dissertations in german studies 2021

Hennessy, Mary. Handmaidens of Modernity: Gender, Labor, and Media in Weimar Germany. University of Michigan, Department of Germanic Languages and Literatures. Advisor: Johannes von Moltke. August 2021. Abstract:

This dissertation examines the professions, subjectivities, and social and cultural forms associated with new media for storing and transmitting information during the Weimar Republic—Germany’s first democratic state (1919-1933). I focus on three technologies—telephone, film, and typewriter—that propelled German women into the workforce in unprecedented numbers and were marked, from their nineteenth- century beginnings, by gendered patterns of labor. Informed by feminist cultural studies, labor history, film studies, and recent German media theory on Kulturtechniken, or cultural techniques, the dissertation demonstrates the gendered logics of these new media. Challenging German media theory’s largely gender-neutral approach to the history of technology and complicating dominant understandings of women as consumers and spectators of modern media, this project reveals women’s multiple (often hidden) labors in media production in order to retheorize relationships of gender, labor, and technological change in modern Germany. Focusing on the occupations of telephone operator, typist, or film editor, each chapter analyzes texts that construct, and thereby help theorize, women’s roles as the “handmaidens” to Weimar modernity.

Lampe, Josch. The Marxisms of West Germany's "1968": Remaking a Public Critique through Literary Magazines. University of Texas at Austin, Department of Germanic Studies. Advisor: Katherine Arens. February 2021. Abstract:

My dissertation focuses on two of West Germany's preeminent literary magazines—Kursbuch (founded in 1965) and Literaturmagazin (founded in 1973)—and the ways in which they sought to shape and redefine a literary public sphere as a site of cultural and political critique during the long '68, as well as their role in the reevaluation and dissemination of different, global Marxisms. It combines archival research on the editorial correspondence and conceptualization of these respective magazines with a detailed analysis of their content in order to better understand the intellectual event "1968" and its immediate aftermath as part of a larger contested history of publishing practices in West Germany after 1945. My project recoups a set of West German and international voices that have been too often overlooked as viable experiments in Western Marxisms within an international framework, not just as part of West Germany's nation-(re)building and World War II recovery. In other words, these magazines brought to public discussion a broader spectrum of leftist thought. I illustrate how the journals' editorial staffs were assessing West Germany by addressing its weaknesses through the lenses of an inherently international, multilayered, and often incoherent set of Marxist agendas in the making.

Luginbill, Sarah. Portable Altars, Devotion, and Memory in German Lands, 1050-1190 CE. University of Colorado Boulder, Department of History. Advisor: Anne E. Lester, Johns Hopkins University. May 2021. Abstract:

This dissertation examines the patronage and production of non-fixed altars during the height of the Investiture Conflict and during the period of the early crusades (c.1095-1190), when notions about the role of priests, the Mass, and ecclesiastical ritual were changing in the Holy Roman Empire. Through the analysis of textual references to devotional objects and their meanings in monastic chronicles and charters, this dissertation argues that because of their portable nature, altars, reliquaries, censers, patens, liturgical textiles, and crosses provided a physical conduit for memory and a source of wealth in times of crisis. Additionally, it demonstrates how reliquaries and altars not only preserved the individual and institutional identities of their donors through inscriptions and iconography, but also drew attention to the sacrality of the object itself. In the midst of the Saxon War and ongoing struggles with the Holy Roman Emperor, nobles and clergy in Saxony expressed their piety and asserted their autonomy through devotional object donation and treatment. Surviving portable altars from this region, when studied alongside extant charters and chronicles, provide insight into the centrality of objects to Christian devotion in periods of upheaval.

