dissertations in German studies 2020

Bahr, Katrin. Postkoloniale Solidarität: Alltagsleben von DDR-Bürgern in Mosambik. University of Massachusetts Amherst, Department of German and Scandinavian Studies. Advisor: Andrew Donson. May 2020. Abstract: My dissertation examines the everyday life and work of East Germans and their families sent to Mozambique between 1979 and 1990. I investigate the issues of state and individual solidarity and the interactions within the development projects. Since the GDR did not see itself as a colonial power or an heir to Germany's colonial past, it acquitted itself of the charge of being exploitative in its foreign policy. From its perspective, it stood side by side in “solidarity” (Solidarität) with its “brother states” (Bruderstaaten)throughout the developing world. My research shows that the GDR never achieved this ideological goal in Mozambique. While the GDR proclaimed solidarity when starting the projects, they still tried to exploit natural resources in Africa and acted like a post-colonial power. Despite official ideology, the East Germans who went to Africa could not escape the civilizing mission that assumed cultural superiority, however socialist the mission may have been. In my dissertation, I ask how the development mission came about; how the East Germans interacted with the Mozambicans; how their relationships were represented in GDR newspapers and journals; how political ideology shaped the substance of the collaborations; and how the East Germans remembered their work.


Barthold, Willi Wolfgang. Zeitschrift, Text und Bild: Der bürgerliche Realismus im Kontext der visuellen Massenmedien des 19. Jahrhunderts. Georgetown University, German Department. Advisor: Dr. Peter C. Pfeiffer. February 2020. Abstract: The dissertation focuses on German realist literature of the late nineteenth-century and its interplay with the visual and media culture of its time. By analyzing realist texts in their original, serialized mode of publication and within the context of an emerging popular culture of visual stimulation, this study shows how this literature was shaped by its contextualization within illustrated journals as “mass media” and developed self-reflective, poetological, and epistemological discourses that explored changing notions of reality. Close-readings of works by Wilhelm Raabe, Theodor Fontane, Balduin Möllhausen, and Marie von Ebner-Eschenbach demonstrate that realist literature grappled with transforming ways of storytelling in an increasingly image-dominated society, the mechanisms of creating “truth” in mass media communication, as well as notions of gender and foreignness in a modernized and globalized media-cultural context. This research thus bridges the gap between scholarly arguments that, on the one hand, focus on the importance of journals as publication media of realist texts and those that, on the other hand, focus on literary realism’s interplay with the visual, by suggesting that only a combination of methods from both fields can lead to a thorough understanding of the epistemological inquiries that shape these texts.


Borham, Holly. The Art of Confessionalism: Picturing Lutheran, Reformed, and Catholic Faith in Northwest Germany, 1580-1620. Princeton University, Department of Art and Archaeology. Advisor: Thomas DaCosta Kaufmann. May 2019. Abstract: This dissertation investigates the status of religious imagery in Lutheran, Reformed, and Catholic contexts in the decades prior to the Thirty Years' War by investigating artworks commissioned for three neighboring Westphalian nobles: the Reformed Count Simon VI of Lippe at Schloss Brake in Lemgo, the Lutheran Prince Ernst of Holstein-Schaumburg in Bückeburg, and the Catholic Prince-Bishop Dietrich von Fürstenberg of Paderborn. In addition to sharing some of the same artists, who often drew from common print sources, the ties connecting these patrons included shared borders, mutual defense pacts, marriages, and friendships. Relying on such sources as diaries, contracts, inventories, and textual marginalia, along with church ordinances, sermons, and colloquy proceedings, this dissertation lays out the close relationships that existed between these three patrons of different religious confessions, reconstructs the history of their artistic commissions, yields insights into their stylistic and iconographic choices, and establishes each artistic project in its larger cultural and confessional context. This dissertation ultimately argues that confessional self-fashioning involves factors beyond theological conviction. The desire to be represented in a “princely manner” comparable with one's peers is transconfessional, leading to a re-evaluation of what defines Lutheran, Reformed, and Catholic art at the turn of the seventeenth century.


Brier, Jessica D. Typophoto and the Reinvention of Photography in Weimar Germany. University of Southern California, Department of Art History. Advisor: Megan R. Luke. May 2020. Abstract: Coined in 1925 by Hungarian artist, designer, and theorist László MoholyNagy, the term Typophoto denoted the synthesis of typography and photography in modern visual communication. Typophoto was foundational for German typographer Jan Tschichold’s doctrine of New Typography, which promoted the combination of sans serif typefaces and photographic illustrations to optimize the legibility of graphic design. In practice, Typophoto signified the material hybridity of the photographic halftone, a process which turned photographic images into grids of printed dots and appear as coherent images through optical illusion. Though it was introduced in the late nineteenth century, the halftone remained an object of conceptual and visual interest for graphic designers well into the twentieth century. The network of Central European graphic designers known as the New Typographers recognized the halftone as a tool of montage and used it to experiment with the relationships between word and image, color and space, representation and abstraction in commercial graphics. This dissertation traces a genealogy of Typophoto between 1923 and 1933 through New Typography’s heterogeneous experiments with photography as material, form, and concept. Photography was thoroughly reinvented through offset printing, retouching, methods of perceptual psychology, and as a potent metaphor for the aspirations of modernist graphic designers.


Cao, Jan. Transplanting Languages: Botanical Poetics of Paul Celan and Yoko Tawada. Northwestern University. Advisor: Anna Parkinson. December 2020. Abstract: Reflecting on and engaging with the intricate dynamics of vegetative life, Paul Celan and Yoko Tawada address issues such as uprootedness, displacement, and the transplantation of language with what I call “plant writing.” Tawada’s plant writing is a process that turns words into word-leaves [“kotoba”], which constantly metamorphose into different meanings, sounds, and shapes according to its temporal, spatial, or linguistic context. Celan’s plant writing, especially his attempted conversations with plants, becomes a way to address his “placelessness” as a migrant who had never been granted a home, and his “timelessness” as a Holocaust survivor who has been robbed of his personal time in history. Their concern with plant life not only touch upon certain fundamental ontological and hermeneutical questions, but also offers them a refuge in language from language that has become simultaneously abusive and abused. The two authors form a dialogue by each imagining a new language that helps those who are no longer at home with their “mother tongue” to relocate themselves in a delirious, post-disaster world.


