Brandenburg Gate

C.D. Friedrich Painting

Rhine River Castle



Ginny Lewis

Associate Professor of German
: M.A., Ph.D., University of Pennsylvania
Office: Tech Center 248
Phone: (605)626-7696

Why learn German

Teaching Duties
I oversee NSU's German program, in which we offer a major, a minor, and service courses both onsite and via distance learning. The program is served by state-of-the-art technology and exciting study abroad programs with emphases on German heritage, teacher training and international business.

Our German courses stress communication in all modalities as the primary vehicle for developing useful and well-rounded skills in German reading, writing and conversation. At the advanced levels, a task-based approach informs my instruction. Our goal for students who successfully complete NSU's German program is that you will feel comfortable using German in many different contexts, professional as well as personal, and will have a strong foundation in all aspects of the language and culture. Add to this outstanding research techniques, an informed appreciation of German humanistic and aesthetic accomplishments, and skills you can apply in many professions, and you have a rich and meaningful educational experience. Given the need for German teachers in schools throughout the US, graduating German majors who will prove expert and welcome classroom instructors is a key goal of our program. German is a useful specialty that you can apply in many areas ranging from commerce to non-profit work, as well as establish rewarding careers in teaching, translating, interpreting, museum work, and publishing.

I have taught German at the university level full-time since 1988. I have extensive experience teaching German literature from the Middle Ages to the Twenty-First Century, and feel particularly at home in the area of my research, Realism and Naturalism. In addition, I have taught History of the German Language and Business German, and have developed and taught several courses dealing with Hungarian and East European Literature, and also the Holocaust. Throughout my teaching career, I have introduced hundreds of students to the basics of German, an endeavor that brings me great joy and reward.

I am currently exploring the complex interrelationship between the peasantry, land relations in the wake of commodification and enclosure, and nationalism/nationhood/Heimat in narratives from across Europe by authors including Emile Zola (France), Heinrich Sohnrey (Germany), Zsigmond Moricz (Hungary), Wladislaw Reymont (Poland), Liviu Rebreanu (Romania), and Elin Pelin (Bulgaria). Some of these important texts have not been translated into Western languages, thus one of my hopes is to translate two or three from less common languages into German and English. My project aims to investigate the tension between national identity and flawed land relations as the process of commodification has turned landscapes and "Heimat" into agroindustrial complexes and hyperspaces. While my immediate research concern is the famed German author of Village Tales, Berthold Auerbach, I also write fiction in German and have published a novel entitled “Schön kästnerisch verfahren,” the first volume in a trilogy - the second volume is in the editing stages and should be available by 2013.

Current work:

My research on Heimatliteratur has involved me in further study of the regional author Heinrich Sohnrey pictured above. You can find my entry on Sohnrey in the Literary Encyclopedia here:

The first 600 words of the article are available for viewing to non-subscribers, the full 2300-word text to subscribers only.

Global Literature

My publications include:


Schön kästnerisch verfahren. New Orleans:University Press of the South, 2010.


An Exciting Family Novel
Twelve-year-old Andrea Heinrichsen leaves her loving, if somewhat overprotective mother, to take part in a three-week orchestra festival in Leipzig. There she meets up with the likewise twelve-year-old Angela Heinrichsen, who bears shocking resemblance to her, and the illusory family life her mother had built up around Andrea caves in on itself. Determined to get to the bottom of things, the twins emulate the main characters from “The Parent Trap” and trade places, unaware of the dangers that lurk ahead. Surprise follows surprise as events unfold in this suspenseful novel.

