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Research

award-winning scholarship from early modern literature to postwar German cinema

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. 

Kurt Beals

This year has been a productive one for me. I completed the manuscript for my book, Wireless Dada: Telegraphic Poetics in the Avant-Garde, which has been accepted for publication by Northwestern University Press and is scheduled to appear in 2019. I also published an article on post-WWII information poetics, “‘Do the new poets think? It’s possible’: Computer Poetry and Cyborg Subjectivity,” in Configurations, the official publication of the Society for Literature, Science, and the Arts (SLSA). Three other articles are completed and nearing publication in Dada/SurrealismGerman Quarterly, and an edited volume on the author Max Bense. I owe this productivity in part to a few weeks spent in a cabin in Montana with no internet or phone service – a refreshing escape from the news, and a great way to focus on reading and writing. In spring 2018, I offered a new graduate seminar on Media and Experiment that addressed theoretical and aesthetic responses to new media developments in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. We ended the semester with two sessions of conference-style presentations, and it was great to see all the hard work the students had done in the course of the semester. I also had the pleasure of directing the MA thesis of Paula Vosse, our exchange student from Cologne, who wrote about the media philosophy of Heinrich Eduard Jacobs’ 1929 novel Blut und Zelluloid.

 

 

Matt Erlin

As hard as it is to believe, my time as Chair of the department is ending. I look forward to passing the baton this summer and transitioning into a new phase of my professional life, which will also include a research leave to focus on some digital humanities projects. 2018 was an eventful year, which included trips to Geneva to discuss my work on luxury in the eighteenth century and to Montreal, where I presented a new multilingual digital project on Kafka translations. Also rewarding has been the collaborative work I undertook with Lynne Tatlock, Doug Knox, and Steve Pentecost and that resulted in the publication of our essay on gendered reading formations, which appeared in The Journal of Cultural Analytics. Collaboration has been central to my teaching as well. In spring 2018 I had the pleasure of working together with Melanie Walsh from the English department on a seminar entitled “Essential Readings in Digital Humanities.” The title is a bit of a misnomer, since the course actually included an innovative lab component that provided students with hands-on experience using a variety of digital tools. I also coordinated Washington University’s very first Summer Humanities Institute for high school students. Over the course of two action-packed weeks, seventeen high school students met with eleven different faculty members to discuss various aspects of the relationship between politics and the arts. This past fall I ended a long hiatus and taught Business German for the first time since 2014. My Chair’s activities included the usual mix of searches, graduate student recruitment, curriculum development, event planning, and general crisis management. 2018 was somewhat unique, however, in that I had the pleasure of communicating with and/or seeing an unusually large number of alums, both on- and off-campus, including at the epic party we threw at the German Studies Association conference in Pittsburgh.

 

 

 

Caroline Kita

I spent the spring semester of 2018 as a Faculty Fellow at Washington University’s Center for the Humanities, working on my new book project on radio in German and Austrian culture following the end of the Second World War. In this project, I trace how the radio made its uneasy transition from propaganda tool of fascism to pluralist space of democratic ideals by analyzing text and sound in seven narrative radio dramas written and produced between 1945 and 1961. At the Center for the Humanities, I completed two articles, one on Ingeborg Bachmann’s radio drama, “Ein Geschäft mit Träumen,” which will appear in the Journal of Austrian Studies in 2019 and another entitled “Simultaneity and the Soundscapes of Audio Fiction” for an edited volume that is currently under review with Ohio University Press. In April 2018, I co-organized with Jennifer Kapczynski, the 24th Biennial St. Louis Symposium on German Literature and Culture, entitled The Arts of Democratization: Styling Political Sensibilities in Post-War West Germany. We are editing a volume of essays based on the presentations at this symposium, which is currently under review. This summer I had the opportunity to participate in the biennial Radio Conference in Prato, Italy and to continue my archival research at the Nordwestdeutscher Rundfunk in Hamburg. In fall, I taught a course for advanced undergraduates based on my new book project entitled, Reading Radio: The Sounds of German History and Culture. Students in the course produced their own radio dramas at the end of the semester inspired by the works we listened to in class. I’m looking forward to seeing my book, Jewish Difference and the Arts in Vienna: Composing Compassion in Music and Biblical Drama, appear with Indiana University Press this coming April.

