Birgit Tautz

George Taylor Files Professor of Modern Languages

On leave for 2018-19 academic year

Birgit Tautz specializes in literature, philosophy, and culture around 1800, the legacy of the 18th century today, and visual and cinema studies. She is the author of two books, an edited collection of scholarly essays, and numerous articles. Her most recent book is Translating the World: Toward a New History of German Literature around 1800 (Penn State University Press, 2017). Meanwhile, she is working on several new projects: a book on the “Ethics of the Image,” and a collaborative project with Crystal Hall (Digital and Computational Studies), on Network@1800. The latter brought a distinguished group of scholars to campus for a Humboldt-Kolleg and Symposium (April 2017) and involves new and collaborative ways of bringing research to the public.

Tautz’s research and teaching are interrelated: translation is at the heart of her innovative course, (Not) Lost in Translation: German across the Disciplines. The course explores aspects of contemporary German language and culture beyond literature and film, especially in the contexts of business, politics and law, environmental policy and science. All students develop their cultural competence through specialized linguistic and interpretive skills and appropriate techniques of translation. Likewise, Tautz’s work on film, cinema, and image ethics draws much of its inspiration from her Cinema Studies courses (Ethics of the Image; Terrorists and Spies, Borders and Bridges; Nazi Cinema) and in fall 2017, her students explored the 18th-century through literature and big data.

Tautz’s convocation address Seeing, Reading, Translating (2016).

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PDF Curriculum Vitae

Selected Publications


Translating the World: Toward a New History of German Literature around 1800 324 pp. Penn State UP, in production, fall 2017

Reading and Seeing Ethnic Differences in the Enlightenment: From China to Africa
 (New York: Palgrave, 2007)

Ed., Colors 1800/1900/2000: Signs of Ethnic Difference. (Amsterdamer Beiträge zur Neueren Germanistik, eds. Anthonya Visser et al. Vol. 56) Amsterdam, Atlanta: Rodopi 2004.

Recent Articles

 “Translating the World for a German Public or Mediating the Radical in Small Genres” in: Radical Enlightenment, ed. Carl Niekerk Amsterdam: Rodopi, 2017, 24 pp. (forthcoming)

“Localizing China: of Knowledge, Genres, and German Literary Historiography” in: Reading China In the Enlightenment, eds. Daniel Purdy and Bettina Brandt, Toronto: U of Toronto Press, 2016, 118-141.

"Global City eclipses Small Town, or how to tell a New Story of Eighteenth-Century (German) Literature" in Forum: Critical Conversations, Eighteenth-Century Theory and Interpretation 1 (2017), 109-113.

“Beobachten, Erleben, Verdinglichen: Wissen in Kotzebues und Chamissos Alaskaerzählungen” Zeitschrift für Germanistik (2014) 1: 55-67.

“Das Original durch die Übersetzung schaffen: Lessing, die Hamburgischen Dramaturgie und die neue Komparatistik” Lessing Jahrbuch/Lessing Yearbook (2012/2013): 53-72.

Stadtgeschichten: Rumor, Gossip, and the Making of Classical Weimar,” German Studies Review 3 (2013): 497-514.

“Charlotte Kerners/Rolf Schübels Blueprint: Buch und Film” Gegenwartsliteratur 7/2008:114-137 (publ. 2009).

“A Fairy Tale Reality? Elfriede Jelinek’s Snow White, Sleeping Beauty and the Mythologization of Contemporary Reality,” Women in German Yearbook 24 (2008): 165-184 (publ. 2009).


In progress: 

“Watching Schlingensief’s Container” (in preparation for Studies in European Cinema)



Links and Current Projects


Network@1800: New Directions in German and European Studies Symposium, organized by Professor Birgit Tautz, German and Professor Crystal Hall, Digital and Computational Studies, aimed to present new insights into the historical networks and forms of collaboration that unfolded between German lands, Europe, and across the Atlantic world.

See the Academic Spotlight feature.

Executive Secretary of Goethe Yearbook.

Research Interests

Romanticism for the New Century: explores recurrence of Romanticism/Romantic patterns and themes in contemporary literature, film, and performance (ca. 1990-today)

Translating the World: Remaking late Eighteenth-Century Literature between Hamburg and Weimar" - This book project explores the interrelations of global perception/knowledge and local/regional literary production through the lens of patronage, translation, religion, canon formation, among others.

Recent Fellowships and Grants

  • Humboldt Fellowship for Experienced Researchers; 2011-12, 2013

  • Phocas Award, Bowdoin College Coastal Studies; 2010

  • DAAD Summer Seminar Fellowship (“Narratives of Modernity” U of Chicago, dir. David Wellbery)

  • German Embassy Partnership Project Grant “Freedom without Walls”; 2009

  • Bowdoin Professional Organizations Grant; 2008-2010

  • CBB Mellon Research Grant; 2008–2009 (with Arne Koch, Colby College)

  • Fletcher Family Research Award; 2007–2009 (for “Literature between Technology, Mediality, Society”)

  • Faculty Leave Supplement (for full-year sabbatical); 2007-2008

  • Faculty Research Award, Bowdoin College; 2006 – 2008 (for transatlantic literary relations, especially theater and translation, in the eighteenth-century)

  • Faculty Development Grant, Curriculum Fund (for Nazi Cinema), Bowdoin College; 2003 – 2005

  • Herzog August Bibliothek Wolfenbüttel, guest in research cooperation; January 2003 and 2007

  • Junior Faculty Research award (start-up), Bowdoin College; Autumn 2002

  • Faculty Development travel grant to Japan and China, Lawrence University/Freeman Foundation (declined); Summer 2002