Carls, Paul. Political conflict as moral conflict : multiculturalism and the nation in Germany (2015- 2017). Université de Montréal, Political Science Department. Advisors: Laurence McFalls and Marcel Fournier. March 2020. Abstract: This dissertation studies political conflict in Germany around the issues of multiculturalism, immigration, and national identity in the wake of the Refugee Crisis. It uses Émile Durkheim’s notion of the moral fact, a set of moral ideas, truths, obligations, and judgments, to develop a theory of moral conflict that explains the motivations of political actors across German society. It identifies four moral ideals, or ideal visions of the German community: the ideal of non-domination; the ideal of Verfassungspatriotismus; the ideal of the (ethno)cultural nation; and the ideal of the biological nation. At the heart of each moral ideal is a sacred object, either a concept of human dignity or the nation, leading to moral prescriptions related to immigration, multiculturalism, and diversity. These sacred objects and moral prescriptions are mutually profanatory to each other, driving conflict. Actors in the conflicts involved the Autonomen, the German state, the right-wing populist AfD, and other elements of the German far-right. The instances of conflict between participants are understood as interaction rituals that create sui generis collective energy that induces and reinforces emotional attachments individuals have towards the moral fact.


Chiedozie Michael Uhuegbu. Borders, Belonging and Otherness in African-German literature. Vanderbilt University, German, Russian, and East European Studies. Advisor: Christoph Zeller. March 2021. Abstract: My dissertation focuses on how African and German authors depict migration experience. I examine how Jenny Erpenbeck’s Gehen, ging, gegangen (2015), Nura Abdi’s Tränen im Sand (2013), Luc Degla’s Das afrikanische Auge (2006), and Chima Oji’s Unter die Deutschen gefallen: Erfahrungen eines Afrikaners (1992) describe migration experiences. Migration literature has gained attention among scholars of different fields; however, close readings are rare and do not cover the autobiographical and fictional works that are at the center of this dissertation. Although scholars have begun to focus on Afro-German in recent years, the African diaspora is not yet to be covered by scholarship. This dissertation aims to be a groundbreaking study that discusses African-German migration literature. It combines texts from authors of German and African descent to foreground questions of borders, belonging, marginality and cultural difference that emerge from Africans’ migration to Germany. Thus, this study argues that for these literary texts, migration comes with its own cultural dislocation and translocation perceived in the larger contexts of industrialization and globalization and accentuates the quest for home, belonging, and contested identity composition.


Dämon, Hanja. The German film industry under American and British control: 1945-1949. King’s College London, German Department. Advisors: Erica Carter and Lara Feigel. November 2019. Abstract: This thesis analyses the reactivation of the German film industry between 1945 and 1949 in the British and US Zones of occupation. Film was at this time not only perceived as culturally and economically relevant, but also considered a means to potentially impart certain messages to audiences, and therefore deemed an important medium that required supervision especially in the first years after the war. As all German film production was subjected to Allied control, the thesis explores how British and US guidelines and regulations – notably the pre-censorship of film scripts at the beginning of the occupation – shaped individual projects after 1945. My focus on the two zones serves to analyse similarities and differences in British and US approaches to reestablishing the German film industry, making use of archival material. My research particularly emphasises that the British were not merely following the US-American lead, as has previously sometimes been suggested.


Digruber, Sandra. The Co-Construction of Knowledge in Foreign Language Teacher–Student Classroom Interactions. Georgetown University, German Department. Advisor: Marianna Ryshina-Pankova. August 2018. Abstract: Interactions between instructors and students in the foreign language (FL) classroom have been researched from various angles. However, an in-depth semantic perspective is rarely adopted. This study investigates how instructors support the co-construction of both language and content knowledge through interactions with students in a German FL class. Systemic functional linguistics (SFL), specifically the concepts of SPEECH FUNCTIONS, MOOD, CLAUSE COMPLEX, and TRANSITIVITY, inform the qualitative analysis of discourse semantics and lexicogrammar in transcribed classroom observations. The analysis of SPEECH FUNCTIONS reveals that the discourse semantic moves of registering, elaborating, and extending can be particularly effective in the elicitation of knowledge. The MOOD analysis shows that questions are usually congruently realized as wh- and polar interrogatives. Instructors use less projection in their CLAUSE COMPLEXES than learners, who tend to support their statements through quotes. The TRANSITIVITY analysis demonstrates the instructors’ individual differences and their flexibility in word choices. Overall, this research suggests a stronger focus on the effect of different discourse semantic moves and their linguistic realizations in teacher training and pedagogical practices for fostering more productive classroom communications.


Egen, Christoph. What is disability? Devaluation and exclusion of people with disabilities from the Middle Ages to postmodernism. Leibniz University of Hanover. Advisors: Bettina Lindmeier, Christoph Gutenbrunner, and Hans-Peter Waldhoff. 2019. Abstract: The concept of disability does not adequately reflect human diversity, but conveys the image of a seemingly homogeneous group of people, which is symbolically reduced to the pictogram of the wheelchair user. Christoph Egen looks at the questions of what "disability" is in the first place and how the social view of people with functional disabilities has changed from the Middle Ages to the present day. In doing so, he draws on the process sociology of Norbert Elias to investigate the processes of devaluation and exclusion of people – and thus makes a valuable contribution to the interdisciplinary technical discussion.


Gindner, Jette. Capitalist Crisis and Radical Political Imagination in German Literature and Cinema After 1989. Cornell University, Department of German Studies. Advisors: Leslie A. Adelson and Paul Fleming. August 2019. Abstract: “New Realisms” examines three moments of manifest economic crisis: East Germany after 1989, the Financial Crisis of 2008, and the contemporary labor market. Employing what I term a formalist materialism, critically differentiated from Caroline Levine’s Forms, this project explores how new literary and cinematic realisms mediate structures of economic crisis in aesthetic form. In contrast to recent scholarship, which casts new realisms as a response to the virtualization of everyday experience by social media, I argue that a renewed turn to realism in German literature and film is motivated by economic crises and can be understood as the artistic apprehension of transnationalism, financialization, and racialized-gendered precarity in cultural form. In contrast to discourse analyses of crisis in the work of Joseph Vogl, “New Realisms” foregrounds the epistemological value of art and the ways in which literature and cinema theorize economic-social life through formal strategies.


