dissertations in german studies 2019

Alexander, Mark. Nazi Collaborators and Cold Warriors: America's Belarusian Quislings. N George Washington University, Department of History. Advisor: Hope M. Harrison. April 2019. Abstract:

During World War II, opportunistic Belarusian nationalist leaders compromised the independence and integrity of their movement by tying it to Nazi Germany and becoming culpable in the crimes of the Holocaust. Fighting among themselves for control of the anticommunist Belarusian diaspora after World War II, many Belarusian nationalist collaborators became involved in the early Cold War anti-Soviet campaigns of the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). Virtually all of the leaders of the Belarusian Nazi puppet regime immigrated to the US in the early Cold War and continued their hardline anti-Soviet political activism in their new homes. These Belarusian collaborators became the focus of renewed government investigations into Nazi war criminals in the US and the center of a public scandal. This dissertation examines these understudied figures and their influence on world events from their place on the peripheries of power. It investigates leading Belarusian nationalists’ ties to Nazi Germany during World War II, their anti-Soviet covert operations with the CIA in the early Cold War, and their participation in American anticommunist politics. Finally, this dissertation explores how these figures affected the development of US government investigations into Nazi war criminals living in the US.

Barthold, Emily. The Thirty Years' War as Unifying Heritage: Historical Fiction, Ecumenism, and German Nation-Building (1871-1920). Georgetown University, German Department. Advisor: Mary Helen Dupree. April 2019. Abstract:

To investigate how historical fiction of the Thirty Years’ War could reinterpret this conflict as unifying heritage for Protestants and Catholics in Imperial Germany, this dissertation presents the results of a survey of thirty-four literary texts published between 1871 and 1920. Given the salience of confession in the popular imagination of the Thirty Years’ War, this dissertation explores how historical fiction about this event reflects Imperial German understandings of what it meant to be German and whether this “Germanness” was contingent upon confession. Essentially, this dissertation argues that historical fiction of the Thirty Years’ War: (1) masks contemporary concerns in historical imaginings to comment on topics such as national unity, ecumenical reconciliation, Macht- and Moralpolitik, women’s and Jewish (anti-) emancipation, and/or the legitimacy of violence; (2) consistently recasts power politics, as opposed to religion, as the force behind this war in order to present the collective trauma of the Thirty Years’ War as the crucible of German national identity and warning against the peril of internal German division; and (3) in a majority of cases portrays German national identity as compatible with the Protestant as well as Catholic confessions, and in a few cases with Jewish and other religious identities.

Borham, Holly. The Art of Confessionalism: Picturing Lutheran, Reformed, and Catholic Faith in Northwest Germany, 1580-1620. Princeton University, Department of Art and Archaeology. Advisor: Thomas DaCosta Kaufmann. May 2019. Abstract:

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

Braun, Amy M. Impossible Communities in Prague's German Gothic: Nationalism, Degeneration, and the Monstrous Feminine in Gustav Meyrink's Der Golem (1915). Washington University in St. Louis, German and Comparative Literature. Advisor: Lynne Tatlock. May 2019. Abstract:

My dissertation investigates the contribution of Gustav Meyrink’s best-selling novel The Golem/Der Golem (1915) to the second revival of the international Gothic. While previous scholarship suggests that this genre disappeared from the German literary landscape in the 1830s, I interpret The Golem as a Gothic contribution to the “Prague Novel,” a trend in Prague-based, turn-of-the-twentieth-century German-language literature that found inspiration in the heated sociocultural and political tensions that characterized the milieu. Structured around the demolition of Prague’s former Jewish ghetto under the auspices of the Finis Ghetto plan, a historic Czech-led urban renewal project that leveled the district of Josefov/Josephstadt between 1895 and 1917, The Golem portrays a German speaker’s perspective on ghetto clearance and its impact on the city’s ethnic minority groups. Not only does Meyrink’s novel aestheticize the pessimism felt by many of Prague’s middle class and aristocratic German speakers living in a city governed by Czech nationalists; it also exemplifies the use of the Gothic mode to translate experiences of ethnic marginalization, the rise of nationalism, and fears of social degeneracy. The Golem opens a window onto the controversies and debates at the Jahrhundertwende that coalesced in radical municipal action targeting Prague’s German-speaking Christian and Jewish communities.

