Oxford German Olympians celebrate success!

Since the Olympiad celebrations in June, the Oxford German Network team has had a little break – hence the ‘Funkstille’ on our blog. But while we were away, we asked some of the successful participants in ‘Deutsch(e) jenseits von Deutschland’ to tell us about their experience of taking part in the competition. We start with the group that came runner-up for their interview with a German native speaker living in the UK: Ellie, Laila and Hannah.

Lähnemann trumpet 2017
Prof. Henrike Lähnemann announces the winners at the prize-giving ceremony

Our trip to Oxford was amazing! We had such a great time – this was a once in a lifetime opportunity and it is something that definitely doesn’t happen often! Oxford University is so eye-catching, with the stone walls and the old wooden doors, and the resources that are available are super helpful. Oxford city is beautiful with lots of sightseeing to do and ancient buildings with stories behind them. When we got there we had a tour of the university, after that we went to the awards ceremony at the Bodleian Library which looked like the perfect place to study in. The next day we got ready for another exciting day ahead of us. We went on a river boat to see the pretty trees and nature around us, later in we went to the cinema to get out of the scorching heat!

Overall our trip to Oxford was very memorable and we would love to go back again sometime.

Ellie Tempest

Prizes 2017

The award ceremony was amazing! I would love to take part in another competition for the Oxford German Network. I liked doing the quiz about the Bodleian. I especially liked the rap video. My prize was an orange phone cleaner, an Oxford University postcard, Letters To A Young Poet [book], How a Ghastly Story Was Brought To light By A Common Or Garden Butchers Dog [book], Chess [book] and an Oxford German Network bookmark.

Laila Gowling

Waiting ceremony 2017
Competitors wait to receive their prizes

Besides going to the University and the award ceremony, we found Oxford town great. Everything was so pretty and it had such a nice scenery. Also everyone that we met in Oxford was so kind and always there if we needed help. The cinema was great and so was the mini river cruise we had so much fun. Overall our time in Oxford was amazing and we would love to go back and we will definitely be entering the next lot of Competitions, in the hope of having this magical experience again.

Hannah Wicks

More to come next week…!


Student life in Germany – a post from SoGerman

A new guest post – this time from Southampton University’s SoGerman website and blog. If you’re studying German and planning on spending your year abroad studying at a German university or just want to find out more about uni life abroad, click the link below to read more.

Studentenleben in Deutschland Wie ist es in Deutschland zu studieren? Der Unialltag in Deutschland unterscheidet sich vom britischen Studentenleben in vielfältiger Weise. Lerne die wichtigsten Begriffe kennen, denen Studenten im Land der Dichter und Denker täglich begegnen: Sommersemester Das Sommersemester erstreckt sich von April bis Ende September und ist im Vergleich … The post Studentenleben –…

via Studentenleben – German version — SoGerman

Die British Library plaudert aus dem Nähkästchen…

The British Library has extensive German collections and sometimes some extraordinary things come to light. In this blog post, the curator Susan Reed found herself on a journey into embroidery…

It was a recent cataloguing query from a colleague that led me to the pattern-books of Johann Schwartzenberger. One three-part work by him, Ain New Formbüchlin der Weissen Arbait …, was bound with a similar but separate work, Ain New Modelbüchlin des Porten gewürcks …, which had no catalogue record….

via Patterns for 16th-century Stitchers — European studies blog

And we had a dig around the internet to find sewing-related idioms as well! In English there’s ‘a stitch in time saves nine’ – but do you know any German ones? We came up with ‘Aus dem Nähkästchen plaudern’ – that refers to the practice of women in previous centuries getting together over their sewing to exchange the latest local news. But we found plenty more: check out the list at the Textilprojekt to be inspired!

… and there are even more winners!

The Oxford German Olympiad traditionally has a ‘Round 2′ of competitions. They have related or different themes to the main Olympiad, with prestigious prizes donated by individuals and institutions in academia and industry. All the winners of these competitions are also invited to the prize ceremony in Oxford and you can read all about the competitions and the winners’ work below!

The Wiener Library Competition:

Every year, staff at the Wiener Library, London, delve into their archives and select an interesting text from their extensive collections on the Holocaust and the Nazi period. Current university students from all over the country are then invited to have a go at translating the text and provide a short commentary. This year, the chosen text for translation was satirist Martin Miller’s 1940 speech parodying Adolf Hitler.

