The German Department Welcomes Jonathan Fine

Jonathan Fine lives up to his name.

As a visiting assistant professor of German during the 2016-27 academic year, his gifted teaching, thoughtful and individualized advising, and creative support of residents of the German House made him seem like a familiar presence right from the start of his year with us.

In German 423 in fall semester, for example, students benefitted from Jonathan’s strengths as an Enlightenment specialist in his course “The Age of Critique,” which gave them access to the wisdom of Goethe, Lessing, and other key German writers who grappled with issues that still define much of public discourse today, including the authority of the state and religion, intolerance, critique, and the meaning of enlightenment.

Jonathan is equally gifted in the language classroom, supporting students through all levels of our German curriculum. Technically and pedagogically adept, he uses a variety of visual and technical tools to support students and to create unity and comfort in his classrooms. German 302 student Miya Higashiyama explains that Jonathan “demonstrates the perfect balance of challenging his students while working with them to make sure they…understand the material.” She continues: “Dr. Fine…also gave me the opportunity to…challenge my own beliefs in a safe environment about difficult moral and historical issues (in German, no less!).”

As German House advisor Jonathan helped student resident assistant Lisa Hartwell in her efforts to create a cohesive, German-speaking community. These included meals, excursions and campus events, including a spring event on the disturbing rise of the far right in German politics, again providing a rich cross-cultural foundation for very contemporary concerns. Lisa was grateful that Jonathan “brought great ideas and enthusiasm to the role of advisor and helped structure thoughtful and engaging coffee hours.”

Jonathan moved to the beautiful Northwest most immediately from Berlin, where he held a prestigious Volkswagen Foundation/Andrew W. Mellon Foundation fellowship after completing his Ph.D. at the University of California, Irvine and a year teaching at Gettysburg College.

Jonathan’s wife Aryn, who works in PLU’s Office of Student Life, and their spunky six-year-old daughter Shoshanna both speak German and were welcome guests at German House events, as was their beloved, bilingual, and highly literate King Charles Cavalier Spaniel Marcel—as in Proust.