german book

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

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. 

 

 

Matt Erlin

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. 

 

 

 

Caroline Kita

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

 

Paul Michael Lützeler

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.

 

Erin McGlothlin

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

 

Christian Schneider

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. 

 

Lynne Tatlock

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. 

 

 

Gerhild Williams

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.

the faculty bookshelf

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

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?

n 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.