Winner: Stuart Dunlop, University of Manchester (Winner Wiener Library 2017)

Runner up: Syamala Roberts, University of Cambridge (Runner up Wiener Library 2017)


Camden House Competition:

This competition is sponsored by the publisher Camden House and its sister company Boydell & Brewer. Postgraduates and Early Career Researchers are invited to submit a book proposal on a topic in the field of German literature and/or film that would represent a significant contribution to research and fit the profile of Camden House in German studies.

Winner: Jonathan Johnston, Trinity College Dublin (Winner Camden House 2017)


Kafkaesque Creatures:

Kafkaesque Creatures is sponsored by the Kafka Research Centre. This year, learners of German age 14 and over were asked to read Kafka’s short story ‘Die Sorge des Hausvaters’, which introduces us to the strange creature Odradek, and write a creative response in German.

Winner: Victoria Adjei (Winner Kafkaesque Creatures)

Runner up: Cressida Hay (Runner up Kafkaesque Creatures)

Runner up: Elsa Voak (Runner up 2 Kafkaesque Creatures)


The HC Artmann Competition:

This was a special competition created this year to celebrate the work of Austrian poet HC Artmann. Much of his work is written in his native dialect and contain a lot of grotesque and even morbid imagery. So this competition asked students aged 16 years and above to engage with three of his poems and either rework one of them or write a commentary. Oxford German Network is particularly grateful to HC Artmann’s widow, Rosa Pock, for her generous permission to reproduce his poems.

Winner: Beth Molyneux (Winner HC Artmann)

Honourable Mention: Sophie Stoakes (Honourable Mention HC Artmann)

Deutsch(e) jenseits von Deutschland – the Winners!

The Oxford German Olympiad 2017 is officially closed and yesterday evening the winners were invited to attend a prize ceremony in Oxford. We’re delighted to announce all the winners here. And while you’re here, why not take a look at some of their work as well?

Peoples have always migrated and taken their languages and stories with them. Moreover, languages and cultures are almost never confined to one geographical area or one nation. This year, the Oxford German Olympiad explored German peoples, language and culture beyond the borders of Germany. We asked students across the UK to think about where German is spoken throughout the world in all its variants and how it got to all those places, as well as modern German-speaking migrants and the texts and opinions they take with them.


Oxford German Olympiad 2017 The Winners

Years 5 and 6 (age 9-11)

Draw a comic strip:

Winner: Seren Billington

Runner-up: Charity Clifford

Runner-up: Rianne Thomas

Highly Commended: Nile Studt

Highly Commended: Helen Li



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Design a menu:

Winner: Sydney Smith & Ellie Grimsey

Runner-up: Helen Li

Highly commended: Hester Perry

Commended: Anastasia Ellis, Olivia Hough, Liberty Caraher



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Illustrate your favourite German word:

Winner: Sophie Moss

Runner-up: Dinara Gill

Highly commended: Lydia Morgan

Highly commended: Aisha Akhtar

Commended: Joshua Mariott

Commended: Martha Block



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Years 7 to 9 (age 11-14):

Write a conversation between a Deutscher Schäferhund and a Bernhardiner

Winner: Aishwarya Shanmuganathan

Runner-up: Izzie Grout

Highly Commended: David Demetriou & Alfie Stocker

Commended: Emma Haythornthwaite

Commended: Charlotte Preston

Commended: Fifi Dunphy

Commended: Elizabeth Gliznutsa



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When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit: Summarise or write about the adventures of Anna’s toy dog

Winner: Eleanor Voak (Pink Rabbit Winner)

Runner-up: Khadijah Rahman

Runner-up: Layla Barwell

Highly Commended: Helena Taylor

Commended: Xiaoli Biggs

Commended: Lara Koch & Elizabeth Appleford (Pink Rabbit Commended)



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Design a brochure  

Winner: Alina Gantner & Maria Maratovna Nazhmeddinova

Winner Dario Brincat

Runners-Up: Mahliha Taylor & Rosa Boyd

Highly Commended: Pamela Shahbakhti

Commended: Ngum Mofor

Commended: Abesha Balakumar & Ikra Kabir



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Years 10 and 11 (age 14-16):