Dämon, Hanja. The German film industry under American and British control: 1945-1949. King’s College London, German Department. Advisors: Erica Carter and Lara Feigel. November 2019. Abstract:

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

Egen, Christoph. What is disability? Devaluation and exclusion of people with disabilities from the Middle Ages to postmodernism. Leibniz University of Hanover. Advisors: Bettina Lindmeier, Christoph Gutenbrunner, and Hans-Peter Waldhoff. 2019. Abstract:

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

Emrys, Brandon Chase. Subverting the Gazhe Gaze: Reclaiming Roma Identity in the European World and Beyond. University of Washington, Department of Germanics. Richard Block. June 2019. Abstract:

For centuries, the Romani people in Europe and North America have been the focus of a non-Roma gaze which simultaneously fetishizes and vilifies them. This ascription of a tropic identity serves to both reify the constructed identity of the non-Roma as societal elite and to ensure the Roma remain marginalized and divested of any voice or agency. Using Gayatri Spivak’s 1988 essay “Can the Subaltern Speak?” as a point of departure, this dissertation explores the various methods by which the Roma strive to make their voices heard. Analyzing depictions of “Gypsy” figures in classical works of the European canon in order to highlight the language within which the Roma are situated, this dissertation then pivots to an examination of several key texts written by Roma authors, in order to observe their approaches to working within the context of these tropic ascriptions to negotiate a space from which they might successfully communicate with their non-Roma audience and be recognized as autonomous individuals. While it becomes apparent that cultural blending and invisibility, along with direct communication and engagement, are ineffective strategies met with resistance, the texts demonstrate a third, indirect strategy, running obliquely between passive silence and direct confrontation, which subverts the very gaze fixated upon them.

Frazier-Rath, Emily. Death, Deportation, Violence, Silence: Refugee Activism against Precarity in Germany. University of Colorado Boulder, Department of Germanic and Slavic Languages and Literatures. Advisor: Beverly Weber. April 2019. Abstract:

In my dissertation, I analyze contemporary activist projects as they have been undertaken by refugees in Germany. Thus, I have begun to build an archive of examples of a particular kind of activism that I conceptualize as refugee activism. I argue that as precariously situated individuals in German society, refugees have entered a discursive space in which they are viewed as the newest iteration of racialized, non-German “others,” and then are constructed as threats to the future of Germany and of Europe. Consequently, refugee activists have used a variety of strategies to address the ways they and other “others” have been excluded from fully participating in German society in the 21st century. Through analyses of refugee activist projects including social media campaigns, public demonstrations, concerts, a die-in, and more, I show how refugees expose the means through which contemporary discourses, practices, and policies around race, immigration, and difference in Germany reify exclusionary understandings of who belongs, who is worthy of living, and even who can be considered human. Simultaneously, I argue, through their activisms, refugee activists have built coalitions, declared new solidarities, and created communities, through which new ways of conceptualizing difference and difference-making in Germany have begun to take shape.

Gelman, Charles. The Extremist: Walter Benjamin and the Radical Critique of Society, 1912-1924. New York University, Department of Comparative Literature. Advisor: Richard Sieburth. April 2019. Abstract:

This study reassesses the development of Walter Benjamin’s work and its relation to historical materialism by examining the unlikely path by which he arrived at a position so distant from his native habits of thought. Benjamin’s early writings, it is argued, represent an abortive critique of bourgeois society, the ultimately nihilistic desperation of which is symptomatic of his simultaneous antipathy to bourgeois culture and unwillingness to take seriously the socioeconomic basis of bourgeois hegemony. The apocalyptic extremism to which he had come by the early 1920s reflects the exasperated radicalization of the romantic rejection of the Enlightenment and retreat into religion. His early work thus remains as a cautionary tale of what happens when the link between emancipation and demystification is severed. Examining the evolution of Benjamin’s thinking from his early work as a member of the German student movement through his work in the philosophy of language, epistemology, and philosophical aesthetics, and finally his theologico-political writings of the years immediately following World War I, this study advances a comprehensive critical reexamination of one of the most influential thinkers of the twentieth century, presenting a picture of Benjamin that little resembles any of those that have hitherto come to light.