Girßmann, Imke. Capital centre as a place of national culture of remembrance? The Berlin Monuments to Freedom and Unity and to homosexuals persecuted in National Socialism. Carl von Ossietzky Universität Oldenburg. 2020. Abstract: Since the 1990s, a large number of places of remembrance and remembrance have been initiated in the new government quarter in Berlin. In the process, battles over interpretations and spaces shaped the processes time and again. Imke Girßmann takes a closer look at two current, but at first very contrasting, monument projects in her foray through the symbolically charged centre of the capital: the Monument to Freedom and Unity and the Monument to the Homosexuals Persecuted in National Socialism. Detailed analyses of the discourses and practices of the actors involved reveal surprising interdependencies that reveal a desire for the establishment of community and nation.


Gröner, Anke. "Ziehet die Bahn durch deutsches Land." Gemälde zur Reichsautobahn von Carl Theodor Protzen (1887–1956) im Kontext seines Gesamtwerks. : Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München, Fakultät für Geschichts- und Kunstwissenschaften, Germany. Advisor: Christian Fuhrmeister. November 2020. Abstract: During National Socialism, the fine arts did not offer anything new – with the exception of one subject: the “Reichsautobahn”. Construction on the so-called “Streets of the Führer” started 1933, and already very early on, artists were asked to depict these new “Pyramids of the Third Reich”. One of those painters was Carl Theodor Protzen whose life and work – as well as the “Autobahnmalerei” in general – had not been researched in any notable manner. This dissertation positions paintings and painters of the Reichsautobahn in the overall context of art production in the “Third Reich”. It concludes that the output was numerically rather small and not particularly important despite having been presented in dedicated exhibitions and in the Große Deutsche Kunstausstellung. The paintings were sold to the Nazi Party or the industry that worked on the Autobahn, but not to private collectors; most artists working on the subject are forgotten today. This thesis is the first in-depth research into the subject of Autobahnmalerei and will hopefully serve as launchpad for further investigations.


Guarnaschelli, Dean J. Lothar Günther Buchheim's Das Boot: Memory and the Nazi Past. St. John’s University, Department of World History. Advisors: Dolores L. Augustine, Mauricio Borrero, and Konrad Tuchscherer. July 2020. Abstract: This study investigates the relationship between Lothar-Günther Buchheim (1918-2007), his bestselling 1973 novel Das Boot (The Boat), and West Germany’s Vergangenheitsbewältigung. As a war reporter during the Battle of the Atlantic, Buchheim benefitted from distinct privileges, yet he was never in a position of power. Thirty years later Buchheim confronted his own past and railed against what he perceived to be a varnished public memory of the submarine campaign. Michael Rothberg’s theory of the implicated beneficiary is used as a lens to view Buchheim and this duality. Das Boot has been retold by others worldwide because many people claim that the story bears an anti-war message. Wolfgang Petersen’s critically acclaimed 1981 film and interpretations as a comedy sketch, a live stage play and a streamed television sequel have followed. This trajectory of Buchheim’s personal memory reflects a process that practitioners of memory studies have described as transnational memory formation. Archival footage, interviews, and teaching materials reflect the relevance of Das Boot since its debut. Given the debates that surrounded Buchheim’s endeavors, the question now raised is whether Germany’s “mastering the past” serves as a model for other societies analyzing their own histories.


Halpern, Sara. Saving the Unwanted: The International Response to Shanghai’s Jewish Refugees, 1943-1949. Ohio State University, Department of History. Advisor: Robin Judd. October 2020. Abstract: The dissertation places the Holocaust survival of 15,000 European Jewish refugees in Shanghai into the global history of World War II and its aftermath. Given that institutional archives in Australia, Europe, Israel, and North America maintained voluminous correspondences between government and United Nations officials and Jewish organizations concerning this group in Shanghai, the dissertation rethinks the Holocaust and Jewish history and historiography in global context rather than regional or national. The sources reveal that resurging nationalism and racism curtailed opportunities for relief and emigration for Shanghai’s Jewish refugees. Thus, the dissertation argues that Shanghai’s Jewish refugees symbolized the unwanted human spoils of Western imperialism during China’s treaty port era. Neither China nor Western Powers desired to take full humanitarian responsibility for the Jewish refugees’ well-being in the aftermath of extreme nationalism and racism, including antisemitism.


Herschman, Rachel Elizabeth. : Kasper’s Theater: Avant-Garde and Propaganda Puppetry in Early Twentieth-Century Germany. University of Washington, Seattle, Department of Germanics. Advisor: Eric Ames. November 2018. Abstract: Kasper’s Theater: Avant-Garde and Propaganda Puppetry in Early Twentieth-Century Germany is a research-driven study of how and why artists turned to puppetry during the Weimar Republic and the Third Reich. Organized chronologically, the project examines the different ways a puppet could be both an icon of rebellious resistance and a vehicle for manipulation and control—and why it matters. Kasper, the tramp-like everyman trickster cousin of Punch, is a central character, but this study follows other puppets, too, and brings together a range of works by canonical, lesser-studied, and newly rediscovered artists. More than just a history of puppetry, Kasper’s Theater argues that puppets blur the line between life and art and offers a new view of German cultural and political history.


Hirstein, Mario. Gewalt und Spiele in den Filmen Michael Hanekes. University of Waterloo, Canada & Universität Mannheim, Deutschland. Advisors: Alice Kuzniar, Waterloo and Justus Fetscher, Mannheim. December 2019. Abstract: This dissertation shows how Michael Haneke’s films expose the ludic qualities of today’s most common forms of violence. Time and again, the protagonists of Haneke’s films play violent games or are forced to play against their will, suffering in the process. Guilt and childhood, the virtualizing effects of games and videos and the modern media landscape, ritual sacrifice, ironic employment of a “dark pedagogy” and, most importantly, the ubiquity of game structures in the neoliberal present, are at the center of these games. While play and violence are intertwined in many ways, it is especially the meta-game of economics which conjoins both concepts. The structural violence that is inscribed in the global financial game is revealed throughout Haneke’s oeuvre, often through underprivileged “players” who are rejected from participating. Haneke’s involvement of the audience in meta-diegetic mind games (Elsaesser) is crucial for understanding cultural and economic violence as a constant in our daily lives.


