dissertations in german studies 2018

Bangor, Kaleigh. Tintenterror: Joseph Roth’s Analysis of Documenting and Policing Individuals 1919-1939. Vanderbilt University, Department of German, Russian and East European Studies. Meike Werner. August 2018. Abstract:

After the end of what would eventually be known as the First World War, the Russian, Ottoman, Austro-Hungarian, and German empires rapidly collapsed along with the legitimacy of their governmental and social structures. The same institutions that served to stabilize society became the subject of open contention. Among the dissenting voices was Joseph Roth, who experienced and commented on various states’ attempts to document and police individuals, in particular, refugees, Jews, and ethnic minorities. In the pages of prestigious newspapers, Roth analyzed these state limitations to individual freedoms in Austria, Germany, France, Poland, Russia, Albania, Yugoslavia, and Italy. This study traces Roth’s criticism of increased bureaucratic procedures and policing from 1919 to his death in 1939. It adds to the literary analysis of Roth’s oeuvre by investigating his entire journalistic work to give a comparative view of Roth’s critical foresight regarding bureaucratic and police officials as potential totalitarian elements of state government.

Bates, Nathan Jensen. Mind-Crafting: Anticipatory Critique of Transhumanist Mind-Uploading in German High Modernist Novels. University of Washington, Department of Germanics. Advisor: Richard Block. June 2018. Abstract:

This dissertation explores the question of how German modernist novels anticipate and critique the transhumanist theory of mind-uploading in an attempt to avert binary thinking. German modernist novels simulate the mind and expose the indistinct limits of that simulation. Simulation is understood in this study as defined by Jean Baudrillard in Simulacra and Simulation. The novels discussed in this work include Thomas Mann’s Der Zauberberg; Hermann Broch’s Die Schlafwandler; Alfred Döblin’s Berlin Alexanderplatz: Die Geschichte von Franz Biberkopf; in the conclusion, Irmgard Keun’s Das Kunstseidene Mädchen is offered as a field of future inquiry. These primary sources disclose at least three aspects of the mind that are resistant to discrete articulation; that is, the uploading or extraction of the mind into a foreign context. The aspects resistant to uploading are defined as situatedness, plurality, and adaptability to ambiguity. Each of these aspects relates to one of the three steps of mind-uploading summarized in Nick Bostrom’s treatment of the subject. It is argued that the location of fictional minds in the novel has a flattening effect, but it is this flattening effect which simultaneously discloses the mind’s resistance to two-dimensionality.

Bloch, Brandon. Faith for This World: Protestantism and the Reconstruction of Constitutional Democracy in Germany, 1933-1968. Harvard University, Department of History. Advisor: Peter Gordon. May 2018. Abstract:

This dissertation analyzes the political thought and public engagement of a generation of German Protestant intellectuals and politicians in the two decades after 1945. Following individuals who entered professional life during the Weimar Republic, coalesced around oppositional networks under National Socialism, and participated in postwar West German politics as jurists, parliamentarians, publicists, and church leaders, I examine a transformation that facilitated the consolidation of West German democracy on the ruins of Nazi dictatorship. Whereas the interwar Protestant churches harbored among the most vocal critics of Weimar parliamentary democracy, Protestant thinkers after 1945 emerged as leading defenders of the West German constitution. I argue that this shift reflected not simply an adaptation to postwar realities, but novel organizational forms and ideological commitments developed in reaction to the perceived failures of the churches during National Socialism. Protestant political actors articulated a vocal challenge to both left-wing secularists and Catholic conservatives to shape West German constitutional law around questions of individual freedom, the scope of state authority, and German historical responsibility.

Borghardt, Dennis. An- und abstoßende Naturen. Zur Mechanik, Ästhetik und Poetik in der Antikenrezeption der Frühen Neuzeit. Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster, Germanistik. Advisor: Eric Achermann. December 2018. Abstract:

In der Entwicklung der Poetiken des 18. Jahrhunderts zur gemeinhin als ‚klassisch‘ bezeichneten Kunstauffassung der Goethezeit finden sich Äußerungen zur Geschichte der Kunst neben solchen zu Kraft- und Bewegungsgesetzen. Konzepte von Dichtung und Schönheit werden erläutert durch Begriffe wie Einbildungskraft, Vorstellungsvermögen und dem Schwung der Seele. Dies lenkt den Blick auf die bereits im 17. Jahrhundert entwickelten Naturbegriffe sowie deren Gültigkeit in der Kunst- und Dichtungstheorie. Da in der Frühen Neuzeit als wichtigste Chiffre für poetische Natürlichkeit die Antike verhandelt wird, treffen sich in ihrer Rezeption organologische wie mechanische, empirische wie metaphysische Naturen. Während die metaphysische Natur hier als bevorzugtes Objekt der Forschung gelten kann, fehlt bislang eine entsprechende Darstellung der mechanischen Natur. Das Desiderat besteht umso mehr, als sich zahlreiche Poetiken, Rezensionen und kunsttheoretische Abhandlungen der Aufklärung zugleich antiken Paradigmen und psychomechanischen Begriffen in der Tradition Christian Wolffs und A. G. Baumgartens verpflichten. Hierdurch berühren sich naturphilosophische, ästhetische und poetologische Ebenen. Auf das Verhältnis dieser drei Beschreibungsebenen, mit Fokus auf ‚Kraft‘ und ‚Bewegung‘ als Paradigmen der Antikenrezeption, richtet sich die Untersuchung.

Bowen-Wefuan, Bethany. Reframing Religion: Painting and Secularization in German Realism. The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Department of Germanic and Slavic Languages and Literatures. Advisor: Eric Downing. May 2018. Abstract:

This dissertation examines literary depictions of painting in novels and novellas of German Realism in light of recent theories of modern secularization. While traditional understandings of realism emphasize mimesis and disenchantment as its primary aim, the texts at hand suggest a more complicated relationship between realism and secularization. Indeed, painting as depicted in German Realism often resists secularization by engaging and deploying religious discourse. Framing close readings within theories of secularization by philosopher Charles Taylor and sociologists David Martin and Peter Berger, the four chapters of this dissertation examine Theodor Storm’s Im Schloß (1862), Gottfried Keller’s Der grüne Heinrich (1854/55), Adalbert Stifter’s Nachkommenschaften (1864), and Theodor Fontane’s L’Adultera (1882). These works not only reflect many aspects of secularization, but they do so in good part through their portrayals of painting. As a result, depictions of painting become inseparable from questions of the sacred in ways that fundamentally refigure and enrich our understanding of the secular in German Realism. By examining painting in light of secularization theories, new possibilities emerge for understanding the relationship between realist aesthetics and the sacred.

Bowie, Laura. 1968 in West Berlin: Space, Place, and Identity. University of Edinburgh, School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture. Advisors: Richard Anderson & Tahl Kaminer. July 2018. Abstract:

This thesis is centred on a manifesto created in 1968 by a group of architecture students at West Berlin’s Technische Universität to coincide with an exhibition for the Biannual Berlin Construction Weeks Festival. Aktion 507, as the group named themselves, critiqued the urban planning of the city which they used to exemplify the issues they identified within society and this use of urban planning as a vehicle for wider critique will form a central focus. The methodology places the individual at the centre of the investigation in the use of leaflets, DIY publications, and interviews, supplemented with contemporary texts consulted by the students, and enriched with elements from the cultural sphere. The intention is to form an understanding of the relationship between urban space and political activism and argue that changes in the built environment both impacted the students’ political perspectives and were equally impacted by their critique. The conclusions drawn add nuance and complexity to the 1968 movement and demonstrate its specificity as well as its longevity, and impact on the present.

von Brescius, Moritz. German Science in the Age of Empire: Enterprise, Opportunity and the Schlagintweit Brothers. University of Konstanz, European University Institute. Advisors: Antonella Romano & Jürgen Osterhammel. 2018. Abstract:

This seminal study explores the national, imperial, and indigenous interests at stake in a major survey expedition undertaken by the German Schlagintweit brothers, while in the employ of the East India Company, through South and Central Asia in the 1850s. It argues that German scientists, lacking in this period a formal empire of their own, seized the opportunity presented by other imperial systems to observe, record, collect and loot manuscripts, maps, and museological artefacts that shaped European understandings of the East. Drawing on archival research in three continents, von Brescius vividly explores the dynamics and conflicts of transcultural exploration beyond colonial frontiers in Asia. Analysing the contested careers of these imperial outsiders, he reveals significant changes in the culture of gentlemanly science, the violent negotiation of scientific authority in a transnational arena, and the transition from Humboldtian enquiry to a new disciplinary order. This book offers a new understanding of German science and its role in shaping foreign empires, and provides a revisionist account of the questions of authority and of authenticity in reportage from distant sites.

Browne, Cynthia. Utopic Wastelands: Site-Specific Art and the Re-making of Germany's Ruhr Region. Harvard University, Department of Social Anthropology. Advisor: Steven C. Caton. April 2018. Abstract:

My dissertation examines the role of public art and landscape design as mediators of urban transformation in the context of the Ruhr region's shift from an industrial, polycentric urban conglomeration to a post-industrial Kulturmetropole. In my thesis, I draw upon twenty-eight months of fieldwork undertaken in the Ruhr between 2013-2015, together with writings by theorists in anthropology, art history, political philosophy, and critical urban studies, to chart how the curation of public art became a key modality for cultivating a new post-industrial regional identity in the wake of its ongoing Strukturwandel (process of structural change). With each chapter organized around a discrete geographic site in the Ruhr, the thesis demonstrates how disjunctions between the material conditions and lived experiences of long-standing residents in the Ruhr buttress a contrasting phenomenological orientation and temporal imagination to that of invited artists and curators commissioned by the government to reinvent the Ruhr’s industrial image and identity. Such disjunctions shape both modes of participation within the artistic mediation of the Ruhr’s re-invention as a Kulturmetropole, as well as the forms of public visibility that accompany this strategic aim at regional rebirth.

