UPDATE (March 15, 2020): Given the current COVID-19 pandemic, Prof. Dr. Anja Ballis has returned to Germany. Her talk on May 14, 2020 has been cancelled.
“My name is Anja Ballis and I will be a visiting international scholar at Western Washington University from February to May 2020. I am quite curious about Holocaust & Genocide Studies and Holocaust Education at the Ray Wolpow Institute, about German Studies in the Department of Modern & Classical Languages and the intersections of these programs of study. My stay will certainly be a great inspiration for my own teaching in Germany as well as for my research projects.
At the Ludwig Maximilians University Munich (LMU Munich), I hold the chair of German Language Studies with an emphasis on Holocaust Studies; my teaching focuses on Cultural and Language Studies at the LMU Munich and the Virtual University of Bavaria. Since 2017, I have been developing and evaluating an online seminar on Holocaust Education together with a team of researchers. Furthermore, I am responsible for teacher education in Germany and Bavaria. Many of my projects deal with education and perspectives on teaching in formal and informal contexts. I hold a degree from the International School for Holocaust Studies at Yad Vashem. As a DAAD lecturer at the University of Łódź, Poland, I gained valuable insights on teaching difficult history in Europe. Recently, I was awarded the LMU Prize for Innovation in Teaching for a course on the history of the White Rose. Sophie and Hans Scholl as well as other members of this resistance group were students at my university. It is quite meaningful for my students to connect with the history of this resistance group.
The main focus of my research has been in Holocaust Education. I am currently carrying out two major projects in that area: Firstly, I perform field studies and conduct interviews at several memorial sites in Germany, Austria and the U.S. to get an idea of the narratives which are told by the tour guides at these institutions. Secondly, my colleagues and I developed interactive 3D testimonies of Holocaust survivors in the German language. The intention of this endeavor is to gain a deeper understanding of the way this form of testimony works and which advantages it brings for teaching and learning about the Holocaust. Here I am confronted with aspects of ‘authenticity’ and algorithms.
My research stay at Western Washington University is a great opportunity for me. I am very much looking forward to getting to know Western, learning about projects, working with the library holdings, in particular the newly acquired Edward S. Setchko Collection in Special Collections/Heritage Resources, and to meeting colleagues interested in Holocaust and Genocide Studies, Holocaust Education, and German Studies.
On May 14, 2020, I will give a public lecture on the narratives of tour guides at memorial sites and Holocaust museums in Germany and the U.S.
I look forward to meeting you!”
Prof. Dr. Anja Ballis