News From Our PhD Student in Germany!

Every year, UC Davis English exchanges PhD students with the prestigious Johannes Gutenberg University in Mainz, Germany. This year, we sent a whole family!


PhD student Michael Clearwater was our departmental representative, joined in his travels by his partner and fellow PhD student Bonnie Roy and their child Duncan.


We asked Michael how he and his family are faring in Germany and how this exchange is shaping his research:


“The opportunity to teach American Studies in an international context has helped me see my own work on American literature in new and illuminating ways, and the chance to lead a graduate-level class in Theory and Methodology has been challenging and enriching.


I’m currently teaching an American Studies class that examines shifting representations of domestic life across the twentieth century, from women’s suffrage to welfare reform. This course has been instrumental in helping me learn how to talk about my dissertation interests in the classroom.


It’s been fascinating to see how German students understand the U.S., especially at this historically strange moment. It’s also been interesting to learn about how a German university sees itself as a member of a global community.


Up next, I’m set to begin work consulting with a group of scholars and administrators at JGU to discuss how to effectively communicate academic opportunities and findings with other universities and scholars worldwide.


Overall, this experience has been professionally and personally rewarding for me and for my family. My partner Bonnie Roy is currently teaching a class on American poetry and the rise of identity politics. She has also been able to do some editorial work for the journal, American Studies, which is housed within the department. Most importantly, our kid Duncan has been able to spend ample time at the German Christmas markets (pictured).”


We have plans to feature Alica Buck, the Mainz PhD student who is researching and teaching in UC Davis English as part of our JGU exchange soon! Stay tuned!