Graduate Students

The graduate students and post-docs organize a monthly Colloquium, at which one of them presents a piece of their writing in order to receive peer feedback. Those who are working on their dissertation proposal or are ABD join the Dissertation Writing Group, which meets every week to discuss the work of one of their members. Contact anyone on this page to learn more.

Stepan Atamian

Stepan Atamian joins the department after completing his B.A. in German at Columbia University (2016) and his M.A. in Theater and Performance Studies at the University of Chicago (2019). His master's project explored the ways stagings can examine a theatrical work's reception history through the Bayreuther Festspiele's most recent productions of Wagner's Meistersinger von Nürnberg. Stepan's current interests include the operas of Wagner and Strauss, tragedy, and scenography.

Mirjam Berg

Mirjam Berg received a Magister in German Literature and Political Science from the University of Bonn in 2010 with a thesis on the poetological significance of taking a walk in the works of Robert Walser, Thomas Bernhard, and Peter Waterhouse. Before joining the department in 2011, she spent a year as a visiting student at the German Graduate Program of Johns Hopkins University. Mirjam is currently working on a dissertation, which investigates the concept of 'home' and its proliferation in diaristic novels by women writers of the early twentieth century. Primary authors include Margarete Böhme, Emmy Hennings, Irmgard Keun, and Annemarie Schwarzenbach. Publications on the correlation between the perception of the city and of the text in works by Rilke and Keun as well as on the significance of the writing room in Rilke, Woolf, and Keun are forthcoming. Mirjam is also a passionate language instructor and has taught elementary classes as well as self-designed intermediate and advanced courses. 

Ethan Blass

Ethan Blass graduated from Middlebury College in 2012 with a double major in German and Russian. He spent the fall semester of junior year studying at Irkutsk State University in Irkutsk, Russia, and the spring semester studying at Johannes Gutenberg Universität in Mainz, Germany. During senior year he began an independent study on the works of Franz Kafka, and wrote his German thesis on the role of language in Kafka’s Briefe an Felice and the 1914 story “In der Strafkolonie.”  In addition to German literature, Ethan has also studied Russian, Latin, and Ancient Greek literature and is interested in how these various traditions intersect. His main interests are the relationship between philosophy and literature, the role of music in the German literary tradition, and the nature of literary language.

Daniel Burnfin

Daniel Burnfin joined the department in 2015 after studying in Leuven, Heidelberg and Amherst. He received his B.A. and M.A. in philosophy from the Catholic University of Leuven and his M.A. in German studies from the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Historical-thematic areas of interest to him include the relation between classical German literature, the sciences and 19th century German philosophy—the relation between ‘critical’ and ‘speculative’ thought, Jena 1794-1807, the history of Hegel-reception and the influence of neo-Kantianism on the latter. Specific authors of interest to him include Hölderlin, von Kleist and Kafka; Hegel, Marx and Freud. At present he is interested in the relation between poetics and ‘speculative’ thought, the notion of speculative criticism, as well as contemporary implications of Hegel’s account of abstraction and ‘understanding’ (Verstand).

Daniel Carranza

Daniel Carranza graduated from Reed College in 2012 with a B.A. in German Literature. His senior thesis examined the ethical import of aphoristic form in Theodor W. Adorno’s Minima Moralia. He then spent 2012-2013 in Konstanz on a Fulbright English teaching assistantship. In 2018-2019, he was a visiting doctoral fellow at the Forschungskolleg Analytic German Idealism at the University of Leipzig. Current research interests include the intersection of literary poetics and philosophy in the nineteenth century, moments of cross-fertilization between the history of philology and the history of science, and literary theory. His dissertation reconstructs how Goethe’s poetic science of morphology, first developed with regard to plant structure and the skeletal structure of animals, exerted a shaping influence on the pre-disciplinary emergence of literary criticism around 1800, above all on the work of Wilhelm von Humboldt and August Wilhelm Schlegel. Daniel is currently a fellow at the Franke Institute for the Humanities. Website: danielcarranza.net

Emily Dreyfus

Emily Dreyfus graduated from Jesus College, Oxford in 2011 with a joint B.A. in Classics and German. An active orchestral and chamber musician, she spent a year studying baroque violin at the Hochschule für Musik und Theater, Leipzig. In 2013 she completed an M.A. in Comparative Literature at the University of Göttingen as a Toepfer Foundation Hanseatic scholar. Her thesis explored female subjectivity in Arthur Schnitzler’s musicalized narrative Fräulein Else. Current research interests include the history of cultural politics and mass media in the German-speaking world and intermedial aesthetics in music, literature, and the visual arts. Her dissertation considers the classical music “moment” in German cinema from the beginning of sound film in the Weimar Republic until the fall of the Third Reich. At present her research is supported by a Fulbright fellowship and the Berlin Program for Advanced German and European Studies at the Free University, Berlin. In 2015 Emily was awarded the Wayne C. Booth Graduate Student Prize for Excellence in Teaching.