Butcher, Tom. Sexual Spectra: Biology and Sexual Politics in Europe, 1896–1933. .University of Virginia, History Department. Advisor: Allan Megill. July 2018. Abstract:

In this project, I argue—on the basis of my examination of archival and published writings from philosophers, research biologists, feminists, medical doctors, and homosexual rights activists—that an idea of non-binary biological sex (expressed in the language of sexual intermediacy) was surprisingly widespread in the early twentieth century, particularly in Germany and Austria. These thinkers drew from recent findings in endocrinology to propose that sex ought to be thought of as a spectrum, with an infinite number of positions between “male” and “female” ideal types. In showing the connections between political activism and non-binary conceptions of sex in this period, my work recasts early-twentieth-century biology as a site of surprisingly progressive ideas about sex—ideas that existed in tension with (and were often undermined by) the more traditional conceptions of gender held by many of the figures who appear in my study.

Capani, Jennifer B. An Alter Kampfer at the Forefront of the Holocaust: Otto Ohlendorf Between Careerism and Nazi Fundamentalism. St. John's University, History Department. Advisor: Dolores L. Augustine. January 2018. Abstract:

On April 7th, 1951, Holocaust perpetrator Otto Ohlendorf’s death sentence was carried out according to the ruling of the United States Military Courts in Nuremberg. In The United States vs. Otto Ohlendorf, et al, leaders of the Einsatzgruppen, mobile killing units, were tried for war crimes which led to the deaths of millions of Jews and partisans. Under Ohlendorf’s leadership of Einsatzgruppen D, more than 90,000 people were liquidated in the Ukraine. After this assignment, Ohlendorf resumed his positions head of Domestic Security in the Reich Security Main Office. As the war ended, he surrendered, and revealed the full scope of Einsatzgruppen activity, which eventually led to the second set of Nuremberg Trials. Outside of the Holocaust and the trial, little has been written on Ohlendorf. His academic career and ideology are insufficiently analyzed. This dissertation analyzes Ohlendorf’s life, career, and National Socialist ideology. The key factor in exploring his motivations is to fuse together careerism and ideology through his elite status as an Alter Kämpfer (‘old fighter’) and Nazi party member before 1933. From this designation, Ohlendorf enjoyed privileged employment, promotions, and a high level of trust within the party. Further explored is the placement of Ohlendorf into the historiographical debate, and how his ideology, career, trial, and death connected to his position as an Alter Kämpfer. Ultimately, analyzing the historiography reveals how memory has been fashioned in such ubiquitous topics as World War II, Nazi Germany, and the Holocaust.

Court, Justin. Picture Books and Photo Albums: Visual Memory of the First World War in the Weimar Republic. University of Wisconsin-Madison, Department of German, Nordic, and Slavic. Advisors: Marc Silberman & Pamela Potter. August 2018. Abstract:

This dissertation analyzes how photographic representations in mass-market picture books and private soldiers’ photo albums shaped memory of the First World War during the Weimar Republic. It begins with a consideration of amateur photography during the war and how soldiers organized their memory visually in private photo albums. By considering private practices of photography, this study opens up lines of inquiry into how individuals remembered the past and it offers photo albums as a counterpoint to popular Weimar-era war picture books, which differ radically in form and intent in their effort to shape collective memory. The study then considers an assortment of successful mass-market picture books published in the 1920s that exemplify how questions of war memory tied remembrance to contemporary public debates, such as those surrounding the nature of defeat, the legitimacy of the Republic, and the future of the German nation.

Cser, Agnes. “Ich bin und bleibe bloβ Poet und als Poet werde ich auch sterben.” Friedrich Schiller’s Sense of Poetic Calling and the Role of the Poetic Idea in his Emerging Professional Identity as a Dramaturg. University of Arizona, Department of German Studies. Advisor: Steven D. Martinson. March 2018. Abstract:

My dissertation examines how Friedrich Schiller’s deep sense of poetic calling and his desire to ennoble human character informed his literary works. Given Schiller’s intensified study of Immanuel Kant’s philosophy and his lack of poetic-dramatic production in the late 1780s and early 1790s, the trend to privilege the philosopher Schiller over the poet has a long history, one that continues into the present day (e.g., Frederick Beiser [2005] and Rüdiger Safranski [2009]). I contend that Schiller’s early conceptions of drama and dramatic practice and the exogenesis of his later aesthetic theories crystallized his understanding of what it meant to be a poet. Two major considerations guided my thoughts on this topic: first, theoretical conceptions of the aesthetic education of human beings and, second, the dynamic relationships that Schiller’s creative acts that shaped his dramas, Die Räuber and Don Carlos. I show that Schiller sought to counteract the one-sided rational development of human beings through his presentations of dramatic characters and their interactions. Schiller’s poetic pursuit, ‘das Dichterische’, becomes intuitively comprehensible to us through the conceptions and creative productions of a form via ‘Geistestätigkeit’, the purpose of which is to drive human faculties towards cooperation and wholeness of being.

Cunningham, Neale. Hermann Hesse and Japan: A Study in Reciprocal Transcultural Reception. The University of Leeds, German Department. Advisors: Ingo Cornils and Stuart Taberner. June 2018. Abstract:

This thesis examines Swiss-German writer Hermann Hesse’s reception in Japan and of Japan in the context of transcultural reception processes. Initially, it contextualizes Hesse’s reception in Japan in the regional setting of East Asia and demonstrates how imperial Japan acted as a cultural gatekeeper in shaping Hesse’s regional reception during its colonial period. Second, the thesis discusses Hesse’s reception in the Japanese linguistic and cultural community by explicating phases of the reception process. Third, this thesis demonstrates, through a discussion based on unpublished documents related to Hesse’s overlooked but influential ‘Japanese’ cousin and mediator between East and West, Wilhelm Gundert, that research must focus on transformative human agency and social relations in the topographical nodal points of the system in order to understand how the transcultural literary reception process unfolds. Finally, drawing upon the unpublished corpus of Japanese readers’ letters to Hesse in the DLA archives, the thesis explains how, once emotional trust is established in the epistolary exchange, deep affinities arise between the European author and his Japanese readers and spiritual capital is generated, which, in combination with Gundert, inspired Hesse to new literary outcomes in the form of Zen poems.

Dalton, Caitlin. Imprinting Ideology, Memory, and Education in Art of the Early German Democratic Republic. Boston University, History of Art and Architecture. Advisor: Gregory Williams. May 2018. Abstract:

This dissertation examines three artists and their politicized engagement with cultural memory and ideological formation in East Germany’s educational structures during the immediate postwar period and early years of the Cold War. I argue that artistic identity in eastern Germany was deeply dependent on remembering, positioning, and re-narrating the past. After 1945, several artists whom the Nazis had repressed or banned from making work during National Socialism became professors and public leaders in Germany’s reconstruction. My project looks at three professors and their pedagogical circles in Berlin and Dresden: Oskar Nerlinger (1893-1969), Lea Grundig (1906-1977), and Edmund Kesting (1892-1970). Each artist was involved in the nation’s collective struggle to reconstruct the visual arts and cultural activity after World War II. During an era of debate and contradiction about form, function, and style, these artists looked for ways to educate the younger generation about the position of art and expression within a nation that officially divided in 1949. Contrary to scholarship that maintains a rigid division between East German Socialist Realism and West German abstraction, my dissertation reveals multiple competing ideas and practices. It locates the tension that existed between artists’ individual approaches, dominant political beliefs, and public institutional models.

Damiani, Adrienne Noelle. Recalling the Word: The Germanic Beguine “Sisters”, Memory, and the Question of Genre. University of California, Berkeley, Department of German. Advisor: Niklaus Largier. December 2018. Abstract:

Despite the renaissance of interest in medieval mystical texts over the past three decades, an investigation of literary form and genre classifications has not yet occurred at great length. Although beguine literature and other writings by women have often been classified by adjectives such as "emotional", or in different terms than more scholastic writings, I argue that beguine mystical works be approached on par with that of other contemporaneous mystical writers (e.g. Meister Eckhart, Johannes Tauler, and a corpus of texts going back to St. Bernard of Clairvaux). Highlighting the works of three key beguine mystics—Hadewijch of Brabant, Mechthild of Magdeburg, and Agnes Blannbekin—my focus is that of (1) form and (2) the intrinsic relationship between form and content in order to depict the highly "individualistic" nature of each text, as well as the strong didactic reasoning at the heart of literary form selection and creation. Each main chapter of my dissertation focuses on a different mystic, ordered chronologically, to provide the space to discuss the construction and organization of the texts written by Hadewijch, Mechthild and Agnes individually.

Denz, Jacob. A Feeling Unlike Any Other: Reactionary Rhetorics of Rechstgefühl in Kleist, Droste-Hülshoff, and Fontane. New York University, Department of German. Advisor: Leif Weatherby. May 2018. Abstract:

The Western tradition has often assumed a simple and stark opposition between feeling and the law. This dissertation considers a different version of the relationship between law and feeling denoted by the German compound noun Rechtsgefühl. This dissertation argues that the development of rhetorics of Rechtsgefühl in literary and legal philosophical texts from around 1800 to the early years of a unified German state can be understood as a reaction to and against ubiquitous projects of legal codification that sought to establish a comprehensive version of positive law. While the legal philosophical texts consider Rechtsgefühl as a basis or support for positive law, the literary texts represent it as an alternative in the absence of or in conflict with external legal institutions. The deployment of Rechtsgefühl in literary texts by Heinrich von Kleist (Die Familie Schroffenstein, Michael Kohlhaas), Annette von Droste-Hülshoff (Die Judenbuche), and Theodor Fontane (Schach von Wuthenow) constitutes a reactionary, anti-modern rhetorical strategy uniting three politically conservative authors. Each holds out Rechtsgefühl as allowing for a common measure between law and feeling, a fusion of two usually opposed substantives. Each text also breaks this central promise to the reader, depicting Rechtsgefühl in its failure, dissolution, and inefficacy.

