. As an undergraduate, she participated in the Academic Year in Freiburg program, taking courses at Albert-Ludwigs-Universität and the Pädagogische Hochschule Freiburg. While in Freiburg, she completed a German-English translation internship at Petite Planeté and volunteered for Carl-Schurz-Haus’s Rent an American program by guest teaching at schools throughout Baden-Württemberg. After a few months working as a freelance translator, she spent two years as an English Teaching Assistant at the Gymnasium-level with the Austrian-American Educational Commission (now Fulbright Austria), first in Feldkirch, Vorarlberg, and then in Vienna.

Michelle is excited for the opportunity to study at Georgetown University starting in Fall 2017. Her research interests include 20th Century German and Austrian Literature, Second Language Acquisition, and language pedagogy. She is also interested in immigration’s effects on language, such as the development of multiethnolects like Kiezdeutsch, as well as how it affects identity, particularly that of Russians settled in German-speaking countries.


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.

Ann-Kathrin Koster, Exchange Student

Ann-Kathrin Koster

In 2015, Ann-Kathrin received her bachelor’s degree in Political Science and Sociology from Trier University, Germany. The title of her bachelor thesis is „Hannah Arendt und die europäische Asyl- und Flüchtlingspolitik. Menschenrechte im Licht gegenwärtiger Erfahrungen und Umstände“. The thesis deals with theoretical implications of the human rights discourse related to the European refugee crisis in 2015. Since 2015 she has been teaching as a tutor for Political Theory at Trier University. Presently, she is studying two semesters at Georgetown University, for which she is very grateful and hopes to deepen her knowledge not only about German literature and thought but also about American academic research and culture.

Ann-Kathrin’s research interests include the tension between modern political theory and German romantic thought, French democratic theory, especially the thoughts of Jacques Rancière as well as theories of Gender and Postcolonial Studies.


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


Douglas McKnight, Ph.D. Candidate

Douglas McKnight

Douglas holds a BA in History from the University of Oklahoma, where he studied in Basel, Switzerland and Graz, Austria, and an MA from Georgetown’s MAGES (Master of Arts in Geman and European Studies) program. Following his masters, he worked as an English teacher with the Austrian-American Educational Commission in Feldkirchen im Kärnten, Austria. Afterwards, he worked as a translator and technical writer for a small software company in Dresden, Germany.

Douglas’ research interests include memory (both official and unofficial) in post-war Germany, contemporary German history and literature, and how the German-Soviet relationship is depicted through history, literature, and film.




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 received her BA (2011) in German Language and Literature and English Literature from CUNY Hunter College in New York City. During her undergraduate studies, she lived in Berlin for several years, completing a study abroad program at Humboldt University and working as an English tutor for German elementary school students. She joined the graduate department at Georgetown in the spring of 2013. 

In 2016, Noelle began work on her dissertation, tentatively titled “From Aesthetic to Pathology: Reading Literary Case Studies of Melancholy, 1775-1850,” which explores how multivalent images of melancholy are deployed in order to individuate characters and their respective psychologies, affects, and emotions in late-18th and early-19th century fiction and drama. Goethe’s Werther, Schiller’s Die Räuber, Karl Philipp Moritz’s Anton Reiser, and Georg Büchner’s Lenz all provide panoramic, contemporary representations of melancholy at the specific interstices of science and subjectivity, reason and passion. At the same time, these illustrations offer undeniable diachronic continuities with current understandings of depression, bipolarity, and schizophrenia. Ultimately, this project seeks to create new dialogues surrounding these classic texts and their sociocultural histories in the attempt to construct an informed genealogy of mental illness. 

Noelle has received a 10-month fellowship from the Berlin Program for Advanced European Studies at the Freie Universität, to commence in October 2017. Currently she is looking forward to conducting archival research in the history of medicine, science, and emotions. Her CV is available here.


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 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.

At present, Emily is writing her dissertation which is tentatively titled: “The Thirty Years’ War as Unifying Heritage? How Fiction Writers in Imperial Germany Portrayed Religion, Machtpolitik, and Nation”. In order to intervene in the interdisciplinary discussion of the legacy of the Thirty Years’ War as well as studies of confessional identity politics of Imperial Germany, Emily’s research engages in a close reading of historical novels written and/or published between 1871 and 1918 that are set during the Thirty Years’ War. Through an in-depth investigation of historical novels about the war, Emily analyzes literary perspectives that complicate standing assumptions about confessional antagonism in Imperial Germany and furthermore shed light on the instrumentalization of the legacy of the Thirty Years’ War in the endeavor to construct a German nation. By drawing on the thought-provoking ideas of the historian Barbara Potthast and the Germanist Jan-Arne Sohns, who have argued that historical novels often point out the constructed nature of history rather than reify it, Emily’s research aims to show how nineteenth century historical novels were capable of, if not always willing to, reflect on, dissect, and reject overtly religious interpretations of the Thirty Years’ War.

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.


Bryan Witmore, mages/Ph.D. Candidate


Bryan began learning German as a primary school student. His German education continued through undergraduate and graduate studies where he earned a BA and MA from the University of South Carolina. Bryan studied at the Otto-Friedrich Universität for a semester during this time, and was also able to complete a master's thesis in which he evaluated the extent to which the origins of Yiddish could be described by comparison to German dialects. 

While his main interests are not wholly linguistic in nature, the story of Yiddish provided a long standing sample of how issues of identity arise at points of intercultural contact. This interest in cultural intersections and identity negotiation lead Bryan to pursue a joint degree in German and European studies with German language and literature. German colonialism as well as more recent demographic exchanges are arenas in which Bryan aims to work.