About the German Studies department
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Several faculty emphasize a historical approach to the study of German culture and still engage in aesthetic dialogues. For some time Katherine Goodman has written and published on topics that reorient cultural concepts to include issues of gender. She explored women authors' challenges to prevailing literary definitions of autobiography in her first book, and the recognition of letters and salons (particularly as practiced by Rahel Varnhagen and Bettina von Arnim) as literary and culturally significant forms of sociability has continued to engage her research interests. Her past and current work on Luise Gottsched has led her to evaluate structural concepts which permit women to engage in cultural work and to expand her interests into the area of the transition from early modern to modern culture.
Carol Poore specializes in twentieth-century literature. She has been concerned especially with West and East German literature and culture and with the culture of workers and workers' organizations. Her current work on disability studies bridges the historical period of the Nazi past and the most recent past and finds that efforts to change cultural images have seen significant success.
Thomas Kniesche also specializes in twentieth-century literature, and his first book centered on the major West German author, Günter Grass. Germany between the wars has also been a topic for his research, and he is interested in media theory. His current research on German-Jewish literature investigates the image of ' America '. His interests also encompass the writings of Freud and modernist aesthetics.
Brown has several scholars in other disciplines whose work complements these interests: Mary Gluck (History) is currently working on Jewish culture in Budapest ; Maud Mandell (History) specializes in the history of the Jews; Omer Bartov (History) history of the Holocaust; Hilary Silver (Sociology) writes on the integration of the poor in France and Germany .
Newer additions to the faculty give more weight to the importance of aesthetics in our undertakings. Two of these strengthen our ties with Comparative Literature: Susan Bernstein and Zachary Sng. Professor Bernstein is not new to Brown, but she has recently agreed to teach one course per year in German Studies. Her interests extend to the history of literary theory and western aesthetics, lyric poetry in the European tradition, the Bildungsroman , Romanticism, phenomenology and poetry and individual topics such as the uncanny, irony, and Romantic genre theory. In particular her book on nineteenth-century virtuosity examines the performance of music and language. Currently she is writing on architecture and literature. Her interests help us to open the literary and philosophical German tradition to contemporary critical interests. She has invited several prominent scholars to Brown for short seminars on topics related to these interests: Samuel Weber and Avital Ronell, for instance.
Professor Sng is a recent graduate of the Comparative Literature department at Johns Hopkins and has specialized in literature and philosophy in Europe around 1800. He is working on the philosophy of language as articulated in theoretical writings of John Locke and the fiction of Heinrich von Kleist. The period around 1800 represents one of unusual productivity and influence for the history of German culture, and Professor Sng's interest in linguistic and aesthetic concerns in the context of European dialogues on these topics helps us ground much else that we do in our discipline. In addition, his concerns with aesthetics are augmented by his interest in aesthetics and politics in the twentieth century.
Scholars in other departments also share an interest in the German tradition in aesthetics and philosophy, for instance: Kevin McLaughlin (English) has worked on Walter Benjamin; Bernard Reginster (Philosophy) on Nietzsche; Kenneth Haynes (Comparative Literature) on Johann Georg Hamann; Rose Subotnik (Music) on Theodor Adorno; Mary Gluck (History) on Georg Lukacs. German historian, Michael Steinberg, director of the new Cogut Humanities Center combines something of the historical and aesthetic approaches in his work on the German opera. It is our expectation that we can begin to have a fruitful discussion with these and others on the continued importance of this tradition.