Gengler, Peter. Constructing and Leveraging ‘Flight and Expulsion’: Expellee Memory Politics and Victimhood Narratives in the Federal Republic of Germany, 1944-1970. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, History Department. Advisor: Konrad H. Jarausch. April 2019. Abstract:

This dissertation examines the construction, instrumentalization, and institutionalization of a homogenized master narrative of “flight and expulsion” in West Germany between 1945 and 1970. I argue that expellee groups, historians, and politicians cemented a victimhood narrative that emphasized German suffering and Soviet barbarity in museums, literature, and the media in order to underpin arguments for social, material, and political claims. In this manner, expellee organizations fashioned a central concept of “flight and expulsion” and colonized public debates for decades, leaving a lasting impact on how contemporary Germany remembers the war and the integration of 10-12 million refugees. By examining the trajectory of the expulsion narrative, I seek to show the layering of memory, how it was used over time, and the defining impact that this victimhood discourse has had on German public memory and academic interpretation of the phenomenon. My work investigates the origins and evolution of a discourse that continues to inform German historical consciousness, thereby providing fresh insights into the relationship between memory politics, the production and narration of history, and political interest group advocacy.

Gilmour, Colin. Heldenpolitik: Ritterkreuz, Ideology and the Complexities of Hero Culture under National Socialism. McGill University, Department of History and Classical Studies. Advisors: Peter Hoffmann & Brian Lewis. January 2019. Abstract:

This dissertation explores the political history of Germany’s highest award for military excellence during the Second World War: the Knight’s Cross of the Iron Cross, or Ritterkreuz. Expanding upon a limited foundation of existing scholarly research, its primary focus is to examine the role played by this famous medal as a vessel of “symbolic capital” for the National Socialist regime. Designed not only as a tool to help forge a new archetype for military heroism, it was also to represent the “revolution” that the Party claimed to have produced in German society and politics. Using this function as a framework, the component chapters of this study document different ways in which it informed or affected official usages of the Ritterkreuz and the activities of its recipients – called Ritterkreuzträger – during the war years. Through this investigation, the dissertation argues that while achieving an impact on wartime culture that continues to be felt in Germany today, both medal and men proved as much a source of frustration and embarrassment to the regime as they did ideological success. As such, it challenges several existing assumptions regarding the role of orders and decorations created by National Socialism while highlighting an underrecognized layer of complexity in its Heldenpolitik (Hero Politics).

Gindner, Jette. Capitalist Crisis and Radical Political Imagination in German Literature and Cinema After 1989. Cornell University, Department of German Studies. Advisors: Leslie A. Adelson and Paul Fleming. August 2019. Abstract:

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

Grunewald, Susan. German Prisoners of War in the Soviet Union: Life, Law, and Memory, 1941-1956. Carnegie Mellon University, Department of History. Advisor: Wendy Goldman. May 2019. Abstract:

This dissertation examines German prisoners of war (POWs) in the USSR from 1941 to 1956. The Soviet government kept roughly 1.5 million German POWs in labor camps after the end of the war, the largest and longest held group of prisoners of the victor nations. My dissertation explores the political, diplomatic, and economic motivations of the Soviet state, investigating the economic role the prisoners served in reconstruction, the diplomatic and legal tensions raised by repatriation, and material conditions in the camps and labor sites. It seeks to place the GUPVI POW camps into a larger conversation about Soviet forced labor and the infamous GULAG camp system. Using extensive GIS mapping, it assesses the significance of the POW contribution to Soviet reconstruction. Finally, it examines questions of memory, the differences among POWs repatriated to West and East Germany, and Russia’s own commemorative efforts.