 

Paul Michael Lützeler

In 2018, I taught the undergraduate course German 340 (German Literature in the Modern Era, in English) and the graduate course on German Exile Literature 1933-1945. The graduate students did good work and are composing a collective paper for a workshop. I was the first reader of the master thesis on Schiller written by Kalle Nyman, as well as on two qualifying exam committees in German and Comparative Literature. I was the chair of Darina Stamova’s dissertation committee, and she successfully defended her thesis on Uwe Timm. Several of my lectures both at universities in Europe (Bielefeld, Klagenfurt, Barcelona, Munich) as well as in the US (ACLA convention at UCLA) had to do with different aspects of the literary discourse on Europe. On the occasion of my 75th birthday, I received a Festschrift on this topic, and it was handed over during the dedication celebration of the Mike Lützeler Contemporary German Literature Collection organized by the German Department and Olin Library. Other lectures: on the role of professional organizations (MLA, GSA) at Universität Tübingen and during the GSA conference; on Hermann Broch during the 24th St. Louis Symposium on German Literature and Culture, at the Akademie der Wissenschaften in Mainz, at a Broch symposium on the Monte Verità in Ascona/Switzerland (which I co-organized in my role as President of the Internationale Arbeitskreis Hermann Broch), and at the Deutsche Nationalbibliothek in Frankfurt. I edited: Hermann Broch und Frank Thiess (Briefwechsel); Transatlantic German Studies (with Peter Höying). As director of the Max Kade Center, I invited the critic Tobias Rüther and the writer Silke Scheuermann, and I edited the 17th volume of the yearbook Gegenwartsliteratur, with a focus on Emine Sevgi Özdamar. I am also the mentor of the VolkswagenStiftung postdoc who is here this academic year, Hannes Höfer, from the University of Jena. As president of the American Friends of Marbach, I completed a fund drive ($24,000) to establish the Egon Schwarz Summer Grant.

 

Erin McGlothlin

2018 was a particularly busy year for me in terms of international travel and engagement, especially (but not exclusively) in the field of Holocaust Studies. In March, I traveled to Jerusalem for the Notre Dame German-Jewish Studies Workshop (the first time that event has been held in Israel); in April, I presented at the Narrative Conference in Montréal; in September, I gave a paper at The Joys of Violence conference at Uppsala University in Sweden; and in October, I presented at The Ethics of Survival conference at the Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg in Germany.  Moreover, I, along with my colleague in history, Professor Anika Walke, repeated our Focus program for first-year undergraduate students on the history, memory and representation of the Holocaust. After participating in a year-long seminar that included a course on the history of the Holocaust with Professor Walke and one on Holocaust literature and film taught by me, the students, along with Hannah Dinkel (our graduate student liaison), Professor Walke and me, embarked on a two-week trip in May to Holocaust-related sites in Germany, Poland and Lithuania.

My domestic engagement with Holocaust Studies was also quite active. In June, I was an instructor at the two-week Holocaust Educational Foundation Annual Summer Institute for Faculty on the Holocaust and Jewish Civilization at Northwestern University. In November, I was co-chair (with Jan Grabowski from the University of Ottawa) and co-host (with Anika Walke) of the 15th biennial Lessons and Legacies of the Holocaust conference, which was held in St. Louis and which featured over 300 scholars of the Holocaust from all over the world. Finally, later that month, I gave the Kristallnacht memorial lecture at the University of Massachusetts Institute for Holocaust, Genocide, and Memory Studies.