Jangam, Urvi. Eine Ästhetik des Nicht-Visuellen. University of Mumbai, Department of German. Advisors: Vibha Surana Department German, university of Mumbai (Erste Betreuerin), Andrea Bogner Interkultureller Germanistik Georg-August-Universität Göttingen. September 2019. Abstract: Die vorliegende Studie von mir als geburtsblinde Forscherin postuliert anhand der indischen Ästhetik des rasa (ästhetischer Genuss) eine eigenständige nicht-visuelle Ästhetik, die ihre Wurzeln vor allem in den vier Sinnen hat und eine neue Art des rasa, d. h. den nicht-visuellen ästhetischen Genuss (adrishya rasa) anbietet. Sie erörtert diese nicht-visuelle Ästhetik im Rahmen zweier grundlegender, wenig untersuchter Bereiche, nämlich der ästhetischen Wahrnehmung der Blinden und der literarischen Texte blinder Autor*innen. Ausgewählt wurden hierfür Reisetexte, Gedichte und Kurzprosa. Der indische ästhetische Rasa-Ansatz musste jedoch um eine neue Art des ästhetischen Erlebens erweitert werden, nämlich die des nichtvisuellen, um den Texten der blinden Autor*innen gerecht werden zu können. Die kritische und kontrastive Auseinandersetzung mit Texten von Geburtsblinden und Späterblindeten Schriftstellern deutet auf eine alternative Ästhetik hin, die so bisher kaum konzipiert wurde. Die unterschiedlichen Nuancen der nicht-visuellen Wahrnehmung werden in der Farbwahrnehmung, Raumwahrnehmung, nicht-visuellen Ästhetik in der Sprache, sowie Entstehung der Bilder dargestellt.


Kick, Verena. Negotiating the German Public Sphere: Workers, Soldiers, and Women in Photobooks of Weimar Germany. University of Washington, Germanics. Advisor: Sabine Wilke. June 2019. Abstract: This dissertation focuses on the intersection of non-fiction writing and visual culture, specifically on the montage of texts and photos as an approach to examine the changing public sphere in Weimar Germany. “Negotiating the German Public Sphere: Workers, Soldiers, and Women in Photobooks of Weimar Germany” shows how photobooks employ montage strategies associated both with 1920s Soviet Cinema and Walter Benjamin’s concepts of montage and experience to specifically address workers, soldiers, and women. An analysis of Walter Benjamin’s Einbahnstraße (1928), Kurt Tucholsky’s and John Heartfield’s Deutschland, Deutschland über Alles (1929) and Ernst Friedrich’s two volumes of Krieg dem Kriege! (1924/1926) reveals how these photobooks offer an alternative to the biased portrayals of these social groups in Weimar Germany’s mass media. At the same time, particularly Tucholsky, Heartfield and Friedrich demonstrate to these groups, as the intended readers of their publications, the possibility of creating an effective consciousness to combat impending fascism. This work engages with the larger discussion of the representation of social classes in German literature and media, and it furthermore contributes to the scholarship on photobooks by elucidating previously uninvestigated uses of photographs and montage strategies.


Kintzinger, Stowe. Civilian Power Status Questioned: The Curious Case of Post-Unification German Foreign Policy Toward Iran. Durham University, School of Government and International Affairs. Advisor: Ruth Wittlinger. January 2020. Abstract: By approaching post-unification German foreign policy toward Iran from an original, civilian power perspective, this thesis not only offers a new way of explaining the relationship, but considers for the first time, its wider implications for prevailing understandings of German foreign policy and interest. Despite concern that with unification, Germany would return to rationalist and materialist aims in its foreign policy, instead, the prevailing characterisation remains one of ostensible continuity as a civilian power. Notwithstanding the prevalence of this explanation, existing literature has advanced a fundamental question regarding the extent to which Germany remains a civilian power, or is in fact, pursuing an increasingly normalised approach to foreign policy. Although German foreign policy towards Iran is prominent, it remains greatly under-evaluated, and has never been substantively addressed from any theoretical or analytical perspective, despite appearing to challenge civilian power understandings of Germany’s foreign policy and interest. In approaching Germany’s foreign policy toward Iran from a civilian power perspective, this thesis ultimately demonstrates that contrary to prevailing, civilian power explanations of Germany, its policy in this case is fundamentally explained by economic interests, provided that diplomatic efforts preempt the use of military force by others.


Lampe, Josch. The Marxisms of West Germany's "1968": Remaking a Public Critique through Literary Magazines. University of Texas at Austin, Department of Germanic Studies. Advisor: Katherine Arens. February 2021. Abstract: My dissertation focuses on two of West Germany's preeminent literary magazines—Kursbuch (founded in 1965) and Literaturmagazin (founded in 1973)—and the ways in which they sought to shape and redefine a literary public sphere as a site of cultural and political critique during the long '68, as well as their role in the reevaluation and dissemination of different, global Marxisms. It combines archival research on the editorial correspondence and conceptualization of these respective magazines with a detailed analysis of their content in order to better understand the intellectual event "1968" and its immediate aftermath as part of a larger contested history of publishing practices in West Germany after 1945. My project recoups a set of West German and international voices that have been too often overlooked as viable experiments in Western Marxisms within an international framework, not just as part of West Germany's nation-(re)building and World War II recovery. In other words, these magazines brought to public discussion a broader spectrum of leftist thought. I illustrate how the journals' editorial staffs were assessing West Germany by addressing its weaknesses through the lenses of an inherently international, multilayered, and often incoherent set of Marxist agendas in the making.


