Birgit Tautz specializes in literature, philosophy, and culture around 1800, the legacy of the eighteenth-century today, and post-1945 visual and cinema studies. Tautz is particularly interested in global contexts of German literature and culture and its transnational impact, and the study of race and ethnic difference. She is the author of two books, an edited and a co-edited collection of scholarly essays, and numerous articles. Her most recent book - Translating the World: Toward a New History of German Literature around 1800 (PSU Press, 2018) - is the winner of the SAMLA book award (2019) and was shortlisted for the Kenshur Prize the same year. Tautz also works with Digital Humanities methods; in cooperation with Crystal Hall (Digital and Computational Studies), she edited Between Network and Narrative: German and European Cultural Histories around 1800 (Oxford Studies in the Enlightenment, 2023).The book originates from an international conference which brought a distinguished group of scholars to campus for a Humboldt-Kolleg and Symposium (April 2017).
Birgit Tautz’s research and teaching are interrelated, and this connection shows in many of her innovative courses, for example in seminars like Myth,Media,Modernity, which involves work in the Museum of Art; in moduls on migration and Afro-German culture she developed for Made in Germany, or in (Not) Lost in Translation: German across the Disciplines, in which students pursue their own translation and German language projects across disciplines, including computer science, economics, or film. Her contributions to Cinema Studies include Ethics of the Image and Terrorists and Spies, Borders and Bridges. The different courses are unified by Tautz's project-driven pedagogy and her commitment to creating inclusive environments for students' inquiry and success at all levels.
Birgit Tautz regularly works with students on their independent research projects (honors) and mentors them in advancing this work beyond Bowdoin: In 2022-23, Annika Moore '23 works on recent contemporary German novels by women authors, and Sofie Brown '23 studies the role of translation in "exporting" Uncle Tom's Cabin to 19th century Germany. In 2021-22, Brigita Kant '22 uncovered the impact of colonialism in German Samoa. Prof. Tautz also enjoys working with students as research assistants, most recently with Sophia Hirst '24, Joseph Vorno '22 and Lily Poppen '22.
Small Things, Narrative Episodes (see Files Professorship Inaugural Lecture for a first glimpse)
Co-editor of the Goethe Yearbook (through 2023): This work involves a lot of collaboration, not just in procuring, evaluating, and finalizing texts for publication, but also in the area of developmental editing beginning with the loaded question "So what?" and helping authors create texts that have an argument, appeal to readers, and are - Yes! - readable.
Links to Past Projects
Moving the Image: Women and the Camera, Bowdoin College Museum of Art (co-curated with Diana Tuite), November 2010
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. Publication under review.
Translating the World: Toward a New History of German Literature around 1800 (Penn State UP, 2018)
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.
“The Messy Side of Enlightenment: Readers, Reviewers, and the Traces they Leave behind” Germanic Review 95:4 (2020): 241-56.
“The Local and the Global, or the Persistent Relevance of the 18th Century,” Forum, German Quarterly 93.2 (2020): 255-258.
“Introduction: The Ethics of the Image – Historical Events, Practice, Media” South Central Review 36.3 (2019): 1-19
“Paul Poet transforms Christoph Schlingensief’s Container-Project: Performance into Image”South Central Review 36.3 (2019): 50-67.
Max Kade Travel Grant, 2022
Humboldt-Kolleg Conference Grant & DAAD Conference Grant, with C. Hall; 2017
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; 2019-present
CBB Mellon Research Grant; 2008–2009 (with Arne Koch, Colby College)
Fletcher Family Research Award; 2007–2009 (for “Literature between Technology, Mediality, Society”)