Birgit Tautz

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

Birgit Tautz specializes in literature, philosophy, and culture around 1800, the legacy of the 18th century today, and post-1945 visual and cinema studies. She is the author of two widely acclaimed books, an 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) - was shortlisted for the Kenshur Prize 2019 and will be featured in a roundtable at St. Andrews in 2020. A new project in progress is devoted to the “Ethics of the Image” and cinema; she edited and contributed to a special section on the subject for South Central Review (fall 2019). She just completed a collaborative project with Crystal Hall (Digital and Computational Studies), on Network@1800: New Directions in European Cultural Studies. 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, and this connection shows in content and approaches in many of her innovative courses, for example in (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. Birgit Tautz regularly works with students on their independent research projects (honors).

Birgit Tautz


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