Dr. Helga Thorson

Dr. Helga Thorson
Position
Associate Professor
Germanic and Slavic Studies
Contact
Office: CLE D255
Credentials

PhD (U of Minnesota)

Area of expertise

Holocaust Studies, Germanic Studies, Memory Studies, Archive Management, Modernist German Literature, Austrian Literature, Scandinavian Studies, Gender Studies, History of Medicine, Foreign Language Pedagogy

I teach German language and conversation courses as well as cultural studies courses on early twentieth-century literature, Nazi cinema, and literature about the Holocaust and World War II. In 2012 I received the Faculty of Humanities Teaching Excellence Award, followed by the Excellence in Teaching for Experiential Learning Award at UVic in 2017, and most recently the 3M National Teaching Fellowship in 2019. One of the highlights of my teaching career has been co-founding and teaching the I-witness Holocaust Field School. This four-week course examines Holocaust memorialization in Central Europe. During the first week of the course students engage in intensive study at the University of Victoria. This is followed by three weeks in Central Europe focusing specifically on Holocaust memorial sites, former concentration camps, museums, and monuments. Former Field School participants have discussed the lasting impact of this course on their lives.

Together with two participants from the inaugural I-witness Holocaust Field School, I co-founded Victoria's Holocaust and WWII Memory Archive housed at the University Archives. This project collects local stories from individuals whose lives were affected by the Holocaust and WWII. Together with students in my Holocaust and Memory Studies course, I organized two digital projects about the Holocaust: The Servitengasse 1938-1945 digital mapping project and the Stories of the Holocaust: Local Memory and Transmission exhibit.

My research areas are very diverse and include: modernist German and Austrian literature and culture, Scandinavian studies, gender studies, history of medicine, foreign language pedagogy, and Holocaust Studies. My book Grete Meisel-Hess: The New Woman and the Sexual Crisis, a combined biography of the author and critical analysis of her works will be published by Camden House in August 2022.

Fall 2022

GMST 153: Representations of the Holocaust in Popular Culture

Spring 2023

GMST 353: Literature and Film of the Holocaust and "Third Reich"

Grete Meisel-Hess: The New Woman and the Sexual Crisis. Rochester, NY: Camden House, forthcoming (August 2022).

Editor, with Britt Abel, Beth Muellner, and Nicole Grewling, Cultivating Feminist Choices: A FEminiSTSCHRIFT in Honor of Ruth-Ellen Boetcher Joeres (Victoria: ePublishing Services, University of Victoria Libraries, 2021), 238 pages. https://dspace.library.uvic.ca/handle/1828/13021.

Introduction, with Britt Abel, Beth Muellner, and Nicole Grewling, Cultivating Feminist Choices: A FEminiSTSCHRIFT in Honor of Ruth-Ellen Boetcher Joeres (Victoria: ePublishing Services, University of Victoria Libraries, 2021) pp. 1-3. https://dspace.library.uvic.ca/handle/1828/13021.

“Feminist Choices: Contemplating the Intricacies of Feminist Spaces”, Feminist Choices: A FEminiSTSCHRIFT in Honor of Ruth-Ellen Boetcher Joeres, Eds., Britt Abel, Beth Muellner, Nicole Grewling, and Helga Thorson (Victoria: ePublishing Services, University of Victoria Libraries, 2021) pp. 11-25. https://dspace.library.uvic.ca/handle/1828/13021.

Editor, with Charlotte Schallié and Andrea van Noord, After the Holocaust: Human Rights and Genocide Education in the Approaching Post-Witness Era (Regina: University of Regina Press, 2020), 320 pages.

Introduction and Afterword, with Charlotte Schallié and Andrea van Noord, After the Holocaust: Human Rights and Genocide Education in the Approaching Post-Witness Era (Regina: University of Regina Press, 2020) pp. xi-xxix; 289-292.

With Dawn Smith, “Building Transdisciplinary Relationships through Mulitdirectional Memory Work and Education.” Seminar, Vol. 55, 2019, pp. 342-359. 

Editor, with Helga Hallgrímsdóttir, Narratives of Memory, Migration, and Xenophobia in the European Union and Canada (Victoria: ePublishing Services, University of Victoria Libraries, 2019). 304 pages. https://dspace.library.uvic.ca/handle/1828/11314.

