Birgit Tautz

Professor of German and Chair of German Department

Teaching this semester

GER 2205. Advanced German Texts and Contexts

Birgit Tautz
Designed to explore aspects of German culture in depth, to deepen the understanding of culture through language, and to increase facility in speaking, writing, reading, and comprehension. Topics include post-war and/or post-unification themes in historical and cross-cultural contexts. Particular emphasis on post-1990 German youth culture and language. Includes fiction writing, film, music, and various news media. Weekly individual sessions with the teaching fellow from the Johannes-Gutenberg-Universität-Mainz. Equivalent of German 2204 is required.

GER 3398. Colors: Signs of Ethnic Difference 1800/1900/2000

Birgit Tautz
In German culture, color/hue has played an important role in marking ethnic difference. Investigates the presence of color--metaphorical and actual, as provocative rhetoric and residual thought--in Germany today (e.g., around 2000), before exploring to what extent this presence is a lingering effect of the cultures around 1900 and 1800. In German culture color marks not only “racial difference” (e.g., “black” vs. ”white”), but also geographical difference (“tropical colors”) or diversity (“Bunte Republik Deutschland”). Considers changing discourse on color and ethnic difference in literary texts and films, all of which serve to illuminate the broader cultural context at three historical junctures: 1800, 1900, and 2000. Considers texts and films in conjunction with non-fiction, including examples from the visual arts (paintings, photographs, “Hagenbecks Völkerschauen”), medical and ‘scientific,’ encyclopedic entries, policy statements and advertisements (“Reklamemarken,” commercials), and popular music (hip-hop, lyrics), recognizing, in the process, how German culture (“national identity”) defines itself through and against color. Taught in German.

Recently, I've developed a new course (taught spring 2014): "Not Lost in Translation: German across the Disciplines." The course explores aspects of contemporary German language and culture beyond literature and film, such as in the contexts of business, politics and law, environmental policy and science. All students developed their cultural competence through specialized linguistic and interpretive skills and appropriate techniques of translation. Individual research projects were often related to students' other major or minor. I'm looking forward to contributing to Cinema Studies on a regular basis, beginning in 2014/15. In addition to my course on Nazi Cinema, I will teach a seminar on Ethics of the Image, and a survey-type course on German Cinema.

Teaching Interests
18th and 19th century German literature, culture, and philosophy; Romanticism, German literature and culture in cross-cultural perspectives and exchange; Recent German Film History, Film Theory and Image Studies.

PDF Curriculum Vitae

Selected Publications


Ethnic Differences coverReading 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 and Forthcoming Articles

Signs of Ethnic Difference"Mediating the Radical in Small Genres" Radical Enlightenment, ed. by Carl Niekerk, under contract with Rodopi, 27 pp.

"Localizing China: of Genres, Knowledge and German Literary Historiography" in Reading China in the Enlightenment, ed. by Daniel Purdy and Bettina Brandt, under contract with University of Toronto Press, 28 pp.

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

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

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

“Die Welt als Intertext: das Britische Kolonialreich und Hamburg im späten 18. Jahrhundert“ Dramenwirtschaft: deutsch-englische Intertexte, Eds. Sigrid Nieberle und Claudia Nitschke, Berlin: de Gruyter, 2013, 264-289.

 “Revolution, Abolition, Aesthetic Sublimation: German Responses to News from France in the 1790s” Rewriting the Radical: Enlightenment, Revolution, and Cultural Transfer in 1790s Germany, Britain and France, edited by Maike Oergel, Berlin: de Gruyter, 2012, 72-87.

“Michel Foucault trifft Yoko Tawada: Sprache und ethnologische Poetologie als Heterotopien. Ein Versuch”Außenraum – Mitraum – Innenraum. Heterotopien für Kultur und Gesellschaft, Eds. Hamid Tafiazoli und Richard Gray, Bielefeld: Aisthesis, 2012, 169-191.

“Saal-Nixe” in: Andere Klassik: Goethes Schwager Vulpius, Alexander Kosenina (ed.) Hannover: Wehrhahn, 2012, 152-153.

Felix Aestheticus: Colloquium in Honor of Jochen Schulte-Sasse,” two-part DVD, co-edited with undergraduate student Liz Gary, Bowdoin ’11, June 2011.

"Traveling Ideas of (the British) Empire: Translating the Caribbean World for the Eighteenth-Century German Stage" Publications of the English Goethe Society 79.2 (2010) 95-111.

“Das Hamburgische Parterre': Johann Christoph Bodes Westindier und die Verortung des Globalen", Zeitschrift für Germanistik 1 (2009) 183-190.

“Charlotte Kerners/Rolf Schübels Blueprint: Buch und Film," Gegenwartsliteratur:ein germanistisches Jahrbuch (2008) 114-137.

"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.

Links and Current Projects


Book Review Editor 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