German Faculty

  Michaela M. Grobbel

    Department Chair, Professor of German/Advisor,

    German Program Coordinator

     Office: Carson 32



What I Do At SSU

I am Chair of the Department of Modern Languages and Literatures and also direct the German Program. I teach all levels of German language and culture classes, including German literature and film. I love teaching and working together with my students both inside and outside the classroom. We regularly have Language Teaching Assistants from Germany at SSU (e.g. Fulbright Foreign Language Teaching Assistants) who assist our students under my supervision. Outside class, our German Fulbright FLTA or Peer Language Facilitator from Germany lead our biweekly German Film Series (with English subtitles), our weekly informal “Kaffeestunde,” fieldtrips to German events in the Bay Area, or offer campus-wide events or presentations. I enjoy mentoring our German Club “Gemütlichkeit” as well as organizing cultural events that support student learning. These events have included literary readings, theater productions, classical concerts, a performance by well-known Romani (“Gypsy”) singer Ruzsa Nikolić-Lakatos and her band from Austria, poetry slam performances, and art exhibits highlighting the history and culture(s) of German-speaking countries, for example, the Nazi persecution of Roma through the lens of Romani artist Ceija Stojka. I also organized a series of events (lectures, films, exhibits, panel discussion) focusing on the integration of immigrants and refugees in Germany. Frequently, these events are supported by the Consulate General of the Federal Republic of Germany, the German Embassy, or the Goethe Institute. My research and academic presentations and publications focus on twentieth-century women’s literature and feminist theory, cultural criticism, and ethnic minority literature, especially German-speaking Romani autobiography and theater. For many years I served as a member of the SSU Academic Senate and I represented SSU at the CSU-wide Academic Council on International Programs, where I also chaired the Academic and Fiscal Affairs Committee. As former President of the Northern California Chapter of the American Association of Teachers of German (AATG), I worked to help strengthen German programs in the wider California community, and to bring university and high school students together at SSU. I currently serve on the Board of the Alliance for the Study of the Holocaust & Genocide, supporting Holocaust and genocide education in conjunction with the Center for the Study of the Holocaust and Genocide at Sonoma State University.

More on Dr. Grobbel

Dr. Grobbel received her M.A. and Ph.D. in Comparative Literature from the University of California in Los Angeles, after studying German and English Literature, Philosophy, and Education at the Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn, Germany. She also spent a year as an exchange student at Kalamazoo College in Kalamazoo, Michigan, which inspired her to pursue the Ph.D. in the USA. Prior to her position at SSU, she taught English literature and theater, Comparative Literature, and German language and literature at the University of Zürich in Switzerland, at the Goethe-Institute in Brussels/Belgium, and at the University of California at Davis.
Her book Enacting Past and Present: The Memory Theaters of Djuna Barnes, Ingeborg Bachmann, and Marguerite Duras, in which she develops her theory of a “feminist art of memory,” shows her interest in the relationship of memory and performance in women’s autobiographical literature. Dr. Grobbel has extended this research into cultural studies, particularly ethnic minority studies. Her work on German-Jewish identity in literature and film and her research on various forms of Romani self-expression have been published in major journals and book anthologies. Her teaching includes Afro-German literature and history, and she was selected to participate as SSU’s representative at the 2019 CSU International Programs Faculty Seminar at the University of Ghana-Legon. Her research and teaching have been recognized through awards such as the Goldstein Award for Excellence in Scholarship, the Excellence in Education Award, and the Student Ambassadors Academy Award for Excellence in Teaching. She has been the recipient of fellowships by Fulbright, the American Association of Teachers of German, Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst (German Academic Exchange Service), and the National Endowment for the Humanities.