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. .

Doose, Susan. Framing Realism: The Motif of the Frame in the Works of Gottfried Keller, Adalbert Stifter, and Theodor Storm. Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, Department of German, Russian, and East European Languages and Literatures. Advisor: Martha B. Helfer. September 2018. Abstract:

This project investigates the frame as a recurring motif in German poetic realism. Focusing on picture frames, my analyses also consider extra-aesthetic frames and linguistic, structural, and discursive frameworks. In Gottfried Keller’s Der grüne Heinrich, Adalbert Stifter’s Nachkommenschaften, and Theodor Storm’s Viola tricolor, the frame represents a privileged site for reflecting on realism’s aesthetic agenda and for communicating non-literary ideas. An analysis of Der grüne Heinrich reveals the frame’s function as a moderating force between excesses relating to economics, aesthetics, and gender, situating the novel as a timely social critique and a means for explicating a theory of realism as aesthetic moderation. Harnessing the frame’s ability to represent absence, Nachkommenschaften presents a message about the power of invisible realities that provide life with immanent meaning, and which are essential to Stifter’s conception of realism. Finally, Viola tricolor employs the frame to theorize the construction of literary and gender identity, both of which are the product of exclusion, an attempt to order an inherently disordered system. Traces of exclusion are evidenced by the presence of various frames, which reveal a tension between superficial order and underlying disorder, a tension between “fiction” and “reality” fundamental to Storm’s understanding of the realist enterprise.

Ehrl, Marco. The Rhetorical Crisis of the Fall of the Berlin Wall: Forgotten Narratives and Political Directions. Texas A&M University, Department of Communication. Advisor: Nathan Crick. August 2018. Abstract:

The accidental opening of the Berlin Wall dismantled the political narratives of the East and the West and opened up a rhetorical arena for narrators like the East German citizen movements, the West German press, and the West German leadership to define and exploit the political crisis. I trace the neglected and forgotten political directions as they reside in these narratives between November 1989 and February 1990. The events surrounding November 9th, 1989, present a unique opportunity for this endeavor in that the common flows of political communication between organized East German publics, the West German press, and West German political leaders changed for a moment and with it the distribution of political legitimacy. To account for these new flows of political communication and the battle between different political crisis narrators over the rhetorical rights to reestablish political legitimacy, I develop a theoretical model for political crisis narrative. This model integrates insights from political crisis communication theories, strategic narratives, and rhetoric. My analyses then test this model by tracing the transformations of the narrative enactments by the East German citizen movements, the West German press, and the West German political leadership.

Erker, Linda. The University of Vienna during Austrofascism: The Political Utilisation of a University – A Comparison to the University of Madrid in Franco-Fascism. University of Vienna, Department of Contemporary History. Advisor: Sybille Steinmacher. September 2018. Abstract:

Developments at the universities in Austria between 1933 and 1938 are largely unexplored, even 80 years after the end of the Dollfuss/Schuschnigg regime. This dissertation addresses an understudied period of the University of Vienna. The Universidad Central de Madrid in early Franquism from 1939 to 1945 serves as a point of reference. To understand the unfolding of events during Austrofascism at the University of Vienna it is necessary to reconstruct the structures before 1933, which was marked by a hegemony of anti-Semitic professors and National Socialist students. For the years thereafter, three phases can be distinguished, showing that the development of the University of Vienna in Austrofascism in many respects corresponded to that of universities of other fascist systems, even though the political "purge" of the teaching staff was less rigorous (around 25 percent of professorships were canceled) compared to the University of Madrid. Finally, my thesis deals with the developments at the University of Vienna during the Nazi-period and after the end of the Second World War, in order to show breaks, but also - especially for the period after 1945 - continuities to the Dollfuss/Schuschnigg regime as “The long Shadow of Austrofascism.”

Ette, Ndifreke. Responsible Populism: Carl Schmitt’s Constitutional Doctrine. University of Houston, Department of Political Science. Advisor: Jeffrey Church. December 2018. Abstract:

Unlike discussions that uncover an anti-liberal or an anti-democratic Carl Schmitt, this dissertation discerns within his works a balancing act between protection of basic rights and the desires of a political community expressed through plebiscitary procedures. It supports this claim by examining three texts from the Weimar period: Verfassungslehre, Volksentscheid und Volksbegehren and Der Hüter der Verfassung. Based on the substantial acceptance of liberal rights and institutional constraints on the state’s use of power, the people supervise representatives and settle disputes between the different branches in government. On the other hand, despite the existence and application of plebiscitary democracy in the Weimar Constitution, representatives had a reciprocal responsibility to obstruct the reckless deployment of the ‘people’. Consequently, Schmitt’s discussions remain germane to our concerns about populism because they show that neither the expression of popular participatory democracy, nor the establishment of a stronger executive authority, are incompatible with a healthy liberal democracy.

Ewing, Christopher. The Color of Desire: Contradictions of Race, Sex, and Gay Rights in the Federal Republic of Germany. University of New York, The Graduate Center, Department of History. Advisor: Dagmar Herzog. April 2018. Abstract:

This dissertation argues that the current artificial dichotomy between European and Islamic sexual mores is rooted in competing impulses in German homosexual rights movements to seek solidarity with communities of color while simultaneously exoticizing their members. Interdisciplinary scholars of contemporary Europe have examined the many ways in which white Europeans have imagined Islam as inherently homophobic, rendering it incompatible with Western Europe's purported commitment to LGBT rights. My research historicizes this work by showing how many homosexual West Germans turned to anti-racism as a political tool while simultaneously seeking out "exotic" pleasures in the decolonizing world. However, in the wake of decolonization and the Iranian revolution, some gay activists began to make sense of anti-gay persecution abroad and homophobic violence at home in terms of a racialized Islam. Nevertheless, certain historical moments, including the radical turn of the early 1970s and intergroup organizing during the AIDS crisis of the 1980s, held moments of possibility for building solidarity that undermined German racial conventions. I document these contradictions while emphasizing the broader international processes that influenced homosexual rights activism after the collapse of Nazism.

Frank, Mary Catherine. Can Theory Help Translators? Can Translators Help Theory? An Investigation Through Translations of Ottokar Domma's Der brave Schüler Ottokar. University of Bristol, Department of Modern Languages. Advisor: Carol O'Sullivan. April 2018. Abstract:

This thesis investigates how translation theory might make a difference to translation practice. It does so through the making of three translations of Der brave Schüler Ottokar [The Good Schoolboy Ottokar], satirical stories by Ottokar Domma published in the German Democratic Republic. The investigation takes four positions from the debate about the interplay between translation theory and practice. Three claim particular benefits from drawing on theory: that theory could act as a ‘sounding board’, that ‘peripheral’ theories could produce radical effects, and that theory could act as a spur to creativity. The fourth argues that practice could modify theory. After setting out the stories’ context and their textual features, three chapters each take one of the claims about theory’s benefits and use it to establish a theoretical framework that informs the practical approach to translating.It is concluded that, while this investigation confirms scholars’ claims about theory’s benefits, it also demonstrates the parallel role of translators’ intuition. A further position is proposed: that theory and practice are mutually dependent and each capable of influencing the other.

Gabriel, Viktoria. Ethnischer Humor im Mainstream: Deutschtürkische Filmkomödien und Sitcoms aus transkultureller Perspektive. University of California, Los Angeles, Department of Germanic Languages. Advisors: Todd Presner & Anke Biendarra. August 2018. Abstract:

This dissertation investigates Turkish German ethnic humor in contemporary popular culture. It has been repeatedly noted in the relevant literature that ethnic film and television comedies, which have recently emerged as successful and critically-acclaimed alternatives to the often negativistic representation of (post-)migrants in the news media, have the potential to foster an acceptance of German society that is shaped by immigration. My thesis is that this potential is limited. In looking at the corpus and the development of Turkish German ethnic film and television comedies in parts one of my analyses, I argue that these productions rarely present the ethnically and culturally diverse reality of today’s German society to a broader audience: firstly, because their number is still very small, and secondly, because they are most of the times not successful in terms of audience figures. In my close readings of four comparatively successful comedies in parts two, which are at the center of this dissertation, I examine the subversive potential of (mainstream) ethnic humor whose main characteristics is the use of ethnic and cultural stereotypes from a transcultural perspective. I argue that, while these comedies utilize stereotypes to cast Turkish German characters in a positive light. by deconstructing negative stereotypes (e.g., macho men), representing positive ones (e.g., good-natured patriarchs), and refuting prejudices (e.g., suppressed Muslim women) as well as to criticize ethnic Germans mostly based on stereotypes that are portrayed as adverse (e.g., feminist women), their humoristic play with stereotypes tends to reinforce traditional notions of cultures as strictly delineated, homogenous, and mutually exclusive. Hence, these comedies often fail to use humor as a subversive tool to negotiate an understanding of cultural boundaries as porous, dynamic, and blurred.

Greene, Alyssa C. Children of a Former Future: Writing the Child in Cold War and Post-Cold War German-Language Literature. Columbia University, Department of Germanic Languages. Advisor: Andreas Huyssen. February 2018. Abstract:

“Children of a Former Future” argues that the political upheavals of the twentieth century have produced a body of German-language literature that approaches children and childhood differently from the ways these subjects are conventionally represented. Christa Wolf, Herta Müller, and Jenny Erpenbeck use the child as a device for narrating failed states; socialization into obedience; and the simultaneous violence and fragility of normative visions of the future. In their narratives of girlhood under authoritarian or repressive societies, these authors self-consciously decouple the child from the concept of futurity in order to avoid reproducing the same representational strategies as the twentieth-century authoritarian regimes that co-opted the child for political ends. Examining literature from the GDR, Communist Romania, and post-Reunification Germany, “Children of a Former Future” argues that these representations offer important insights into the fields of German literary studies, queer theory, and feminist scholarship. The dissertation contends that a historically-grounded reading of Cold War and post-Cold War German-language literature can meaningfully contribute to and complicate current feminist and queer scholarship on the child.