Liberles, Ahuva. Believing or Belonging: Religious Conversions, Family Life, and the Jewish Community in late Medieval German Lands. Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Jewish History Department. Advisors: Ephraim Shoham-Steiner and Israel Yuval. December 2020. Abstract: This research project examined three important topics – conversion, family life and the relations within the Jewish community in Regensburg during the period of the regime of Duke Ludwig IX, beginning with the expulsion of Jews from the Bavarian duchy surrounding Regensburg (1450) and until Regensburg's blood libel accusation of 1476. This research consists of three life stories, whose footprints were found in the bavarian archives. They relate to the precarious experience involved in converting to a new religion and changing one’s religious and social identity. Each chapter examines and reconstructs some elements of conversion that lay at the core of the case study in question, using a wide range of legal and archival sources of both Jewish and Christian provenance. The political discussion in each chapter helps trace the specifics of the decline of the Jewish community’s influence in the city, demonstrated by their actions and reactions when a member of their religious minority considered converting to the religion of the ruling society. It illuminates the contesting social aspects of conversion within the broader political, judicial, and social aspects of the Jewish-Christian encounter in the German lands in the final decades of the medieval period.


Luginbill, Sarah. Portable Altars, Devotion, and Memory in German Lands, 1050-1190 CE. University of Colorado Boulder, Department of History. Advisor: Anne E. Lester, Johns Hopkins University. May 2021. Abstract: This dissertation examines the patronage and production of non-fixed altars during the height of the Investiture Conflict and during the period of the early crusades (c.1095-1190), when notions about the role of priests, the Mass, and ecclesiastical ritual were changing in the Holy Roman Empire. Through the analysis of textual references to devotional objects and their meanings in monastic chronicles and charters, this dissertation argues that because of their portable nature, altars, reliquaries, censers, patens, liturgical textiles, and crosses provided a physical conduit for memory and a source of wealth in times of crisis. Additionally, it demonstrates how reliquaries and altars not only preserved the individual and institutional identities of their donors through inscriptions and iconography, but also drew attention to the sacrality of the object itself. In the midst of the Saxon War and ongoing struggles with the Holy Roman Emperor, nobles and clergy in Saxony expressed their piety and asserted their autonomy through devotional object donation and treatment. Surviving portable altars from this region, when studied alongside extant charters and chronicles, provide insight into the centrality of objects to Christian devotion in periods of upheaval.


McKnight, Douglas. Persecution and Resistance: The Carinthian Slovenes and Memories of the Second World War. Georgetown University, German Department. Advisor: Katrin Sieg. November 2020. Abstract: This dissertation traces the evolution and diversification of Carinthian Slovene vernacular memory practices, showing that the trauma of forced assimilation, persecution, deportation, and resistance during the Second World War has produced a hyper-local memory in Austria that challenges Carinthia’s official memory of the Second World War. Relying on John Bodnar’s framework of memory, it examines these various vernacular practices through a cross-media analysis of museums, memorials, civic education initiatives, and literature created by Carinthian Slovene artists and memory activists. Using a variety of methods from various fields, including literary and cultural studies, history, and critical geography, it juxtaposes these various media of memory, showing the advantages and limitations of each, and by doing so, reveals the numerous strategies a historically discriminated against minority has at its disposal for influencing the official memory culture of the state in which it resides. By concentrating on southern Carinthia, it adds a new, regional perspective to studies of postwar Austrian collective memory and shows that the dynamics of collective memory in southern Carinthia continue to remain locally anchored, and thus question Memory Studies’ recent emphasis of transnational memory frameworks, particularly for European memories of the Second World War.


Müller, Matthias. The Loser's Edge: Writing from the Vantage Point of the Vanquished, 1918-1945. Cornell University, Department of German Studies. Advisor: Patrizia C. McBride. December 2020. Abstract: The Loser’s Edge: Writing from the Vantage Point of the Vanquished, 1918–1945, examines how the experience of defeat became a unique source of epistemological insight in literature and historiography between 1918 and the beginning of the Cold War. Taking my cue from historian Reinhart Koselleck’s polemical claim that history may well be made by the victors but is in fact written by the vanquished, I argue that experiences of defeat triggered a singular mode of historical reflection that was substantially marked by aesthetic innovation. In three exemplary case studies–focusing on the German defeats in World War I and World War II, and each staging a dialog between two writers–I show how Koselleck’s anthropological account of history-writing as a reversal of the victor-vanquished dialectic not only provides an unconventional framework for making sense of Germany’s historical role in European modernity. It also captures a striking modernist constellation that linked historiography, storytelling, and future-oriented thinking. The work of storytelling implied by this historiographic model is aesthetic at its very core. It provides trenchant analytical categories for appraising the experiential negotiation of defeat in works by Heinrich and Thomas Mann, Alfred Döblin, and Ernst Jünger.

Müller-Kindler, Kathrin. 1. und 2. Deutsche Architektur- und Kunsthandwerk-Ausstellung im Haus der Deutschen Kunst zu München (1938 und 1938/1939): Dokumentation, Analyse und Kontextualisierung. Ludwig Maximilians-Universität München: Fakultät für Geschichts- und Kunstwissenschaften. Advisors: Christian Fuhrmeister and Wolf Tegethoff. July 2020.  Abstract: Im Zentrum der Arbeit steht die Aufarbeitung der „Deutschen Architektur- und Kunsthandwerk- Ausstellung im Haus der Deutschen Kunst zu München“ 1938 und 1939 im Hinblick auf ihre Organisationsstrukturen, Ausstellungskonzepte und Wirkungsgeschichte wie auch die Einbettung in einen Überblick über die Architekturausstellungen in Deutschland zwischen 1933 und 1945. Besonderes Augenmerk wird hier auf die Ausstellung „Neue Deutsche Baukunst“, eine deutsche Wanderausstellung im europäischen Ausland von 1941- 1943, gelegt. Diese Arbeit trägt dazu bei, das Wissen über die nationalsozialistische Ausstellungspraxis zu vervollständigen und bietet durch die Katalogisierung der Architekturausstellungen zwischen 1934 und 1943 eine profunde Grundlage für weitere Forschungen.