Charles Ducey

Charles Ducey graduated from the University of Notre Dame in 2016 with a B.A. in German and English. The following year he spent in Heidelberg, Germany, researching Max Weber's concept of disenchantment with the support of a Fulbright research grant. He continued his stay for the 2017-18 academic year to work toward a master program in German studies in cultural comparison, with a Master's thesis focusing on the function of metaphor in Robert Musil's prose collection Nachlass zu Lebzeiten. At the University of Chicago, he hopes to learn more about Canonical German authors, the practice of literary interpretation, hermeneutics more generally, and theories of modernity from Weber to the present.

Simon Friedland

Simon Friedland graduated from Reed College in 2013 with a B.A. in German Literature. During his junior year he studied in Munich at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität. He wrote his senior thesis on the delineation of a women’s Romantic tradition in the works of Karoline von Günderrode, Bettina von Arnim, and Christa Wolf. In 2017-2018 he was a visiting doctoral candidate at the Friedrich Schlegel Graduate School of Literary Studies at the Freie Universität in Berlin. His dissertation focuses on the reception of antique verse forms in the era of Weimar Classicism. The aim of the project is to rethink this canonical era from the perspective of its prosody, shifting the focus from the ethical-anthropological ideal of “Humanität” to the conflicts and contradictions between antiquity and modernity as they are embodied in the act of versification.  Additional interests include the influence of French Symbolism on fin-de-siècle German-language lyric, and the history of the lyric more broadly.

Joseph Haydt

Joseph Haydt graduated in 2014 from the University of Colorado at Boulder with a B.A. in German. He is currently working on a joint degree in Theology, with an emphasis on the thought of Hans Urs von Balthasar and Erich Przywara. His dissertation investigates developments in the concept of revelation by way of studies of Goethe, Kant and Hegel. Related thinkers of interest include Thomas Aquinas, René Descartes, Johann Georg Hamann and Jean-Luc Marion.

Greg Hedin

Greg Hedin joined the Department in 2008 after receiving his BA from Amherst College and then studying one year at the Georg-August-Universität in Göttingen through a Fulbright Fellowship. His dissertation on the works of Grimmelshausen and Jean Paul demonstrates continuity in ways of telling life stories from the early modern period to the late 18th- and early 19th centuries. Topics on which he has presented include the origins of narratology in Günther Müller and Käte Hamburger, it-narratives in Grimmelshausen and the concept of literary “Stoff” in the 18th century. At the University of Chicago, he has taught the introductory language sequence, as well as courses on terrorism in post-war German cinema and the image of America in German socialist drama.

Jennifer Jenson

Prior to joining the department in 2018, Jennifer received her M.A. in Germanic Studies from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where she also received a certificate in Holocaust, Genocide, and Memory Studies. Before that, she studied at Brigham Young University, where she graduated magna cum laude with a double major in German Studies and Interdisciplinary Humanities with an art history emphasis. Her master’s project studied the role of memory and the archive as resistance in Christoph Hein’s 2017 novel Trutz. Her interests include larger discussions of memory and healing, particularly as situated in literature and art in the post-45 German-speaking world.

Matthew Johnson

Matthew Johnson graduated from New York University in 2014 with a B.A. in Comparative Literature and German, and joined the Department in 2015. He also studied at the Freie Universität Berlin and at the Uriel Weinreich Program in Yiddish Language, Literature, and Culture at the YIVO Institute. As an undergraduate, he also completed internships at the Leo Baeck Institute, part of the Center for Jewish History in New York, and at the Archiv des Jüdischen Museums in Berlin. His current interests include 20th- and 21st-century German- and Yiddish-language literature and thought, comparative poetics, literary theory, and Jewish thought. 

Tamara Kamatović

Tamara Kamatović joined the department in 2011 after receiving her B.A. in German Literature from the University of Missouri-Kansas City. In 2008-2009, she spent the academic year at the University of Leipzig on a DAAD undergraduate study grant. She was awarded a Fulbright Ernst Mach scholarship for dissertation research in Vienna in 2015-2016. Her dissertation, titled “Caught Between Four Walls: Censorship, Autobiography, Lust, and Melancholy in Biedermeier Austria,” is a cultural history of the Biedermeier period in Vienna, which spanned the years after the Vienna Congress to the revolutions in Europe around 1848. Tamara has taught courses on German literature and language and has served as a Teaching Assistant in the Vienna-Chicago Human Rights Program.

Clémence Kavanaugh

Clémence Kavanaugh graduated from Harvard University in 2010 with a B.A. in Literature. She thinks of form and materiality as opposite poles of a continuum along which bodies-- organic, poetic, or both-- travel. It isn't, however, the sort of traveling you do for fun, as it frequently involves undergoing a kind of violence.  This is almost all she thinks about, whether in connection to the enduringly and universally popular Lohenstein or to lesser known authors such as Goethe, Rilke, and Novalis. Following her reading of Auerbach's Mimesis, she also thinks a great deal about what has been nicknamed the "Athens versus Jerusalem" problem, particularly the ways in which the Judeo-Christian and classical strains of Western culture might inform the aforementioned material-formal dynamic.