Hanson, Lauren. Creating a Scene: Art and Experimentation in Düsseldorf circa 1958. The University of Texas at Austin, Art History. Advisor: Ann Reynolds. December 2018. Abstract:

In this dissertation I explore artistic experimentation and patterns of influence from the mid-1950s to the early-1960s that contributed to the construction of a vibrant art ‘scene’ in Düsseldorf, West Germany. Based on extensive archival research, I investigate how the diverse efforts Informel, Zero, and Neo-Dada movements interacted with and expanded upon each other. Rather than organize these movements according to a linear, evolutionary model, I instead consider the complex processes through which artists realized visually distinct approaches while studying at the same art academy and visiting the same exhibitions. Despite diverse formal, material, and aesthetic practices, artists such as Joseph Beuys, Konrad Klapheck, and Otto Piene participated in a communal scene, crafting makeshift environments in which to create and exhibit. I investigate the manifold ways that these artists, aided by critics, curators, and gallerists, revived past avant-garde practices and combined them with present concerns and critiques of the Wirtschaftswunder to create a new, ‘contemporary’ art scene. I consider how artists related their own practices and actions to the past—psychically and physically—and crafted conceptions of art according to local, national, and international frameworks. Collapse, decay, and ruination, balanced by reinvention and reconstruction, defined artistic practice in postwar Düsseldorf.

Haubrich, Rebecca. Mourning (M)Others: Images of a Maternal Education. Brown University, Department of German Studies. Advisor: Susan Bernstein. December 2018. Abstract:

This dissertation contains the development of a maternal education - a concept established as the subversive counterpart to traditionally patriarchal education narratives, primarily the Romantic Bildungsroman. In contrast to Freud, who establishes the myth of a self-sustaining patriarchy in Totem und Tabu, the proposed readings of Goethe and Novalis shift the focus to mother figures in order to show how a maternal education— particularly, in Wilhelm Meisters Lehrjahre and Heinrich von Ofterdingen—may lead from reproduction to representation, from Bildung to Bild. Through further readings of Sigmund Freud, Walter Benjamin, and Christa Wolf, an analysis of the political potential is developed, which a reconsideration of Bildung, under the auspices of motherhood in modern and postwar literature, harbors for a shift away from the patriarchal paradigm of education.

Hennebohl, Sarah Maria. Weisse Weiblichkeiten: Afrika, deutschsprachige Schriftstellerinnen und ihre (post-)koloniale Verortung von Geschlecht. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Advisor: Carl H. Niekerk. August 2018. Abstract:

In this project, I trace back the fictitious figure of the white female vis-à-vis Africa in German literary and media productions from the late nineteenth century until today. I examine the works of four German-speaking writers: Frieda von Bülow, Claire Goll, Ingeborg Bachmann and Stefanie Zweig. I demonstrate how all four authors portrait their heroines as victims, yet, do this in very different ways that not only mirror the respective historical background against which they set their novels, but also reveal the critical, political and sometimes very personal agenda that each of these authors has in mind. Colonial stereotypes that can be found in the portrayal of the featured white females trigger an atmosphere of colonial nostalgia that is highly uncritical and thus concerning. Yet, it seems to contribute to the high popularity of exactly this figure. For this dissertation, I largely rely on German postcolonial research. I offer a gendered perspective on German (post-)colonial works that feature the figure of the white female vis-à-vis Africa. I also take into account the categories of ‘race’ and ‘class’. The project contributes to the field of critical whiteness studies and offers a new angle within the broader field of German postcolonial studies.

Herges, Katja. Becoming-Ill: Chronic Illness and Materiality in Visual Life Narratives in Contemporary Germany. University of California, Davis, Department of German and Russian. Advisor: Elisabeth Krimmer. June 2018. Abstract:

Chronic illnesses such as cancer, dementia, or diabetes are one of the major challenges facing Western health care systems. While medical discourses conceive of disease as a loss or decline of health and a productive and autonomous life, social studies of illness mostly focus on social contexts of illness and biopolitical philosophy. Concomitant with the rise of chronic illness in the last decades, autobiographical narratives about experiences with chronic illness have proliferated in Western societies. Moving beyond narratological and pedagogical approaches in literary studies of illness, this dissertation examines how visual life narratives can transform medical and cultural concepts of chronic illness. Drawing on three case studies in contemporary Germany, including dementia documentaries, cancer photography and comics about motor disabilities, I argue that, rather than a loss, life writers show how illness experiences are intensified processes of material transformation that allow for the possibility of becoming. By engaging with (material) feminist theory and media studies this posthuman philosophy of illness insists on the entanglement of pathology with materiality, biology, discourse, and culture and intervenes in the emerging field of critical medical humanities.

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.

Hosters, Sascha. Short Circuits of Reality: Reproducibility, Simulation and Technical Images in Villiers de l’Isle Adam’s L’Eve Future, Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s Welt am Draht, and Michael Haneke’s Caché. Rutgers University, Department of German. Advisor: Fatima Naqvi. October 2018. Abstract:

My dissertation “Short Circuits of Reality: Reproducibility, Simulation and Technical Images in Villiers de l’Isle Adam’s L’Eve Future (1887), Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s Welt am Draht (1973), and Michael Haneke’s Caché (2005)” examines the reciprocal relationship between the evolution of visual media technologies and sensory perception. Reading the 20th century as an era of simulation shows that there has been a historical connection between tendencies of simulation and the invention of audiovisual media technologies that enabled the increasingly “photo-realistic” reproduction of our material reality. I offer a theoretical foundation that is based on three thinkers from what is now considered the ‘classic era of media theory’, followed by three analytical chapters, which serve as paradigmatic examples for the evolution mentioned above. Walter Benjamin’s thoughts on reproducibility and the replacement of original sources by ubiquitous copies precede Jean Baudrillard’s concept of simulacra and simulation. Here, the distinction between original and copy gradually becomes obsolete in the state of hyperreality. Vilém Flusser’s theory of technical images and technical imagination stands in contrast to Baudrillard’s, as he counters the deceptive quality of the simulacra by approaching “technical images” (images created by apparatuses) as signifiers that project meaning outwards instead of inwards.

Hottman, Tara Allison. The Art of the Archive: Uses of the Past in the German Essay Film. University of California Berkeley, German, Film Studies, & Critical Theory. Advisor: Anton Kaes. August 2018. Abstract:

This dissertation tracks the changing conception of the archive in film and media art. It examines filmmakers who reflect upon the historicity of cinema in their work and use the archive as a model for creating their essay films, video essays and installations. The filmmakers whose work is under examination—Alexander Kluge, Hartmut Bitomsky, Harun Farocki and Hito Steyerl—cover an important period of German—and global—media history, in which the forms of moving images and their mode of exhibition have diversified. Taking their cue from Walter Benjamin's concept of history and his practices of citation, these filmmakers use montage to put films from the past into constellation with present-day film and media. Their montages reveal the shifting configurations between past and present in film history, illustrating the need for a non-linear film historiography. If, as some theorists argue, the bureaucratic documentation of the archive is now the primary force through which biopolitics renders life deathlike, then the archival practices exhibited by these filmmakers not only illustrate how the past might gain a functional, creative use for the present, but they also provide an example for ways in which the archive might be employed against existing forms of control.

Kahn, Michelle Lynn. Foreign at Home: Turkish-German Migrants and the Boundaries of Europe, 1961-1990. Stanford University, Department of History. Advisor: Edith Sheffer. September 2018. Abstract:

This dissertation examines the transnational history of Turkish guest worker families in Germany (1961-1990), uncovering the gradual process by which the migrants came to feel foreign in both countries they considered home. It traces the development of the derogatory Turkish term “Almancı,” which connotes the impression that the migrants living in Germany (Almanya) have become “Germanized” and culturally estranged. The dissertation’s centerpiece is an investigation of West Germany’s 1983 Law for the Promotion of Voluntary Return (Rückkehrförderungsgesetz), which paid guest workers a “remigration premium” (Rückkehrprämie) of 10,500 Deutschmarks to return to Turkey within just ten months. This controversial law brought about the largest remigration wave in Modern European history, with 15% of West Germany’s Turkish population (250,000 men, women, and children) returning to Turkey in 1984 alone. The final chapter focuses on the second-generation “return children” (Rückkehrkinder) who, often unwillingly, accompanied their parents back to Turkey and became symbols of the possibilities and limitations of German and Turkish national belonging. Turning the concept of “integration” on its head, the dissertation argues that, amid the longstanding discourses about Germanization and cultural estrangement, many “Almancı” found that reintegration in their own homeland was often just as difficult as integration in Germany.

Kalbach, Harrison Levan. Historical Scientific Displays during the German Empire: The Role of Science, National Identity, and Bourgeois Culture in the Growth of the History of Science as a Discipline. Michigan State University, Department of History. Advisor: John Waller. May 2018. Abstract:

The dissertation locates the start of the institutionalization of the discipline of the history of science in Germany during the Empire. Primarily using examples of scientific historical exhibitions and displays, history of science scholarship at conferences, and memorials to scientists, I trace how Germany led other nations in the discipline’s early, or proto-, institutionalization, according to five criteria for institutionalization I define at the outset. In addition, the dissertation emphasizes the centrality of exhibitions presenting the history of science to the wider German public as a unifying element to help build a new national German identity. It also argues that Germany’s leading role in starting to form the discipline of the history of science can in part be explained by the strong historical consciousness of nineteenth century Germany, the strength of contemporary German science, and the desire of members of the bourgeoisie to make science history one of the cultural goods it provided the nation. After German participation at the International Exhibition of Scientific Apparatus in London in 1876, the first such international exhibition, Germans launched a succession of events displaying and exhibiting the history of science both domestically and internationally that exceeded the range of the counterparts of any other nation before the end of the First World War.