Relocate the adventures of Hänsel und Gretel and write their story

sekhonsogo2017Winner: Simrit Sekhon

Runner-up: Loretta Bushell (Runner up Hansel and Gretel)

Runner-up: Sofia Justham Bello (Runner up 2 Hansel and Gretel)

Commended: George Phibbs (Commended Hansel and Gretel)

Commended: Sebastian Roberts (Commended 2 Hansel and Gretel)


Write a blog post or short article

Winner: Olivia Shelton (Winner Blog Post)

Runner-up: Isobel Horsfall (Runner up Blog Post)

Highly Commended: Jacob Melia, Daniel Mills, Alex Rowley (Highly Commended Blog Post)

Highly Commended: Alasdair Czaplewski (Highly Commended 2 Blog Post)

Commended: Pyotr Baskakov (Commended Blog Post)


Write a profile

baylisslogo2017Winner: Lucy Bayliss

Runner-up: Ekaterina Rahr-Bohr (Runner up Profile)

Highly Commended: Iris Bertrand (Highly Commended Profile)

Highly Commended: Jessica Ebner-Statt (Highly Commended 2 Profile)

Commended: Yao-Chih Kuo (Commended Profile)

Commended: Sophie Noble (Commended 2 Profile)


Years 12 and 13 (age 16-18):

Migrating Communities

Winner: Simone Jackson (Winner Migrating Communities)

Runner-up: Beth Molyneux (Runner up Migrating Communities)

Highly Commended: Isabel Yurdakul (Highly Commended Migrating Communities)

Highly Commended: George Ruskin (Highly Commended 2 Migrating Communities)

Commended: Lidija Beric (Commended Migrating Communities)

Commended: Amy Lewis Commended 2 Migrating Communities)


Dialect Essay

Winner: Mariella Clarke (Winner Dialect Essay)

Runner-up: Franziska Alting (Runner up Dialect Essay)

Highly Commended: Maia Jarvis (Highly Commended Dialect Essay)

Highly Commended: Emma McDowell (Highly Commended 2 Dialect Essay


Colonial History Essay

Winner: Helena de Guise (Winner Colonial History)

Winner: Beth Molyneux (Winner 2 Colonial History)

Runner up: Lilian Tosner (Highly Commended Colonial History)

Runner up: Eden Magid (Runner Up 2 Colonial History)

Highly Commended: Hugo Gallagher-Boyden (Highly Commended Colonial History)

Highly Commended: Phuong Bui (Highly Commended Colonial History)

Special Prize for pupils outside the UK: Maurice Zoa & Bruno Ndougou


Open Competition for Groups or Classes (4+ participants)

Write and perform a rap about the German language

Winner: Samantha Martin, Veronica Kravchenko, Laura Newey, Faye Metcalfe

Runner-up: Pierre Meyer, Nicholas Poat, Travis Richards, Thomas Barnes (Deutsch Rap – Transcript)

Highly Commended: Jodie Gollop, George Bayliss, Nicholas Speed, William Coupe


Create a web page or website on the theme ‘Deutsche jenseits von Deutschland

Winner: Propa Anwar, Lidija Beric, Rayya Shareef, Precious Quaye

Runner-up: Miles Begley, Rupert Hill, Reuben Bye, Lucas Cope


Interview a German-native speaker living in the UK and create a podcast

Winner: Leonora Selita, Sofia Denno, Laura Bell, Amaani Khan, Rosie Young

Runner-up: Safron Salhan, Setinder Manic, Nikita Talwaria

Runner-up: Hannah Wicks, Laila Gowling, Grace Adamson, Ellie Tempest


A new OGN competition is launched – it’s going to be a classic!

The Oxford German Network is delighted to announce the launch of a new essay competition for 16-18 year olds in the UK: ‘A German Classic’. The piece of classic German literature celebrated this year is Goethe’s Faust, Part I. To find out all about entering the competition, visit the OGN website here, where you’ll also be able to download a wealth of podcasts and other study resources to help you. The competition prize has been generously donated by Jonathan Gaisman, QC, whose first encounters with German as a schoolboy left him with a lifelong enthusiasm for German literature. In this week’s blog, he tells us how this passion came about.

