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Socrates Citation in Honor of Curtis C. Bentzel

A scholar of German Romanticism, Curt Bentzel’s interests, expertise, and curiosity have taken him well beyond the confines of 18th-Century, German-speaking Europe. Professor Bentzel taught first-year students theories of the self, pursued his interests in Japanese through travel and study, collaborated with other faculty to introduce courses on sexuality and LGBTQ+ topics to the curriculum, and helped guide the German Program through the end of the Cold War and into the 21st Century.

As an instructor of German, Professor Bentzel was well known for his immersive classroom. From day one in German 101, students heard and spoke only German. Thanks to Professor Bentzel’s enthusiasm and deep understanding of communicative language teaching methodologies, students rapidly developed meaningful proficiency in the German language. Over the last decade, Professor Bentzel contributed to an innovative redesign of the German curriculum that integrated authentic German-language materials into every level of the curriculum. Recognizing the challenge of working with such materials in the beginning language classroom, Professor Bentzel began including in German 101 classic films from German silent cinema of the 1920s and designed materials to accompany them that wove together language practice with German culture and film history.

Literary Studies is at the core of Professor Bentzel’s teaching and scholarship and he was a key advocate for establishing a program in Comparative Literary Studies at F&M. But his work on the F&M curriculum also recognized the need to address questions of identity and sexuality with our students. His popular interdisciplinary course “Constructing Sexualities: LGBTIQ Theory, Life, and Culture” drew on the expertise of many other faculty and remained a mainstay of the Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Program. In recognition of his wideranging contributions to teaching at F&M, Professor Bentzel received the Christian R. and Mary F. Lindback Award for Distinguished Teaching in 1996.

Professor Bentzel received his B.A. from The George Washington University and his Ph.D. from Princeton University, both in Germanic Languages and Literatures. Prior to joining the faculty at F&M, Professor Bentzel was awarded a Fulbright Fellowship for study at the University of Freiburg and The Donald and Mary Hyde Fellowship for Research Abroad in the Humanities for research in Munich. His research focuses on the establishment of narrative voice in 18th-Century German literature, particularly Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, which has informed the many upper-level seminars Professor Bentzel has taught in German. His capacious knowledge of literature, film, and culture have made Professor Bentzel a model of the liberal arts and a strong voice for the centrality of general education at F&M. He has played a significant role in shaping the curriculum, especially on the Educational Policy Committee, Connections Program Committee, and as Chair of the Department of German & Russian.

Professor Bentzel’s resounding, infectious laugh and battered armchair have welcomed colleagues and students to Keiper Hall for over three decades. With his retirement, those will be missed and remembered as the Department and F&M carry Professor Bentzel’s many legacies into the years ahead.

Socrates Citation in Honor of Curtis C. Bentzel

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