erin mcglothlin

Erin McGlothlin

Chair of Germanic Languages & Literatures
Professor of German and Jewish Studies
PhD, University of Virginia
research interests:
  • 20th- and 21st-Century German Literature
  • Holocaust Studies (Literature, Film, and Theory)
  • Jewish Studies (Contemporary German-Jewish and Diasporic Jewish Literature)
  • Narrative Theory
  • Autobiography
  • Memory Studies
  • The Graphic Novel
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    • Washington University
    • CB 1104
    • One Brookings Drive
    • St. Louis, MO 63130-4899
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    Professor McGlothlin's main research interests are in the areas of Holocaust literature and film and German-Jewish literature.

    McGlothlin is the author of Second-Generation Holocaust Literature: Legacies of Survival and Perpetration (2006) and has co-edited two volumes: After the Digital Divide?: German Aesthetic Theory in the Age of New Digital Media (2009, with Lutz Koepnick) and Persistent Legacy: The Holocaust and German Studies (2016, with Jennifer Kapczynski). A third co-edited volume, The Construction of Testimony: Claude Lanzmann's Shoah and its Outtakes (with Brad Prager and Markus Zisselsberger), appeared in 2020. Additionally, she has published articles in major journals and edited volumes on Art Spiegelman’s Maus, Ruth Klüger’s weiter leben, Edgar Hilsenrath’s Der Nazi und der Friseur, Bernhard Schlink’s Der Vorleser, and other fictional and non-fictional works of Holocaust literature and film and German-Jewish literature. Her most recent book, The Mind of the Holocaust Perpetrator in Fiction and Nonfiction, will appear in early 2021 with Wayne State University Press.

    In addition to a comparative focus on the literature of the Holocaust, McGlothlin’s research and teaching interests include postwar and contemporary German literature, Jewish Studies, narrative theory, autobiography, and the graphic novel. She has also created with Anika Walke a year-long first-year seminar on the Holocaust that culminates in a study trip to Holocaust-related sites in Germany, Poland, and Lithuania.

    McGlothlin was a research fellow in residence at the US Holocaust Memorial Museum’s Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies in 2006, was a co-leader with Anita Norich of the Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies Hess Faculty Seminar on Holocaust Literature in January 2014, and was an instructor at the Summer Institute on the Holocaust and Jewish Civilization at Northwestern University in 2016 and 2018. She has received additional research grants from the Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies, the Fulbright Foundation, and the Washington University Center for the Humanities. In Summer 2010, she was a DAAD Guest Professor at the Universities of Dortmund and Paderborn. She is also co-editor (with Brad Prager) of the Camden House book series Dialogue and Disjunction: Studies in Jewish German Literature, Culture, and Thought, and is on the editorial board of German Studies Review and a member of the Academic Council of the Holocaust Educational Foundation at Northwestern University.

    From 2010 to 2012, Professor McGlothlin was Director of Research, and, in 2013, Interim Director of the Washington University Center for the Humanities.

    Fall 2020 Course

    Topics in Holocaust Studies: Children in the Shadow of the Swastika (German 331)

    This course will approach the history, culture and literature of Nazism, World War II and the Holocaust by focusing on one particular aspect of the period-the experience of children. Children as a whole were drastically affected by the policies of the Nazi regime and the war it conducted in Europe, yet different groups of children experienced the period in radically different ways, depending on who they were and where they lived. By reading key texts written for and about children, we will first take a look at how the Nazis made children-both those they considered "Aryan" and those they designated "enemies" of the German people, such as Jewish children - an important focus of their politics. We will then examine literary texts and films that depict different aspects of the experience of European children during this period: daily life in the Nazi state, the trials of war and bombardment in Germany and the experience of expulsion from the East and defeat, the increasingly restrictive sphere in which Jewish children were allowed to live, the particular difficulties children faced in the Holocaust, and the experience of children in the immediate postwar period. Readings include texts by Ruth Klüger, Harry Mulisch, Imre Kertész, Miriam Katin, David Grossman and others. Course conducted entirely in English. OPEN TO FIRST YEARS. STUDENTS MUST ENROLL IN BOTH MAIN SECTION AND A DISCUSSION SECTION. Note: course will not count towards German major or minor.

      The Construction of Testimony: Claude Lanzmann's Shoah and its Outtakes

      The Construction of Testimony: Claude Lanzmann's Shoah and its Outtakes

      In The Construction of Testimony: Claude Lanzmann’s Shoah and Its Outtakes, editors Erin McGlothlin, Brad Prager, and Markus Zisselsberger gather contributions on how Shoah (1985) fundamentally changed the nature and use of filmed testimony and laid the groundwork for how historians and documentarians regard and understand the history of the Holocaust. Critics have taken long note of Shoah’s innovative style and its place in the history of documentary film and in cultural memory, but few scholars have touched on its extensive outtakes and the reams of documentation archived at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and at Yad Vashem, or the release of five feature-length documentaries based on the material in those outtakes.