Ploschnitzki, Patrick. "Das hätten sie mal richtig übersetzen sollen!" - Folk Myths and Fanscaping in German Dubbing. University of Arizona, Department of German Studies. Advisor: David Gramling. April 2021. Abstract:

“Somebody translated it wrong at some point, and then everybody started talking that way.” is one of the many constantly perpetuated folk myths arising around dubbing, i.e., lipsynchronized audiovisual translation. The dissertation investigates this and other assumptions in a German-German context, especially the notion of “wrong translations” that is particularly present in fan-made review platforms of television dubbed into German. Contrasted with interviews with agents of the current German dubbing industry, the dissertation further explores online amateur commentary on canonical episodes of the US-American animated sitcom The Simpsons and the fan-translator relationship in a globalized, networked, enlightened context. Central to his research is the concept of fanscaping: unsolicited lay revisions of professional translations, usually generated on (proprietary) online platforms by enthusiast communities insisting, often inconsistently, on intercultural accuracy and semantic precision over translators’ deliberate, pragmatic compromises.

Thompson, Peter. Synthesizing the chemical subject: Poison gas, gas masks, and collective armoring in Germany, 1915-1938. University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. Advisor: Peter Fritzsche. February 2021. Abstract:

At the broadest level, “Synthesizing the Chemical Subject” argues that the gas mask proved to exacerbate fears of possible chemical warfare among Germans in the 1920s and 30s. As a technological object imbued with pervasive anxiety about political, social, and environmental instability, the gas mask was a ubiquitous presence in interwar German society. Not only did daily encounters with the mask visibly present the possibility of aero-chemical attack, but the object itself became a symbol of the very nature of German futurity. The project narrates the contestations over this vision of a "chemically-minded" future and the ways in which scientific calls for gas mask distribution aligned with the Nazis’ appeal to a protected and disciplined Third Reich that extended into each German household. By revealing the ways in which a seemingly protective 20th century technology maintained its own violent politics and existed within a perversely self-justifying technological order, the project underscores the ways in which technological objects have historically impacted perceptions of both national community and environmental risk.

Tretakov, Alexandra. Paul Celan in Russland. Rezeption — Übersetzung — Wirkung. Universität Trier. Advisors: Prof. Dr. Henrieke Stahl and Prof. Dr. Friederike Reents. April 2021. Abstract:

Paul Celans Status in Russland hat sich in den letzten zwei Jahrzehnten stark verändert: Von einem Autor, der noch in den 1990er-Jahren bloß in literarischen Kreisen bekannt war, ist er zu einer Figur des breiten künstlerischen Kanons geworden. Dabei ist die russische Übersetzungslandschaft in Bezug auf Celan von Pluralität geprägt. An diese Beobachtung knüpft die vorliegende Studie an: Sie befasst sich mit den unterschiedlichen Übersetzungsstrategien der russischsprachigen ‚Dichterinnen-Übersetzerinnen‘ Ol’ga Sedakova und Anna Glazova sowie Aleša Prokop’evs. Im Anschluss daran wird Celans poetische und poetologische Wirkung auf ihr eigenes dichterisches Werk untersucht sowie die Bedeutung der kabbalistischen Numerik in Celans Gedichten herausgearbeitet.

Uhuegbu, Chiedozie Michael. Borders, Belonging and Otherness in African-German literature. Vanderbilt University, German, Russian, and East European Studies. Advisor: Christoph Zeller. March 2021. Abstract:

My dissertation focuses on how African and German authors depict migration experience. I examine how Jenny Erpenbeck’s Gehen, ging, gegangen (2015), Nura Abdi’s Tränen im Sand (2013), Luc Degla’s Das afrikanische Auge (2006), and Chima Oji’s Unter die Deutschen gefallen: Erfahrungen eines Afrikaners (1992) describe migration experiences. Migration literature has gained attention among scholars of different fields; however, close readings are rare and do not cover the autobiographical and fictional works that are at the center of this dissertation. Although scholars have begun to focus on Afro-German in recent years, the African diaspora is not yet to be covered by scholarship. This dissertation aims to be a groundbreaking study that discusses African-German migration literature. It combines texts from authors of German and African descent to foreground questions of borders, belonging, marginality and cultural difference that emerge from Africans’ migration to Germany. Thus, this study argues that for these literary texts, migration comes with its own cultural dislocation and translocation perceived in the larger contexts of industrialization and globalization and accentuates the quest for home, belonging, and contested identity composition.