 

Christian Schneider

I like to call 2018 my “senior year”—“senior” because it was my fourth year at Washington University. The date of my “graduation,” however, was not May 18; it was March 2. That is the day I learned that I was to be granted tenure and promoted to Associate Professor. The happy news coincided with another important event that I, together with Gerhild Williams, had been looking forward to (and preparing) for quite some time: the 8th International Conference “Frühe Neuzeit Interdisziplinär.” On the occasion of the 400th anniversary of the outbreak of the Thirty Years’ War, over eighty colleagues from different parts of the world joined Gerhild, Sigrun Haude (University of Cincinnati) and me on the Danforth Campus in order to reflect on “War and Peace in the Early Modern Lands.” Toward the end of spring semester, I started preparing for what would hopefully be the very last academic exam of my life: the lecture before the “Habilitationskonferenz” of my alma mater, the University of Heidelberg. The one moment I will not forget was when, following my presentation, the discussion, and the secret ballot, the doors swung open again and, as I was called in, the entire professoriate of the “Neuphilologische Fakultät” stood up—I knew I had passed! In the fall, I had the opportunity to attend three interesting conferences. Particularly stimulating was a one-day workshop on “Temporalities and Premodernities” at the University of Michigan in October. My biggest challenge of that semester, albeit in a good way, was teaching a course on Classical to Renaissance literature—from Homer to Shakespeare—which was based in the Interdisciplinary Project in the Humanities program. It was a small but rewarding class, and I consider myself fortunate to work at a place where I have the chance to teach courses and work with students that help me to see the “objects” of my own research as a medievalist with fresh eyes.

 

Lynne Tatlock

Nothing is slowing down here at Washington University—and we prefer it that way! I continue to maintain mutually enriching academic commitments—Comparative Literature, which I direct, and the German Department, my university home. An exhilarating aspect of my work for Comparative Literature remains co-teaching “Literature in the Making” with the German writer Matthias Göritz. On the German side, I’ve maintained my research and teaching interests in the long nineteenth century and especially enjoyed teaching a new iteration of “Violence, Crime, Community, and their Literary Genres” this past fall. While pursuing several nineteenth-century projects—including a digital humanities project with Matt Erlin on late nineteenth-century American reading—I maintained a toehold in the seventeenth-century with work on Catharina Regina von Greiffenberg, this time her poetic response to the fourth Austro-Turkish War and participated in the triennial conference of Frühe Neuzeit Interdisziplinär, which took place at Washington University (March 2018) and was organized by Gerhild Williams, Sigrun Haude, and Christian Schneider. Last spring gave me particular cause to rejoice, when four students with nineteenth-century research interests, with whom I’d had the privilege to work, secured tenure-track positions—Angineh Djavadghazaryans, Ervin Malakaj, Shane Peterson, and Sarah Varela. This September I received the Distinguished Faculty Leadership Award in Arts and Sciences. Such recognition does not fall upon a person like grace, but requires a nomination and a justification. I thank the German Department for nominating me and especially Matt Erlin and Erin McGlothlin who made that effort. The award provided me with the occasion to recall what I owe to the German Department generally and what I learned from the three chairs who preceded me—Jim Poag, Mike Lützeler, and Gerhild Williams—and from all the colleagues and students who have come and gone over these three and more decades.

 

 

Gerhild Williams

In November 2018, I presented at the Sixteenth Century Studies Conference (SCSC) in Albuquerque on The Year 1664: Exploring Contradictions in two Pamphlets about the Turk (Erasmus Francisci).

The volume in honor of Jill Bepler upon her retirement as Associate Director of the Herzog August Bibliothek (HAB) in Wolfenbüttel, Germany, on the topic of Lesen und Schreiben: Frauen / Bücher – Höfe. Reading and Writing: Women Books – Courts has been published by Harrassowitz, Wiesbaden in March 2018. I am one of the co-editors and I contributed an essay on Varieties of Agency: Writing Women across the Ottoman Empire (16th -17th c.).

In March 2018, Christian Schneider and I co-organized an international conference on War and Peace, commemorating the Thirty Years War (1618-1648). It was hosted on the Washington University campus by the FNI (Frühe Neuzeit Interdisziplinär – Early Modern Interdisciplinary) of which I am president. Currently, we are preparing selected essays (17) for publication.

Alongside various conference essays, I made good progress on my larger project on Ottoman Eurasia entitled Ottoman Eurasia in Early Modern German Literature: Cultural Translations (Francisci, Happel, Speer).

