UMKC Humanities Consortium Receives Grant for Performance of Letters from Nazi Germany

Group seeks to spark community conversations with special project and performance

The University of Missouri-Kansas City’s Humanities Consortium – a discipline in the Interdisciplinary Ph.D. Program – is the recipient of a 2017 Missouri Humanities Grant totaling $2,500.

This grant funds a community project involving not only departments at UMKC, but organizations and schools around the metropolitan area. Writing Yourself into History: Performing Letters from Nazi Germany, focuses on love letters written by two average Germans from rural Saxony whose courtship, from May 1938 to their marriage in July 1941, coincided with the mobilization of German society and the rise of Nazism. Scholars, students, and Kansas City residents have translated these letters into a “reader’s theater” to be performed in English for a special audience. Scholars also have produced a series of short, digital lectures framing the play for non-specialists.

The Humanities Consortium is sponsoring this program with the UMKC departments of Foreign Languages and Literatures, History, and Theatre; the UMKC School of Graduate Studies; the High School/College Dual Credit Partnership; Johnson County Community College; the Lee’s Summit School District; the Midwest Center for Holocaust Education; the Shepherd’s Center KC Central; and the Missouri Humanities Council with the support from the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Dr. Andrew Bergerson, UMKC professor of History and Public Humanities, served as project leader and principle investigator.

“These letters fascinate me because the authors, two ordinary Germans, had to come to terms with the new Third Reich while they were building their relationship,” Bergerson said. “We’ve created this workshop to give ordinary Americans the chance to use these sources to make sense of both the past and the present.”

Other key project leaders include Translation and Scriptwriting: K. Scott Baker, chair, UMKC Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures; Theatrical Direction: Beate Pettigrew, Johnson County Community College; and Film Production: Jennifer Friend, Ph.D., UMKC Associate Dean, School of Graduate Studies.

The play will be performed in a workshop environment for the partnering organizations on May 20. A free, public performance of the play will take place June 4 at 2 p.m. in Grant Recital Hall on the UMKC Campus, 5228 Charlotte St. Following the performance, actors and project leaders will engage in a dialogue with audience members.

About the University of Missouri-Kansas City

The University of Missouri-Kansas City, one of four University of Missouri campuses, is a public university serving more than 16,000 undergraduate, graduate and professional students. UMKC engages with the community and economy based on its six-part mission: placing student success at the center; leading in life and health sciences; advancing urban engagement; excelling in visual and performing arts; embracing diversity; and promoting research and economic development. For more information about UMKC, visit umkc.edu. You can also find us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, see us on Instagram and watch us on YouTube. See our students’ stories at #goingplaces.

About the Missouri Humanities Council

The Missouri Humanities Council was created in 1971 under authorizing legislation from the U.S. Congress to serve as one of the 56 state and territorial humanities councils that are affiliated with the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH). MHC provides programming that encourages family reading, highlights Missouri’s heritage, supports creative writing by veterans, and assists local museums, libraries, and other organizations promoting education—facilitating public conversations on topics that include history, religion, archaeology, anthropology, philosophy, literature, law, ethics, and languages.