Birgit Tautz

George Taylor Files Professor of Modern Languages

Teaching this semester

GER 2203. Intermediate German I: Germany within Europe, A

Continued emphasis on the understanding of German culture through language. Focus on social and cultural topics through history, literature, politics, popular culture, and the arts. Three hours per week of reading, speaking, and writing. One hour of discussion and practice with teaching assistant. Language laboratory also available. Equivalent of German 1102 is required.

GER 3313. 18th century German Literature and Culture: Love, Theft, Travel

Focus on the mid-to late eighteenth century as an age of contradictory impulses (e.g., the youthful revolt of Storm and Stress against the Age of Reason). Examines manifestations of such impulses in the works of major (e.g., Goethe, Schiller, Humboldt) and less well-known (e.g., Karsch, Forster) and anonymous authors and translators. Beginning with discussions of transparency, the course investigates constellations that began to define the century: “Love” as a then new, very modern idea that organized families and human relationships, “theft” as a shortcut to discuss issues of property (e.g., proprietary ideas, property of goods) and “travel,” expressing then dominant activities of exploration as well as exploitation. These terms serve as key concepts throughout the course, as we combine traditional reading and discussion with methods of Digital Humanities. The result will be an investigation of texts in their broader cultural context with appropriate theory and illustrated through film and drama on video, statistical data, developments in eighteenth-century dance, music, and legal discourse.” All materials and coursework in German.

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, Translating the World: Remaking Late Eighteenth-Century Literature between Hamburg and Weimar, is forthcoming in 2017 from Penn State University Press. 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 my Cinema Studies courses (Ethics of the Image; Terrorists and Spies, Borders and Bridges; Nazi Cinema) and in fall 2017, her students will explore 18th-century networks through clandestine writings, love letters, stolen books, 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