Kost, Kiley. Telling Deep Time: Geologic Narration in German Fiction after 1945. University of Minnesota, Department of German, Scandinavian and Dutch. Advisor: Charlotte Melin. December 2018. Abstract:

In this dissertation, I examine works of German-language fiction that bring the deep past to life in narrative dimensions. I explore the question of how meaningful stories can be told that span both human history and natural history of the deep past, navigating the enormous temporal differences that separate them. The central works for this investigation are Max Frisch’s Der Mensch erscheint im Holozän (1979), Peter Handke’s Langsame Heimkehr (1979), and Jenny Erpenbeck’s Heimsuchung (2008). All three authors treat the nonhuman environment as a dynamic entity whose ability to make meaning comes into existence through narrative. I situate literary practices within the timescale of geologic change by combining narrative theory with the interpretive strategies of material ecocriticism and asking how stories with nonhuman agents are told. Combining these two approaches to literary analysis, I arrive at a concept of geologic narration that considers the discursive and physical forces that construct the deep past, reorients readers to long-term thinking and situates the nonhuman environment as a process active in making meaning.

Kreklau, Claudia. “Eat as the King Eats”: Making the Middle Class through Food, Foodways, and Food Discourses in Nineteenth-Century Germany. Emory University, Department of History. Advisor: Brian Vick. August 2018. Abstract:

“Eat as the King Eats” makes two contributions: it proposes that nineteenth-century German middle-class identity depended on social recognition, and that in their pursuit of status by “eating as the king eats,” middling homes unwittingly created modern eating practices. French chefs migrating to German lands after 1789 educated women to work as cooks in German households by mid-century. There, working women and household staff combined cosmopolitan food trends with emerging industrial technologies (foods from substitutes, vacuum-preserved- and ready-meals laced with additives…) creating eating practices we recognize today. Middling households embraced these food changes, but also called for natural eating and comprehensive food-safety laws by 1878. While food historical scholarship has left nineteenth-century Germany aside in accounts of contemporary global cuisines, this work shows that we cannot understand modern eating without nineteenth-century Germany or the range of subaltern- and other historical agents involved in crafting modern eating.

Krüsemann, Heike. Language Learning Motivation and the Discursive Representation of German, the Germans and Germany in UK School Settings and the Press. University of Reading, Institute of Education. Advisors: Suzanne Graham & Melani Schroeter. March 2018. Abstract:

This mixed-methods study investigates the relationship between discourses around German, learner motivation, and uptake of German in UK secondary schools. Participants were 506 German learners, four German teachers and four head teachers. Underpinned by a theoretical framework using key concepts from mainstream psychological as well as second language-specific models of motivation, the research instruments (questionnaire, interviews and focus groups) were designed to probe participants’ attitudes towards German, the Germans and Germany. Themes which emerged from learner attitudes were then compared with those in wider circulation via a corpus of 40.000+ UK press articles, using discourse analysis techniques. The study found that the majority of the themes present in public discourses were replicated in school settings, but in complex ways related to learners' decisions about continuing with German and their socio-economic status. Through exploring the relationship between public linguistic patterns around German and those found in a private domain, the study links grassroots and societal attitudes towards German with the motivational dimensions around German-learning in UK secondary schools.

Kube, Sven. Born in the U.S.A. / Made in the G.D.R.: Anglo-American Popular Music and the Westernization of a Communist Record Market. Florida International University, Department of History. Advisors: Jenna M. Gibbs & Kenneth Lipartito. March 2018. Abstract:

Through analysis of exclusive sources, this project reconstructs the economic development of a communist culture industry and measures the commercial significance of Western commodities in one Eastern Bloc marketplace. The dissertation explains how cultural commerce between communist and capitalist record companies familiarized millions of music fans in the German Democratic Republic (GDR) with blues, jazz, rock, pop, and disco music. Drawing on untapped archival files, it traces the evolution of Deutsche Schallplatten from a small private firm into a nationalized flagship enterprise. It illuminates how dependency on technology from capitalist countries prompted the company to prioritize the westward export of classical recordings to earn hard currencies. Based on oral histories, it documents how the music monopolist imported Western pop music at a large scale to exhaust the purchasing power of the home audience. Empirically evaluating production data for a total of 143 million records, it reveals how Deutsche Schallplatten engineered a takeover of the domestic marketplace by American, British, and West German performers to achieve profitability. The dissertation argues that intensifying Westernization of its walled-in music market exemplified the GDR’s decision to concede the Cold War battle over cultural preferences and political loyalties of its citizens out of economic necessity.

Kühnast, Antje. Theorising Race and Evolution – German Anthropologie’s Utilisation of Australian Aboriginal Skeletal Remains during the Long Nineteenth Century. University of New South Wales, School of Humanities and Languages. Advisor: John Gascoigne. June 2018. Abstract:

This thesis investigates German Anthropologie’s nineteenth-century discourse on Australian Aborigines, exploring the utilisation of their skeletal remains for theorising on human diversity and evolution. One focus lies on the discussion of the Australier’s various manifestations: from late Enlightenment‘s speculative theorising to the natural scientific investigations of the mid-nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. German physical anthropologists reinforced existing extraordinarily powerful notions of indigenous physical and cultural-intellectual inferiority conveyed from the beginning of European contact. This bias often overrode contradictory empirical evidence that demonstrated the intrinsic fragility of classifying, typifying and ordering human diversity on the basis of one or another concept of race. These investigations occurred in the context of Anthropologie’s establishment as a natural science and the debate surrounding Darwinism. This thesis intervenes into the current historiographical debate about the relation between humanism, liberalism, Darwinism and (anti-/non-) racist approaches to human diversity in Germany’s early physical anthropological community. It is shown that anti-Darwinians, who have been credited with following a non-racist approach, only in theory refrained from drawing conclusions about racial hierarchies. In practice, their skeletal investigations, whether undertaken by Darwinists or anti-Darwinians, remained within and furthered the then prevalent paradigm of racialisation.

Lipnick, Christopher John. Victims of the Past: Walter Groß, the RPA and the Nazi Propaganda War against the Disabled. Drew University, Caspersen School of Graduate Studies. Advisor: Sloane Drayson-Knigge. May 2018. Abstract:

To pursue its goal of racial perfection, Nazism waged a war of elimination against those whom they perceived to be genetically inferior and biologically unfit. Through draconian legislation and the all-invasive power of the state, the Third Reich incessantly worked toward the creation of a “national community” free from hereditary illness. The Office of Racial Policy (RPA), under the authority of Dr. Walter Groß, created eugenic propaganda intended to educate every German, man, woman and child about the perceived threat to the health of the German Volk. This dissertation will examine this Nazi organization and the man who guided the RPA in its work. As part of this propaganda war against the disabled, the Nazis relied upon decades of eugenic thinking inside and outside of Germany. This dissertation will demonstrate the adaptation of eugenic theories into, not only legislation adopted by Hitler’s Germany, but also the propaganda crafted by Groß and the RPA. Scholarly works which have examined Nazi eugenic policies and Nazi propaganda rarely detail Groß’ organization in detail. The core mission of this dissertation is to provide scholarship into the intersection of Nazi eugenic policies and Nazi propaganda, demonstrated by the work of Walter Groß and the RPA.

Livingstone, David Michael. The Bundesgrenzschutz: Re-civilizing Security in Postwar West Germany, 1950-1977. University of California, San Diego, Department of History. Advisor: Frank P. Biess. May 2018. Abstract:

This dissertation investigates West Germany’s Federal Border Police, the Bundesgrenzschutz, and seeks to connect its development to the broader questions surrounding democratization. I explore the development of this force from its foundation into the 1970s when it was integrated into the state’s civilian law enforcement infrastructure. This case study of the Bundesgrenzschutz sheds new light on important insights into the larger process of West Germany’s postwar democratization; it shows how security was re-civilized in the aftermath of the Nazi dictatorship. I argue that the federal government used rearmament to justify the force, but intended to maintain it even after establishing a new army. It was the government’s only symbolic instrument of coercive force since the army remained under the supranational control of NATO. Border policemen rather than soldiers contained minor disturbances at the demarcation line to prevent them from triggering larger conflicts. I examine how the Interior Ministry recruited, hired, and trained border policemen. Drawing upon research in gender history, I argue that the Bundesgrenzschutz was used to promote conservative ideals of masculinity in West Germany’s young men. Redefining masculinity was one way that Germans attempted to make sense of the Nazi past while facing the cultural challenges of Americanization.

Lorenz, Susanne. Ausgezeichnet - gezeichnet. Neue Formen des Exotismus in der zeitgenössischen deutschsprachigen Literatur. Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München, Allgemeine und Vergleichende Literaturwissenschaft. Advisor: Wolfram Ette. February 2018. Abstract:

Für den zeitgenössischen Exotismus ist die zeitliche und räumliche Ferne, die den Begriff in der Romantik noch bestimmte, nicht mehr zwingend erforderlich: Das kulturell Fremde ist längst im Hier und Jetzt der eigenen Gesellschaft angekommen. Und doch ist Ferne nach wie vor konstitutiv für den Exotismus. Das bedeutet, dass sie künstlich bzw. künstlerisch hergestellt werden muss, beispielsweise mit Erzählstrategien wie der Mythologisierung, der Verrätselung oder der Überexplikation. Der Untersuchung liegen zwölf zwischen den Jahren 2000 und 2015 erschienene Romane und Erzählungen von neun Autoren und Autorinnen zugrunde, von Terézia Mora, Jenny Erpenbeck, Bernhard Schlink, Christian Kracht, Saša Stanišić, Catalin Dorian Florescu, Dimitré Dinev, Thomas Meyer und Benjamin Stein. Die Dissertation zeigt, mit welchen literarischen Verfahren und Figuren die ausgewählten Texte das nahe Fremde fernrücken.

