Scholars at Work
Our faculty's scholarly expertise spans subjects and centuries. In addition to publishing articles and books, they regularly share their work with fellow scholars through lectures, conferences, and symposia at Washington University and around the country.
I am currently putting the finishing touches on my book manuscript, which bears the new working title Wireless Dada: Telegraphic Poetics in the Avant-Garde. I published an article on another aspect of the Dada movement – its relation to advertising – in the August 2017 issue of New German Critique. I also have an article forthcoming in the journal Configurations about later intersections of poetry and media technologies in the computer-generated poetry created in the 1960s by Max Bense and his collaborators. I presented this research on a panel at the 2017 GSA conference.
This was another year of exploring quantitative and computational approaches to cultural analysis, which, it turns out, are incredibly time consuming. My article on epistemology in the German and English novel finally (!) appeared in the Journal of Cultural Analytics, and Lynne Tatlock and I are putting the finishing touches on another article that investigates adolescent reading in Muncie, Indiana. A third ongoing project deals with intellectual networks in the German Enlightenment, and I was honored to be invited to deliver the Chandler Lecture at Bowdoin College on this research.
This year I completed a book manuscript, Composing Compassion: German-Jewish Voices in Viennese Music and Biblical Drama, which has been accepted for publication with the German Jewish Cultures Series at Indiana University Press. I am now working on a new book project on radio plays in Post-War West-Germany and Austria. With funding from the Center for the Humanities and the OeAD Franz Werfel Grant, I was able to spend the summer and fall semester of 2017 undertaking research at the Deutsches Rundfunkarchiv in Frankfurt and the Österreischische Mediathek and Literaturarchiv in Vienna. I was very pleased to be invited to give a lecture this December at the University of Graz on Ingeborg Bachmann’s radio drama, Ein Geschäft mit Träumen, and I am currently writing an article on this work.
As president of the American Friends of Marbach, I organized the symposium “Transatlantic German Studies: Personal Experiences” at Washington University (September 15-16, 2017) in cooperation with the John M. Olin Library. During the fall term, I gave keynote addresses at three international conferences, the first one at the University of Erlangen on “Politics and Literature”, the second on “Autobiography” at the University of Krakow in Poland, and the third on “Inner Emigration” at the University of Lodz in Poland. On the publication side: As president of the Internationaler Arbeitskreis Hermann Broch, I co-edited the theme issue “Diagnosen der Moderne: Hermann Broch” as volume 4 of the “Yearbook for European-Jewish Literary Studies”, an article on the “Post-colonial gaze” in the “Handbuch Postkolonialismus und Literatur”, and an article on “Broch und die Neue Sachlichkeit” in a volume on “Medienkultur der Weimarer Republik.” As director of the Max Kade Center for Contemporary German Literature, I edited the 16th volume of the yearbook “Gegenwartsliteratur” with a focus on Daniel Kehlmann.
I participated in a number of exciting in-depth research experiences, including a seminar at the American Comparative Literature Association on the representation of Holocaust perpetrators (which I organized with Gerd Bayer from the Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg) and a seminar at the German Studies Association on affect and cognition in Holocaust culture (which I organized with Agnes Mueller from the University of South Carolina and Katja Garloff from Reed College). I also gave papers at the Notre Dame German-Jewish Studies workshop, the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study Workshop “Humanities Education in the Narrative World,” and the conference of the International Society for the Study of Narrative (where I was presented with an Honorable Mention for the 2017 Phelan Prize for Best Article in Narrative for my 2016 article “Empathic Identification and the Mind of the Holocaust Perpetrator in Fiction: A Proposed Taxonomy of Response”). Further, I was invited to give lectures at Wagner College (for a special tribute to Elie Wiesel) and Northwestern University, and I gave the keynote lecture at the “Internationales Fred Wander Symposium: Biografie, Werk, Holocaust-Kanon” at the Universität Dortmund. Over the summer, I continued to work on my book project “Constructing the Mind of the Holocaust Perpetrator in Fictional and Documentary Discourse” and wrote a chapter entitled “Art Spiegelman’s Autobiographical Practice from Maus to MetaMaus,” which is forthcoming in The Cambridge History of the Graphic Novel.
2017 was an exciting and eventful year. Having returned from my one-semester sabbatical at the Freiburg Institute for Advanced Studies in early January, I flew back to Germany in March for the birth of our daughter, Sophie. If Sophie were able to remember the first few months of her life, one of her recollections would probably be her father walking her in a baby sling along the bank of the Rhine near Bonn, and telling her about principles of coherence in early Middle High German epics from the 12th century—thought splinters from the final chapters of my second book, Logiken des Erzählens, which I finished over the summer. I particularly enjoyed discussing parts of it with our graduate students in my graduate course on “The Art of Storytelling in Medieval German Literature” in the fall term. In August, Knowledge in Motion: Constructing Transcultural Experience in the Medieval and Early Modern Periods appeared as a special issue of the early modern studies journal, Daphnis. The volume reflects the proceedings of the biennial St. Louis Symposium on German Literature and Culture that Gerhild Williams and I organized in 2016. Meanwhile, Gerhild and I have embarked on our next conference project, the 8th International Frühe Neuzeit Interdisziplinär Conference (March 8-10, 2018), which will commemorate the 400th anniversary of the outbreak of the Thirty Years’ War.
I’ve maintained my research and teaching interests in the long nineteenth century and especially enjoyed teaching “Empire and its Discontents” this past semester. But even as I have pursued my several ongoing nineteenth-century projects, I have once again turned my attention to the seventeenth-century poet Catharina Regina von Greiffenberg. Participation in the conference “Transatlantic German Studies: Personal Experiences,” organized by Mike Lützeler, proved a challenging and especially rewarding experience: once I overcame my trepidation, I actually relished the exercise of making sense of what had never seemed to me a particularly coherent path. That experience complemented my yearlong service on an Arts & Sciences committee devoted to re-thinking graduate education especially with the idea of alternate outcomes for the PhD.
Currently, and for the foreseeable future, I am working on a larger project about Ottoman Eurasia in Seventeenth Century German Literature. I have published several essays on this topic as I am moving forward. The volume of the 23rd Symposium on German Literature and Culture on the theme of Knowledge in Motion: Constructing Transcultural Experience in the Medieval and Early Modern Period (March 31-April 2, 2016) has appeared with DAPHNIS 45, 3-4 (2017). I contributed an essay on “Going Far: Movement and Knowledge in Early Modern Narratives (Busbecq, Speer, Happel)” to the volume. I presented a paper at the 16th Century Studies Conference, at Milwaukee (October 26-29, 2017) entitled “Crossing borders, bridging cultures: Speer’s Pseudo Simplicissimus on his way from Breslau to Kairo and back.” In August 2017, I participated in an international workshop entitled "Skokloster as a Laboratory of Early Modern Studies,” at the Skokloster Castle, Sweden, and at Stockholm University (August 14–18). Funded by Stockholm University (Illinois-Sweden Program for Educational and research Exchange, INSPIRE), Riksbankens Jubileumsfond, and The Royal Armory and Skokloster Castle with the Hallwyl Museum, researchers from different institutions and disciplines worked together with museum curators with the aim to start an interdisciplinary project at Skokloster that will make new knowledge available to the early modern research community and a larger public. Christian Schneider and I are busy organizing the 8th FNI (Frühe Neuzeit Interdisziplinär) Conference on the topic of Rethinking Europe:War and Peace in Early Modern German Lands March 8-10, 2018 at Washington University.