Heiss, Lydia Helene. Literarische Identitätskonstruktionen und das Verhältnis zu Deutschland in ausgesuchten Werken zeitgenössischer jüdischer Schriftstellerinnen deutscher Sprache. University of Arizona, Department of German Studies. Advisors: Joela Jacobs &Thomas Kovach. April 2019. Abstract:

A declaration of her love for Germany by the Jewish author Lena Gorelik in her semi-autobiographical text Lieber Mischa (Dear Mischa 2011) has led me to ask whether the Holocaust is still the point of reference and central characteristic of the self-conception of the contemporary or third generation of Jewish writers in Germany after 1945. In addition to Gorelik's text, this study analyzes Katja Petrowskaja's Maybe Esther (2014) and Olga Grjasnowa's All Russians Love Birch Trees (2012). The three Jewish women writers immigrated from Eastern Europe, live in Germany, and write in German. My analysis of the literary identities the authors constructed for their protagonists sheds light on current trends in contemporary Jewish life in Germany and demonstrates that they reject the special status assigned to them as ‘victims of the Holocaust’ or as ‘exotic’, both in the sense that they are seen as representatives of the Jewish minority and as ‘immigrants’ from the former USSR. This ascription of ‘otherness’ nourishes both philo- and anti-Semitic discrimination. Although the novels mark the Holocaust as an event that should never be forgotten, it is not history but rather the experience of ‘otherness’ that keeps Jewish life in Germany from being ‘normal.’

Hirstein, Mario. Gewalt und Spiele in den Filmen Michael Hanekes. University of Waterloo, Canada & Universität Mannheim, Deutschland. Advisors: Alice Kuzniar, Waterloo and Justus Fetscher, Mannheim. December 2019. Abstract:

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

Jangam, Urvi. Eine Ästhetik des Nicht-Visuellen. University of Mumbai, Department of German. Advisors: Vibha Surana Department German, university of Mumbai (Erste Betreuerin), Andrea Bogner Interkultureller Germanistik Georg-August-Universität Göttingen. September 2019. Abstract:

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

Jurgens, Laura. Martin Luther and Women: From the Dual Perspective of Theory and Practice. University of Calgary, Department of Classics and Religion. Advisor: Douglas Shantz. June 2019. Abstract:

This thesis argues that Martin Luther did not enforce his own strict theological convictions about women when he personally corresponded with women throughout his life. Luther’s conversations with female family members and Reformation women show that he often made exceptions to his own theology. Luther also did not enforce his theology throughout his pastoral care where he treated both men and women equally. Luther’s pastoral work shows that he allowed compassion and empathy to win over his own theological convictions about women. It is important to remember that Luther not only wrote about women in the abstract, but also lived both his public and private life among women. However, there have been no comprehensive studies that have examined his theological writings about women and personal encounters with women. For this reason, fundamental aspects of Luther have remained in the dark. As ‘actions speak louder than words,’ this thesis argues that the practical, as well as the theoretical need to be examined when attempting to provide an authentic assessment of the reformer’s attitudes towards women.

Kick, Verena. Negotiating the German Public Sphere: Workers, Soldiers, and Women in Photobooks of Weimar Germany. University of Washington, Germanics. Advisor: Sabine Wilke. June 2019. Abstract:

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

Lundrigan, Megan. Holocaust Memory and Visuality in the Age of Social Media. Carleton University, Department of History. Advisor: Jennifer Evans. April 2019. Abstract:

Drawing from Holocaust studies, public history, photography theory, and new media studies, this dissertation argues that the amateur Instagram image is far from static. Existing spaces of Holocaust memory create preconditions for everyday publics to share their encounters with the Holocaust on their own terms. Thus, the final networked Instagram image is the product of a series of author interventions, carefully wrought from competing narratives and Holocaust representations. This work brings together seemingly disparate sources to find commonality between Instagram images, museum guestbook entries, online reviews, former concentration camps, and major Holocaust memorials and museums. This dissertation, one of the first studies of Holocaust visual culture on Instagram, underscores the fluidity of Holocaust memory in the twenty-first century. While amateur photography at solemn sites has sparked concern, this dissertation demonstrates that though the number of Holocaust survivors become fewer in number, the act of remembering the genocide can be coded into the everyday behaviour of the amateur photographers featured in this work. This work not only shares authority with everyday publics in their efforts to remember and memorialize the Holocaust, but reminds us that individual acts of remembrance can coalesce, contributing to a fluid and accessible archive of visual memory.

