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Diversity Related Research

Domenic DeSocio

Domenic’s dissertation chapter "The (In)visible Impulse of Hope: Annemarie Schwarzenbach’s Eine Frau zu sehen and the Utopics of Queer Female Desire,” reads this neglected Swiss modernist author’s openly lesbian novella to tease out the ways in which she and her protagonist queer the prominent German modernist trope of the “Augenblick,” or “moment,” through the temporality of her fiery sexual desire for another woman. By articulating her own version of the sensual-temporal unit of the moment, Schwarzenbach hints at a utopian queer female subjectivity that is on the horizon or “not-yet-here,” holding out the promise of consummated erotic and romantic bliss and queer community. In engaging with current lesbian and queer theory on issues of visibility and time, as well as conventional understandings of modernist temporality and literature, my chapter works to productively “queer” these major scholarly debates, foregrounding the place of a queer woman’s open desire in 1930s Germany in showing us new ways in thinking through German aesthetic tradition and modernist culture.

Kristin Dickinson

Kristin’s current book project investigates a history of German Turkish connectivity through the lens of literary translation from the early 19th century to the mid 20th century. Across this significant time frame, she asks how translators have historically positioned themselves within and against changing conceptions of Europe and Europeanness: Engaging in the practice of orientalism was one key way in which German scholars asserted their place in an emergent understanding of European civilization prior to the acquisition of colonies. Literary engagement with the Ottoman Empire nevertheless constituted important exceptions to German scholarly orientalist practices, and forced reconsideration of the cultural and geographic borders of Europe. Turkish literature and culture has in turn grappled since at least the 1850s with the question of what it means to be European. Yet an engagement with German cultural modernity complicates the general trajectory of modernizing and westernizing initiatives in the late Ottoman Empire and the Republic of Turkey.  Central to this project is the question of how assumed dichotomies—such as German/Turkish, West/East, Occident/Orient, and Europe/Asia—are negotiated and often broken down in translation. As Kristin shows, diverse, omnidirectional translation practices work against the teleological origins of Eurocentrism and the assertion of modernity as a fundamentally European project.

Emily Gauld

Emily’s dissertation project, entitled “Composing the Musicking Woman: Gender and Nationalism in the writings of Johanna Kinkel,” examines literary representations of women in music in nineteenth-century Germany to consider how musical life at this time contributed to constructions of gendered and national identity. Building on feminist scholarship in the fields of German studies and musicology, her project examines how women perceived of and represented themselves in terms of music, how literature symbolically constructed the musicking woman, which spaces musicking women had or were denied access to, and how women wrote themselves into national and social narratives through participation in musical culture.

Julia Hell

Hell’s new book project is entitled The Future of Ruins. This project will analyze four contemporary ruin sites: the (Roman and pre-Roman) ruins of Palmyra, Syria; the London Mithraeum; Frankfurt’s Archaeological Garden; and the Pergamon Altar in Berlin’s Pergamonmuseum. Hell connects the (re)framing of these ancient European and non-European sites to the contemporary crisis of the west’s postwar global order. These ruin sites, she argues, are (re)framed at a moment of crisis with the future of this global order in mind. Re-affirming the geopolitical imaginary of this western order, these places function as political-aesthetic markers, reestablishing the spatio-temporal orientation within a specific nomos by fashioning space and mastering time.

Andrea Rottmann

Andrea’s dissertation, “Queer Home Berlin? Everyday lives, subjectivities, and memory of queer people in the divided city, 1945-1970," explores the lifeworlds of queer Berliners beyond the criminalization of male homosexuality, centering same-sex-loving women, transgender Berliners, men not affected by §175, and others who left traces of lives lived beyond the sexual and gender norm.

Andrea is also interested in museums and exhibitions and how they negotiate gender and sexuality; she has published on queer history and exhibitions in the United States and Germany.

Emma Thomas

Emma is a doctoral candidate in History and Germanic Languages and Literatures. Her dissertation examines the social, cultural, and political worlds occupied by indentured New Guinean women under German colonial rule, and situates the indentured labor system within the contexts of evolving, often conflicting, colonial understandings of gender, sexuality, and race. With a focus on the lived experiences of indentured women and those close to them, her dissertation shows how New Guineans negotiated European claims to their laboring—sometimes eroticized—bodies and confronted German efforts to align vernacular understandings of gender, sexuality, family, and labor with imperial concerns.

Annemarie Toebosch

There are inherent problems with DEI missions in departments and at institutions that are predominantly white. One such problem is that the careers of white people involved with DEI or anti-racist work indirectly benefit from racism when their work is disseminated or otherwise positively valued. We add this work to our resumes, describe it in our review portfolios, and put it on websites. While I believe it is important that this work is shared, the benefit we receive from this sharing constitutes a new form of exploitation. I encourage my institution to acknowledge this and think through solutions.

Annemarie has lectured on the racism inherent to the story of Zwarte Piet. Her Google Slides lecture is available here.

Annemarie also moderates a Facebook page—together with Tosca Groenewold, Michelle Potters, and Mirjam Linschooten—entitled White People Against Black Pete (Witte Mensen Tegen Zwarte Piet).

She has also published several articles relating to issues of race and memorialization:

Kira Thurman

Kira's book, Singing Like Germans: Black Musicians in the Land of Bach, Beethoven, and Brahms, traces the history of black classical musicians in Central Europe in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. It argues that Germans and Austrians located their national identities in music, championing musicians such as Bach, Beethoven, and Brahms as national heroes. The presence of black musicians performing the works of “great German masters,” however, complicated audiences’ understanding of national identity and who had the right to express it. Audiences oscillated between seeing black musicians as the rightful heirs and dangerous outsiders to Austro-German musical culture.