Obermeier, Stephanie. Reluctant Autofictionalists. Early Twenty-First-Century French and German Experiments with the Autofiction Genre. University of Kent, Department of Comparative Literature and Department of Modern Languages. Advisors: Heide Kunzelmann and Lucy O'Meara. December 2020. Abstract: This thesis comprises six case studies of the twenty-first-century French and German autofictional novel by the authors Amélie Nothomb, Felicitas Hoppe, Michel Houellebecq, Thomas Meinecke, Clemens J. Setz, and Anne F. Garréta and Jacques Roubaud. The study is concerned with novels which, although they might not fully conform to the autofiction genre, clearly demonstrate an extreme self-awareness and self-consciousness with regards to their generic status and engage in explicit or implicit dialogue with autofiction and genre theory. Precisely because of autofiction’s surge in popularity, on the one hand, and its fraught and complex reception, on the other, autofiction lends itself as a genre through which contemporary authors may explore newer developments in novelistic genres and contemporary forms of (firstperson) storytelling more broadly. While they make use of complex associative narrative structures in order to subvert the autofictional character’s authority and the reader’s expectations, these novels are not, however, representative of a new genre or literary era, even though the more experimental texts in the latter half of this study gesture toward potential future innovation, as influenced by models of digital textuality.


Peters, Meindert E. Re-Inhabiting Modernism: Embodied Cognition in German Literature and Thought 1910- 1934. University of Oxford, Department of Medieval and Modern Languages. Advisor: Ben Morgan. July 2020. Abstract: This thesis brings five German modernist texts into dialogue with contemporary cognitive studies. In doing so, it opens up a space from which to explore an often-neglected aspect of German modernist texts, namely their exploration of how one can re-situate oneself in unfamiliar environments. Rather than emphasising the alienation and isolation that these texts explore regarding the modern urban environment, this dialogue helps us focus on the more dynamic moments of use, responsiveness, cooperation, and coordination also at the heart of these explorations. At the same time, the modernist period, as a dynamic and often overwhelming time of socio-political and material change and upheaval, also asks us to shift our focus, in contemporary cognitive studies, away from smooth coping, that is, the moments in which things go well and easy. Infusing cognitive studies with the existential questions asked by these texts helps us explore not only the ways in which we react to the socio-material environment’s resistance and frustration of our everyday comportments, but also the ways in which we can come to be responsive to, and re-situate ourselves in, such unfamiliar territory.


Ploschnitzki, Patrick. "Das hätten sie mal richtig übersetzen sollen!" - Folk Myths and Fanscaping in German Dubbing. University of Arizona, Department of German Studies. Advisor: David Gramling. April 2021. Abstract: “Somebody translated it wrong at some point, and then everybody started talking that way.” is one of the many constantly perpetuated folk myths arising around dubbing, i.e., lipsynchronized audiovisual translation. The dissertation investigates this and other assumptions in a German-German context, especially the notion of “wrong translations” that is particularly present in fan-made review platforms of television dubbed into German. Contrasted with interviews with agents of the current German dubbing industry, the dissertation further explores online amateur commentary on canonical episodes of the US-American animated sitcom The Simpsons and the fan-translator relationship in a globalized, networked, enlightened context. Central to his research is the concept of fanscaping: unsolicited lay revisions of professional translations, usually generated on (proprietary) online platforms by enthusiast communities insisting, often inconsistently, on intercultural accuracy and semantic precision over translators’ deliberate, pragmatic compromises.


Quam, Justin. Helping Language Learners Align with Readers Through Narrative: Insights into the Breadth, Targets, and Explicitness of Evaluation from APPRAISAL Studies of L2 German Writers. Georgetown University, German Department. Advisor: Marianna Ryshina-Pankova. August 2020. Abstract: Successful meaning-making through language depends on an awareness of one’s presumed audience. In engaging with that audience, literate language users are characterized by their ability to express individuality, offer opinions, assert affiliation, and reinforce or challenge socially valued concepts through the choice of linguistic tokens appropriate to those interactions. In Systemic Functional Linguistics (SFL; Halliday & Matthiessen, 2013), these uses of language fall under the interpersonal metafunction, which encompasses the language user’s goals and relationship with an intended audience (Eggins, 2004; Halliday, 1984). One key component of interpersonal meaning making is evaluative language, described within the context of SFL by the APPRAISAL system (Martin & White, 2005), which facilitates analysis of evaluation patterns beyond the word or sentence level (Coffin, 2002). This project involved APPRAISAL analyses of two sets of texts written by learners of German at four proficiency levels. Lower-proficiency writers tended to rely more heavily on explicit, narrator-centered evaluations, whereas higher-proficiency writers drew more often on emotion as a vehicle for implicit evaluation and broadened the scope of their evaluations to include valued behaviors and traits. The thesis concludes with potential instructional activities and remarks on the applicability of the current APPRAISAL scheme to narrative analysis.


Resvick, Jessica C. Reading Recognition: The Poetics of Poetic Realism. University of Chicago, Department of Germanic Studies. Advisor: Christopher Wild. May 2019. Abstract: This study examines the motif and operation of recognition in texts by Adalbert Stifter and Gottfried Keller. Combining newer media historical approaches to the period with traditional epistemological concepts, it refigures poetic realism in terms of its relationship to knowledge transmission. In the primary texts considered here, recognition (Aristotelean anagnorisis) frequently transpires through the act of reading (anagnosis). By engaging with chronicles, letters, or epigrams, protagonists come to sudden and occasionally fantastic insights about their obscured familial identities and, more generally, the congruence of their life with art. While the apparent artifice of these scenes seems to put them at odds with the tenets of realism, they in fact reveal the poetics of poetic realism by reflecting the conditions of the narrative’s production and reception. These self-reflexive scenes, ubiquitous in realist texts, at once engender “reality effects” and focus attention on the constructed character of such works. Close readings of canonical narratives, manuscripts, and personal journals demonstrate the media-specific ways these authors construct literary reality and the ways in which intra- and extradiegetic readers gain knowledge, via texts, about this reality. The recognition scene thus emerges as a hallmark of realist poetics and discloses a uniquely realist mode of reading.