My work on the administrative side of my appointment continues unabated. We completed the new Pathways accreditation process (Fall 2018) by sending the electronic report on November 20, 2018 to the Higher Learning Commission, our regional accreditor located in Chicago. We received an exceptionally positive response which informed us that we had “passed” all criteria for accreditation. This means that Chancellor Mark Wrighton has a great review of the state of the University before he hands over the reins of the office to his successor Andrew Martin in June 2019.

Professor Erin McGlothlin featured in Center for the Humanities article previewing November 5 Holocaust Memorial Lecture

Professor Erin McGlothlin featured in Center for the Humanities article previewing November 5 Holocaust Memorial Lecture

Professor Kita interviewed: ‘How We Listen Shapes How We View the World’: The Radio Drama in Post-WWII Germany

Professor Kita interviewed: ‘How We Listen Shapes How We View the World’: The Radio Drama in Post-WWII Germany

the faculty bookshelf

Publishing Culture and the "Reading Nation": German Book History in the Long Nineteenth Century
Transatlantic German Studies: Testimonies to the Profession
Hovezuht: Literarische Hofkultur und höfisches Lebensideal um Herzog Albrecht III. von Österreich und Erzbischof Pilgrim II. von Salzburg (1365-1396)
Erzähllogiken in der Literatur des Mittelalters und der Frühen Neuzeit
Jewish Difference and the Arts in Vienna
Publizistische Germanistik. Essays und Kritiken.
Transatlantische Germanistik. Kontakt, Transfer, Dialogik
Distant Readings: Topologies of German Culture in the Long Nineteenth Century
Persistent Legacy: The Holocaust and German Studies
Second-Generation Holocaust Literature: Legacies of Survival and Perpetration
Berlin's Forgotten Future: City, History, and Enlightenment in Eighteenth-Century Germany
Der Codex Manesse und die Entdeckung der Liebe: Katalog zur Ausstellung der Universitätsbibliothek Heidelberg
After the Digital Divide? German Aesthetic Theory in the Age of New Media
German Writing, American Reading: Women and the Import of Fiction, 1866-1917
Is That Kafka?
Mediating Culture in the Seventeenth-Century German Novel
Necessary Luxuries: Books, Literature, and the Culture of Consumption in Germany, 1770-1815
German Culture in Nineteenth-Century America: Reception, Adaptation, Transformation

Publishing Culture and the "Reading Nation": German Book History in the Long Nineteenth Century

Over the long nineteenth century, German book publishing experienced an unprecedented boom, outstripping by 1910 all other Western nations. Responding to the spread of literacy, publishers found new marketing methods and recalibrated their relationships to authors. Technical innovations made books for a range of budgets possible. Yearbooks, encyclopedias, and boxed sets also multiplied. A renewed interest in connoisseurship meant that books signified taste and affiliation. While reading could be a group activity, the splintering of the publishing industry into niche markets made it seem an ever-more private and individualistic affair, promising variously self-help, information, Bildung, moral edification, and titillation. The essays in this volume examine what Robert Darnton has termed the "communications circuit": the life-cycle of the book as a convergence of complex cultural, social, and economic phenomena. In examining facets of the lives of select books from the late 1780s to the early 1930s that Germans actually read, the essays present a complex and nuanced picture of writing, publishing, and reading in the shadow of nation building and class formation, and suggest how the analysis of texts and the study of books can inform one another.

Transatlantic German Studies: Testimonies to the Profession

The prominent scholar-contributors to this volume share their experiences developing the field of US German Studies and their thoughts on literature and interdisciplinarity, pluralism and diversity, and transatlantic dialogue.

The decisive contribution of the exile generation of the 1930s and '40s to German Studies in the United States is well known. The present volume carries the story forward to the next generation(s), giving voice to scholars from the US and overseas, many of them mentored by the exile generation. The exiles knew vividly the value of the Humanities; the following generations, though spared the experience of historical catastrophe, have found formidable challenges in building and maintaining the field in a time increasingly dismissive of that value. The scholar-contributors to this volume, prominent members of the profession, share their experiences of finding their way in the field and helping to develop it to its present state as well as their thoughts on its present challenges, including the question of the role of literature and of interdisciplinarity, pluralism, and diversity. Of particular interest is the role of transatlantic dialogue.

