Bill Condee

William F. Condee

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Professor William Condee receives Fulbright Specialists Award to Germany

Theater professor teaching at University of Leipzig

Ohio University Professor of Theater William F. Condee was selected for a Fulbright Specialists project in Germany at the University of Leipzig.

Condee was appointed to this program by the United States Department of State and the J. William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board. For more than 60 years, the Fulbright Program has sent thousands of U.S. faculty and professionals abroad to teach and conduct research. This international educational exchange activity selects its participants on the basis of academic or professional achievement.

Condee is a distinguished educator in the areas of humanities and interdisciplinary arts. He has authored two books, "Coal and Culture: The Opera House in Appalachia" and "Theatrical Space: A Guide for Directors and Designers."

Prior to coming to Ohio University, he had taught at the University of Leipzig, University of Wales and Vassar (N.Y.) College. He has been the recipient of several prestigious awards in education including the Presidential Teacher Award, Class of 1950 Faculty Excellence Award, College of Fine Arts Outstanding Senior Teacher Award, Honors Tutorial College Outstanding Tutor Award, and the Excellence in Education Award from Ohio Magazine.

Condee took some time to speak about this appointment with Compass:

What are you teaching and how will this experience benefit you and your students?

I will have the opportunity to work with University of Leipzig students and faculty on the problematic legacy of "Uncle Tom's Cabin" and issues of race theory. I will also be able to work with German secondary school teachers, through the U.S. Consulate, along the lines of what we do at the Ping Institute for the Teaching of the Humanities at Ohio University.

The goal here is to encourage intellectual stimulation and lively discussion, rather than pedagogical instruction (German teachers, like their American counterparts, already get plenty of that). This experience will provide me with an international perspective on race and "Uncle Tom's Cabin." Germans have always been interested in the novel (There is an Onkel Toms Hütte subway station in Berlin), and people are especially interested in the current election cycle. Germany has its own problematic history regarding race, and I hope to learn more about how American race theories have been received and influenced events here.

What are you most excited about?

I am excited about working with the great scholars at the American Studies Institute here. In addition, the libraries here are among the most comprehensive in Germany, and I am excited to extend my research here. Just yesterday, I discovered a photograph of a mid-nineteenth century drawing of Onkel Toms Hütte that a student made on a wall while he was held in the student jail.

Why did you choose University of Leipzig?

This is my sixth time teaching in Leipzig, going back almost 20 years, and I have led study-abroad programs for OHIO students several times. Ohio University has a long and fruitful relationship with the University of Leipzig, with exchange of students and faculty. I knew this would be a productive place to work, teach and build on great relationships that Ohio University has already established. Also my family loves it here.

How long will you be over there?

I arrived here Feb. 5 and will be here through June 6.

What do you hope to accomplish in Germany?

I hope to share what I know with students, teachers and professors here, and to broaden my horizons about race in America from an international perspective. Ultimately, I hope to gain funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities for an institute at Ohio University on "Uncle Tom's Cabin" and race in America.

What do you like about Germany?

The music and the food. Bach lived and wrote here, and it is thrilling to hear his music in his actual church. The Gewandhaus Orchestra is among the best in the world, and the tickets are quite affordable. Germany actually values the arts and provides generous government funding. The theater is also very exciting here—you always love it or hate it, but the choices are so radical that one can never be neutral.

The food — the pastry! The sausage! I have put on five pounds already, and I don't want to think about my cholesterol. I hope to run the Leipzig Half Marathon in April, and so maybe the running will burn off the fat.

Any final thoughts?  

This support from Fulbright and the sabbatical from Ohio University are providing just what I hoped for -- a chance to reflect, to share and to learn.