Lydon, Steven. Visions in Sand: the Sound Figures in Goethe, Schopenhauer, and Nietzsche. Harvard University, Department of Germanic Languages and Literatures. Advisor: John Hamilton. November 2018. Abstract:

Friedrich Nietzsche’s early essay "Truth and Lies in a Non-moral Sense" (1887) is canonical for postmodern thought, and its most widely-cited lines invoke the “sound figures” (Klangfiguren). Because we no longer recognize this reference today, its importance has rarely been acknowledged. In 1789, the acoustician Ernst Chladni discovered the sound figures by sending musical notes through a metal plate with sand on it. The subsequent oscillations revealed a series of symmetrical patterns, previously invisible, thereby inaugurating the modern field of acoustics. These patterns created a public sensation across Europe, and were publicized by none other than Napoleon Bonaparte. As Nietzsche well knew, these patterns had also been interpreted by F. W. J. Schelling, J. W. von Goethe, August Schlegel, and Clemens Brentano as signatura rerum or the language of nature. My early chapters reconstruct these initial interpretations. I then proceed to unfurl the skeptical reaction in Jean Paul Richter and Arthur Schopenhauer. By contextualizing Nietzsche’s essay in literary, scientific, and intellectual history, my book project reconsiders the skeptical turn, and asks if another approach to nature is possible.

Makin, Stephanie Rene. The Catholic Conundrum: The Role of the German and American Catholic Communities in Creating the Cold War World, 1945-1955. University of Pittsburgh, Department of History. Advisor: Gregor Thum. March 2018. Abstract:

My dissertation argues that Catholic institutions in the U.S. and West Germany played a key role in forging a transatlantic community during the transformative period from 1945 to 1955. Encouraged by the American occupation officials, American and German Catholic labor leaders, youth leaders, and publishers embarked on a mission – sometimes cooperating, sometimes acting independently – to foster transatlantic Catholic solidarity. Through conferences, workshops, and print media, they countered negative perceptions of excessive consumerism, exploitative capitalism, delinquent youth, and extreme secularism that Germans often projected onto the U.S. With their activities, they hoped to foster personal connections among Catholics from American and western European countries and to cultivate a Catholic front that could deter what they saw as the dangerous influence of atheistic communism from the East. This “West” was both created by and catered to the more religious and conservative segments of the German population, and served an important building block in what would become the West in the emerging Cold War.

Martin, Jonathan Seelye. The Romance of Law and Love: Marriage in Twelfth-Century German Romance. Princeton University, Department of German. Advisor: Sara S. Poor. January 2018. Abstract:

This dissertation examines the connections between medieval marriage law and courtly romance. It argues that medieval romance functions as an integral part of the medieval legal system, and that romance promulgated and promoted a certain ideology of marriage that is intimately connected to the newly vigorous enforcement of various marriage laws in the canon law of the Church. The most important of these new laws is the concept of consent, upon which the others rely. The dissertation examines the ways in which five medieval romances (Heinrich von Veldeke’sEneasroman, Eilhart von Oberg’s Tristrant, Otte’s Eraclius, and Hartmann von Aue’s Erec and Iwein) consider marriage law in a manner resembling jurisprudence by incorporating specific legal cases and principles. The romances examined here are shown to take account of the consequences of the law and its operation for the married couple or for society at large, in a way that is impossible for contemporary legal texts.

McSpadden, James. In League with Rivals: Parliamentary Networks and Backroom Politics in Interwar Europe. Harvard University, History Department. Advisor: Charles Maier. August 2018. Abstract:

Europe of the 1920s and 1930s was marked by intense political polarization on the streets, in the press, and at the ballot box. Scholars have assumed that these toxic divisions also ran through the halls of power. However, this dissertation comparatively analyzes the social and political milieux surrounding European parliaments to show that behind-the-scenes informal networks actually brought politicians together across party lines. Many of the political outsiders of the belle époque, including both women and socialists, were welcomed as participants into this interwar elite political culture. This project also explores how parliamentarians’ activities on the world stage—attending diplomatic conferences, visiting like-minded colleagues in other countries, and campaigning for international causes—brought politicians together with ideological rivals across Europe. While the Weimar Republic is the red thread running throughout this project, this dissertation explores other national case studies including Austria, Czechoslovakia, the Netherlands, Belgium, and the United Kingdom to paint a broader picture of interwar European political networks. Ultimately, this robust cross-party and international political culture blinded Europe’s political elite to the continent’s growing polarization, which contributed to the rise of authoritarianism and led to world war.

Mekonen, Christina. Somewhere in the flesh mirror I saw myself: Black-Jewish Poetic Encounters vis-à-vis the Holocaust. University of Illinois at Chicago, Department of Germanic Studies. Advisor: Elizabeth Loentz. June 2018. Abstract:

Scholars have long emphasized the uniqueness of the Holocaust. As a result, any kinds of comparisons with other crimes were often deemed inappropriate. However, according to Michael Rothberg’s concept of “multidirectional memory,” comparison does not necessarily mean equation. On the contrary, putting the histories of marginalized groups in dialogue with one another can potentially encourage solidarity and create a better understanding of the mechanisms enabling their oppression. Working from this assumption, this dissertation offers a comparative approach to the imagined (hi)stories of Blacks and Jews in poetry using the Holocaust as a frame of reference: How do Black and Jewish poets imagine each other vis-à-vis Nazism? As a transatlantic project, this dissertation contributes new insights into Black-Jewish literary relations within a transnational and multidirectional context. Furthermore, this study shows that the Holocaust has indeed served as a useful point of reference for comparing and remembering Jewish and Black histories of victimization and could potentially facilitate dialogue about other histories of marginalization that need to be told in order to contest existing forms of hegemonic power relations. This is essential at a time when Western countries face an increasing number of refugees and other migrants.

von Petersdorff-Campen, Anne. Unexpected Journeys: At the Crossroads of Collaborative Filmmaking and Feminist Scholarship. Michigan State University, Department of Linguistics and Germanic, Slavic, Asian and African Languages. Advisor: Elizabeth Mittman. May 2018. Abstract:

This hybrid dissertation combines collaborative, creative filmmaking and feminist scholarship grounded in German studies. The written dissertation addresses fundamental issues in feminist filmmaking--body, voice, and collaboration--and is in part conceived as a complement to the travel documentary Wanderlust, cuerpos en tránsito (2017), a bi-autobiographical account of a journey from Egypt to Germany that was co-directed and produced by the author of this dissertation and Maria Pérez-Escalá. Taken together, the two ask the question: how can we reframe the woman traveler? Chapter One focuses on Cinematography and the Body and explores embodied, intersubjective and haptic strategies to depict women’s bodies. Chapter Two focuses on Narration and Voice and makes an argument for constructing embodied voices and expressions of relationality. Chapter Three demonstrates the potential of Collaboration, Friendship and Sisterhood in women’s (bi-) autobiographical travel accounts. In the epilogue, the wider cultural and political context of voluntary leisure travel is contrasted with other, less privileged forms of human mobility, such as migration and refugeeism, making an argument for reimagining touristic discourses in order to open up spaces for (narrative) encounters with these realities.

Pfleger, Simone. (Un)doing and (Un)becoming: Temporality, Subjectivity, and Relationality in Twenty-First-Century German Literature and Film. Washington University in St. Louis, Department of Germanic Languages & Literatures. Advisor: Jennifer Kapczynski. 2018. Abstract:

This dissertation investigates how recent German-language literary and cinematic texts depict the interpellation of contemporary subjects under neoliberal capitalism. As I argue, the texts signal, reflect, and comment on the emergence of new types of subjectivities with precarious non-conforming identities, bodily desires, and pleasures struggling to persist under coercive social and economic systems. My core works express a sense of pessimism regarding both the present and future and foreground the ways in which bodies and minds are exposed to normative forces that act on, regulate, and resituate them. I draw attention to how German-language texts specifically generate productive modes of inquiry when placed in conversation with queer and gender theory and vice versa. Tracing out-of-sync and non-teleological moments and momentums in the core texts, I show how the works uncover a temporary promise of breaking free from the dominant, restricting social structure, even as they make clear that this schism cannot and should not be permanent. These performative acts and discursive strategies of breaking free, I argue, extend the promise of (un)doing and (un)becoming, offering the prospect of developing and refining new strategies of queer world-making.

Podesva, James R. Exporting America: The U.S. Information Centers and German Reconstruction. Southern Illinois University Carbondale, Department of History. Advisor: Jonathan S. Wiesen. May 2018. Abstract:

This dissertation examines the establishment of United States Information Centers in West Germany immediately after the Second World War, and their role in securing the support of West German elites for American occupation policies, particularly democratic self-government. Located at the intersection of culture, economics, and American politics, the America Houses (Amerikahäuser) educated curious Germans about the United States, presenting a carefully curated vision of American life that minimized conflict and highlighted the material and cultural prosperity enjoyed by the mythical “average American.” The Americans contended that with the adoption of democracy and a reformed market economy, affluence was something West Germans could realistically aspire to. As a key transmitter of American information and ideas, the program was a means by which the United States attempted to change German resistance to American cultural products, and also served as a way to gauge German opinion. Often lumped together with the Voice of America and Radio Free Europe under the general heading of propaganda and receiving little academic scrutiny on its own merits, an examination of the U.S. Information Center program gives a more nuanced portrait of the forces shaping American efforts for the hearts and minds of newly-made West Germans. .

