Dr. Katja Schmieder

Dr. Katja Schmieder

Wissenschaftliche Mitarbeiterin (Junior Assistant Professor for American Literature)

Beethovenstraße 15, Room 3.5.02
04107 Leipzig

Telephone: +49 341 973 7334

I received my MA degree (Magister) in American Studies, Art History, and Psychology from the University of Leipzig, where I also completed my doctorate in American literature. In my master thesis, I wrote about the relationship between classic psychoanalysis and psychoanalytic literary criticism, and how the resulting synergies figure both as a motif and a critical lens to discuss popular serial killer fictions. With the ongoing encouragement of my supervisor, Prof. em. Anne Koenen, I developed my interest in the field of Literature and Science. In my dissertation, I thus interrogated the relevance of C. P. Snow’s famous statement about the allegedly unbridgeable gap between the “two cultures” – literature and science. Exploring American forensic crime novels of the late twentieth century, I discussed their potential to contribute to a reconciliation of said two cultures. My current project looks into the troublesome eugenicist logic that is reproduced - sometimes openly, sometimes covertly - across different genres: from the writings of nineteenth-century intellectuals to twentieth-century feminists to recent science fiction writers. Since my graduate studies, I have worked at the International Office and at the Institute for American Studies in positions that combine administration, teaching, and research.

US culture - and literature - have always been infatuated with science and technology, and in my research, I seek to identify the different modes of expression of this fascination in popular and canonical texts. Under which circumstances do audiences perceive forensic science in TV shows as factual? How do literature and science meet in speculative and science fiction? To what ends do detective stories include scientific discourse, and which literary strategies do scientific writings employ? To become familiar with the larger context of science as a cultural practice, I attended conventions for forensic psychiatrists, assisted in post-mortem gynecological surgery, and maintained mutually inspiring contacts with a forensic biologist, a gynecological surgeon, a physicist, and a crime profiler. Evolving from my interest in the field of Literature and Science, I also research the manifold fictional representations of the reproductive female body and its regulation by eugenicist ideologies as well as their legislation and practice in the past and the present.

My teaching activities largely coincide with my research interests as they focus on (Anglo-)American literature and culture, literary theory and criticism, literature and science – and the manifold interdisciplinary relations between them. Therefore I have been teaching courses on psychoanalysis and literature, intertextuality and intermediality, female crime authors, literature and medicine, as well as eugenics, reproduction, and age in literature and culture. I teach courses on the BA and MA levels.

Related to my work in the public sector, it seems only natural - if not imperative - that I am engaged in a lot of voluntary projects and activities:

  • As a member of the steering committee of a children’s home I supported homeless and abused children and adolescents, always nourishing hope that one day their lives will change for the better.
  • Serving a similar purpose, I counsel high school students who want to spend a year abroad with the student exchange association.
  • At the Leipzig student club moritzbastei, I helped organize projects, music events, the famous Leipzig Fahrradrallye as well as the annual children’s Christmas play.
  • Also, as a member of the local animal protection organization (Erster Freier Tierschutzverein Leipzig und Umgebung e.V.) I support the local animal shelter to improve the conditions of abandoned cats and dogs.
  • As a member of the International Swift Seminars/International Swift Conference, I contribute to the spread of academic and popular knowledge about the Common Swift, thus helping protect the Apus species worldwide together with scholars, scientists, and activists from Israel, Brazil, China, and many other countries.
  • For many years, I have been a member of the American Studies Alumni Association e.V. at our university, the DGfA (German Association for American Studies), the Society for Literature, Science, and the Arts at Johns Hopkins University, and the British Society for Literature and Science.
  • 2002 – Admission to the Leipzig Graduate Studies Program
  • 2002 – “Betrachtungen zur Rezeption amerikanischer Kriminalliteratur in Deutschland.” in: K. Kanzler and H. Paul (eds.). Amerikanische Populärkultur in Deutschland. Leipzig: Universitätsverlag. (review e.g.: http://hsozkult.geschichte.hu-berlin.de/rezensionen/4630.pdf)
  • 2003 – Nominee for the Sächsische Landesstipendium
  • 2003 – “Science and Detective Fiction.” (Paper. Doktoranden- und Habilitanden-Symposium. Humboldt Universität/Berlin.)
  • 2004 –“Science as Constituting Element in Contemporary Crime Fiction.” (Published Conference Paper. International Conference of the Society for Literature, Science, and the Arts. Cité Universitaire/Paris.)
  • 2005 – “Native American Life on the Waterhen Reservation in Canada.” (Public Talk. Translator for Norman Martell of the Cree Tribe. Grassi Museum/Leipzig.)
  • 2006 – “The Image of Science in Popular Culture.” (Conference Paper. International Conference of the British Society for Literature and Science. Imperial College/London.)
  • 2008 – “The Very Last Christmas. A Holiday ‘To Die For.’” (Annual Christmas Lecture of the ASAA. Villa Tillmanns/Leipzig.)
  • 2010 - “Weird Economies: Fictionalizing Reproduction, Medicalization, and Gender.” (Conference Paper. DGfA / GAAS Convention. Humboldt Universität/Berlin.)
  • 2011 - “ ‘Do Not Cross’ - TV Women Doctors Trespass on Male Territory.” (Conference Paper. International Conference on Literature and Medicine. Philipps-Universität/Marburg.)
  • 2011 - “Weird Economies: Fictionalizing Reproduction, Medicalization, and Gender.” in: Eva Boesenberg, Reinhard Isensee, and Martin Klepper (eds.). American Economies. Heidelberg: Winter.
  • 2011 - “ ‘Crime Scene - Do Not Cross: Fernsehärztinnen erobern männliches Territorium.” (Talk. Center for Women’s and Children’s Health at the Medizinische Fakultät/Leipzig: http://americanstudies.uni-leipzig.de/blogs/30/asl-goes-truly-interdisciplinary)
  • 2012 – Current Project: Interdisciplinary project with members of the Medical Faculty at Leipzig University “Gynecologists as Criminals: Fictional and (F)actual Representations” (working title)
  • 2013 - “The Rhetorics of Space and Place in the Discourse on Abortion in Nineteenth-Century America.” (Conference Paper. DGfA/GAAS Convention. FAU/Erlangen.)
  • 2013 - “ ‘Do Not Cross’ - TV Women Doctors Trespassing on Male Territory.” in: Carmen Birkle and Johanna Heil (eds.) Communicating Disease: Cultural Representations of American Medicine. Heidelberg: Winter.
  • 2015 - “Re-/Presentations of Gynecology in Popular Texts.” (Conference Paper. DGfA/GAAS Convention. Universität Bonn.)
  • 2016 - “The Common Swift in Culture and Literature: Poland, Great Britain, Germany.” (Conference Paper. International Swift Seminars. Szczecin/Poland.)
  • 2016 - “Psychoanalysis and Beyond: Analyzing Hannibal Lecter.” in: Antje Dallmann, Eva Boesenberg, and Martin Klepper (eds.). Approaches to American Cultural Studies. London/New York: Routledge.
  • 2016 - “Forensik - Fakt und Fiktion.”(Public Talk. Science Slam. Werk 2/Leipzig.)
  • 2018 - “ ‘The Coolest Bird’: Cultural Differences Between American and British Swifts.” (Conference Paper. 5th International Swift Seminars. Tel Aviv/Israel.)