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Barbara Natalie Nagel (LMU München) Appointed to the Faculty

The German Department is delighted to announce that Barbara Natalie Nagel, a wissenschaftliche Mitarbeiterin in the German Department at Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich, will join the German Department faculty as an assistant professor starting September 2014. Prof. Nagel’s research and teaching interests include German and Comparative Literature in the Baroque, around 1800, as well as Realist literature, with a theoretical emphasis on rhetoric, theology, law and literature, theories of emotion, psychoanalysis, gender, and sexuality.

After completing her undergraduate studies in comparative literature and history at the Freie Universität Berlin, Nagel went on to do graduate work in German at New York University, where she received her Ph.D. in 2012. Her first book Der Skandal des Literalen: Barocke Literalisierungen in Gryphius, Kleist, Büchner was published the same year by the Wilhelm Fink Verlag. In it, Nagel introduces literalization as an elaborate literary-rhetorical procedure best understood as a profane transformation of motifs and devices from the Judeo-Christian typological tradition. Nagel is currently working on two further book projects: a monograph entitled Ambiguous Aggressions. Flirtation, Passive Aggression, and Domestic Violence in Realism, and an edited collection Flirtations: Rhetoric and Aesthetics This Side of Seduction, under contract with Fordham University Press and slated to appear in 2015. From 2008 to 2011, Barbara Natalie Nagel was a member of the DFG doctoral research group Lebensformen und Lebenswissen at the Europa-Universität Viadrina (Frankfurt/Oder) and the Universität Potsdam. She has published articles in Law and Literature, CLCWeb: Comparative Literature and Culture, and has forthcoming book chapters and handbook entries on authors including Martin Luther, Jean Paul, and Wilhelm Jensen.

Joel B. Lande (Univ. of Chicago) Appointed to the Faculty

Joe Lande (Color)
The German Department is delighted to announce that Joel B. Lande, a member of the Princeton Society of Fellows since 2011, will join the German Department faculty as an assistant professor starting September 2014. In addition to the study of German literature and theater history, Lande’s interests and competencies reach into other areas of European literature, especially classical antiquity and its various receptions. He maintains an active interest in the German philosophical tradition from Kant and Hegel to Wittgenstein as well as its contemporary Anglo-American interpretation. He is also deeply committed to the study of Goethe, whose accomplishments as a scientist, dramatist, novelist, and poet serve as a source of endless fascination.

After completing his B.A. in Comparative Literature and Society at Columbia University, Lande spent two years studying philosophy at the Humboldt Universität in Berlin before returning to the United States to pursue a PhD in German literature at the University of Chicago. As a graduate student, Lande focused on German literature from the 17th to the 19th century, with particular emphasis on the efflorescence of literary and philosophical activity around 1800. He is currently completing the revisions of his first book with the working title “The Persistence of Folly: Comedy, The Fool, and the Emergence of German Dramatic Literature.” In this study of the transformation of stage performance and playwriting from the arrival of traveling theatrical players around 1590 to the seminal literary achievements of Goethe and Kleist, Lande unpacks the medial and generic dimensions of the eighteenth-century project to alter the cultural locus of the theater.

During his first two years in the Princeton Society of Fellows, Lande coordinated and co-taught the intensive year-long, double-credit undergraduate introduction to European thought, literature, and art from classical antiquity to the twentieth century. As a faculty member in the German Department starting in Fall 2014 he will teach GER 209, the introduction to German Literature after 1700 (taught in German), and a graduate seminar on Weimar Classicism.

Sigrid Weigel (ZfL Berlin) spending the semester in the Princeton German Department

Weigel_2009_hohe AuflösungSigrid Weigel, Director of the Centre for Literature Research (ZfL) in Berlin and Permanent Visiting Professor in the German Department at Princeton, is once again spending a semester at Princeton. One of the world’s leading Warburg scholars and the co-editor of a recently published massive one-volume German edition of Warburg’s writings, Weigel is teaching an interdisciplinary graduate seminar (GER521) this semester entitled “Aby Warburg and the History of Science around 1900” in which key texts by this major cultural theorist are situated within the central methodological and intellectual-historical debates of his time. Her undergraduate seminar (GER314) entitled “Reading Faces – Methods of Deciphering in Literature, Sciences and Art,” undertakes a genealogy and archeology of methods of deciphering through the study of textual sources from literature, art theory, psychology, evolutionary and critical theory, and visual images from portraiture, photography, film, and science. Weigel’s 2008 monograph on Walter Benjamin was recently published in an English translation by Chadwick Truscott Smit as Walter Benjamin: Images, the Creaturely, and the Holy (Stanford UP 2013). While in Princeton she is also completing her latest book Grammatologie der Bilder.