Ronzheimer, Elisa. Poetologien des Rhythmus. Versformen um 1800 (Klopstock, Hölderlin, Novalis, Tieck, Goethe). Yale University, Department of Germanic Languages and Literature. Advisors: Rüdiger Campe, Eva Geulen, & Kirk Wetters. May 2018. Abstract:

The dissertation studies the emergence of concepts of versification in German literature which continue to shape our way of reading versified texts. A joint analysis of poems and the poetological discourse at the end of the eighteenth and the beginning of the nineteenth century allows to identify functions of rhythm and meter in poetry that inform our interpretation of literature. Poets like Friedrich Gottlieb Klopstock attempted for the first time to produce faithful translations of ancient meters into modern Germany poetry – only to discover that the meters of the Ancients and those of the Moderns worked in fundamentally different ways. This insight provoked a quest among poets and thinkers for the origin and the nature of poetic rhythm that turned the discussion of metrical technicalities into far-reaching philosophical, aesthetic or political arguments. The problems at stake were various: the perception and representation of time and different modes of temporality, the question of how to conceptualize knowledge, or rather: how to think self-consciousness (the philosophy of German Idealism), or the ability of poetry to generate and to freeze motion. Each chapter presents close readings of texts by the following authors and contextualizes them within the larger poetological discourse of the time.

Schendel, Isaac Smith. Narrative Arrangement in 16th-Century Till Eulenspiegel Texts: The Reinvention of Familiar Structures. University of Minnesota, Department of German, Nordic, Slavic & Dutch. Advisors: James A. Parente Jr. & Anatoly Liberman. June 2018. Abstract:

The trickster Till Eulenspiegel first appeared in the prose novel Ein kurtzweilig Lesen von Dil Ulenspiegel (1511/1515) and later in the works of Hans Sachs and Johann Fischart. Sachs wrote poems and plays centered on Eulenspiegel; Fischart devoted an epic, Eulenspiegel reimenweis (1572), to him. A proper understanding of these adaptations depends on a knowledge of the literary contexts. Lesen evokes fool literature to advertise Eulenspiegel, who more closely resembles the global trickster. His biography is another case of misdirection: the redactor of S1515 uses a traditional, hagiographic-derived chapter organization to create a book meant to be flipped through at leisure, like a modern joke collection. Sachs’s and Fischart’s adaptions are instances of authorial bait-and-switch: Sachs uses Eulenspiegel to introduce other characters or themes, and Fischart reinvents a biographical form developed in earlier polemics. Eulenspiegel stories serve as material for experimentation with narrative structures. The character is never explored in depth. The authors use familiar pranks to attract interest and reinvent storytelling forms. Eulenspiegel is a case of design irony: using known structures in experimental ways. These findings are important for the history of fiction, as they reveal a new understanding of character as a means to address formal phenomena.

Sheedy, Melissa Ann. Romanticism Reloaded: Romantic Trajectories in Contemporary German Literature. The University of Wisconsin-Madison, Department of German, Nordic, and Slavic. Advisor: Sonja E. Klocke. April 2018. Abstract:

From felines to fairytales, Grimm to Goethe, and magic to marionettes, the literatures, cultures, and philosophies of the German Romantic movement maintain an enduring influence into the twenty-first century. With a focus on how Romantic themes, values, and mechanisms are reimagined and transformed in post-Wall contemporary German fiction, I consider works by Kerstin Hensel, Juli Zeh, Julia Franck, Christa Wolf, and Sabrina Janesch. My study addresses four broader categories that thematize these eighteenth- and nineteenth-century influences: the forest as a Romantic motif, witches and other powerful women as transgressors, the “in-between” figures of the doll and automaton, and intersections of violence, gender, and power. Theories of material ecocriticism, feminist narratology, and intersections of violence and gender build the frame for this study in order to identify systems of power and oppression that play a political role in these works. The new sociohistorical contexts in which these Romantic trajectories come to light play on reader expectations and reveal the political implications of telling a tale. Considering today’s fraught political landscape, these patterns of violence and oppression play a foundational role in contemporary discourses, and their depictions link the nineteenth century with familiar concerns and uncertainties of today.

Shields, Ross. Hanging-Together: Kant, Goethe, and the Theory of Aesthetic Modernism. Columbia University, Department of Germanic Languages. Advisor: Oliver Simons. October 2018. Abstract:

My dissertation, titled Hanging-Together: Kant, Goethe, and the Theory of Aesthetic Modernism, observes that many of the composers, artists, and writers working in the early twentieth century developed theories of aesthetic coherence (Zusammenhang) that contradict the canonical interpretation of the period in terms of discontinuity and fragmentation. I show that the modernists drew on Goethe’s morphology in order to conceive of the inner coherence of the work of art as neither an aggregate (in which the parts precede the whole), nor as a system (in which an idea of the whole precedes its parts), but as a morphological nexus of formal variations. My thesis is that aesthetic modernism negates the ‘outer coherence’ of the work of art in order to reveal its ‘inner coherence’, and that this morphological concept of inner coherence does not entail the totalizing ideal maintained by the poetic and aesthetic tradition from Aristotle to Kant.

Smith, Lacey Nicole. Appropriating (Sub)Urban Space: Inhabited Counter-Narratives as Resistant Spatial Intervention in Contemporary American and German Culture. University of California, Santa Barbara, Comparative Literature. Advisor: Maurizia Boscagli. December 2018. Abstract:

This project is concerned with the concept of urban and suburban space as explored through mediated narratives in film, television, literature, art, and other visual or narrative media. Adopting spatial theorist Henri Lefebvre's concepts of differential space and the right to the city, this project asserts that the hegemonic dominance of capitalist, neoliberal, and bourgeois ideologies in American and German culture extends to both the material and psychic production of space in the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries. It articulates an interartistic, transnational, and interdisciplinary methodology for approaching broad spatial questions like that of the planetary right to the city and the way collective practices of spatial appropriation to potentiate the emergence of differential space. Primary texts investigated in the project include Don DeLillo's White Noise, the Duffer Brothers' Stranger Things, Jordan Peele's Get Out, the music of Vince Staples, David Wagner's Mauer Park, Tanja Dücker's Spielzone, the photo series Berlin Wonder Land, Stih & Schnock's Orte des Erinnerns, the squatting actions of Refugee Tent Action in Kreuzberg, Berlin, the citizen campaign to maintain Berlin's Tempelhofer Feld, and music videos by Emus Primus featuring Berlin's ubiquitous graffitial images.

Staiano-Daniels, Lucia (now: Lucian). The War People: The Daily Life of Common Soldiers, 1618-1654. University of California Los Angeles, History Department. Advisor: David Sabean. June 2018. Abstract:

This dissertation aims to depict the daily life of early seventeenth-century common soldiers in as much detail as possible. It is based on intensive statistical study of common soldiers in Electoral Saxony during the Thirty Years War, through which I both analyze the demographics of soldiers’ backgrounds and discuss military wages in depth. Drawing on microhistory and anthropology, I also follow the career of a single regiment, headed by Wolfgang von Mansfeld (1575-1638), from mustering-in in 1625 to dissolution in 1627. This regiment was made up largely of people from Saxony but it fought in Italy on behalf of the King of Spain, demonstrating the global, transnational nature of early-modern warfare. My findings upend several assumptions about early seventeenth-century soldiers and war. Contrary to the Military Revolution thesis, soldiers do not appear to have become more disciplined during this period, nor was drill particularly important to their daily lives. Common soldiers also took an active role in military justice.

Stainton, Anna Louise. Wir sind Geburtshelfer eines neuen Lebens“: DEFA’s Positive Heroes. University of Toronto, Department of Germanic Languages and Literatures. Advisor: Stefan Soldovieri. October 2018. Abstract:

Of the catalogue of feature films produced by the German Democratic Republic’s state-owned production studio, DEFA (Deutsche Filmaktiengesellschaft), the most well-known and well-studied are its antifascist films. However, relatively little scholarly attention has been paid to the protagonists of these films and their function as role models (Vorbilder) and representatives of the East German state and its ideology. This dissertation examines the portrayals of positive heroes in DEFA films from the late 1940s—prior even to the founding of the GDR—through to the early 1990s, when DEFA’s final films post-German reunification were produced. Positive heroism in DEFA films is made up of two connected character types: the symbolic hero, who represents the Party, State, and ideology, and the role model or Vorbild, who represents a locus of identification for the spectator. Using a framework based on Žižekian psychoanalytical theory, I argue that these character types play a significant role in the ideological mission of antifascist films: to construct and disseminate specific forms of socialist, East German identity. Moreover, my analysis of the portrayals of positive heroes highlights the underlying contradictions within the GDR’s doctrine of antifascism, and thus in its foundational narrative.

Stoltz, Matthew. In Search of Adequate Faith: Religious Skepticism in German Letters (1750-1800). Cornell University, Department of German Studies. Advisor: Paul Fleming. December 2018. Abstract:

The struggle to articulate a distinctly modern faith becomes audible across the literary and aesthetic works of eighteenth-century writers who were committed to making the Biblical tradition more appealing to an increasingly skeptical age. Rather than driving a wedge between sacred and secular cultures, these writers promised greater spiritual cohesion. Instead of simply yielding to the authority of tradition and scripture, their works strove to advance more adequate means of forging religious bonds. This interdisciplinary study investigates how a number of writers turned the spirit of religion into a weapon, which precipitated a second reformation in the latter half of the eighteenth century. Chapter One investigates Klopstock’s extensive amplification of the New Testament figure Doubting Thomas in Der Messias and finds that his poetics inadvertently reproduce Thomas’ tragic “mistake” by doubting the efficacy of unaided Scripture to communicate religious truth. Chapter Two argues that Lessing reorients faith around the spirit of religion, sparking a Copernican turn in religious consciousness that emancipated modern believers from theological regimes that had become increasingly normative in their approach to scripture. Chapter Three considers how Novalis, unlike Lessing, insisted that material mediation play a role in (re)shaping and (re)generating religious experience.

