Waterside promenade in Konstanz at the Bodensee lake.

The purpose of the summer seminar is to promote the interdisciplinary study of historical, political, social and cultural aspects of modern and contemporary German affairs and to advance their understanding among scholars in the United States and Canada. The program is open to faculty members and recent PhDs in germane social science and cultural studies fields.

Literature, Media, Form
DAAD Summer Seminar for Faculty and Recent PhDs
June 17th - July 27th, 2018, Cornell University

Seminar Director:
Patrizia C. McBride, Professor of German Studies

Eligibility and Deadline

  • Faculty members of accredited US and Canadian institutions of higher education are invited to apply.
  • Preference will be given to candidates who have not previously attended one of the summer seminars or received a DAAD grant within the past three years.
  • Applicants must be citizens or permanent residents of the United States or Canada. Permanent residents must have been affiliated with a United States or Canadian institution in full-time employment for at least five consecutive years, German nationals for at least six years.
  • Participants are expected to have an active interest in German intellectual and cultural history.
  • A reading knowledge of German is advisable.

Please apply by March 1st, 2018 to be considered for this grant.

Terms of Award

  • DAAD awards grants of up to USD 3,200 to cover tuition, travel, and room and board during the seminar.
  • The seminar takes place between June 17 and July 27, 2018. Participants are required to attend all seminar sessions and to participate actively in the work of the seminar. Work-in-progress of participants and guests will be discussed.
  • A written report is expected within four weeks of the end of the seminar.

Course Description

This six-week seminar investigates the enlivening relationship that ties literary criticism to media studies within the interdisciplinary field of German Studies. German media theory begins with a provocative rereading of the birth of modern literature, which, in Friedrich Kittler’s influential account, comes into its own around 1800 as the hermeneutic stage upon which human consciousness enacts its quest for essential meaning, only to break down around 1900 into an array of cultural techniques, material technologies, and communication circuits that are not easily pieced back together into the literary as a useful category of analysis. Kittler’s account of literature’s demise is emblematic of the marginal position originally occupied by the literary in media studies and theory, even among traditions that start from very different premises than Kittler’s own. The seminar will take stock of this history to highlight the productive exchange that in recent decades has unfolded among media studies, media theory, and literary studies (primarily, though not exclusively, informed by Critical Theory). This vibrant interdisciplinary conversation draws on literature as a heuristic point of reference for appraising the rhetorical performativity, ideological effects, and semiotic excess of communication in both analog and digital media.

The explosion of social media and the proliferation of online platforms that allow for publishing fictional work that previously would not have found wide dissemination has demonstrated, contrary to early predictions, that the rise of digital media has not spelled the end of established literacy modes tied to a print culture. As traditional practices of reading, writing, and devising meaning have adapted to digital environments, it is necessary to enlist a deep historical perspective in order to probe the theoretical paradigms that lend themselves to investigating these changes. Current debates about the relation between media theory and media studies, as well as the different ways these disciplines have become institutionalized in the Anglo-American and German contexts, will provide an additional frame of reference for seminar discussion.

The seminar is ideally suited to professors and post-doctoral scholars in a range of fields (including German Studies as well as Media Studies and Comparative Literature, among others).  Fluency in German is not required although an interest in academic emerging from Germany is essential. Participants will be encouraged to incorporate their own fields of interest and present their work in progress.

Patrizia McBride is professor of German Studies and member of the field of Film and Visual Studies at Cornell University. Her research interests include modernism and avant-garde studies, the intersection of literary theory, philosophy, and political theory, and visual and media studies. She is the author of The Void of Ethics. Robert Musil and the Experience of Modernity (Northwestern UP 2006) and The Chatter of the Visible: Montage and Narrative in Weimar Germany (University of Michigan Press 2016), and co-editor of Legacies of Modernism: Art and Politics in Northern Europe, 1890-1950 (Palgrave 2007). She is currently working on a book project that focuses on the changing status of narrative and literature in the wake of the digital turn. She recently published articles on the understanding of the human within German Constructivism; the visual pedagogies of the interwar avant-garde; and the fate of journal publishing in the wake of the digital turn. McBride is the incoming director of Cornell’s Institute for German Cultural Studies. 

For further information about seminar content, please contact:

Patrizia McBride
Professor of German
Department of German Studies
183 Goldwin Smith Hall
Cornell University
Ithaca, NY 14853-3201
E-mail: patrizia.mcbride(at)cornell.edu

For other seminar-related questions, please contact Olga Petrova at Cornell University’s Institute for German Cultural Studies.

Olga Petrova
Assistant to the Director
Institute for German Cultural Studies
Cornell University
726 University Avenue
Ithaca, NY 14850
E-mail: ogp2(at)cornell.edu


All parts of the application must be typewritten or computer-generated and submitted in duplicate (original and one copy).

Please do not staple any of the application materials.

A complete application consists of the following parts:

  • DAAD application form entitled "Interdisciplinary Summer Seminar in German Studies” (which is available for download in the box on the right). Please answer all questions on the form, even if you refer to additional material
  • Curriculum vitae
  • Complete list of publications
  • A detailed statement explaining your interest in attending the seminar
  • One letter of recommendation

Please send your application to:

Patrizia McBride
Professor of German
Department of German Studies
183 Goldwin Smith Hall
Cornell University
Ithaca, NY 14853-3201
E-mail: patrizia.mcbride(at)cornell.edu