Birgit Tautz

Affiliation: German, Cinema Studies
George Taylor Files Professor of Modern Languages, on leave for the 2024–2025 academic year

Birgit Tautz specializes in literature, philosophy, and culture around 1800, the legacy of the eighteenth-century today, and post-1945 visual and cinema studies. Birgit is particularly interested in global contexts of German literature and culture and its transnational impact and circulation, the study of race and ethnic difference, and translation and multilingualism in literary contexts. She is the editor of a book series, SPEKTRUM: Publications of the German Studies Association. Birgit's most recent, single-authored book, Translating the World: Toward a New History of German Literature around 1800 (PSU Press, 2018), won the SAMLA book award (2019) and was on the Kenshur Prize short-list (2019). For more on the project listen to her episode of the Podcast: Bowdoin Presents. With her colleague Crystal Hall (Digital and Computational Studies), she edited German and European Cultural Histories, 1760-1830: Between Network and Narrative (2024). As part of Oxford Studies in the Enlightenment, the book promotes the dialog between conventional reading and data-driven reading methods.

Birgit Tautz’s research and teaching are interrelated, and this connection shows in many of her innovative courses, for example in (Not) Lost in Translation: German across the Disciplines, in which students pursue their own translation and German language projects across disciplines and will study, in future iterations, the profound impact of AI on translation practice. Birgit's contributions to Cinema Studies include Ethics of the Image and Terrorists and Spies, Borders and Bridges. Her different courses are unified by Birgit's project-driven pedagogy — often involving work with museums and special collections — 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 worked on recent contemporary German novels by Afro-German women authors, and Sofie Brown '23 studied the role of translation in "exporting" Uncle Tom's Cabin to 19th century Germany. Prof. Tautz also enjoys involving students in her research, most recently Sophia Hirst '24, John Schubert '26, and Daniel Wang '26. See details below in current projects.

btautz-cultural-histories.jpg Translating the World book cover Signs of Ethnic Difference book cover Reading and Seeing Ethnic Differences in the Enlightenment book cover 

Curriculum Vitae

Birgit Tautz headshot


  • PhD, German, Comparative Literature, University of Minnesota, 1998
  • MA, German, University of Wisconsin, 1992
  • Diplom Germanistik, University of Leipzig, 1991