Karen Remmler

Professor of German Studies; Director of Five College Women's Studies Research Center; Professor of Gender Studies

Specialization
Postwar and contemporary German-speaking culture, literature, and media with a focus on remembrance of the Holocaust and World War II; present-day politics of memory in transnational perspective, memorials, and issues of proper burial in European and Asian cultures; critical social thought; and German Jewish culture in present-day Berlin

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, gender studies, and Jewish studies.

"In my research," says Remmler, "I write about contemporary memory politics in Europe in transnational contexts 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 Bachmann's "Way's of Dying" (Ariadne Press, 1996) and the coeditor, with Sander Gilman, of Reemerging Jewish Culture in Germany: Life and Literature since 1989 (NYU Press, 1994). In 2002, she also coedited, with Leslie Morris, the anthology, Contemporary Jewish Writing in Germany (University of Nebraska Press, 2002). Her 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. In addition, Remmler recently completed essays on the late German writer, W.G. Sebald, the Austrian filmmaker, Ruth Beckermann, and the Jewish German writer, Esther Dischereit.

With Chris Benfey, Remmler co-edited Artists, Intellectuals, and World War II: The Pontigny Encounters at Mount Holyoke College, 1942-1944 (University of Massachusetts Press, 2006).

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