Storring, Adam L. Frederick the Great and the Meanings of War, 1730-1755. University of Cambridge, Faculty of History. Advisor: Sir Christopher Clark. March 2018. Abstract:

This work fundamentally re-interprets King Frederick II of Prussia (1740-86) as military commander and military thinker. It achieves a strikingly new perspective on the much-studied Prussian king by examining not so much Frederick’s military actions, or his military writings, but rather the intellectual influences inspiring him. It shows Frederick as a backwards-looking military thinker, who exemplified the long eighteenth century’s search for order to prevent the destruction of religious and civil wars. Whereas Frederick has been depicted as a classic example of ‘German militarism’, this work shows that Frederick’s military ideas were primarily French, reflecting the towering influence of King Louis XIV of France. It challenges long-held claims about the influence of the Enlightenment on war, showing that, at least in the early eighteenth century, the search for order inspired by the political culture of monarchical states was a much more important driver in shaping war than Enlightenment rationality and calculation. It also examines how ideas are created, showing that Prussian strategy and tactics during Frederick’s campaigns were produced collectively by several figures within the Prussian military hierarchy, so that ‘Frederick’s military ideas’ were not necessarily his own.

Strasburg, James D. God's Marshall Plan: Transatlantic Christianity and the Quest for Godly Global Order, 1910-1963. University of Notre Dame, Department of History. Advisor: Mark Noll. March 2018. Abstract:

“God’s Marshall Plan” deepens our understanding of the crucial role religious actors, ideas, and aid played in the international relations between the United States and Germany from the Progressive Era to the Cold War. From the early twentieth century onward, American Protestant religious leaders and policymakers worked hand-in-hand to advance an international agenda of “democratization” and “Christianization.” Their efforts to establish “World Christianity”—a godly global order that was both Christian and democratic—and activate “Christian America” culminated in “God’s Marshall Plan,” a theopolitical intervention in Germany that sought to reshape the defeated nation’s religious and civic culture. Through launching a far-reaching relief program that made humanitarianism a central pillar within Protestant internationalism, they also helped forge a Christian and democratic coalition between West Germany and the United States. As such, the Protestant ecumenical movement became a vehicle for American national interests in post-war Germany and the expansion of America’s “empire by invitation” in Western Europe. “God’s Marshall Plan” furthermore marked a turning point in the twentieth-century relationship between German and American Protestantism. By the end of the Adenauer era in 1963, German Protestantism had emerged as an ecumenical and activist force in in its own right.

Terrell, Robert Shea. The People's Drink: Beer, Bavaria, and the Remaking of Germany, 1933-1987. University of California, San Diego, Department of History. Advisor: Frank P. Biess. May 2018. Abstract:

“The People’s Drink” demonstrates how, in the tumultuous mid-twentieth century, beer became a cultural, political, and economic site of contesting, defining, legislating, embodying, performing, and representing the German nation. Drawing on archival sources from ten archives in three countries, as well as trade journals, magazines, advertisements, and newspapers from around the world, what follows is a commodity history that weaves together National Socialism, the allied occupation, the West German Federal Republic, the Cold War, international trade, European integration, and the history of capitalism before and after “the boom.” While each chapter builds on specific scholarly literatures, the dissertation as a whole employs commodity history to speak to two main bodies of scholarship in modern German and European history. First, the contested history of people’s drink spans a number of conventional periodizations, revealing not a “fragmented” or “shattered past,” but one characterized by remarkable adaptability and malleability in spite of—and often because of—the dramatic social and political shifts of German history. Second, following beer from the local to the regional, national, European, and global, this dissertation features a sliding geographical scale in a single story.

Vogel, Carolin. Das Dehmelhaus in Blankenese. Künstlerhaus zwischen Erinnern und Vergessen. Europa-Universität Viadrina Frankfurt (Oder), Kulturwissenschaftliche Fakultät. Advisor: Paul Zalewski. January 2018. Abstract:

„Dem größten deutschen Dichter wurde eine Villa geschenkt“ titelte eine italienische Tageszeitung 1913. 100 Jahre später stand Richard Dehmels Haus vor dem Verfall. Was ist passiert? Die Arbeit rekonstruiert die Geschichte eines außergewöhnlichen Ortes und seiner Bewohner. Sie erinnert an zwei Schlüsselfiguren der künstlerischen Moderne: an den Lyriker Richard Dehmel (1863-1920), der Thomas Mann entdeckte, Karl Schmidt-Rottluff bewegte und Arnold Schönberg inspirierte, und an die Kunstförderin Ida Dehmel (1870-1942), die Schriftsteller anregte, für Frauenrechte kämpfte und den Künstlerinnenverband GEDOK gründete. Ihr Netzwerk ist ein Spiegel deutsch-jüdischer Kulturgeschichte. Basierend auf Briefen wird der Wandel des Gesamtkunstwerks Dehmelhaus vom sagenumwobenen Künstlertreffpunkt zum Erinnerungsort nachgezeichnet, Leben und Schaffen der Bewohner werden beleuchtet. Die Autorin fragt nach Gründen für das Verschwinden aus der Wahrnehmung und zeigt, wie das Dehmelhaus dennoch den Stürmen des 20. Jahrhunderts standhielt. Inzwischen ist es restauriert und kann besichtigt werden.

Wakelin, Jacob. Making History in High Medieval Styria (1185–1202)—The Vorau Manuscript in its Secular and Spiritual Context. University of Toronto, Centre for Medieval Studies. Advisors: Markus Stock & Shami Ghosh. March 2018. Abstract:

This dissertation focuses on the historical, social, and political context of the Vorau manuscript (Stiftsarchiv Vorau Codex 276), a collection of more than a dozen Middle High German poems from the late eleventh to the mid-twelfth century in addition to Otto of Freising’s Gesta Friderici I. imperatoris. When taken together, the manuscript’s disparate assortment of texts creates a roughly coherent history of the world from Genesis down to about 1160. Compiled by the Augustinian canons of the Styrian house towards the end of the twelfth century under the provost Bernard I, the manuscript references local historical events and individuals that were intimately tied to the region’s monastic houses. The Otakars (1055-1192) and Babenbergs (1192-1246) were the founders and advocates of a large number of the monastic communities, and this dissertation argues that the interplay of interests between the Styrian court and its religious houses forms the backdrop to the Vorau manuscript’s creation. The spiritual and secular importance of dynastically driven historical consciousness at Styria’s monasteries and its court constitute the context which imbued the texts of the Vorau manuscript with relevance for its composers and subsequent users.

Walch, Teresa. Degenerate Spaces: The Coordination of Space in Nazi Germany. University of California, San Diego, Department of History. Advisor: Frank Biess. May 2018. Abstract:

This dissertation examines how Germans reshaped everyday spaces to fit their worldviews between 1933 and 1945. It argues that Nazism itself should be understood as a spatial project to make Germany judenrein (clean of Jews). Anti-Semitic ideas of a Germany infected by Jews immediately and forcefully inspired efforts after 1933 to “cleanse” spaces (cityscapes, neighborhoods, streets, and architecture) of Jews and Jewish influences, instigating acts of vandalization, property confiscation, urban renewal projects, and segregation policies. It outlines how the NSDAP successfully consolidated power by banishing its opponents from public spaces and by physically and symbolically coordinating cityscapes to reflect a unified vision of Nazi ideology. Nevertheless, these sites remained contested. Few people breached the new norms of the Nazi public sphere, but “racially fit” political dissidents and homosexuals defied the regime in the semi-public sphere of cafes and pubs. Only for German Jews was Nazi ideology always rigid, and the symbolic, rhetorical, and physical exclusion of Jews from German spaces was the common denominator of these diverse spatial practices under the Nazi regime.

Weber, Silja. The Role of Performance for Student Agency: A Discourse Perspective on Whole-Group Interaction in Intermediate German Classes. Indiana University, Department of Germanic Studies. Advisor: Susanne Even. June 2018. Abstract:

This project investigates the contribution of performance activities such as role plays to the co-construction of interaction and student agency in undergraduate foreign language classrooms. The theoretical foundation integrates social and performance theory, sociocultural views of language (learning), and performance-based pedagogies. This framework supports an analysis of micro-level conversational cues in classroom interaction as well as a macro-level interpretation of participant assumptions about language learning. Methodologically, the micro-level is realized by multimodal conversation analysis through Goffman's concept of footing; the macro-level is based in performance theory. Results show that student agency in conversational formats is encouraged by playfulness and realized by shifting and layering conversational stances. Explicit performance activities authorize playfulness, often beyond the performance activity itself. In contrast, interview data suggest that both students and teachers prioritize teacher-controlled classroom activities, and in particular, they devalue the uncertain linguistic and social spaces performance activities tend to create. Via performance theory, I argue that shifting teacher and student mindsets toward a positive valuation of liminal spaces can contribute to a changed classroom culture that develops qualities tolerance of ambiguity and symbolic competence, which are relevant for language learning but also for thriving in any environment where change is the norm.

Zell, David. Major Cultural Commemorations and the Construction of National Identity in the GDR, 1959-1983. University of Birmingham (United Kingdom), Institute of German Studies. Advisors: Sara Jones, Joanne Sayner (Newcastle). January 2018. Abstract:

My PhD dissertation asks whether cultural commemorations helped the GDR to build a distinct national identity, and examines the role of political and cultural actors involved in them. Covering different strands of German cultural heritage, the aims, implementations and outcomes of anniversary commemorations are investigated as a longitudinal series of case-studies: Schiller (1959); Kollwitz (1967); Beethoven (1970); and Luther (1983). Substantial evidence from largely unpublished sources exposes recurring gaps between the theory and practice of these commemorations, essentially attributable to manifest examples of agency by commemoration stakeholders. Each commemoration produced some positive legacies. But driven mainly by demarcation motives versus West Germany, the appropriation of these German cultural icons as socialist role-models to promote national identity was mostly unsuccessful. The dissertation addresses a gap in both memory studies and GDR history scholarship regarding the relationship between commemorations and national identity. Furthermore, the findings of agency offer an original contribution to historiographical debates, by enhancing a ˈconsensusˈ- /ˈparticipatoryˈ dictatorship model of the GDR in preference to a top-down totalitarian system.