Faust und Erdgeist, a sketch by Goethe

My first German teacher, a perceptive man called Roy Giles, wrote in my initial term’s report: “He will do well at this language, because he likes the noise it makes.” And so I did: aged just 14, I was immediately delighted by the disembodied voice on the audio-visual tape, which was how my acquaintance with the German language began: “Hören Sie zu, ohne zu wiederholen”. The cadences of this unremarkable sentence, bidding one to listen without repeating, still enchant me today. The story on the tape told of the prosaic doings of a German businessman attending an industrial fair. He was called Herr Köhler. Presumably this was a joke, though one unlikely to appeal much to schoolboys. But what caught my attention was the dramatic plosive – unlike anything in English – available to those willing to launch into the sentence “Plötzlich klingelt das Telefon”. That this sentence, like its companions, was of an almost Ionescan banality deprives it of none of its nostalgic appeal: I was already reaching for the handle of the door.

Four years later, by the time I left school, I had passed well and truly through. In those days, studying a modern language involved intensive study of literature. We studied Prinz Friedrich von Homburg and other writings of Kleist, carefully read Maria Stuart, and more than dabbled in the shallows of Faust part I.  A personal enthusiasm bordering on obsession led me to commit large slabs of Faust to memory, and they are still there. Giles had introduced us to recordings of Gründgens‘ performance of Mephistopheles in Faust; another teacher, Mark Phillips, earned my particular  gratitude by playing me Schubert’s Die schöne Müllerin.  And so the way was opened though literature to poetry, to Lieder, to Wagner and to the extraordinary contribution of the German language to the life of the arts from the 18th century on.

German literature and culture had thus passed into my bloodstream, and become part of my imagination and mental being. So it was inevitable that I would take modern languages to university, where I was lucky enough to be tutored by a third fine teacher, Francis Lamport, at Worcester College, Oxford. Sadly, before long, but not before adding authors such as Büchner, Grillparzer, Kafka and Mann to my acquaintance, I abandoned the outer form of German studies, and dwindled into a lawyer. But the fire within was alight, and it burns still. The few years between the ages of 14 and 18 when I studied German represent the dominant intellectual influence in my education, and the one for which I am most grateful.

The simple aim of this prize is to enable other students to set out on the same journey which has enriched my way of seeing the world, to discover the inspiration of the German literary canon, and to avow the great truth uttered by Karl der Groβe himself: “The man who has another language has another soul”.

Jonathan Gaisman QC

Faust spricht mit dem Erdgeist (1969), Margret Hofheinz-Döring (copyright Brigitte Mauch)

Mitmachen und Erleben im mittelalterlichen Stil

We’ve had several posts from south Germany and Switzerland in the past, so this week we’re redressing the balance and turning to a more northerly destination: a small town in Nordrhein-Westfalen. One of OGN’s team recently went to find out what you could do there over Pentecost, which is a public holiday in Germany. Read on…

Letztes Wochenende war in Deutschland ein langes Wochenende – wegen Pfingstmontag, einem religiösen Feiertag. Erwachsene haben am Montag frei – und die meisten Kinder mindestens eine Woche Schulferien. Das ist die perfekte Gelegenheit – ganz wie zu den Bank Holidays in Großbritannien! – in überhitzten Autos im Stau zu sitzen und sich in überfüllte Züge zu zwängen -, um z. B. Familienmitglieder anderswo in Deutschland zu besuchen.

Also schloss ich mich den Scharen an und fuhr mit dem Zug nach Krefeld in Nordrhein-Westfalen (die offizielle Website der Stadt findet ihr hier). Seit dem 18. Jahrhundert ist die Stadt wegen der Seidenstoffproduktion als ‘Samt- und Seidenstadt’ bekannt. Doch schon im Mittelalter wurde Flachs in der Umgebung angebaut, womit Leinenstoff hergestellt und auf dem Markt verkauft wurde. Dieser inzwischen tradierte ‘Flachsmarkt’ ist jetzt eine alljährliche Veranstaltung und einer der größten historischen Handwerkermärkte in Deutschland – und den wollte ich mit Freunden besuchen.