Eine aufregende Familiengeschichte

Mit zwölf Jahren verlässt Andrea Heinrichsen ihre liebevolle, wenn auch etwas überbehütende Mutter, um an einem dreiwöchigen Orchesterfest teilzunehmen. Dort begegnet sie der ebenfalls zwölfjährigen, ihr schaurig ähnlichen Angela Heinrichsen, und die bequeme Familienwelt, die ihre Mutter um Andrea herum aufgebaut hatte, kracht mit einem Mal in sich zusammen. Um der ganzen Sache auf den Grund zu gehen, ahmen die Zwillinge die Mädchen in dem ihnen bekannten Kinderroman „Das doppelte Lottchen“ nach und tauschen die Plätze, ohne die Gefahren zu ahnen, die ihnen bevorstehen. Die Überraschungen häufen sich in diesem spannenden Roman.

Globalizing the Peasant: Access to Land and the Possibility of Self-Realization. Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 2007.

In this book, I propose a new model of "Global Literature" that serves as an alternative to what I consider now to be the outdated World Literature definition offered by the renowned J. W. Goethe two centuries ago. The Global Literature I am interested in serves as an affective document that archives the experience of primarily economic and commercial globalization as it has been unfolding over the past century and a half. I illustrate the application of this model by focusing on a global subset I term Land Literature, which designates global texts that depict the disruption of the organic, unmediated relationship of rural people to the land by the forces of enclosure and commodification. My study focuses on texts by authors such as Gottfried Keller (Switzerland), Kamala Markandaya (India), Latife Tekin (Turkey), Frank Waters (USA), Emile Zola (France), Ousmane Sembène (Senegal), Jeppe Aakjær (Denmark), and numerous others.

“Land, Self and Nation in Rebreanu’s Ion: Commodification and the Dismantling of Meaning,” in Slavonic and East European Review (April 2009)

"Breaking Stone: Agency and Morality in the Age of Commodification as Seen in Saar's Die Steinklopfer," in Ferdinand von Saar: Richtungen der Forschung / Directions in Research, Gedenkschrift zum 100. Todestag, edited by Michael Böhringer (Vienna: Praesens Verlag, 2006), 101-113.

"Gottfried Keller's Critique of Enclosures in 'Romeo und Julia auf dem Dorfe,'" in Neophilologus (2005)89:73-87.

Jewish Life.Tales From Nineteenth Century Europe, by Leopold von Sacher-Masoch, translated and with an afterword by Virginia L. Lewis. Riverside: Ariadne Press, 2002.

"The Other Face of Modernization: The Collapse of Rural Society in East Central European Realism and Naturalism," in Neohelicon: Acta Comparationis Litterarum Universarum (1995)XXII: 221-245.

"The Price of Emancipation: Peasant-Noble Relations as Depicted by Novelists József Eötvös and Marie von Ebner-Eschenbach," in Hungarian Studies Review (1993)XX: 3-23.

"Work and Freedom in the Minority Community: Ferdinand von Saar's Die Troglodytin," in The German Mosaic: Cultural and Linguistic Diversity in Society, ed. Carol A. Blackshire-Belay (Westport: Greenwood Press, 1993), 11-20.

Flames of Passion, Flames of Greed: Acts of Arson in German Prose Fiction 1850-1900, New York: Peter Lang, 1991.


Full CV located here


Why Learn German

  • to improve your professional marketability
  • to improve your understanding of English
  • to increase your intellectual and intercultural awareness
  • to gain access to the volumes of information continually published in German (one out of every ten books worldwide is published in German)
  • to enhance the pleasure of traveling in the German-speaking world
  • to prepare yourself for the study of international law
  • to gain access to German scholarly research in the fields of science, medicine, history, music, philosophy, engineering, international relations and art history
  • to increase your German heritage awareness
  • to develop your memory and self-discipline


American Association for the Teaching of German



Virginia Lewis



Heinrich Sohnrey

Heinrich Sohnrey, 1859-1948, popular author, journalist, social reformer, actively involved in rural issues including land reform and social welfare, wrote numerous popular novels and stories including Hütte und Schloß (1886).

Liviu Rebreanu, 1885-1944, Romania's greatest novelist from between the two World Wars, addressed rural issues of economic upheaval, national strife and community dysfunction in his masterpiece Ion, among other texts.