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  • In Memoriam Julie Klassen, 1943–2018

It is with great sadness that we received news of the passing of Julie Klassen in the early days of this year. She was a longtime member of the Coalition of Women in German. Julie regularly attended the annual meetings, including after she became emerita in 2009. She was in charge of printing and mailing the newsletter for several years, co-organized the 1990 annual meeting, and served as WiG's first president from 2006 to 2008. At the 2008 meeting she hosted the guest author Angela Krauß.

A specialist in the literature of the GDR and environmental issues in German culture, she held an appointment in German at Carleton College in Northfield, Minnesota, from 1978. Her teaching interests included literature of the GDR, drama, minority authors, and environmental literature (with a much-loved class on "The Forest in German Literature and Culture"). Among the guest writers she helped host in Northfield were Barbara Frischmuth, Irmtraud Morgner, and Helga Schütz in the 1980s. Her involvement in off-campus programs frequently took her to the GDR and to the Federal Republic. She published on Christa Wolf, Bertolt Brecht, Heiner Müller, Barbara Frischmuth, and Carl Amery. With Richard Crouter she translated a selection of essays from 1799 on the status of Jews: David Friedländer, Friedrich Schleiermacher, and Abraham Teller: A Debate on Jewish Emancipation and Christian Theology in Old Berlin (2004). She was last working on translations of texts by Angela Krauß and published both an interview with the author and an article, "'Do you actually love the Russians?' The Concept of 'Total Love' as Narrative Strategy in Angela Krauß's Die Überfliegerin (1995)," in the Women in German Yearbook (2009 and 2012, respectively).

Julie shared her life with her husband, Hanno Klassen, her stepson, Christopher (Amanda) Klassen, and her stepdaughter, Renata Klassen, as well as later partner Will Kershaw. She was an active member of the Carleton and Northfield communities, serving for example as a member [End Page xi] and chair of the Sexual Harassment and Resource Education committee for many years. She was also a passionate lover of the environment and advocate for its protection, a bird-watcher, a traveler, and a champion of nature preserves and land trusts in her local community.

Julie was a respected and beloved teacher, colleague, and mentor. She was an open and warm individual who touched the lives of many WiG members and will be remembered fondly. She loved German literature, passionately believed in women's rights and social justice, and has inspired many of us.

When I (Waltraud) came to my first WiG meeting in 1990, Julie welcomed me warmly, which was so different from other conference experiences. Without her encouragement I probably would not have taken on the service of treasurer many years later. When I (Allie) was on the job market for the first time, I had the good luck to interview at Carleton with Julie and her colleagues. Her friendliness and faith in me eased all my anxiety, even when I wasn't offered the job! We are sure many Wiggies have similarly fond memories of Julie. May these memories comfort us in her absence. [End Page xii]



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