Editor, with Deborah Curran, Cameron Owens, and Elizabeth Vibert, Out There Learning: Critical Reflections on Off-Campus Study Programs (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2019).

With Megan Harvey, Introduction. Out There Learning: Critical Reflections on Off-Campus Study Programs, Eds. Deborah Curran, Cameron Owens, Helga Thorson, and Elizabeth Vibert (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2019) pp. 3-22.

 With Agatha Schwartz, “The Aesthetics of Change: Women Writers of the Austro-Hungarian Empire.” Crossing Central Europe: Continuities and Transformations, 1900 and 2000, Eds. Helga Mitterbauer and Carrie Smith-Prei (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2017) pp. 27-49.

Co-edited with Andrea Pető. The Future of Holocaust Memorialization: Confronting Racism, Antisemitism, and Homophobia through Memory Work. Budapest: Tom Lantos Institute, 2015.

Co-authored with Andrea van Noord. “Stories from the Past, Creative Representations of the Future: Inter-Cultural Exchange, the Possibility of Inter-Generational Communication, and the Future of Holocaust Studies.” The Future of Holocaust Memorialization: Confronting Racism, Antisemitism, and Homophobia through Memory Work. Ed. Andrea Pető and Helga Thorson. Budapest: Tom Lantos Institute, 2015. 80-86.

Co-authored with Agatha Schwartz. Shaking the Empire, Shaking Patriarchy: The Growth of a Feminist Consciousness Across the Habsburg Monarchy. Riverside, CA: Ariadne Press, 2014.

Co-authored with Charlotte Schallié, “‘Jetzt machen wir hier mal Multikulti’: Fostering Critical Engagement with Multiculturalism through Peer-Assisted Language Learning.” Die Unterrichtspraxis / Teaching German 45.1 (2012): 53-66.

“Regarding the Voices of Viennese Literary Modernism: Grete Meisel-Hess’s Die Stimme. Roman in Blättern (1907).” Modern Austrian Literature 44.3-4 (2011): 1-18.

“University Students’ Perceptions on Dialogue-Journal Writing in a Networked Society.” Zeitschrift für Interkulturellen Fremdsprachenunterricht: Didaktik und Methodik im Bereich Deutsch als Fremdsprache 16.2 (2011): 204-221.

“Student Perceptions of Writing as a Tool for Increasing Oral Proficiency in German.” Foreign Language Writing Instruction: Principles and Practices. Ed. Tony Cimasko and Melinda Reichelt. Anderson, SC: Parlor Press, 2011. 255-284.

“Ethnic and Sexual Tension in the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy: A Case of Mistaken Identity in Grete Meisel-Hess’s ‘Zwei vergnügte Tage.’” Gender and Modernity in Central Europe: The Austro-Hungarian Monarchy and its Legacy. Ed. Agatha Schwartz. Ottawa: University of Ottawa Press, 2010. 17-28.

“Confronting Antisemitism and Antifeminism in Turn-of-the-Century Vienna: Grete Meisel-Hess and the Modernist Discourses on Hysteria.” We’re from Jazz: Festschrift in Honor of Nicholas V. Galichenko. Ed. Megan Swift and Serhy Yekelchyk. Washington, DC: New Academia Publishing, 2010. 51-72. 

“Masking/Unmasking Identity in Early Twentieth-Century Germany: The Importance of N. O. Body.” Women in German Yearbook 25 (2009): 149-173.

Co-authored with Rasma Lazda. “Teaching Foreign Languages to Students with Disabilities: Initiatives to Educate Faculty.” Worlds Apart? Disability and the Foreign Language Classroom.  Ed. Tammy Berberi, Elizabeth Hamilton, and Ian Sutherland. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2008. 107-133.

Co-authored with Rasma Lazda. Neuer Wein und Zwiebelkuchen: A Cultural Reader. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2005.

(with the 2019 3M Teaching Fellow cohort). “Welcome to our Classroom.” Society for Teaching and Learning in Higher Education Unconference. Online, June 8, 2021.

(with the 2019 3M Teaching Fellow cohort). “Teaching after Covid-19: Panel Discussion by 3M National Teaching Fellows (2019).” Faculty of Business Teaching Colloquium, University of New Brunswick. Online, May 6, 2021.

“Intersections and Potential Affinities between Indigenous Studies and Feminist German Studies: Three Experiences.” Women in German Conference. Online, October 17, 2020.