Hovezuht: Literarische Hofkultur und höfisches Lebensideal um Herzog Albrecht III. von Österreich und Erzbischof Pilgrim II. von Salzburg (1365-1396)

European courtesy is a "discovery" of the Middle Ages. Around the secular and spiritual rulers of the 10.-12. In the twentieth century, those ideals of courtly being and behavior emerged which up to the present day determine the image of polite forms of behavior. In literary as well as extra-literary texts they were conceived, reflected and propagated. Using the example of literature in the environment of the Habsburg court in Vienna and the archiepiscopal court in Salzburg in the last third of the 14th century, the book turns the gaze from the courtly behavioral teachings of the High Middle Ages to late medieval concepts of courtly behavioral regulation.

Erzähllogiken in der Literatur des Mittelalters und der Frühen Neuzeit

Telling is a basic human need. At all times people have told. But not at all times they have told the same way. Motifs, fabrics and themes vary, as well as the way in which the narrative is arranged and its individual components combined in such a way that they convey the impression of a coherent whole. The insight into the historical conditionality of narrative forms and methods has been solidified in recent research into the demand for a historical narratology. To such a supply of this band provides a building block. He assembles contributions that deal systematically and in case studies with the logics of late antique, medieval and early modern narration. Topics include: myth, spatial and temporal structures, motivation to act, figurative constitution.

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.

Publizistische Germanistik. Essays und Kritiken.

Publizistische Germanistik shows how the results of literary-historical and -theoretical research in the languages ​​and forms of critique and essay in the media can be conveyed. For decades, the author has published numerous articles in weekly and daily newspapers (DIE ZEIT, Neue Zürcher Zeitung, DIE WELT, Frankfurter Allgemeine, Frankfurter Rundschau, Tagesspiegel) and in cultural magazines (Neue Rundschau, Merkur), resulting from his scientific work on contemporary literature and exile poetry, to the classical and romantic, to the literary Europe discourse and to the Zeitkritik resulted. The documentation of these critiques and essays is meant as an encouragement for the next generation in German literature not to lose sight of the aspect of journalistic mediation. If research forgets the public, Forgets also the public the research. In the introduction, the author addresses the triad of criticism, poetry, and science, and argues for a more intense relationship between these three very different institutions of literary operation, that is, for a conversation in which prejudices are broken down, thereby facilitating mutual inspiration.

Transatlantische Germanistik. Kontakt, Transfer, Dialogik

Transatlantische Germanistik: Kontakt, Transfer, Dialogik thematizes the development of literary and cultural studies during the last decades on both sides of the Atlantic. The study provides selective comparisons on a variety of topics: How is cultural studies considered as a new paradigm shift in German and American literary studies? How do you publish Germanic magazines in the USA? How can German literary publishers get involved in America? How can the reading behavior in Germany and America be characterized? How has the relationship between American German Studies and European Studies developed? In which tension is the German university between European reform and American model? How do foundations and intermediary organizations promote academic exchange? What are the intentions behind German participation in an American World's Fair? Which possible effects do expatriate American writers in Europe and / or European exile authors in the US? How can representatives of transatlantic German politics cooperate with colleagues on other continents in the context of globalization? The book is based on the forty years of professional experience of a German-American literary scholar who has taught on every continent.

Distant Readings: Topologies of German Culture in the Long Nineteenth Century

n nineteenth-century Germany, breakthroughs in printing technology and an increasingly literate populace led to an unprecedented print production boom that has long presented scholars with a challenge: how to read it all? This anthology seeks new answers to the scholarly quandary of the abundance of text. Responding to Franco Moretti's call for "distant reading" and modeling a range of innovative approaches to literary-historical analysis informed by the burgeoning field of digital humanities, it asks what happens when we shift our focus from the one to the many, from the work to the network.