Renowned Performance Studies Scholar to spend Spring 2014 as Visiting Professor

GBrandstetterProf. Gabriele Brandstetter is one of the leading figures in the fields of Kulturwissenschaften and Performance Studies. Trained as a philologist and Germanist, she is known and internationally recognized as a pioneer in dance studies and was centrally involved in establishing this field as an academic discipline. Her research focuses on the history and aesthetics of dance from the 18th century until today, theatre and dance of the avant-garde; performance, theatricality and gender differences; concepts of body, movement and image. The thoroughly interdisciplinary character of her scholarship is evident in the numerous books and more than 100 articles she has published –and the wide range of large-scale research projects, exhibitions, international conferences and dance festivals which she has organized– in which she weaves together issues from the worlds of theatre, music, art and literature.

In the Spring term Prof. Brandstetter will offer an undergraduate seminar in German GER 324 “1914: Masks, Violence, and Spectatorship in the Shadow of WWI” which will investigate texts written within the context of the massive rupture occasioned by the First World War. The course, which will take place Tuesdays & Thursdays from 11-12:20, will encompass issues of language and mediality, techniques and dramaturgies of spectatorship, metaphors of acting, masks, and masquerade, and the exceedingly important role of the body in the propagation and experience of physical violence. Prof. Brandstetter will also teach a graduate seminar GER 522 “Dramatic Art and Theory: Figurations of the Virtuoso” which will look at the discourse on the virtuoso between the 19th century and contemporary discussions around skills, discipline and work in neoliberal economies. The seminar which will take place Tuesday afternoons from 1:30-4:20, will examine figurations of the virtuosic in relation to images of the artist as genius, technician and “charlatan”; it will also discuss notions of excellence and mastery as well as the traits of failure–aspects of the virtuoso, understood not as an exception, but rather as a necessity (Paolo Virno).

After her studies in German, history, politics and theatre studies at Erlangen, Regensburg, Vienna and Munich, Brandstetter completed her studies at the University of Munich in 1983 with a thesis on the lyric poetry of Clemens Brentano. She subsequently taught and researched at the University of Bayreuth until 1993 when, following her habilitation, she took a position at the University of Giessen, then four years later a prestigious professorship at the University of Basel until 2003 when she was given a major chair in Theatre and Dance Studies at the Free University of Berlin, where she is also co-director of the International Research Centre “Interweaving Performance Cultures.”

Among her many titles, Brandstetter is vice-president of „Heinrich-von-Kleist-Society“, a member of „German National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina“ and a jury member for „art history, musicology, theatre-, film- and media-studies“ of the German Research Council (DFG). In 2004 she was awarded the “Gottfried-Wilhelm-Leibniz-Prize” by the DFG (an honor even more prestigious than the MacArthur “Genius” award), and in 2011 the Federal Cross of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany.

Her numerous book publications include Tanz-Lektüren. Körperbilder und Raumfiguren der Avantgarde (1995); ReMembering the Body (2000, co-ed. H. Völckers; Bild-Sprung- TanzTheaterBewegung im Wechsel der Medien (2005); Methoden der Tanzwissenschaft. Modellanalysen zu Pina Bauschs ‚Sacre du Printemps‛ (2007, co-ed. G. Klein); Schwarm(E)Motion. Bewegung zwischen Affekt und Masse (2007, co-eds. B. Brandl-Risi, K. van Eikels), Tanz als Anthropologie (2007, co-ed. C. Wulf), Prognosen über Bewegungen (2009, co-eds. S. Peters, K. van Eikels); Improvisieren. Paradoxien des Unvorhersehbaren. Kunst – Medien – Praxis (2010, co-eds. H.-F. Bormann, A. Matzke).

Recent Books by German Department PhDs

One metric of the range and quality of the doctoral work done by the graduate students in the German Department’s PhD Program is the following list of recently published books, the majority of which were the direct outgrowth of work done for, or in conjunction with, the dissertation.

