Karen Remmler, Chair of Critical Social Thought

Karen Remmler

Professor & Chair of German Studies

"My classes are based on dialogue, rigorous critical thinking, and multiple opportunities to hone writing and speaking skills."

Karen Remmler
Shattuck Hall, Room 305

Joined MHC: 1990


  • Washington University, Ph.D., M.A.
  • Binghamton University of New York, B.A.

Specialization: Postwar German culture and literature; German Jewish relations; contemporary German Jewish writers; remembrance of the Holocaust; memory politics in Germany; critical social thought; memorials, burial, and monuments.

Karen Remmler's fields of research and teaching include contemporary culture in Germany and Austria, the memory of the Holocaust in film and literature, Jewish German relations in post-Wall Berlin, contemporary literature by Jewish and German women writers living in Germany, the politics of memory and space in present-day Berlin, and politics in the former GDR. Her work combines training in German literature and language, critical social thought, women's studies, and Jewish studies.

"In my research," says Remmler, "I write about contemporary memory politics in Germany and about German Jewish relations. I explore how the remembrance of the Holocaust and postwar Jewish and German identities are expressed in contemporary writings by German Jewish authors. More recently, I have begun to study how the obsession with creating memorials in post-Wall Berlin and in other cultures has its origins in the desire in many cultures to properly honor the dead. This project has evolved from a focus on the expression of German Jewish identities in literature and at sites of memory to an investigation of metaphors of proper burial. How do the dead get mourned at the sites of their deaths? How does the need for burying one's own get played out against the backdrop of conflicting individual and national agendas? How do the living mourn the dead? How do these processes get expressed symbolically, metaphorically, and unconsciously in public spheres? The objects of my research are primarily literature, film, and current events."

Remmler is the author of "Waking the Dead: Correspondences between Walter Benjamin's Concept of Remembrance and Ingeborg Bachman's "Way's of Dying" and the coeditor, with Sander Gilman, of Reemerging Jewish Culture in Germany: Life and Literature since 1989. In 2002, she also coedited, with Leslie Morris, the anthology, Contemporary Jewish Writing in Germany. Recent articles focus on memorial spaces and Jewish identities in post-Wall Berlin and the metaphor of burial in the poetry of Inge Mueller and Ingeborg Bachman. She is working on a second book on sites of memory and identity in post-Wall Berlin and a cross-cultural study of burial metaphors.