The thirteen essays in this volume explore the evolving concept of "distant reading" and its application to the analysis of German literature and culture in the long nineteenth century. The contributors consider how new digital technologies enable both the testing of hypotheses and the discovery of patterns and trends, as well as how "distant" and traditional "close" reading can complement each another in hybrid models of analysis that maintain careful attention to detail, but also make calculation, enumeration, and empirical description critical elements of interpretation.

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

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.

Berlin's Forgotten Future: City, History, and Enlightenment in Eighteenth-Century Germany

Through an analysis of the works of the Berlin Aufklärer Friedrich Gedike, Friedrich Nicolai, G. E. Lessing, and Moses Mendelssohn, Matt Erlin shows how the rapid changes occurring in Prussia's newly minted metropolis challenged these intellectuals to engage in precisely the kind of nuanced thinking about history that has come to be seen as characteristic of the German Enlightenment. The author's demonstration of Berlin's historical-theoretical significance also provides a fresh perspective on the larger question of the city's impact on eighteenth-century German culture. Challenging the widespread idea that German intellectuals were antiurban, the study reveals the extent to which urban sociability came to be seen by some as a problematic but crucial factor in the realization of their Enlightenment aims.

Der Codex Manesse und die Entdeckung der Liebe: Katalog zur Ausstellung der Universitätsbibliothek Heidelberg

“Saget mir ieman, waz ist minne?" This question by the poet Walther von der Vogelweide about the nature of love has been dealing with moving singers, nobles and even clerics since the high Middle Ages. As reflected in a variety of texts and images, it was no longer enough for a knight to own the lady he wanted. He wanted to conquer her heart. The polyphonic discovery of the subject of love as an erotic love between man and woman not only influenced the relationship between the sexes. It also transformed the self-image of the nobility and manners within courtly society. The songs and images in the Codex Manesse capture this change as an example. In a unique way, the large-scale manuscript collection brings together the Hohenstaufen as well as the post-classical minstrelsy in all its diversity of forms and forms. The miniatures to the poets with their depictions of courtly scenes, festivities and tournaments sustainably shaped the modern image of the knightly Middle Ages. The Codex Manesse itself is already to be interpreted as a wistful review: He wanted to first collect the gradually fading, previously only orally transmitted songs in writing; many texts would have been lost today without this transcript. Using the example of the Codex Manesse and other valuable manuscripts and prints from the vaults of Heidelberg University Library, the catalog illustrates the discovery of love in the high Middle Ages.

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.

German Writing, American Reading: Women and the Import of Fiction, 1866-1917

In postbellum America, publishers vigorously reprinted books that were foreign in origin, and Americans thus read internationally even at a moment of national consolidation. A subset of Americans’ international reading—nearly 100 original texts, approximately 180 American translations, more than 1,000 editions and reprint editions, and hundreds of thousands of books strong—comprised popular fiction written by German women and translated by American women.

Tatlock examines the genesis and circulation in America of this hybrid product over four decades and beyond. These entertaining novels came to the consumer altered by processes of creative adaptation and acculturation that occurred in the United States as a result of translation, marketing, publication, and widespread reading over forty years. These processes in turn de-centered and disrupted the national while still transferring certain elements of German national culture. Most of all, this mass translation of German fiction by American women trafficked in happy endings that promised American readers that their fondest wishes for adventure, drama, and bliss within domesticity and their hope for the real power of love, virtue, and sentiment could be pleasurably realized in an imagined and quaintly old-fashioned Germany—even if only in the time it took to read a novel.

Is That Kafka?

In the course of compiling his highly acclaimed three-volume biography of Kafka, while foraying to libraries and archives from Prague to Israel, Reiner Stach made one astounding discovery after another: unexpected photographs, inconsistencies in handwritten texts, excerpts from letters, and testimonies from Kafka's contemporaries that shed surprising light on his personality and his writing.