Florian Nikolas Becker (PhD 2008)
Ed. (with Paola Hernandez and Brenda Werth), Imagining Human Rights in Twenty-First Century Theater. Global Perspectives (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2013)

Nicola Gess (PhD 2005)
Primitives Denken: Wilde, Kinder und Wahnsinnige in der literarischen Moderne (Müller, Musil, Benn, Benjamin) (Paderborn: Fink, 2013)

Nicola Gess (PhD 2005)
Gewalt der Musik: Literatur und Musikkritik um 1800 (Freiburg i. Br.: Rombach, 2011); 2nd Ed.

Nicola Gess (PhD 2005)
Ed., Literarischer Primitivismus (Berlin: De Gruyter, 2012)

Angela Cornelia Holzer (PhD 2011)
Rehabilitationen Roms: Die römische Antike in der deutschen Kultur zwischen Winckelmann und Niebuhr (Heidelberg: Universitätsverlag Winter, 2013)

Angela Cornelia Holzer (PhD 2011)
Co-ed. with Friederike Felicitas Günther & Enrico Müller, Zur Genealogie des Zivilisationsprozesses: Friedrich Nietzsche und Norbert Elias (Berlin/New York: Walter De Gruyter, 2010)

James McFarland (PhD 2002)
Constellation: Friedrich Nietzsche and Walter Benjamin in the Now-Time of History (New York: Fordham University Press, 2012)

Daniel H. Magilow (PhD 2003)
The Photography of Crisis, The Photo Essays of Weimar Germany (University Park, PA: Penn State UP, 2012)

Daniel H. Magilow (PhD 2003)
Ed. with Elizabeth Bridges & Kristin T. Vander Lugt, Nazisploitation!: The Nazi Image in Low-Brow Cinema and Culture (New York: Continuum, 2011)

Angela May Mergenthaler (PhD 2007)
Zwischen Eros und Mitteilung: Die Frühromantik im Symposion der Athenaeums-Fragmente (Paderborn: Ferdinand Schöningh, 2012)

Jakob Norberg (PhD 2008)
Sociability and its enemies: German political theory after 1945 (Evanston, Illinois: Northwestern UP, 2014)

Michael Taylor (PhD 2007)
Vor der Familie: Grenzbedingungen einer modernen Institution Collective monograph by Albrecht Koschorke, Nacim Ghanbari, Eva Eßlinger, Sebastian Susteck, and Michael Thomas Taylor (Konstanz: Konstanz University Press, 2010)

Tobias Wilke (PhD 2008)
Medien der Unmittelbarkeit. Dingkonzepte und Wahrnehmungstechniken 1918-1939 (Munich: Wilhelm Fink, 2010)

Tobias Wilke (PhD 2008)
Co-Editor with Jutta Müller-Tamm & Henning Schmidgen, Gefühl und Genauigkeit. Empirische Ästhetik um 1900 (Munich: Wilhelm Fink, 2013)

2014 Princeton-Weimar Summer School for Media Studies: Call for Applications

Fourth Annual Princeton-Weimar Summer School for Media Studies to take place in Princeton, NJ from June 15 – June 21, 2014.

The Princeton-Weimar Summer School for Media Studies – a collaboration between the Bauhaus-Universität Weimar (Internationales Kolleg für Kulturtechnikforschung und Medienphilosophie, IKKM) and Princeton University (German Department) – returns to Princeton in 2014 for its fourth installment. The 2014 topic will be “Practices, Procedures, Recursions: The Reality of Media?” The weeklong program, hosted by Princeton’s German Department, will be directed by Bernhard Siegert (Weimar) and Nikolaus Wegmann (Princeton).

The 2014 Summer School for Media Studies will be devoted to approaches in media analysis whose focus are the operations, procedures, and practices that constitute cultures. In distinction to approaches whose goal is a comprehensive media theory, the fourth Princeton-Weimar Summer School for Media Studies will map out what can be called the “practical turn“ in media analysis. This “practical turn” is documented first and foremost by the rapid expansion of the new field of Cultural Techniques, the study of symbolic or symbol-generating practices and operations that are the very basis of cultures. These include techniques and media of reading, writing, and calculating, but also entail practices and methods of representation (e.g. linear perspective, but also masks, personae, effigies, votives), navigation, and technical or technological operations such as constructing, designing, collecting, modelling, drawing, note-taking, map-making, bookkeeping, filing, and the like. With the operational logic of cultural technologies as its goal, this strand of analysis focuses on the relation of technology, media, and culture and the operational production of networks between these.