Tae Ho Kim

Tae Ho Kim graduated from Columbia University in 2016 with a B.A. in German literature and cultural history. He also studied at Freie Universität Berlin in his junior year, taking part in the exchange program Berlin Consortium for German Studies. His senior thesis was on the model of interpersonal desire in Franz Kafka’s novel Das Schloß. His current interests include German and Austrian modernist novels, aesthetic theories, psychoanalysis, and poetics of E.T.A. Hoffmann.

David Kretz

David Kretz joined the department in 2018 after finishing his MA in Philosophy at the École Normale Supérieure in Paris. Before that he studied philosophy, literature, and intellectual history at Bard College Berlin (formerly European College of Liberal Arts) and the University of Vienna. His current project is, first, to show that political agency, since the 19th century, has often been conceptualized on the model of poetic creation as the Romantics conceived of it, and, in a second step, to develop an alternative that looks to the translator rather than the poet as paradigm for political action. To this end, background issues in social theory, especially regarding the concepts of 'world' and 'modernity' are also of great interest. A persistent side-interest has been the theory and history of liberal education.

Gina Marich

Evgenia (Gina) Marich joined the department in 2018. After completing her B.A. in Literature and Philosophy at the University of Melbourne, she spent a number of years in Germany working as a translator and journalist while studying for an M.A. in General and Comparative Literature at the Freie Universität in Berlin. Her M.A. thesis investigated the use of literary tropes like metaphor, allegory and metonymy in Walter Benjamin’s collection of childhood vignettes, Berliner Kindheit um 1900. Her current interests include the relationship between aesthetics and ethics, the philosophy of literature and the influence of classical antiquity on German writers. Some key thinkers here are Nietzsche, Auerbach and Adorno.

Peter Metzel

Peter Metzel joined the department in 2017. After receiving a B.A. in Germanistik and Politikwissenschaft from the Ernst-Moritz-Arndt-Universität Greifswald in 2014, he graduated from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign with a M.A. in German Studies. In his B.A. thesis he worked on disgust as a problem in the depiction of nature in early Enlightenment poetry, focusing on poets such as B.H. Brockes, B. Feind, J.J. Ebeling, and A. von Haller. From this project stems his interest in the problem of all-encompassing affirmation of the world in poetry of different historical contexts as well as the influence of Enlightenment thinking on authors as diverse as Friedrich Schlegel and Arno Schmidt. His current interests also include the development of semiotics since the 18th century and the interplay of ethics and aesthetics in G.E. Lessing’s dramatic work.

Elizabeth Ramsey

Elizabeth Ramsey graduated from the University of Oxford with an AHRC-funded MSt in Modern Languages in 2017 before joining the Department in 2018. She received her BA in German with Italian Studies from the University of Warwick in 2015 having spent a year at the Humboldt University in Berlin studying German and Italian literature. Her research has focused principally on the Brothers Grimm, specifically of the ‘Literarisierung’ both of the Märchen as the texts were edited, and of the first English translation of the tales made in 1823 which was to prove so important to the Grimms’ own approach and to nineteenth century British culture and beyond. She is also interested in broader topics related to narratology, pedagogy, didactics, genre, children’s literature and folklore from the eighteenth century to the present day, as well as the works of Kafka, Friedrich Nicolai, Theodor Fontane and Thomas Mann.

Ella Wilhelm

Ella Wilhelm graduated from the University of Toronto in 2016 with an H.B.A in Literature & Critical Theory. Before joining the Germanic Studies department in 2017, she also received an M.A. from the University of Toronto's Centre for Comparative Literature, where she had focused on studies of Walter Benjamin, modern urban literature, phenomenology, political theology, and visual culture. Her interests remain broadly focused on the semiotics, politics, and theology of image and text, specifically in terms of the problems of idolatry and superstition. She hopes to focus her dissertation on the confessional and iconoclastic conflicts of the Protestant Reformation, especially as they relate to the process of secularization in Early Modern German thought and literature. 

Noah Zeldin

Noah Zeldin graduated in 2011 from Northwestern University with a B.Mus. in Composition and spent a semester in Tübingen on a DAAD scholarship. After graduation, he lived in Vienna, where he studied comparative literature and worked as a translator, primarily for the record label Kairos. Noah joined the department in 2013. His dissertation focuses on the learning-pieces [Lehrstücke] of dramatists Bertolt Brecht and Heiner Müller and composers Hanns Eisler and Cornelius Cardew, understood as models for a decommodified and more equitable artistic practice. Recently, Noah served as director’s assistant to Claudia Bosse, head of the Vienna-based theater company, theatercombinat, and he continues to compose music and perform on saxophone and electronics in various experimental groups.