Middelhoff, Frederike. Literarische Autozoographien: Figurationenen des autobiographischen Tieres (1789-1922). [Literary Autozoographies: Figurations of the Autobiographical Animal (1789-1922).] Julius-Maximilans-Universität Würzburg, Institut für deutsche Philologie, Lehrstuhl für neuere deutsche Literaturgeschichte. Advisors: Roland Borgards & Isabel Karremann. February 2019. Abstract:

The dissertation probes the cultural and aesthetical dimensions of a yet unexplored genre in German literary history. Literary autozoographies are quasi-autobiographical first-person novels in which an animal becomes the narrator of his or her life. Yet in the ‘long nineteenth century’ the figure of the autobiographical animal was not merely a literary phenomenon. Reconstructing the (popular) scientific context of the genre, the project shows that the genesis and development of animal autobiographical writing in German-speaking countries was accompanied by a discourse which had animal psychologists, animal-rights activists, and natural historians not only think about animals’ autobiographical capacities but also quite literally speaking for animals. The thesis argues that literary autozoographies of horses, cats, and dogs were therefore part of a specific discursive formation and contributed to a specific knowledge on animal species but also reflected that this knowledge relies on attributions, projections, and aesthetic forms of production. Furthermore, the project delineates the connections and differences between literary autozoographies, picaresque novels, animal fables, fairy tales, and the genre of autobiography. It thus also contributes to a theory of genre and adds new insights to the field of animal studies.

Morrow, Susan. Schematism: Poetics on the Way to Kant, 1760–1790. Yale University, Department of Germanic Languages and Literatures. Advisors: Rüdiger Campe & Paul Franks. April 2019. Abstract:

My dissertation reveals an unexpected genealogy for Kant’s concept of a Schema—that ‘third thing’, neither concept nor appearance, which plays the role of mediator in the Kritik der reinen Vernunft (1781), and which is identified in the Kritik der Urteilskraft (1790) as the primary mode of Darstellung. I argue that the theory of Schematismus is structured not only by problems arising within Kant’s account of knowledge but also by the implications of changes to the status of movement in artistic and poetic form in the mid to late 18th century. I claim that this reconfiguration consisted, first, in the interpretation of movement as an indexical sign of affect, second, in the identification of movement as a realization of affect, and, third, in the re-articulation of movement’s realization-function as an act performed by a cognitive capacity: imagination. To demonstrate this progression, I turn, respectively, to J.-G. Noverre’s conception of ballet as pantomime (1760), F.G. Klopstock’s poetic practice and theory of Wortbewegung (1764–79), and G.E. Lessing’s theory of aesthetic Illusion (1766). I conclude that Kant’s epistemological concern with Darstellung is conditioned by the reframing of poetic form’s newfound realization-function as an act of cognition.

Phillips, Reuben. Brahms as Reader. Princeton University, Department of Music. Advisors: V. Kofi Agawu & Scott Burnham. May 2019. Abstract:

This dissertation seeks to reframe the scholarly understanding of Brahms's creativity in the 1850s and ‘60s through a consideration of the composer's engagement with German literature. Drawing on archival research undertaken in Vienna, I argue that Brahms's early aesthetic worldview was fundamentally shaped by his devotion to reading. Part 1 provides the first comprehensive investigation of his notebooks of literary quotations known – since their abridged publication in 1909 – as Des jungen Kreislers Schatzkästlein. Brahms's quotation collection is situated in three contexts: biographical representations of Brahms as a reader, the role played by Robert Schumann in shaping Brahms's literary enthusiasms, and the elevated status afforded to the activity of reading in German culture of the mid-nineteenth century. For Brahms, the process of copying out quotations served as a means of meditating on important ideas about the role of art in society, genius, originality, and artistic technique. In the second part of the dissertation I enlist some of Brahms's beloved works of German Romantic literature in the examination of two compositions from the 1860s: the Trio for Piano, Violin, and Waldhorn, op. 40, and the Magelone Romanzen, op. 33.

