I am Professor and Chair of American Literature. After positions at U Konstanz and TU Dresden, I (re-)joined American Studies Leipzig in 2018 (both my doctoral and postdoctoral work had been at Leipzig). My research focuses on the ways in which literature and other venues of storytelling (especially television and film) serve as platforms where US society grapples with the kind of society it wants to be. Among other things, I have worked on literary negotiations of gender and its intersections with other relations of power, on the role of narrativity in processes of social meaning-making, and repeatedly on the poetics and politics of popular culture.
My research is governed by an interest in literature as a platform where US society grapples with---and often fights over---the kind of society it wants to be. I focus on how fiction represents, justifies, or critiques societal inequality, and on how literary form shapes the ways in which fiction can do this. In addition, I am interested in the boundaries of the category 'literature'---in the dynamics of canon-formation that have policed this boundary, and in other fields of cultural expression that have been tied to literature (such as popular media, material culture, etc.).
In particular, my areas of specialization are:
- narration, narrativity, and textuality across different genres, modes, and media
- the poetics and politics of popular culture, past and present
- gender and intersectionality in literature and popular culture
- interdisciplinary approaches in literary studies (law and literature; literature and architecture).
My research has been supported by various grants and fellowships. Most recently, I completed a project in the Dresden-based Collaborative Research Center "Invectivity" on disparagement in contemporary popular culture.
My teaching contributes to the "Literature & Culture" pillar of ASL's curriculum. I teach US literature across its history, from a survey lecture on literary history for our Bachelor's program to graduate seminars for our MA. Popular culture is a second key area of my teaching, where I also offer a survey lecture and topical seminars.
Many of my seminars have a transmedia framework, combining literature and other forms of cultural expression, and they often include materials from different historical periods. In doing so, my goal is to give students a sense of the breadth of cultural expression in the US, and to convey to them the traditions that have shaped the culture of today.
In my classes, I want to empower students to become more curious and critical readers, by exposing them to (hopefully) exciting texts and by engaging them in methods and ideas that open up new perspectives on the materials of US culture.
The Kitchen and the Factory: Spaces of Women's Work and the Negotiation of Social Difference in Antebellum American Literature. Heidelberg: Universitätsverlag Winter, 2016.
'Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations': The Multicultural Evolution of Star Trek. Heidelberg: Universitätsverlag Winter, 2004.
With Sebastian M. Herrmann and Stefan Schubert, eds. Beyond Narrative: Literature, Culture, and the Borderlands of Narrativity. Transcript, 2022.
With Stefan Schubert and Sophie Spieler, eds. Realität in Serie: Realitätsbehauptungen in zeitgenössischen Fernsehserien. Springer VS, 2022.
With Christian Schwarke, eds. Star Trek Discovery: Gesellschaftsvisionen für die Gegenwart. Springer VS, 2019.
With Brigitte Georgi-Findlay, eds. Mensch, Maschine, Maschinenmenschen: Multidisziplinäre Perspektiven auf die Serie Westworld. Springer VS, 2018.
With S. Herrmann, A. Hoffmann, S. Schubert and F. Usbeck, Eds. Poetics of Politics: Textuality and Social Relevance in Contemporary American Literature and Culture. Heidelberg: Universitätsverlag Winter, 2015.
With S. Herrmann, A. Hoffmann and F. Usbeck, Eds. Participating Audiences, Imagined Public Spheres: The Cultural Work of Contemporary American(-ized) Narratives. Leipzig: Universitätsverlag Leipzig, 2012.
With S. Herrmann, A. Koenen, Z. Kusmierz and L. Schmieding, Eds. Ambivalent Americanizations: Popular and Consumer Culture in Central and Eastern Europe. Heidelberg: Universitätsverlag Winter, 2008.
With Heike Paul, Eds. Amerikanische Populärkultur in Deutschland: Case Studies in Cultural Transfer Past and Present. Leipzig: Leipziger Universitätsverlag, 2002.
Selected Recent Articles
"Affect, the Popular, and Vogues of Feeling in Pop Culture (Studies): On Robyn Warhol's Having a Good Cry." Culture2: Theorizing Theory for the 21st Century. Vol. 1. Ed. Frank Kelleter and Alexander Starre. Transcript, 2022. 143-156.
"'No Show Dissed Quite Like This One': Invective at the Borderlands of Narrative and Spectacle in Veep." Beyond Narrative: Exploring Narrative Liminality and Its Cultural Work. Ed. Sebastian Herrmann, Katja Kanzler, and Stefan Schubert. Transcript, 2022. 157-170.
"The Handmaid's Whiteness: 'Race' in Roman und Serie." Bildung nach reaktionären Revolutionen: Was sich von der TV Serie The Handmaid's Tale lernen lässt. Ed. Anja Besand. Springer, 2022. 17-30.
"The Cringe and the Sneer: Structures of Feeling in Veep." Humanities 10.4 (2021).
"Invective Form in Popular Media Culture: Genre — Mode — Affordance." Kulturwissenschaftliche Zeitschrift 6.1 (2021): 26-36.
"Female Lawyer Figures in Contemporary TV Legal Drama: Embodiment and Gender in Figurations of the Legal Process." in Irina Brittner/Sabine N. Meyer/Peter Schneck, eds. We the People? The United States and the Question of Rights. Winter, 2020, 233-247.
"'To Tell the Kitchen Version': Architectural Figurations of Race and Gender in Harriet Jacobs’s Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl." Repub. in: Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl: A Norton Critical Edition. 2nd ed. Ed. Frances Smith Foster and Richard Yarborough. New York: Norton, 2018. 341-50.
"Kate Chopin's The Awakening". Handbook of the American Novel of the 19th Century. Ed. Christine Gerhardt. de Gruyter, 2018. 543-557.
I strongly believe that public outreach is vital for academia, especially in the humanities----because the knowledge we produce can and should enrich civic culture in our communities, and because our communities have much to contribute to our knowledge production. In this spirit, I have been involved in a number of outreach activities, such as panel discussions, teacher training workshops, or interviews. Here is a selection of a few recent events to which I contributed:
- webtalks "Star Trek und die Politik" (Friedrich Naumann Stiftung; Nov. 2021 and 2022)
- online talk "LE SALON" (hosted by Ilse Nagelschmidt and Inge Bell; Dec. 2020)
- panel discussion "Ton – Macht – Politik: Ein Gespräch über Sprache und Öffentlichkeit" (hosted by Catrin Gersdorf, Würzburg; Nov. 2020)
- panel discussion "Demokratie ist, wenn man trotzdem lacht" (Volkshochschule Leipzig; Feb. 2019)
Service to the Profession (Selected)
- Advisory Board: Zeitschrift für Anglistik und Amerikanistik (since 2022)
- Executive Board: FraGes -- Center for Gender Studies, U Leipzig (since 2021)
- Chair of the Board: German-American Institute Saxony (since 2019)
- Advisory Board: American Studies Journal (since 2018)
- Advisory Board: German Association of American Studies (since 2016)