Burg_linn_02 joerg74
Burg Linn (Foto: joerg74)

Einmal angekommen, fuhren wir zum Veranstaltungsort des Marktes: der Wasserburg Linn, die vor den Toren Krefelds liegt. Sie ist eine der ältesten Burganlagen des Niederrheins (andere Burgen, die man besuchen kann, findet ihr hier). Die Burg ist von einem breiten Wassergraben umgeben und heißt deswegen ‘Wasserburg’.

Die Burg wurde als Stammsitz der freiadeligen ‚Herren von Linn‘ im 12. Jahrhundert errichtet, aber der Großteil des heute noch erhaltenen Baubestandes stammt aus dem 13. Jahrhundert. Als die Familie ausstarb, wurden die Grafen von Kleve mit dem Besitz belehnt. Etwa zu dieser Zeit wurde auch die Stadt Linn gegründet, die heute zur Stadt Krefeld gehört. Die ganze Burganlage macht also einen durchaus mittelalterlichen Eindruck mit Türmen, Torzwinger, Rittersaal und einem Bergfried, während die Straßen des umliegenden Stadtteils mit Pflastersteinen gepflastert sind. Alte Fachwerkhäuser stehen dicht aneinander am Straßenrand.


Der Flachsmarkt findet auf dem Parkgelände rund um die Burg statt. Die Anlage ist riesengroß – und das muss sie auch sein, denn über 300 Handwerker errichten hier ihre Stände und bieten ihre Waren an. Der Anblick all dieser Stände und der vielen Besucher war überwältigend: hier waren Flachsspinner, Handweber, Lehmbauer, Sattler, Seiler, Rüstungsschmied, Kettenhemdmacher, Perückenmacher, Imker, Buchrestauratoren, Spitzenklöppler, Töpfer und Buttermacher – und viele mehr – zu sehen. Und das Tollste war, dass man ihnen bei der Arbeit über die Schulter schauen konnte und in vielen Fällen durfte man sogar selber mitmachen. Das ist nämlich ein wichtiges Kriterium für die Flachsmarktaussteller – die Besucher sollen nicht nur ihre Waren kaufen, sie sollen dabei auch etwas Lernen und Erleben können.

Falke Burg Linn Pfingsten 2017
Ein Falke fliegt über die Köpfe der Zuschauer (Foto: Jolan)

Nachdem wir also alle Hüte beim Hutmacher anprobiert und dem Leinenweber an seinem Webstuhl zugeschaut hatten, ließen wir uns von den Rittern  beim Turnier unterhalten. Ein besonderer Höhepunkt für mich waren aber die Falkner, die in luxuriöser mittelalterlicher Tracht ihre Vögel präsentierten – dass ein Jagdvogel so lautlos und nah an allen Köpfen vorbeifliegen kann, hätte keiner von uns gedacht! Leider ist der Falke so schnell geflogen, dass niemand ein wirklich gutes Foto davon machen konnte (aber wir haben es versucht).

Flachsmarkt 2017Und trotz der vielen Besucher und des schönen Wetters war die Burg definitiv nicht so voll von Menschen wie mein Zug auf der Hinreise!

Madeleine, Stuttgart

(Uncredited photos by Madeleine & Harald T.)


How Germans have helped the OED — OxfordWords blog

This week we’re sharing an old post from OxfordWords about the involvement of German and Germans with one of the most famous institutions of the English language: the Oxford English Dictionary!


It is well known that the work that originally produced the Oxford English Dictionary was a great collective effort, drawing on contributions from people throughout the English-speaking world. It should also be no surprise that valuable contributions were also made by many scholars from outside that world. However, the specific debt which the Dictionary owes…

via How Germans have helped the OED — OxfordWords blog

A record-breaking Oxford German Olympiad!

Judging of the Oxford German Olympiad 2017 has now been completed and all those who took part will soon be informed of their result. It’s been a particularly exciting year for the Oxford German Network team because this year’s Olympiad has proved to be the biggest ever!

Pennsylvania_German_Sticker.svg2017 marks the 5th anniversary of what has become the biggest event in OGN’s calendar. The Oxford German Olympiad is an annual themed competition for learners of German aged between 9 years and 18 years old and living in the UK. The tasks are designed to challenge learners of all levels to get creative with their German language skills and expand their knowledge of the culture, history and literature of Germany, Austria and Switzerland. This year the theme was Deutsch(e) jenseits von Deutschland – German(s) beyond Germany.