Pilz, Kristina. Writing Across Margins: Contemporary Afro-German Literature. University of Washington, Department of Germanics. Advisor: Brigitte Prutti. March 2019. Abstract:

My dissertation argues that Afro-German literature—a new strand in contemporary German literature since the late 1980s—functions as aesthetic activism by creating collective identity through textual practices. Joining the larger conversation in Black German Studies on Afro-German poetry and autobiography, this project focuses on writing practices in Afro-German feminist poetry by Helga Emde, Katharina Oguntoye, and May Ayim; Afro-German spoken word poetry by Chantal-Fleur Sandjon, Philipp Khabo Köpsell, and Samy Deluxe; Afro-German celebrity autobiographies by Abini Zöllner and Detlef Soost; as well as Afro-German memoirs by Theodor Michael and Gert Schramm. Black German textual practices develop parameters of collective identity that range from the emergence of Afro-German voices to a new understanding of Afro-German blackness; from a new recognition of Afro-German identities, to the rise of an Afro-German memory. The writing practices that shape parameters of collective identity—métissage, imagery, autofiction, multilayering—organize my dissertation and provide the categories for textual analysis. By combining close readings with aesthetic (e.g., Lionnet, Bürger, Gates, Wagner-Egelhaaf) and cultural theory (e. g. Du Bois, Gilroy, Hall, Silverman), my project demonstrates that Afro-German writing practices help to bend and transgress literary and social categories.

Reger, Maria. Ausgestoßen - Kriminelle, Feinde und Flüchtlinge in der deutschsprachigen Gegenwartsliteratur. University of Connecticut, Department of Literatures, Cultures, and Languages. Advisor: Sebastian Wogenstein. April 2019. Abstract:

Situated in the interdisciplinary field of literature and human rights, my dissertation contributes to our understanding of how societies draw, maintain, and challenge the line between the people who belong to a community and those who do not. Arguing that criminals, enemies, and refugees are epitomes of discursively and institutionally produced outcasts today, I analyze how fictionalized criminals, enemies, and refugees in contemporary German novels and theater are used as narratological and dramatic devices to (re)define the values and composition of the community. Specifically, I look at the criminal characters in Bernhard Schlink’s novel Das Wochenende (2008) and Nicolas Stemann’s staging of Friedrich Schiller’s Die Räuber (2008); at the enemy characters in Lukas Bärfuss’ novel Hundert Tage (2008) and Cihan Inan’s staging of Heinrich von Kleist’s Penthesilea (2017); and the refugee characters in Merle Kröger’s novel Havarie (2015) and Elfriede Jelinek’s theater text Die Schutzbefohlenen (2013). My dissertation investigates literary and theatrical representational strategies of social inclusion and exclusion. It also provides a comparative account of how literature and theater imagine and mediate the identity of Europe’s German speaking communities today.

Resvick, Jessica C. Reading Recognition: The Poetics of Poetic Realism. University of Chicago, Department of Germanic Studies. Advisor: Christopher Wild. May 2019. Abstract:

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

Rettig, Noelle. From Aesthetic to Pathology: Reading Literary Case Studies of Melancholy, 1775-1830. Georgetown University, German Department. Advisor: Mary Helen Dupree. August 2019. Abstract:

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

Sieg Barthold, Emily. The Thirty Years’ War as Unifying Heritage: Historical Fiction, Ecumenism, and German Nation-Building (1871-1920). Georgetown University, German Department. Advisor: Mary Helen Dupree. April 2019. Abstract:

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

Sorenson, Alexander. Trials by Water: Law, Sacrifice and Submergence in German Realism. Advisor: David E. Wellbery. University of Chicago, Department of Germanic Studies. April 2019. Abstract:

The dissertation analyzes one of the most recurrent (and troubling) motifs in modern German literature: death by drowning. Focusing upon both canonical and lesser-known texts by Adalbert Stifter, Gottfried Keller, Theodor Storm, and Theodor Fontane, it argues that these scenes of drowning function as narrative “knots” in which two concepts fundamental to the epistemology of realist writing intertwine: law and sacrifice. More specifically, it suggests that the narrative logic of drowning stages a conflict between the “surface” domain of law, on the one hand, and the hidden “depths” of the subjective interior, on the other. In each of the chosen texts, the resolution of this conflict takes the form of an act of sacrifice that either relinquishes some portion of the self for the sake of the law or immolates some form of law for the sake of the self. As such, the dissertation demonstrates how German Realism works through deeply embedded tensions that trouble the social and moral life of its age, a portrait which stands in contrast with the more conventional notion of realist aesthetics as a programmatic effort simply to make visible the quotidian contours of human life.