“Memory Matters: Keeping the Memory of the Holocaust Alive through Education.” Holocaust Education Week. Beth David B’nai Israel Beth Am Synagogue, Toronto, November 7, 2019.

“Digitally Mapping the Servitengasse in Vienna: A Collaborative Holocaust Memorial Project.” German Studies Association Seminar. Portland, OR, October 5, 2019.

Social Justice Pedagogy Panel. Pacific Ancient and Modern Language Association (PAMLA). Bellingham, WA, November 10, 2018.

“Negotiating Feminism in the Age of the ‘New Woman’: Grete Meisel-Hess’s Fictional Dialogues with Hedwig Dohm.” Women in German Conference. University of the South, Sewanee, TN, October 19, 2018.

 “Vexing Narratives: Revealing Jewishness in Early 20th-Century Memoir and Fiction.” Identities and Perspectives: Shaping the Self through Memory and Education, Department of Germanic and Slavic Studies Graduate Student Conference. University of Victoria, March 20, 2018.

 “The Importance of Space, Place, and Reflection: Experiential and Learning-Centred Teaching.” Let’s Talk About Teaching, Learning and Teaching Centre, University of Vicroria, August 31, 2017.

 “‘Present Pasts’: Landscapes, Timescapes, and Memory Work.” Narratives of Memory, Migration, and Xenophobia: An International Symposium. University of Victoria, August 24, 2017.

(with Elizabeth Vibert). “Tales from the Field: Reflecting on Present Pasts.” The Canadian Bureau of International Education’s 48th Annual Conference. Ottawa, November 20, 2014.

(with Andrea van Noord). “Stories from the Past, Creative Representations of the Future: The Possibility of Inter-Generational Communication and the Future of Holocaust Studies.” The Future of Holocaust Memorialization: Confronting Racism, Antisemitism, and Homophobia through Memory Work. Central European University, Budapest, June 10, 2014.

 “The ‘I’ in I-witnessing: Personal Commitment and Change.” Association for Canadian Jewish Studies Annual Conference. University of Victoria, June 3, 2013.

“The ‘I’ in Eyewitness: The 2011 Holocaust Field School at the University of Victoria.” Educational Abroad Programs in German-Speaking Europe in the Age of Globalization and Virtuality. Emory University, Atlanta, March 23, 2013.

(with Agatha Schwartz). “Shaking the Empire, Shaking Patriarchy: Austro-Hungarian Feminisms in a Trans-Regional and Trans-Border Context.” Austrian Studies Association. California State University Long Beach, April 27, 2012.

(with Agatha Schwartz). “Towards and Aesthetics of Change: Women Writers of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy.” Trans-Aesthetics: Crossing Central Europe. University of Alberta, April 2, 2012.

“Mixed Bodies: Identity and Intersectionality in Early 20th Century Germany.” Popular Sex: Media and Sexuality in Germany in the Early Twentieth Century. Calgary, January 8, 2011.

“Cosmopolitanism, Colonialism, and the Cult of Personality: The Intersections of Gender, Class, Ethnicity, and Race in the Writings of Grete Meisel-Hess.” Modern Austrian Literature and Culture Association. Vienna, Austria, May 23, 2010.

“The ‘Other’ Woman and the ‘Other’ Man: Das süße Mädel and the Middle-Class Man in early Twentieth-Century Vienna.” Canadian Association of University Teachers of German. Ottawa, Ontario, May 24, 2009.

"Literature, Sexual Reform, and the ‘New Woman’ Writer.” Northeast Modern Language Association Convention. Boston, Massachusetts, February 28, 2009.

“Student Perceptions of Writing as a Tool for Increasing Oral Proficiency in German.” Foreign Language Writing Instruction: Principles and Practices (Seventh Symposium on Second Language Writing). Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana, June 7, 2008.

“Ethnic and Sexual Tension in the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy: A Case of Mistaken Identity in Grete Meisel-Hess’s ‘Zwei vergnügte Tage.’” Gender and Modernity in Central Europe: The Austro-Hungarian Monarchy and its Legacy. University of Ottawa, May 17, 2008.

Helga Thorson

Helga Thorson with Dr. D. Turpin, UVic President and Dr. J. Archibald, Dean of Humanities, upon receipt of the 2012 UVic Faculty of Humanities Teaching Award

Thorson and Archibald

With Dr. J. Archibald, Dean of Humanities, at the Fall 2012 Convocation