Mark Lauer

Senior Lecturer in German Studies; on leave 2020-2021
Postwar and contemporary German literature and culture, autobiographical literature, literary theory, memory discourses, and second language acquisition at the elementary and advanced levels

Mark Lauer's field of interest includes the analysis of interdependences between autobiographical genre theory, cultural politics, and findings within the field of memory research. In his dissertation entitled “DDR-Kulturpolitik und autobiographisches Schreiben vor und nach der Wende: Christa Wolf und Günter de Bruyn”, he investigates the processes that lead to approaches of (re)constructing the self within Wolf's Kindheitsmuster (1976) and two of de Bruyns works, Der Hohlweg (1963) and Zwischenbilanz. Eine Jugend in Berlin (1992).

Lauer's teaching approach reflects a focus on the systemic and functional characteristics of the German language in order to facilitate the enhancement of students' speaking and writing abilities. His communicative approach on the oral level is inextricably linked to a content- and task-based approach on the written level. By encouraging the incorporation of eloquent communication patterns in language performances against the background of explicit instruction, he leads students from sentence level processing at the beginners stage to discourse level processing in intermediate and advanced level courses. “As instructor,” Lauer says, “I constantly focus on improving students' speaking and writing skills by offering them coherent guidelines and personalized feedback. Continuous modelling, in the form of paraphrasing sentences and using precise and authentic language, is a further component when consolidating students' syntactic awareness throughout all language levels. On the content level, the analysis of different ways of expressing meaning within a variety of genres (e.g. private and public narratives, novels, interviews, news articles, etc.) not only helps to deepen the understanding of a certain topic, but also stabilizes students' ability to further develop their language performance in terms of accuracy, complexity, fluency, and length. This is why I familiarize students with a wide variety of genres they can fall back upon to appropriately structure their performances with regard to language and content.”

In addition to written texts, Lauer utilizes German songs, film clips, movies, internet resources, and YouTube to support his teaching. According to Lauer, “Mount Holyoke College students greatly benefit from the College's vision to re-imagine the language lab. Our resources allow us to satisfy our students' intellectual curiosity by using modern technical resources that they also encounter in their daily lives. I am convinced that regular exchanges with students and colleagues on teaching resources, as well as being up-to-date on internet resources and instructional tools, offer great opportunities to teach German Studies in a manner that transcends the language classroom in the best way possible.”

As part of his research within the field of language acquisition, Lauer dramatized Hans Peter Richter's novel Damals war es Friedrich(1961) in collaboration with students. A report on how the performance of the play was embedded within a multiple literacies approach toward teaching German as a foreign language was published in Scenario in 2008. That same year, Lauer presented his research in the field of language acquisition and theatre performance at German Studies conferences in Salt Lake City, Utah, and Orlando, Florida. Lauer also will present on innovative approaches to teaching literature advanced L2 classroom at the American Association for Teachers of German conference in San Diego, California, in the fall of 2009. In Spring 2010, he plans to teach a course on creating and performing a play.