German Studies graduate student Amelia Stieren received first place at the annual Graduate Academic Conference for her presentation, titled “To Translate a Life: Understanding the Holocaust Through Autobiographical Storytelling,” which is drawn from the work she is doing for her master’s thesis.
“Winning this award was really encouraging to be able to convey my research in a way that people could understand, especially those who do not focus on language studies,” Stieren said. “It was encouraging to know that I could well explain what I was doing. Being understood and having people interested was really great.”
“Winning this award was really encouraging to be able to convey my research in a way that people could understand, especially those who do not focus on language studies.”
The Graduate Academic Conference is hosted each year by MSU’s Council of Graduate Students to give researchers the opportunity to present their work both orally and visually. These students are given constructive feedback from judges and gain valuable insight on how to communicate research to a general audience. This year’s conference was held on February 22.
Stieren’s research concerns the perception of self and the world as experienced and reflected in one’s second language, and the ways in which language unites people across time and space.
“I am working on two German autobiographical authors, Ruth Klüger and Nora Krug, and looking at different modes of translation to understand the cultural and linguistic information from these stories in order to understand the Holocaust,” Stieren said. “I also am focusing on the cultural significance of these two as well, as the authors will include some stories in one translation but exclude it in another.”
For the Graduate Academic Conference competition, Stieren competed against 41 other participants in her category and was required to give both a three-minute thesis presentation as well a 10-minute oral presentation. The award she received was for her 10-minute oral presentation.
“The experience was a good external motivator to continue my research and made me realize that I want to focus on the importance of the narrative,” she said.
Stieren wishes to thank two of her German professors, Liz Mitten and Lynn Wolff, for their assistance as she continues her research here at MSU.
“One thing I love about the German program is how interdisciplinary it is. People are encouraged to take classes outside their major,” Stieren said. “I feel very supported by my professors, and as a graduate student, I feel encouraged to pursue the things I am interested in and apply that to research.”
A second-year graduate student, Stieren received a BA in German with a minor in Classical Education from Hillsdale College. She was also part of the Fulbright Teaching Program in Austria and was a community language instructor for the German for Adults and the German for Kids Camp.