This promises to be another busy and exciting year in our graduate program. As Graduate Coordinator, I find myself every Fall reflecting anew upon our mandate to offer an outstanding graduate education in German literature, culture, and theory. Have we attracted exceptional students to our M.A. and Ph.D programs? Have they been successful in garnering external and internal awards and fellowships that both attest to their excellence, while also ensuring support for themselves and the financial viability of our program? Are our students pacing their progress through the program appropriately? Are their research projects, guided by our graduate faculty, timely and pertinent in topic and scope? And following the thesis defence, will they secure employment amidst a difficult academic job market?
The signs this Fall most certainly confirm our claim to excellence. Our newly admitted PhD students consistently excel in the highly selective fellowship competitions within the University of Toronto, Marlo Burks has earned the prestigious International Connaught Scholarship (one of roughly ten available across the entire University) for the duration of her participation in the Ph.D. program, and Anna Stainton has been named a Junior Fellow of the Jackman Humanities Institute for the duration of her studies. In the course of their continuing studies, students also regularly garner further provincial and federal scholarships, as exemplified in the Doctoral Completion Grants received by John Koster for his project, "Goethe and the Sublime," and Vasuki Shanmuganathan for her thesis on “Race, Children and Colonial Images.” Many of our advanced PhD students also benefit from travel grants to present research on a diversity of topics to scholarly audiences in Canada, the US, and Germany.
Some are finalizing their dissertation as I pen these lines, while others, who have defended or are poised to do so, have already landed teaching positions at Canadian universities and abroad. Meaghan Hepburn, for example, is completing a dissertation on “Lives Worthy of Life and Remembrance: memorialisation of the Nazi Aktion T4 Euthanasia Programme,” and began this Fall her new appointment as Assistant Professor of German at the University of New Brunswick. And only last week, Nicole Perry defended her dissertation, titled, “…nicht die Menschen im Walde, Wilde genannt werden sollten: Images of Aboriginal Peoples in the Works of Sophie von La Roche, Charles Sealsfield, an Karl May”; she will shortly depart for Vienna as research fellow in the Institut for Germanistik at the University of Vienna.
For me, it is the clearest measure of our success that our alumni are sought after as academic teachers and researchers. Considering the current talent pool in our midst here, I am confident that this positive trend will continue.
Prof. Markus Stock, Graduate Coordinator