Is that Kafka? presents the crystal granules of the real Kafka: he couldn't lie, but he tried to cheat on his high-school exams; bitten by the fitness fad, he avidly followed the regime of a Danish exercise guru; he drew beautifully; he loved beer; he read biographies voraciously; he made the most beautiful presents, especially for children; odd things made him cry or made him furious; he adored slapstick. Every discovery by Stach turns on its head the stereotypical version of the tortured neurotic—and as each one chips away at the monolithic dark Kafka, the keynote, of all things, becomes laughter.

For Is that Kafka? Stach has assembled 99 of his most exciting discoveries, culling the choicest, most entertaining bits, and adding his knowledgeable commentaries. Illustrated with dozens of previously unknown images, this volume is a singular literary pleasure. 

Mediating Culture in the Seventeenth-Century German Novel

Eberhard Happel, German Baroque author of an extensive body of work of fiction and nonfiction, has for many years been categorized as a “courtly-gallant” novelist. In Mediating Culture in the Seventeenth-Century German Novel, author Gerhild Scholz Williams argues that categorizing him thus is to seriously misread him and to miss out on a fascinating perspective on this dynamic period in German history.

Happel primarily lived and worked in the vigorous port city of Hamburg, which was a “media center” in terms of the access it offered to a wide library of books in public and private collections.  Hamburg’s port status meant it buzzed with news and information, and Happel drew on this flow of data in his novels. His books deal with many topics of current interest—national identity formation, gender and sexualities, Western European encounters with neighbors to the East, confrontations with non-European and non-Western powers and cultures—and they feature multiple media, including news reports, news collections, and travel writings. As a result, Happel’s use of contemporary source material in his novels feeds our current interest in the impact of the production of knowledge on seventeenth-century narrative. Mediating Culture in the Seventeenth-Century German Novel explores the narrative wealth and multiversity of Happel’s work, examines Happel’s novels as illustrative of seventeenth-century novel writing in Germany, and investigates the synergistic relationship in Happel’s writings between the booming print media industry and the evolution of the German novel.

Necessary Luxuries: Books, Literature, and the Culture of Consumption in Germany, 1770-1815

The consumer revolution of the eighteenth century brought new and exotic commodities to Europe from abroad—coffee, tea, spices, and new textiles to name a few. Yet one of the most widely distributed luxury commodities in the period was not new at all, and was produced locally: the book. In Necessary Luxuries, Matt Erlin considers books and the culture around books during this period, focusing specifically on Germany where literature, and the fine arts in general, were the subject of soul-searching debates over the legitimacy of luxury in the modern world.

Building on recent work done in the fields of consumption studies as well as the New Economic Criticism, Erlin combines intellectual-historical chapters (on luxury as a concept, luxury editions, and concerns about addictive reading) with contextualized close readings of novels by Campe, Wieland, Moritz, Novalis, and Goethe. As he demonstrates, artists in this period were deeply concerned with their status as luxury producers. The rhetorical strategies they developed to justify their activities evolved in dialogue with more general discussions regarding new forms of discretionary consumption. By emphasizing the fragile legitimacy of the fine arts in the period, Necessary Luxuries offers a fresh perspective on the broader trajectory of German literature in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century, recasting the entire period in terms of a dynamic unity, rather than simply as a series of literary trends and countertrends.

German Culture in Nineteenth-Century America: Reception, Adaptation, Transformation

Building on recent trends in the humanities and especially on scholarship done under the rubric of cultural transfer, this volume emphasizes the processes by which Americans took up, responded to, and transformed German cultural material for their own purposes. The fourteen essays by scholars from the US and Germany treat such topics as translation, the reading of German literature in America, the adaptation of German ideas and educational ideals, the reception and transformation of European genres of writing, and the status of the "German" and the "European" in celebrations of American culture and criticisms of American racism. The volume contributes to the ongoing re-conception of American culture as significantly informed by non-English-speaking European cultures. It also participates in the efforts of historians and literary scholars to re-theorize the construction of national cultures. Questions regarding hybridity, cultural agency, and strategies of acculturation have long been at the center of postcolonial studies, but as this volume demonstrates, these phenomena are not merely operative in encounters between colonizers and colonized: they are also fundamental to the early American reception and appropriation of German cultural materials.