Caroline Kita

Caroline Kita

​Associate Professor of German and Comparative Literature
Performing Arts Department (Affiliate)
PhD, Duke University
research interests:
  • 19th- and 20th-Century German and Austrian Literature and Culture
  • German-Jewish Studies
  • Aesthetic Philosophy and Religion
  • Music and Narrative
  • The Radio Play (Hörspiel) in German Culture
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    • Washington University
    • CB 1104
    • One Brookings Drive
    • St. Louis, MO 63130-4899
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    Caroline Kita's research examines German and Austrian culture in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, focusing on German-Jewish literature, music, theater, and radio drama

    Kita’s scholarship has examined religious and cultural identity in the works of Jewish writers and composers in fin-de-siècle Vienna, critiques of the total work of art, theories of listening and democracy, and sound, space, and time in German-language audiofiction. She is the author of Jewish Difference and the Arts in Vienna: Composing Compassion in Music and Biblical Theater (2019) and co-editor with Jennifer Kapczynski of The Arts of Democratization: Styling Political Sensibilities in Postwar Germany (2022). Her current book project, Border Territories: The Emancipatory Soundscapes of Postwar German Radio, traces the soundscapes of radio drama as spaces of cultural critique and political commentary in German culture in the aftermath of the Second World War. Her articles have appeared in The German Quarterly, The Journal of Austrian Studies, Monatshefte, and Unterrichtspraxis/Teaching German. In 2018, she co-edited a special issue of The German Quarterly on Music and German Culture.

    Kita teaches German language courses on all levels, as well as undergraduate and graduate seminars on music, drama, visual art, and literature in German and European cultures. She also teaches the seminar, “Introduction to Comparative Arts,” in the Comparative Literature Program.

    Kita earned her bachelor’s degree in History from Boston College and her doctorate from Duke University. She has studied at the University of Vienna, the University of Potsdam, and the University of Duisburg-Essen. She received a Fulbright Grant to Austria (2004-05), as well as funding for advanced research from the Austrian Exchange Service (Ernst Mach Grant, 2012; Franz Werfel Fellowship, 2015, 2017), and Washington University’s Center for the Humanities (Faculty Fellowship, 2018). Her current book project is being supported by a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Humanities (2022).

    Fall 2021 Courses

    Advanced German: Core Course V (German 302D)

    Continuation of Ger 301D. Refinement and expansion of German communication skills (speaking, listening, writing, reading), deepening understanding of German grammatical structures, acquisition of more sophisticated and varied vocabulary, introduction to stylistics through discussion and analysis of literary and non-literary texts. In addition to the regular class meetings, students should sign up for a twice-weekly subsection. Prerequisite: German 301D, the equivalent, or placement by examination. Note that Ger 340C/340D, Ger 341/341D, or Ger 342/342D are a prerequisite for most 400-level courses.

      Introduction to Comparative Arts (Comp Lit 313E)

      Introduction to Comparative Arts is an interdisciplinary, multimedia course designed to introduce students to the study of the relationship among the arts in a given period. In Spring 2021, we will address connections between literature, painting, music, and theater as well as radio and film from the mid 18th century to the present, examining how different aesthetic forms and media illuminate each other through transposition, adaptation, and media combination. As we consider theories of representation and expression, we will also learn about the rise of cultural institutions such as the library, the museum, and the concert hall and their relationship to the public. In their written work, students will venture beyond the course material, alternately assuming the roles of artist, critic, and consumer. Students will attend (virtual and/or in-person) performances and exhibits.

        Selected Publications

        The Arts of Democratization: Styling Political Sensibilities in Postwar West Germany (University of Michigan Press, 2022). 

        “Simultaneity and the Soundscapes of Audiofiction,” in Audionarratology: Lessons from Radio Drama. Ed. Lars Bernaerts and Jarmila Mildorf. The Ohio State University Press, 2021, pp. 101-117.

        “The Hearing I: Sounding the ‘Conditio Humana’ in Ingeborg Bachmann’s Ein Geschäft mit Träumen.” Journal of Austrian Studies, 52.3 (2019), pp. 19-40.

        Jewish Difference and the Arts in Vienna: Composing Compassion in Music and Biblical Theater (Indiana University Press, 2019).

        Jewish Difference and the Arts in Vienna

        Jewish Difference and the Arts in Vienna

        During the mid-nineteenth century, the works of Arthur Schopenhauer and Richard Wagner sparked an impulse toward German cultural renewal and social change that drew on religious myth, metaphysics, and spiritualism. The only problem was that their works were deeply antisemitic and entangled with claims that Jews were incapable of creating compassionate art. By looking at the works of Jewish composers and writers who contributed to a lively and robust biblical theatre in fin-de-siècle Vienna, Caroline A. Kita, shows how they reimagined myths of the Old Testament to offer new aesthetic and ethical views of compassion. These Jewish artists, including Gustav Mahler, Siegfried Lipiner, Richard Beer-Hofmann, Stefan Zweig, and Arnold Schoenberg, reimagined biblical stories through the lens of the modern Jewish subject to plead for justice and compassion toward the Jewish community. By tracing responses to antisemitic discourses of compassion, Kita reflects on the explicitly and increasingly troubled political and social dynamics at the end of the Habsburg Empire.