In 2004, the German Department launched the highly successful German Forum talk series (formerly known as the Brown Bag lectures). The series, organized by Professor Martha Helfer, provides an informal forum for faculty and students to present work in progress. Attendance at these events is high throughout the year, as the German Studies community at Rutgers enjoyed "food for the mind and food for the body."

Look for upcoming German Forum Talks on the event calendar.

Upcoming German Forum Talk Series

No events


Geschichtsstille: Standstill and Silence in Petzold’s Transit 
Christiane Fischer

Monday, December 12, 2022 at 11:15am
Craig Seminar Room, AB 4050, West Wing

Christian Petzold’s film Transit (2018)—a cinematic adaptation of Anna Seghers’ eponymous novel—is most well known for the temporal uncertainty it presents. Simultaneously evoking the current European refugee crises and the history of European migration rendered in fictional form by Seghers, the film is itself “in transit” between time frames. The term Petzold uses to describe this idiosyncratic stylization of time is “Geschichtsstille” [meaning both history at a standstill and historical silence], by which he denotes the refugees’ experience of being stuck in transit. This talk will concern Petzold’s resonant term and the unstable relationship between the two possible translations as “history at a standstill” and “historical silence.” Such a vacillation makes it possible to not only situate Transit between past and present, but to examine further interstitial moments that have significant implications that challenge the confines of contemporary German narrative cinema. 

Christiane Fischer is a Ph.D. student in German Studies at Rutgers University. Before joining the department in 2016, she completed her B.A. degree in Comparative Literature with minors in Art History and Aesthetic Theory at the University of Vienna. Her dissertation engages with vision and visibility in contemporary German media. 



"Die letzte Bleibe. Siegfried Kracauer, das Neue Frankfurt und die Wohnung für das Existenzminimum"
Hans-Georg von Arburg, Professor of German, University of Lausanne
February 28, 2018, 12pm

Die demographischen und kulturellen Folgen des verlorenen Kriegs machen das Wohnen in den zwanziger Jahren in Deutschland zu einem ultimativen Thema. Am heftigsten wird darüber in Frankfurt diskutiert, wo der Stadtbaurat Ernst May ab 1925 mit einem umfassenden Wohnungsbauprogramm das Neue Frankfurt baut und der avantgardistische CIAM 1929 die Ausstellung Die Wohnung für das Existenzminimum organisiert. In diese publizistisch angekurbelte Debatte schaltet sich auch der ausgebildete Architekt Siegfried Kracauer ein. Ausgehend von seinem Architekturroman Ginster (1928) und seinen Architekturkritiken frage ich nach Kracauers kritischem Beitrag zur Wohndebatte. Mein besonderes Interesse gilt den Möglichkeiten und Grenzen der Literatur und einer ästhetischen Spracharbeit im Kampf um die letzte Bleibe in der späten Weimarer Republik.

Hans-Georg von ArburgHans-Georg von Arburg is Professor of German at the University of Lausanne, Switzerland. His research covers the history of Modern German Literature from 18th to 20th c., authors like G. C. Lichtenberg, A. Stifter, R. Musil, and S. Kracauer, literary intermedia studies (literature and painting, architecture, music), literature and popular science studies (physiognomy, Klecksographie i. e. ink blotting), and the metaphorology of literary key concepts (»Stimmung«, luxury). He actually works on a book about housing in literature, architecture and the media from the late 19th c. to the 1930s.




"On Landscape and Poetry: The Influence of German Aesthetics in Feng Zhi's Work"
Xiaojue Wang, Associate Professor of Chinese Literature, Rutgers University
April 24, 2017, 12pm

This paper examines the German-educated Chinese modernist poet Feng Zhi (1905-1993) and the impact of German aesthetics on his meditation on the relationship between human beings and nature, the poetic subject and the society. It first considers the new form of nature poems in modern China by discussing various Chinese renditions of Goethe’s “Wandrers Nachtlied.” A new concept of landscape is at the center of Feng Zhi’s poetic work. Feng was not only one of the most important lyricists of modern China but also a German literature scholar who introduced and translated Novalis, Hölderlin, Goethe, and Rilke, among others. At the 1949 Cold War division in China, Feng renounced all his modernist poetics and converted into a cultural cadre in the nascent socialist state. Through an examination of his sonnets, ballads, and poetic prose of the 1940s, as well as his scholarship on Rainer Maria Rilke, this paper seeks to explore Feng’s abrupt transition from poetry to politics.