In its first year in 2013 – when the theme was ‘Grimm Tales’ – 496 pupils aged between 11 and 18 years old took part. In 2016 (Deutscher Humor – Nichts zum Lachen?) saw 350 young German learners aged 9 to 18 years old compete to show off their German language skills and cultural knowledge. This year, nearly 550 entries were submitted by over 750 pupils aged between 9 and 18 years old from 97 schools in every part of the United Kingdom – England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland were all represented. That includes nearly 50 schools that entered pupils for the very first time, making 2017 definitely the biggest year of the Olympiad in all respects!

The Olympiad tasks are judged by a hard-working team of German experts from the Oxford German Network team (past and present) and members of the Oxford University German Sub-faculty, who take a break from reading undergraduate essays every year to read… German posters, brochures, fairystories, interviews and imagined dialogues, rewritten literary classics, comic strips, and watch sketches, raps, songs and animations. The variety is almost endless!

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Judging is completed in several stages and the ultimate decision over the winning entries is presided over by the Chair of the Judging Committee – in previous years this has been the professors who have been the Taylor Chair of German and the Chair of Medieval German Literature and Linguistics. This year, Professor Henrike Lähnemann once again took up the helm of the Judging Committee.

The competition is too large for the judges to be able to give individual feedback on entries and every year judging proves to be a tough task, but this year the committee were particularly impressed by the creativity of the entries. As one judge said, “what I found most striking was how evident it was when pupils were having fun”, commenting that in the tasks they had judged “it was great to see a very wide range of entries”, while another member of the Judging Committee admired the “really playful responses” to the set tasks and noted that several had showed strong evidence of considerable background research. All the judges noted that – in addition to sticking to the rubric of the competition tasks – the entries that did particularly well and most impressed them were those that showed reflectivity, linguistic accuracy and ambition, and creative thinking with language and with the format of the task, whether that was storytelling, interviewing, creating a comic strip or writing an essay.

OGE-logo-land-ounSo the Oxford German Network Team and the Olympiad Judging Committee hope you – whether student or teacher – enjoyed taking part in the Oxford German Olympiad this year as much we all did reading and watching all your entries. Warm congratulations to all the winners, runners up, and everyone who participated!

Now… keep your eyes peeled for announcements about the Oxford German Olympiad 2018!


Looking for participants….

This week a request for participants from Oxford’s Chair of Medieval German Literature and Linguistics, Prof. Henrike Lähnemann – if you’re in Oxford on 25 May 2017 and want to take part in some of the celebrations and events for Bonn Week, read on…

A portrait of Martin Luther by Lucas Cranach the Elder (1528)

I am looking for German speakers who would like to take part in a public reading of Martin Luther’s ‘Sendbrief vom Dolmetschen’ in German which is scheduled to take place on 25 May, 4-5:30pm, at the Taylor Institution Library, Oxford. This is to launch the first publication in a series of Reformation pamphlets in facsimile, transcription and new translations, provided in this case by Howard Jones (and with input from many of you). The reading will be recorded and made available together with the free, open access edition, in the Digital Library section of the Reformation 2017 blog of the Taylorian where currently there is already the facsimile and transcription available. Thanks to sponsorship from the German Embassy, we will be able to hand out free print copies to all readers and sell them otherwise at the launch for 2GBP (afterwards 5GBP); the download will be available free directly after the launch.

The launch is scheduled to coincide with Bonn Week, a celebration of 70 years of twinning with Bonn, so we hope to have a good mix of German and British audience. Further details to follow – for now I just need expressions of interest for reading; drop me an email to volunteer for a paragraph. It would be nice to have a cross-section of voices from young and old, men and women, German and English native speakers! The text is 7,000 words long = ca. 60 minutes reading time; if we could have 20 speakers, everybody would get one (longer or shorter) paragraph, between 2 and 4 minutes.

Looking forward to hearing from you,

Henrike Lähnemann (email: henrike.lähnemann@mod-langs.ox.ac.uk)

PS: You might have seen / heard the BBC series ‘Breaking Free – Martin Luther’s Revolution’; two episodes are now available from the website http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b08nyr3b