Thursday, May 5, 2016
Patrick Brown

Patrick S. Brown, a Ph.D. candidate in film studies at the UI, is the winner of a 2016-17 Research grant from the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD). Patrick’s research in Germany will focus on the concept of play in the Weimar culture (a flourishing of arts and sciences that happened in Germany between 1918-1933). Looking at the cultural trends in 1920s Germany (interactive forms of cinema, illustrated fan magazines, and the popularization of the table-top war game Kriegsspiel), Patrick hopes to answer questions relevant to current digital culture and our own rapidly changing society. 

What excites you most about working in Berlin?

For one thing, I'm excited to work with my supervisor, Gertrud Koch, who is an immensely respected figure in my field. I'm also excited to return to the archives and libraries I'm already familiar with in Berlin--like the Deutsche Kinemathek and the Staatsbibliothek, which are both great resources and great spaces. Finally, though there are any number of reasons Berlin is an exciting place for a Weimar film scholar to be, one is that the films of the 1920s are frequently revived in the Kinemathek's Arsenal theater and elsewhere. Last time I was there I got to see a screening of Asta Nielsen's gender-bent Hamlet movie (she plays the titular prince) from 1920.

How do you see this grant advancing your work?

My dissertation focuses on film and film culture in interwar Berlin; it's imperative to my research and to my professional future that I spend this year in Berlin. The grant gives me the opportunity to research and to write, in the place where I need to be, without a teaching load.

Would you have any advice for future students interested in pursuing a DAAD grant?

I think it's great that the DAAD exists, and that it offers so many different kinds of federally-funded grants for research and study in Germany. However, the instructions for the DAAD grant can be Kafka-esque: you will probably find multiple, slightly varying sets of instructions for the same type of grant, and at some point you'll probably read a set of instructions only to find out they only apply to applicants for a different scholarship or grant. Although, having applied for a Research Grant twice and for a Study Scholarship once a few years back, I can say that this has gotten better over the last couple years. Read everything carefully, and work with Karen Wachsmuth to help get all the right stuff together.

Oh, and a much shorter piece of advice that I'm continually given: keep your emails to German academics--whom you'll be asking to sponsor you--concise.

The German Academic Exchange Service, or DAAD, offers a large variety of study and research grants for highly-qualified graduate students of all disciplines to provide the opportunity to study or obtain a degree in Germany. The UI is a DAAD partner university that nominates priority candidates for the fall competition. U.S., Canadian citizens, and permanent residents are eligible. International students who have been enrolled at a U.S. university or Canadian university for at least two years may also be eligible. Students can find more information on the application process on the UI DAAD Study Scholarship and Research Grants page.