Caroline Kita

Caroline Kita

​Associate Professor of German and Comparative Literature
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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    contact info:

    office hours:

    • All being held via Zoom
    • Tuesdays, 10:00 to 11:00 am
    • by appointment
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    • Washington University
    • CB 1104
    • One Brookings Drive
    • St. Louis, MO 63130-4899
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    Caroline 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 Theater examines the role of music and theater in shaping discourses of inclusion and otherness in fin-de-siècle Vienna. Kita's 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 hosted 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."

    Kita has studied at the University of Vienna, the University of Potsdam, and the University of Duisburg-Essen. She 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.

    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

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