It can be argued that the study of cultural techniques intersects with a version of philology, one that returns to (but also reinvents) the operations and practices that make it possible to analyse texts as media, and which therefore can be called “media philology.” Philology and media studies have been entangled from the beginning, of course: a number of media scholars, including Marshall McLuhan, Eric A. Havelock, Walter J. Ong, or Friedrich Kittler were trained as philologists and literary critics. But more importantly (and perhaps unsurprisingly), media studies owe a considerable part of their methodological approaches to the field of literary studies. The most prominent examples here are the study of the transition from oral poetry to written and printed literature by the Toronto School of Communication and Kittler’s analysis of Aufschreibesysteme (discourse networks).

Media philology is on the one hand dedicated to practices such as (re-)reading, collective reading, note-taking, compiling, collecting, or searching and finding, and on the other hand to operations and operators like spatialization, titles, paragraphs, page numbers, blanks, quotation marks, ellipses and so forth. Media philology thus de-centers the transcendental signified of hermeneutics and its cultural semantics, and situates at the core of the discipline operations, practices, and materialities which are, far from being mere auxiliary means, crucial conditions for the constitution of entities like the author, the reader, the work, and the process of meaning production.

Beyond the study of cultural techniques and (media) philology, recent developments in sociology and anthropology demonstrate an increasing emphasis on practices, operations, and procedures. Examples here are Bruno Latour’s studies of laboratory practice and of chains of operations especially in the production of scientific facts; Tim Ingold’s theory of making and especially the “textility” of making; Niklas Luhmann’s sociological systems theory as well as Michel de Certeau’s inquiries into the Practices of Everyday Life.

In all of these approaches, the knowledge produced is not a theoretical one but one that depends on the very operations and procedures of its own production. Media philology, for instance, emphasizes both the technical character of philological knowledge and its dependence on specific technologies of writing. The fourth Princeton-Weimar summer school will therefore place special emphasis on the relevance of philological practices and operations for a “computerized society.” If, as media scholar Lev Manovich claims, the database has become the symbolic form of our culture, what role do philological practices play? How does the database differ from traditional collections of documents, e.g. archives and libraries, and which operations of access does the database instantiate?

The summer school will explore how these approaches can advance the methodological framework for an analysis of cultures that is based on media operations, procedures, practices.
Besides the directors the faculty will include renowned film maker Harun Farocki as well as scholars of media and literature such as Thomas Y. Levin (Princeton), Petra McGillen (Dartmouth), Grant Wythoff (Columbia), and Harun Maye (Weimar). A full list of faculty will be announced here soon.

The Princeton-Weimar Summer School for Media Studies invites applications from outstanding doctoral candidates throughout the world in media studies and related fields such as film studies, literary studies, philosophy, art history, architecture, sociology, politics, the history of science and visual culture.

All application materials should be sent by email to:
and must be received by November 25, 2013.

See How to Apply for further information.

Please submit all inquires to:

Prof. Inka Mülder-Bach (LMU-Munich) Teaching Graduate and Undergraduate Classes this Fall

Inka Mülder-Bach

Inka Mülder-Bach

Professor Inka Mülder-Bach, one of three Permanent Visiting Professors on the German Department faculty, will be in Princeton for the Fall semester teaching a graduate seminar (GER 512) entitled “Transformations of the Novel: Goethe’s Wilhelm Meister”, and an undergraduate class (GER 303) on “Literary Case Studies.”

Prof. Mülder-Bach’s description of the graduate seminar, which will take place on Wednesdays, 1:30-4:20pm, reads as follows:

While the 19th century canonized Goethe’s seminal novel Wilhelm Meisters Lehrjahre (1795/96) as the paradigmatic “Bildungsroman” of German literature recent scholarship has rediscovered it as part of an open-ended literary project. Published six years after the French revolution Goethe’s novel reacts to the violent political, economical and cultural transformations of the age with a narrative of conflicts, illusions, crises, losses and transitions that transforms the genre of the novel itself. The course will study these transformations in the light of the novel’s immediate precursors and its critical reception in romanticism.

