Nazi resistance will come alive for the 13 University of Wisconsin Oshkosh students enrolled in the spring 2018 interim course, Activism, Resistance and Visual Rhetoric taking place in Germany.
The class will be led by UW Oshkosh faculty members Liz Cannon and Carmen Heider. Cannon teaches women’s and gender studies and social justice and directs the LGBTQ Resource Center. Heider chairs the communication studies department and teaches in women’s and gender studies and social justice.
“We have co-led a study abroad to Tanzania five times since 2008, a course that also focuses on questions of activism, social justice and gender, and we started talking about what it would look like to do a similar trip in a different part of the world,” Cannon said. “We first thought about Sweden but were having trouble figuring out the content part of the course. Once we considered Germany so many possibilities arose, especially as we knew we wanted to include LGBTQ history and content.”
Between May 16 and June 1, the group will be visiting Berlin, Nurembur, and Munich in Germany, where they will focus on the content material for the course. They will then head to Salzburg, Austria to experience the Alps.
The course is interdisciplinary, offering students the chance to count it as an elective in the communication studies major and minor, the women’s and gender studies major and minor, the social justice minor, and the LGBTQ studies certificate.
“UW-La Crosse offered a four-week, LGBTQ study-broad course to Paris many years ago, and ever since I heard a presentation on that trip, I wanted to develop a study-abroad course at UW Oshkosh that would include LGBTQ material,” Cannon said.
Cannon and Heider will be co-leading the trip, however they have each developed content for the course that relates to their individual areas of specialization.
“Dr. Heider and I co-lead in every sense of the word: all decisions about this course are made together,” Cannon said. “We have split up developing content based on our specialties—I have developed the LGBTQ content of the course, while Carmen has developed the visual rhetoric and Nazi resistance content—but we will teach the course together.”
The goal of the course is to highlight movements of activism in the face of Nazi power.
“The course explores the beginning of the homosexual/gay resistance movement from the 1870s to the 1920s, Nazi resistance efforts from 1933 to 1945, and how we are invited to remember difficult pasts and make sense of the present,” the course description said. “We will visit monuments, memorials and museums and will talk with activists at organizations that address contemporary challenges, including anti-Semitism and violence directed toward LGBT individuals, immigrants and refugees.”
The experiences that students take away from the study-abroad trip are a priority for Cannon and Heider, especially since the course’s topics will take students out of their comfort zones.
“The primary lessons students will learn from this course are an ability to draw comparisons between the past and present through the exploration of LGBTQ history, Nazi resistance efforts and contemporary issues/challenges, such as refugees, racism and homophobia,” Cannon said. “And an ability to reflect on the challenges, tensions, ethics, and consequences of staying silent versus resisting and/or speaking out.”