      The Construction of Testimony, which contains thirteen essays by some of the most notable scholars in Holocaust film studies, reexamines Lanzmann’s body of work, his film, and the impact of Shoah through this trove—over 220 hours—of previously unavailable and unexplored footage. Responding to the need for a sustained examination of Lanzmann’s impact on historical and filmic approaches to testimony, this volume inaugurates a new era of scholarship, one that takes a critical position vis-à-vis the filmmaker’s posturing, stylization, and editorial sleight-of-hand. The volume’s contributors engage with a range of dimensions central to Lanzmann’s filmography and the outtakes, including the dynamics of gender in his work, his representation of Nazi perpetrators, and complex issues of language and translation.

      In light of Lanzmann’s invention of a radically new form of witnessing and remembrance, Shoah laid the framework for the ways in which subsequent filmmakers have represented the Holocaust cinematically; at the same time, the outtakes complicate this framework by revealing new details about the filmmaker’s complex editorial choices. Scholars and students of film studies and Holocaust studies will value this close analysis.

      Persistent Legacy: The Holocaust and German Studies

      Persistent Legacy: The Holocaust and German Studies

      In studies of Holocaust representation and memory, scholars of literature and culture traditionally have focused on particular national contexts. At the same time, recent work has brought the Holocaust into the arena of the transnational, leading to a crossroads between localized and global understandings of Holocaust memory. Further complicating the issue are generational shifts that occur with the passage of time, and which render memory and representations of the Holocaust ever more mediated, commodified, and departicularized. Nowhere is the inquiry into Holocaust memory more fraught or potentially more productive than in German Studies, where scholars have struggled to address German guilt and responsibility while doing justice to the global impact of the Holocaust, and are increasingly facing the challenge of engaging with the broader, interdisciplinary, transnational field.

      Persistent Legacy connects the present, critical scholarly moment with this long disciplinary tradition, probing the relationship between German Studies and Holocaust Studies today. Fifteen prominent scholars explore how German Studies engages with Holocaust memory and representation, pursuing critical questions concerning the borders between the two fields and how they are impacted by emerging scholarly methods, new areas of inquiry, and the changing place of Holocaust memory in contemporary Germany.

      Second-Generation Holocaust Literature: Legacies of Survival and Perpetration

      Second-Generation Holocaust Literature: Legacies of Survival and Perpetration

      Among historical events of the 20th century, the Holocaust is unrivaled as the subject of both scholarly and literary writing. Literary responses include not only thousands of autobiographical and fictional texts written by survivors, but also, more recently, works by writers who are not survivors but nevertheless feel compelled to write about the Holocaust. Writers from what is known as the second generation have produced texts that express their feeling of being powerfully marked by events of which they have had no direct experience. This book expands the commonly-used definition of second-generation literature, which refers to texts written from the perspective of the children of survivors, to include texts written from the point of view of the children of Nazi perpetrators. With its innovative focus on the literary legacy of both groups, it investigates how second-generation writers employ similar tropes of stigmatization to express their troubled relationships to their parents' histories. Through readings of nine American, German, and French literary texts, Erin McGlothlin demonstrates how an anxiety with signification is manifested in the very structure of second-generation literature, revealing the extent to which the literary texts themselves are marked by the continuing aftershocks of the Holocaust.

      After the Digital Divide? German Aesthetic Theory in the Age of New Media

      After the Digital Divide? German Aesthetic Theory in the Age of New Media

      The term "new media" is a current buzzword among scholars and in the media industry, referring to the ever-multiplying digitized modes of film/image and sound production and distribution. Yet how new, in fact, are these new media, and how does their rise affect the role of older media? What new theories allow us to examine our culture of ubiquitous electronic screens and networked pleasures? Is a completely new set of perspectives, concepts, and paradigms required, or are older modes of discussion about the relationship between technology and art still adequate? This book reconsiders the seminal work of German media theorists such as Adorno, Benjamin, and Kracauer in order to explore today's rapidly changing mediascape, questioning the naive progressivism that informs much of today's discourse about media technologies. The contributions, by internationally-recognized critics from a variety of academic fields, encourage a view of the history of media as structured by difference, complexity, and multiplicity. Together, they offer intriguing ways of understanding the changed position of media in today's Germany and beyond.