Caroline Kita

Caroline Kita

​Assistant Professor of German
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

contact info:

office hours:

  • Tuesday 10:00 am - 12:00 pm
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mailing address:

  • WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY
  • CB 1104
  • ONE BROOKINGS DR.
  • ST. LOUIS, MO 63130-4899
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​Professor Kita's scholarship focuses on German and Austrian culture in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

Professor Kita is particularly interested in aesthetic philosophy, music and literature, drama and sound studies. Her research has examined religious and cultural identity in the works of Jewish writers and composers in Austria from the turn of the twentieth century to the Second World War, and she has published on the works of Richard Beer-Hofmann, Siegfried Lipiner, Gustav Mahler, and Arnold Schoenberg.

Her monograph, Jewish Difference and the Arts in Vienna: Composing Compassion in Music and Biblical Drama examines the role of music and theater in shaping discourses of inclusion and otherness in fin-de-siècle Vienna. Her current book project, Border Territories: The Emancipatory Soundscapes of Postwar German Radio, focuses on the narrative radio drama, or Hörspiel, and traces how the ability of this acoustic-narrative genre to realize dynamic relationships between the temporal and spatial, the real and imaginary, the past and the present, allowed it to function as a unique mode of cultural critique and political commentary. In spring 2018, she will co-host a symposium together with colleague Jennifer Kapczynski on the subject of “The Arts of Democratization: Styling Political Sensibilities in Postwar West German Culture.”

Professor Kita teaches language courses on all levels, as well as seminars on various aspects of German and European culture. Her course offerings include "Rebellion, Regression, Rebirth: German Literature from the Vormärz to the Fin-de-Siècle," "Vienna 1900," "What Dreams May Come: Explorations of the Psyche in Viennese Modernism," and "Reading Radio: The Sounds of German History and Culture."

She has studied at the University of Vienna, the University of Potsdam, and the University of Duisburg-Essen. Kita was the recipient of a Fulbright Grant to Austria in 2004-05, and has received funding for advanced research from the Austrian Exchange Service (OeAD), who awarded her an Ernst Mach Grant in 2012 and a Franz Werfel Fellowship in 2015 and 2017. She was a faculty fellow at the Center for the Humanities here at Washington University in spring 2018.

Spring 2019 Courses

Advanced German: Core Course V (German 302D)

Continuation of German 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. Students completing this course successfully may enroll in the 400 level. Note, however, that German 340C/340D or German 341/341D are a prerequisite for most 400-level courses.

    Seminar in Cultural Theory: Vienna 1900 (German 529)

    Since the publication of historian Carl Schorske's seminal work Fin-de-Siècle Vienna: Politics and Culture more than three decades ago, the capital of the Habsburg Empire has emerged as a point of fascination for historians, musicologists and scholars of German literature and culture. A time of experimentation and innovation in the arts, philosophy, psychology and the natural sciences, Vienna 1900 also conjures up images of the "gay apocalypse," a culture of aestheticism and decadence that blissfully disregarded the crumbling political and social structures of a monarchy in decline. This course will provide an introduction to fin-de-siècle Viennese culture through an interdisciplinary approach. We will read diverse literary texts by authors such as Robert Musil, Stefan Zweig, Arthur Schnitzler, Karl Kraus, and Hugo von Hofmannsthal, and examine works of visual art (Gustav Klimt, Egon Schiele, Oskar Kokoschka), architecture (Otto Wagner and Adolf Loos), and music (Gustav Mahler and Arnold Schoenberg). Through these works we will explore issues of gender, Jewish identity and the modern language crisis. Finally, we will also discuss the legacy of turn of the century Vienna to the present day, examining the work of scholars who have sought to expand upon or challenge Schorske's paradigm. Primary texts will be read in German, discussion in English. Accommodations can be made for interested graduate students in other programs who do not read German at the graduate level. Please see instructor.

      Selected Publications

      Jewish Difference and the Arts in Vienna: Composing Compassion in Music and Biblical Drama. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press. Forthcoming, 2019.

      "Richard Beer-Hofmann’s Die Historie von König David: Jewish Biblical Drama and the Limits of Epic Theater." The German Quarterly. 89.2 (2016). 133-149.

      "Myth, Metaphysics and Cosmic Drama: The Legacy of Faust in Lipiner's Hippolytos and Mahler's Eighth Symphony.Monatshefte. 105.4 (Winter 2013).

      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.