case western reserve university




In The Max Kade Workshop, a two-week course taught by a visiting expert, students explore an aspect of German culture in the context of their regular classes. They are challenged to use their reading, comprehension, and discussion skills in a workshop situation with an author, film-maker, historian, or philosopher from Germany, Austria, or Switzerland. Their unique perspectives and life experiences enable students to explore German culture in ways that are impossible within the confines of the regular curriculum, thereby enhancing their progress in literary and cultural studies.

The Workshop is integrated with a German, History, Philosophy, or Religion course which is listed in the Case General Bulletin and fulfills the German Studies requirement. It is taught by a Case faculty member on the regular schedule with the exception of a two-week period in which the Case faculty member and the visiting faculty-in-residence jointly conduct The Max Kade Workshop.


2005/2006 Max Kade Workshop

"Libretto Fatale: Was ist und wie macht man politisches Kabarett" April 17 - 28, 2006.  Clark Hall 113, MW 7:00-8:30.  Open to all German speaking guests!

Werner Finck, leader and emcee of the famous cabaret "Catacombs":  "In the Thirties, cabaret was risky business: If you didn't want to lose your head, you were restricted to the most subtle of suggested satire.  Of course, sensitivity was so keen then that the slightest tinkle of criticism had the effect of a whole carillon of bells ringing at once.  These days-and this is precisely the problem of cabaret in a democracy-no amount of noise can make a dent in the complacency of the public.  At most someone may ask, 'Eh, did I hear something over there?'"

Libretto Fatale
The 2005/06 Max Kade Workshop is part of GRMN 381 "Verboten: Literature, Politics, and Censorship," an introduction to subversive German poems, songs, jokes, plays, and prose from the 16th to the 21th century.  The special focus is on political cabaret, a literary art form that by its very nature brings together diverse elements of European culture including politics, society, literature, theater, music, art and dance.  At the end of the 19th century, the Old World experienced the dramatic beginnings of a social, cultural and sexual revolution.  Cabaret is at the  crossroads  of  all these changes, representing and reflecting its various manifestations  like a sparkling kaleidoscope.  What started in the 1920s as a playground for the avant-garde soon became an important forum for social and political commentary and dissent.  We trace its development from the expressionist beginnings to the hysteria of inflation-era Berlin, the anti-Nazi and exile cabaret, and its renewal in postwar society.  Today, political cabaret is alive and kicking in the traditional Berlin "Distel," Bremen's beloved Libretto Fatale, and in Turkish-German cabarets such as Unkürrekt or Kanakmän. 

The 2006 Max Kade Visiting Artist/Scholar

Ellen Best is one of the founding members of Libretto Fatale, a posse of lawyers moonlighting as Kabarettisten.  In the workshop Ellen Best will talk about the changes in German law on freedom of speech and about the importance of political cabaret today.  Accompanied by her she will introduce students to Germany's contemporary cabaret scene.  Students will learn about the role and challenges of being a Kabarettist, analyze cabaret songs, and and learn how to blend humor and satire, poetry and theater, music and dance by creating and videotaping their own mini-cabaret performance as the final group project for the course under the guidance of Ellen Best and her husband Stephan Pulss, a lawyer, journalist at Radio Bremen, and co-member of Libretto Fatale. For more on Libretto Fatale:

When she is not moonlighting, Ellen Best is a judge and press officer at the Bremen district court.  She is also a member of the GZE (German Agency for Technical Cooperation), Germany's contribution to an  international effort by renowned legal experts  to foster the development of a democratic judiciary in Georgia, Armenia, and Azerbaijan. Ellen Best has generously agreed to give a presentation about her experiences as a member of the GTZ (German Agency for Technical Cooperation) developing an administrative legislation and building up administrative institutions in countries such as Georgia, where she spent all of last year.  (Working title:"Democratizing the Caucasus"(TBA). Professor Kenneth Ledford, himself a historian and lawyer, is currently preparing a collaborative event with the Law School where Ellen Best will talk about the problems introducing democracy--particularly a democratic system of justice--in traditionally non-democratic countries. She will also present her view on whether these countries will follow the Anglo-American way or the European ways and talk about her close cooperation with US lawyers, which she views as an extremely positive and culturally very interesting experience.  (For more information on Best see , )   

The 2004 Max Kade Workshop
Dr. Andrea Esser, professor of philosophy, Munich:
"Kant's Aesthetic Judgment Today."
(Part of PHIL 315/Laura Hengehold)
Workshop 2003

  • Check the Workshop 2004 page for more information!

  • The 2003 Max Kade Workshop
    Harald Friedl, documentary filmmaker, Salzburg:
    "Constructing Reality: How to Make a Documentary."
    (Part of GRMN 331 Studies in Cinema/Ittner)
  • The 2002 Max Kade Workshop
    Gabrielle Alioth, writer, Basle:
    "Pygmalion: The Author and Her Characters."
    (Part of GRMN 320 Studies in Narrative/Ittner)

Students' Comments

"This workshop was one of the best 'interactive' lecture classes that I have experienced at CWRU. It was very educating, amazingly interesting, and a lot of fun. I really enjoyed talking to a professional writer. I liked the way the meetings were organized. They were very courteous and friendly at the same time."

"I feel like I gained a lot of insight into the 'Pygmalion' legend thanks to the workshop. I really hope that someone as interesting and knowing as Gabrielle Alioth will be able to come next year to do a similar workshop."

"It was really interesting to me to see the various versions of the Pygmalion story, not only because I didn't realize there could be so many, especially across different cultures, but also because I hadn't had much previous knowledge of the story. It was flattering to have the approval of the original author in discussing her own work. I hope we can have more workshops both for German and for other courses because it provides an extra boost of energy from the routine of classes!"

"Constructing Reality"
"It was fun, exciting, never boring. I always looked forward to his classes. The questions Harald asked were in the realm of our abilities to answer, yet they made us think, speculate, extrapolate from what/how we are used to thinking."

"I learned from Harald that documentary film is not a process of cold and calculated observation, but instead, an art form where creative energy is harnessed to create a new view of the world, both physically and philosophically."

"Following the screening of Africa Representa, we had the chance to discuss it in depth with him, and I liked learning about his thoughts as he was filming it and piecing the film together. Often when one watches a film, one has to speculate as to the director's thoughts and interpretations, whereas here we had the chance to actually ask him. Hearing him speak about editing Africa Representa and constructing the scenes with music, internal monologue and so forth really encouraged me to consider more deeply the process of creating a film. Normally we think of scenes being filmed in a chronological sequence, but here I was learning that pictures that seemed to fit perfectly with one another were actually filmed a year apart. I have to admire people with the ability to move past our typical chronological restraints and create a sort of timeless experience."

"Given the chance to interact with an actual filmmaker was, in itself, a very interesting experience, but getting to do so in a foreign language was even more exciting. When learning a foreign language I think that it's important to get interaction between a large number of people. If you're always speaking with the same people from the same general area, then it's difficult to expand your vocabulary and your ability to understand various accents and dialects. It's not very easy to find native German speakers here in America, so I felt this was a great chance for me to practice German with someone new."