Rettig, Noelle. From Aesthetic to Pathology: Reading Literary Case Studies of Melancholy, 1775-1830. Georgetown University, German Department. Advisor: Mary Helen Dupree. August 2019. Abstract: This dissertation contributes to the ongoing discussion of the narrative representation of mental illness in the late-eighteenth and early-nineteenth centuries, at a time when the nascent disciplines of psychology and psychiatry began to come into their own, and the discourses of mind and body were renegotiated under advances in the medical sciences; I attempt, in other words, to examine how mental illness was conceptualized long before diagnoses such as depression, bipolarity, or schizophrenia made their way into mainstream scientific discourse. Even though “melancholy” continued to function during this time period as a blanket term for any number of mental, physical, and spiritual illnesses, thereby connoting a pathological state, it also began to take on a specifically “poetic” meaning, involving the subjective and transitory mood of the modern individual. As a focal point, I have chosen four primary texts: Johann Wolfgang von Goethe’s Die Leiden des jungen Werther (1774), Friedrich Schiller’s Die Räuber (1781), Karl Philipp Moritz’s Anton Reiser (1785-1790), and Georg Büchner’s Lenz (1836) – works which all represent melancholy at the interstices of science and subjectivity, reason and passion. In its entirety, the study investigates how multivalent images of melancholy are deployed in order to individuate characters and their respective psychologies, emotions, and affects.


Rowan-Olive, Caroline. Cultural memory and Vergangenheitsaufarbeitung in Christa Wolf’s prose works: a narratological and cultural studies analysis. University of Reading, Department of Languages and Cultures. Advisors: Dennis Tate and Ute Wölfel. November 2020. Abstract: This thesis examines three important prose works by Christa Wolf: Kindheitsmuster (1976), Kassandra (1983) and Leibhaftig (2002), focusing on Wolf’s treatment of the National Socialist past, including the persistence of National Socialist patterns of thought throughout the lifetime of the German Democratic Republic. A text-focused narratological approach is combined with the broader perspectives offered by cultural memory studies. Both the production contexts and the reception of the texts are explored. Of central concern is the extent to which these texts shift the boundaries between what is remembered and what is forgotten, to include the experience of otherwise excluded social groups. The key discourses explored are the perpetrator-victim configuration, trauma and testimony. Kindheitsmuster combines empathy for German victims with uncompromising insistence on the guilt of Mitläufer/innen. The later texts are gentler on perpetrators, though the trauma discourse is sustained. The witness discourse is most prominent in Kassandra, which also universalises the search for causes of war through the use of myth. In Leibhaftig, the focus shifts from the body politic to the individual female body. All three texts shift the boundaries of cultural memory towards the inclusion of the experience of less powerful social groups, particularly women.


Seale, Joshua. Between Austria and Germany, Heimat and Zuhause: German-Speaking Refugees and the Politics of Memory in Austria. Georgetown University, German Department. Advisor: Friederike Eigler. August 2020. Abstract: This dissertation explores the memory of postwar German-speaking refugees in Austria through an analysis of diverse media, cultural practices, and their reception. Part I examines postwar memorials and their reception in newspapers, as well as the role of pilgrimage, religious ritual, and public responses of defacement. Part II focuses on post-Waldheim literature and its reception, specifically examining the literary genres of novels and travelogues describing German-speaking refugees’ trips to their former homes. Identifying a gap between the vast cultural memory of German-speaking refugees on the one hand, and the dearth of scholarship dealing with the subject on the other, I argue that it is time for these memories to be taken seriously and not be dismissed as uncritical or otherwise problematic representations of the past. At the same time, however, they cannot be accepted as-is without placing them in the proper historical context. Consequently, an analysis of narrative strategies and the role of memory in making the past present is timely and important.


Shacham-Rosby, Chana. Elijah the Prophet in Medieval Franco-German (Ashkenazi) Jewish Culture. Ben Gurion University of the Negev, Department of Jewish History. Advisor: Ephraim Shoham-Steiner. May 2020. Abstract: This study focuses on the figure of the biblical prophet Elijah in the context of Jewish culture during the high middle ages. The study begins with an overview of Elijah's character in Jewish and Christian sources. Following is an examination of three arenas where Elijah is prominently featured: Eschatology, Circumcision and Passover Seder. The study discusses how the construction of Elijah's character and roles reflects how these Jewish communities perceived themselves within their historical setting. The study also introduces an innovative approach to understanding the mechanisms of how knowledge was transmitted between different strata of society, as well as between Jews and Christians living in the medieval urban setting.


Sieg Barthold, Emily. The Thirty Years’ War as Unifying Heritage: Historical Fiction, Ecumenism, and German Nation-Building (1871-1920). Georgetown University, German Department. Advisor: Mary Helen Dupree. April 2019. Abstract: To investigate how literary narratives of the Thirty Years’ War reinterpreted this conflict as unifying heritage for German Protestants and Catholics, this dissertation presents the results of a survey of 34 historical novels published between 1871 and 1920. Given the salience of confession in the popular imagination of the Thirty Years’ War, this study explores how literary portrayals reflect Imperial German understandings of what it meant to be German and whether this “Germanness” was contingent upon confession. Despite the diversity of modes of historical and political thought during this period, this study argues that historical fiction of the Thirty Years’ War: (1) masks contemporary concerns in historical imaginings in order to comment on national unity, ecumenical reconciliation, and/or women’s and Jewish (anti-)emancipation; (2) recast power politics and greed, rather than religion, as the driving force behind catastrophic war in order to present the collective trauma of 1618-1648 as both the crucible of German national identity and a warning against the peril of internal German division; and (3) in a majority of cases portray German national identity as compatible with the Protestant as well as Catholic confessions, and in a minority of cases with Jewish and other religious identities.


Thompson, Peter. Synthesizing the chemical subject: Poison gas, gas masks, and collective armoring in Germany, 1915-1938. University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. Advisor: Peter Fritzsche. February 2021. Abstract: At the broadest level, “Synthesizing the Chemical Subject” argues that the gas mask proved to exacerbate fears of possible chemical warfare among Germans in the 1920s and 30s. As a technological object imbued with pervasive anxiety about political, social, and environmental instability, the gas mask was a ubiquitous presence in interwar German society. Not only did daily encounters with the mask visibly present the possibility of aero-chemical attack, but the object itself became a symbol of the very nature of German futurity. The project narrates the contestations over this vision of a "chemically-minded" future and the ways in which scientific calls for gas mask distribution aligned with the Nazis’ appeal to a protected and disciplined Third Reich that extended into each German household. By revealing the ways in which a seemingly protective 20th century technology maintained its own violent politics and existed within a perversely self-justifying technological order, the project underscores the ways in which technological objects have historically impacted perceptions of both national community and environmental risk.