Regarding the undergraduate class, which will be taught on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons from 3-4:20pm and will focus on works by Schiller, Kleist, Büchner, Kafka, Döblin and Musil, Prof. Mülder-Bach writes:

Since their emergence in the age of the Enlightenment, literary case studies have served as a genre which measures and weighs rules against exceptions, society against the individual, general norms against particular instances and thus implicitly negotiates the function of literature and its relation to normative and epistemological systems. The course will deal with narrative case studies and examine their development from the 18th to the 20th century.

Prof. Mülder-Bach received her PhD from the University of Tübingen after academic training at Tübingen, Oslo, and Berkeley. Before joining the Institute of German Philology at Ludwig Maximilian Universität (LMU) in Munich, where she has been since 1998, she held positions at the Freie Universität and the Zentrum für Literaturforschung in Berlin. Professor Mülder-Bach has been a visiting professor at Columbia University, New York, the IFK, Vienna, Heinrich-Heine-Universität, Düsseldorf, and NYU.

Inka Mülder-Bach is a Vertrauensdozentin der Studienstiftung des deutschen Volkes. In 2008-09 and 2010-11, Mülder-Bach held an LMU Excellence-in-Research professorship, and from 2009-2010, she served as vice president of the LMU. She is the editor of the works of Siegfried Kracauer and co-editor of Poetica.

Professor Mülder-Bach’s research focuses on German literature from the 18th to the 20th century in a comparative perspective, traditions of aesthetics and poetics, theories or narration, scenes of origins and constructions of the beginning of modernity, and Robert Musil.

New Departmental Officers for AY 2013-2014

With the start of the new academic year, there have been some staffing changes in the department. Thomas Y. Levin will be Acting Chair for the year while Nikolaus Wegmann is on sabbatical leave in Germany; Sarah Pourciau has taken on the duties of Departmental Representative and Devin Fore will continue as Director of Graduate Studies. We extend a special welcome to Emily Barth, who joins the department as our new Events Coordinator. Further details and contact information about these and all members of the German Department’s community can be found under the “People” menu on the departmental website.

Prof. Michael Saman Joins Faculty as Lecturer for AY13-14

410CA818-3156-E011-8B96-000C293A51F7Prof. Michael Saman will join the Princeton German Department as a Lecturer this Fall. Saman did his undergrad training at Duke University (where he wrote his thesis with Fred Jameson) and then went on to do graduate work in Philosophy and Germanistik at the FU-Berlin and in German at Harvard University. His dissertation (directed by Peter Burgard with Peter Fenves and Oliver Simons) was on “Goethe as a Reader of Kant, 1788-1832: Judgment, Grace, and the Most Desirable Calling.” Prof. Saman has taught in the German Departments of the College of William & Mary, Brown University and, for the last two years, as the recipient of a prestigious ACLS New Faculty Fellowship in the German Department at UCLA. Besides the revision of his 2010 dissertation as a book entitled Peculiar Analogues’: Goethe As a Reader of Kant, Michael is also working on a volume entitled The Voice of Time: W.E.B. Du Bois and Classical German Thought which he describes as “a study of the incorporation of texts and ideas from Herder, Goethe, Schiller, Wagner, and Hegel in The Souls of Black Folk, focusing on the impact of German historicism on Du Bois’s political thought.” In the Fall term Saman will teach Ger207 “Society, Politics and Culture in Germany, 1890-1945” and an upper-level seminar, cross listed with African American Studies, Ger307/AAS307 “Race and Classical German Thought.”

Three Advanced Graduate Students Win Prestigious Fellowships

Alice R. Christensen is the recipient of a DAAD Doctoral Research Fellowship which she will spend at the Internationales Kolleg für Kulturtechnikforschung und Medienphilosophie (IKKM) of the Bauhaus-Universität Weimar.

Jeffrey Kirkwood has been awarded the prestigious Harold W. Dodds Fellowship for the 2013–2014 academic year which he will spend at Princeton finishing his dissertation on theories of continuity in psychophysical experimentation around 1900 and media-technological discourses on the psychological ramifications of early German cinema.

Hannah Hunter-Parker has received a Donald and Mary Hyde Fellowship for Research Abroad in the Humanities, in support of her dissertation research at the Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin during the 2013-2014 academic year.