Birgit Tautz

Affiliation: German
Chair of Department of German and George Taylor Files Professor of Modern Languages

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).

Birgit Tautz


  • Diplomgermanistik, University of Leipzig, Germany, 1991
  • M.A. German, University of WI, Madison, 1992
  • Ph.D. German, Comparative Literature, University of MN, Minneapolis, 1998