Uca, Didem. Coming of Age on the Move: Young Travelers, Migrants, and Refugees in 20th- and 21stCentury Literature in German. University of Pennsylvania, Department of Germanic Languages and Literatures. Advisor: Catriona MacLeod. June 2019. Abstract: This dissertation analyzes texts by eight twentieth- and twenty-first-century transnational, multilingual, and hyphenated authors–– Franz Kafka, Irmgard Keun, Elias Canetti, Emine Sevgi Özdamar, Vladimir Vertlib, Yoko Tawada, Selim Özdoğan, and Saša Stanišić––whose young protagonists travel, migrate, and seek refuge due to different sociohistorical, political, and familial factors. Their child and adolescent protagonists must learn to negotiate various national, cultural, and linguistic contexts while facing intersecting forms of marginalization on the basis of factors such as race, religion, gender, sexuality, age, nationality, and linguistic background. As the protagonists come of age, they begin to find their voices, affecting both their engagement with their storyworlds and the narration of their stories. The dissertation makes two significant interventions. First, this is the only extended study of transnational German literature to consider age alongside other intersecting components of identity. Second, by combining sociocultural and narratological methods, the study develops an analytical framework to address issues of identity, politics, aesthetics, and form. By featuring young protagonists coming of age amidst literal, linguistic, and figurative border crossings, these texts play on, reimagine, and burst open tropes of the traditional Bildungsroman genre and thus constitute a newly theorized subgenre: the modern transnational Bildungsroman in German.


Von Holt, Isabel. Figurationen des bösen im barocken Trauerspiel. Freie Universität Berlin, Fachbereich Philosophie und Geisteswissenschaften, Institut für Deutsche und Niederländische Philologie. Advisors: Peter-André Alt and Hans Richard Brittnacher. September 2019. Abstract: The study “Figurationen des Bösen im barocken Trauerspiel” deepens the understanding of 17th century literary and cultural production by reassessing the dramatic writing from authors such as Andreas Gryphius and Daniel Casper von Lohenstein as an aesthetics of evil avant la lettre. The dissertation argues that by locating evil inside its human protagonists, these plays respond to and were shaped by an anthropological shift from malus to malum in the early modern episteme, anticipating an internalization or even psychologization of evil, which until now has been claimed only for the 18th century onward. This research intervenes in the continuous discussion that considers aesthetics of evil to be a particularly modern phenomenon by presenting an early modern perspective. It thus revises the situation of the Baroque at the threshold between the premodern and modern periods.


Watroba, Karolina. "Der Zauberberg" and the Pleasures of Immersive Reading. University of Oxford, Faculty of Medieval and Modern Languages. Advisor: Ben Morgan. September 2019. Abstract: This is the first study of Thomas Mann's "Der Zauberberg" ("The Magic Mountain", 1924) written from the perspective of its non-academic readers. I discuss hundreds of records of reading experiences - preserved in parentheses and asides and between the lines of traditional academic studies, on Internet fora and blogs, in reviews, essays and memoirs, marketing brochures from Davos and advertizing copy used to sell the novel, Mann's fan mail and his replies to it, and in books and films, whether popular, famous or half-forgotten. The reading records that I have brought together span the century since the novel’s publication, as well as numerous languages and several continents, and testify to an energetic confrontation with "Der Zauberberg" outside the ivory tower of academia. Using the common metaphor of immersion in a book, I discuss different examples of how and why non-academic readers have engaged with the novel and what it has meant to them, and what academic readers have missed by not attending to this wealth of untapped material.


Wangensteen, Kjell. Hyperborean Baroque: David Klöcker Ehrenstrahl (1628-98) and the Rhetoric of Style. Princeton University, Department of Art & Archaeology. Advisor: Thomas DaCosta Kaufmann. June 2019. Abstract: This dissertation examines the transformation of painting style and practice effected by the Swedish court painter David Klöcker Ehrenstrahl (1628–98). A native of Hamburg, Ehrenstrahl spent several years studying and working in various cities across Europe before rising to prominence in Sweden in the decades following the Thirty Years War. Much in demand by aristocratic clients, he primarily served two royal patrons during his long and distinguished career: Dowager Queen Hedwig Eleonora and her son, King Karl XI, who enlisted Ehrenstrahl’s talents for a series of ambitious cultural projects when the kingdom was at the height of its wealth and power. Though steeped in a variety of contemporary artistic models, ranging from Dutch still-life to English portraiture and High Roman Baroque allegory, Ehrenstrahl refused to confine himself to one particular genre or mode of painting following his arrival in Sweden. Rather, he appropriated, adapted, and synthesized various motifs and styles to suit many purposes, including his own advancement at court. While this dissertation comprises a monograph on Ehrenstrahl, its fundamental argument is a methodological one that predicates artistic “style” as a set of conscious decisions often made in service to practical and political aims, not just aesthetic ones.


Winters, Melissa K. From the Wartburg to Nuremberg: Richard Wagner, the Middle High German Blütezeit, and Early Modernity. University of California, Berkeley, German and Medieval Studies. Advisor: Elaine C. Tennant. December 2020. Abstract: The composer Richard Wagner was an avid reader of pre-modern literature and scholarly studies of the Middle Ages and the Reformation era; nearly all of his mature operas reflect this lifelong interest. This dissertation examines his reception of the Middle High German courtly literary tradition and its after-echoes in Early New High German textual culture in two of his operas, Tannhäuser (1845) and Die Meistersinger (1868), situating these works within broad trends and developments that took place within the field of Germanic philology in the 1800s. Paying particular attention to the reciprocal influence between scholarship and the fine arts during this era, it considers both the libretti and scores of Tannhäuser and Die Meistersinger in light of what nineteenth-century philologists had to say about both minnesong and mastersong. It argues that whereas Tannhäuser represents an experimental stage in Wagner’s medievalism, one that incorporates a number of ideas Wagner had encountered in his early explorations of Germanic philology, some of which are not wholly intellectually compatible, Die Meistersinger demonstrates a remarkably nuanced understanding of the differences between thirteenth- and sixteenth-century poetic idiom and style, which Wagner underscores by the strategic use of musical archaism.