Uca, Didem. Coming of Age on the Move: Young Travelers, Migrants, and Refugees in 20th- and 21stCentury Literature in German. University of Pennsylvania, Department of Germanic Languages and Literatures. Advisor: Catriona MacLeod. June 2019. Abstract:

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

Valone, Fielder. The Power of Grievance: Ethnic Germans, National Socialism, and the Holocaust in the Incorporated Territories of Western Poland, 1939-1952. Indiana University, Department of History. Advisor: Mark Roseman. April 2019. Abstract:

My dissertation, which utilizes previously unexamined German and Yiddish sources pulled from half a dozen archives in Central Europe and the United States, analyzes the ethnic German (Volksdeutsche) minority in the Polish territories annexed by Nazi Germany in 1939, and that group’s participation in the Final Solution of Polish Jewry. By focusing on the comparatively less well-documented activities of the Volksdeutsche population in western Poland, my project makes a crucial historiographical contribution to the growing body of literature on Eastern Europe’s German national minorities. And more: The study makes a unique argument about the socio-cultural motives that energize inter-ethnic violence between neighbors. The wartime collaboration of Poland’s German minority in the Nazi Final Solution was, I argue, an emotive response to social anxieties that were generated during the German invasion of September 1939. Local Nazi activists in western Poland manipulated ethnic German anxieties of demographic and social decline in order to provoke a genocidal response. Ethnic Germans could avenge the “original sin” of anti-Volksdeutsche persecution by publicly mistreating, exploiting, and deporting their Jewish neighbors. In this way, fantasies of victimhood and suffering turned ordinary men and women into killers.

Von Holt, Isabel. Figurationen des Bösen im barocken Trauerspiel. Freie Universität Berlin, Fachbereich Philosophie und Geisteswissenschaften, Institut für Deutsche und Niederländische Philologie. Advisors: Peter-André Alt and Hans Richard Brittnacher. September 2019. Abstract:

The study “Figurationen des Bösen im barocken Trauerspiel” deepens the understanding of 17th century literary and cultural production by reassessing the dramatic writing from authors such as Andreas Gryphius and Daniel Casper von Lohenstein as an aesthetics of evil avant la lettre. The dissertation argues that by locating evil inside its human protagonists, these plays respond to and were shaped by an anthropological shift from malus to malum in the early modern episteme, anticipating an internalization or even psychologization of evil, which until now has been claimed only for the 18th century onward. This research intervenes in the continuous discussion that considers aesthetics of evil to be a particularly modern phenomenon by presenting an early modern perspective. It thus revises the situation of the Baroque at the threshold between the premodern and modern periods.

Watroba, Karolina. "Der Zauberberg" and the Pleasures of Immersive Reading. University of Oxford, Faculty of Medieval and Modern Languages. Advisor: Ben Morgan. September 2019. Abstract:

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

Wangensteen, Kjell. Hyperborean Baroque: David Klöcker Ehrenstrahl (1628-98) and the Rhetoric of Style. Princeton University, Department of Art & Archaeology. Advisor: Thomas DaCosta Kaufmann. June 2019. Abstract:

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

Woodard, Stefanie M. The Latecomers: Ethnic German ‘Resettlers’ and their Integration into West Germany, 1970-1990. Emory University, Department of History. Advisor: Astrid M. Eckert. May 2019. Abstract:

“The Latecomers” examines the enduring presence of ethnic German identity in Upper Silesia, a western Polish borderland, and how this identity evolved through contact with and migration to West Germany. When emigration became possible in the 1970s and 1980s, “nationally indifferent” Silesians leveraged their historical ties to Germany to secure exit visas. Drawing on diaspora studies and migration scholarship, my dissertation treats events on both sides of the border as a continuous process of ethnic-identity formation. Through interviews and research in German and Polish archives, I argue that the resettlers’ borderland context enabled them to invoke their German ethnicity to receive privileged-immigrant status in West Germany or, later, to lobby for cultural rights in Poland. By interpreting this migration as embedded in its Cold War context, this dissertation reveals how an ethnically-coded conflict over victimhood and memory shaped not only the lives of individual émigrés from Silesia, but also West German-Polish relations as a whole.