Xiaojue WangXiaojue Wang is Associate Professor of Chinese Literature in the Department of Asian Languages and Cultures at Rutgers University. She received her B.A. and M.A. in German Literature at Peking University before entering the Ph.D. program in Germanic Languages and Literatures at Harvard University. She earned her Ph.D. degree in Comparative Literature at Columbia University. She is the author of Modernity with a Cold War Face: Reimagining the Nation in Chinese Literature across the 1949 Divide (Harvard UP, 2013). She was An Wang Postdoctoral Fellow at the Fairbank Center for Chinese Studies at Harvard University from 2012 to 2013 and Visiting Assistant Professor in the Department of East Asian Languages and Civilizations at Harvard University in Spring 2013. She has published numerous articles on modern Chinese literature, the cultural Cold War, film and visual studies, German literature, and comparative literature. She is also the Chinese translator and co-translator of Jürgen Habermas’ Strukturwandel der Öffentlichkeit, Horkheimer Reader, and Andreas Huyssen’s After the Great Divide: Modernism, Mass Culture, Postmodernism, among others. She is currently working on her second monograph on Eileen Chang and the concept of literature.


"From Cave-Paintings to Techno-Imagination: Rethinking History and Images in Vilém Flusser's Media Theory"
PhD candidate, Sascha Hosters
Wednesday, April 27, 2016, 12pm
German House Seminar Room
pdf Flyer (200 KB)

"Before the Sturm: Cabaret, Circus, and Cinema in Herwarth Walden's Das Theater"
Assistant Professor Nicola Behrmann
Monday, April 4, 2016, 12pm
German House Seminar Room
pdf Flyer (503 KB)

"Franz Kafka zwischen den Medien Kafka-Adaptionen in Comics and Film"
PhD candidate, Damianos Grammatikopoulos
Wednesday, November 4, 2015, 12pm
German House Seminar Room
pdf Flyer (206 KB)

"Beyond Drama"
Fall 2015 Craig-Kade Scholar in Residence, Evelyn Annuss
Wednesday, October 7, 12pm
German House Seminar Room

"Stage Flight"
Fall 2015 Craig-Kade Scholar in Residence, Evelyn Annuss
Wednesday, September 9, 12pm
German House Seminar Room
pdf Flyer (192 KB)


"Do I Hear an Echo? Reflections of a Translator's Woes and Rewards"
Dr. Charlotte M. Craig, Lecturer in German
Wednesday, April 1, 12pm
German House Semianr Room

"Romantic Rocks: The Allure of the Inorganic from the Age of Goethe to Anthropocene"
Spring 2015 Visiting Lecturer, Jason Groves
Wednesday, February 4, 12pm
German House Seminar Room
pdf Flyer (217 KB)

 "Reading Rooms Reading Machines: Some Fantasies of the Library as Curatorial Space"
Fall 2014 Craig-Kade Scholar in Residence, Anna-Sophie Springer
Wednesday, December 3, 12pm
German House Seminar Room

 "Kinderwunsch und Kinderlosigkeit: Aus der Berliner Perspektive"
Meghana Joshi, Ph.D. candidate, Rutgers University Anthropology Department
Thursday, October 30, 11:45am
German House Seminar Room
Given in German.

 "125,660 Specimens of Natural History: Navigating Colonial Collections in the Anthroposcene"
Fall 2014 Craig-Kade Scholar in Residence Anna-Sophie Springer
Wednesday, October 22, 11:45am
German House Seminar Room
pdf Flyer


"Kafka's Cat-lamb: Hybridization and Its Genesis"
Fall 2013 Craig-Kade Scholar in Residence Anna Glazova
Wednesday, October 16, 12:15pm
German House Seminar Room


"Urban Introjections: Berlin Alexanderplatz"
Spring 2013 Visiting Craig Professor Henry Sussman

"Spiegelungen, Weibliche Subjektivität und die Überschreitung des Filmischen Raumes in Werner Schroeters 'Malina'."
German Ph.D. student Christina Mandt

"Reflections on 'Pure Religion' in Benjamin's Thought."
German Ph.D. student Carlos Gasperi