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Professor of Comparative Literature and German Studies
Director, Michelle R. Clayman Institute for Gender Research
Director, Andrew W. Mellon Program for Postdoctoral Studies in the Humanities
My research focuses on the long nineteenth century, in particular the intersection of literature, music and philosophy. My first book, "Zwillingshafte Gebärden": Zur kulturellen Wahrnehmung des vierhändigen Klavierspiels im neunzehnten Jahrhundert (Königshausen & Neumann, 2009), traces four-hand piano playing as both a cultural practice and a motif in literature, art and philosophy (an English edition of the book recently appeared as Four-Handed Monsters: Four-Hand Piano Playing and Nineteenth-Century Culture (Oxford University Press, 2014)). My second book Uncivil Unions - The Metaphysics of Marriage in German Idealism and Romanticism (University of Chicago Press, 2012), explored German philosophical theories of marriage from Kant to Nietzsche. My most recent book, Tristan's Shadow - Sexuality and the Total Work of Art (University of Chicago Press, 2013), deals with eroticism in German opera after Wagner. My most recent academic book, The Dynastic Imagination (University of Chicago Press, 2020) traces the fate of the dynasty in the age of the nuclear family. A comparative and intermedial study of the ballad-form in nineteenth century Europe will appear in 2021 with Oxford University Press. In addition, I have published articles on topics such as fin-de-siècle German opera, the films of Hans-Jürgen Syberberg, literature and scandal, the cultural use of ballads in the nineteenth century, and writers like Novalis, Stefan George, Walter Benjamin, Theodor Adorno and W.G. Sebald. I also write on popular culture and politics: in this capacity I co-wrote The James Bond Songs: Pop Anthems of Late Capitalism (with Charles Kronengold) and published a German-language essay collection Pop Up Nation (Hanser, 2016). My book What Tech Calls Thinking (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2020) has been translated into five languages. I write articles for the Neue Zürcher Zeitung (Switzerland), Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (Germany), Die Zeit (Germany), The Guardian (UK), The Nation, The New Republic, n+1, Longreads and the LA Review of Books. More information can be found on my personal website.
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2008: Ph.D. University of Pennsylvania
2004: M.A. University of Pennsylvania
2003: B.A. Swarthmore College