• Profile Image
  • Nicola Behrmann
  • Director of Graduate Studies
  • Associate Professor
  • Degree: Ph.D., New York University
  • Email: behrmann@rutgers.edu
  • Office: 15 Seminary Place, Room 4126
  • Campus: College Avenue Campus
  • Office Hours:

    Wednesdays 8:30am - 11:00am, and by appointment

  • Curriculum Vitae: Curriculum Vitae
  • Zoom Link for Office Hours:


Research Interests:

Professor Behrmann’s research combines literary theory with psychoanalysis, feminist theory, deconstruction, film and media studies, and focuses on early 20th century avant-gardes, autobiography and illness, aesthetics of the cut and the surface, and on the economies of labor and poverty.

Her book, Geburt der Avantgarde – Emmy Hennings, for which she received the DAAD/GSA Best Book Prize (2019), reconsiders the hidden traces and contributions of women writers in modernist literature and undertakes a critical revision of established avant-garde historiography and theory.

In addition to this study, Professor Behrmann has co-edited three volumes of an annotated study edition containing five early novels and the complete poems of Emmy Hennings. She has also co-edited a special issue on “Dada 1916/2016” in The Germanic Review as well as the award-winning anthology, Emmy Hennings Dada.

Professor Behrmann has published widely on 19th to 21th century literature, criticism, and film: from Rahel Varnhagen and Adalbert Stifter to Frank Wedekind and Apollinaire, from Hugo Ball and Walter Benjamin to Franz Kafka and Bertolt Brecht, from Klaus Mann to Susan Sontag, Wolfgang Herrndorf, and Alfred Hitchcock. Her current research project, Hunger Artists: Labor and Poverty in German Texts, examines the productive versus unproductive labor and the modalities of limitless privation and libidinal excess that is implemented in literary and theoretical representations of the labor of the poor.



  • DAAD/GSA Best Book Prize for Geburt der Avantgarde, 2019
  • Rutgers Research Council Subvention Award, 2017-2018
  • Award for Distinguished Contributions to Undergraduate Teaching, School of Arts and Sciences, Rutgers University, 2016
  • Award by Migros Kulturprozent "Schätze heben" (Migros Culture Percentage: Unearthing Treasures) for editorial work on Emmy Hennings Dada (Scheidegger & Spiess, 2015), with Christa Baumberger
  • Marbach-Stipendium (Deutsches Literaturarchiv Marbach), 2009 and 2011
  • Bernard Heller Dissertation Research Award in Gender and Sexuality Studies (NYU), 2007
  • Women in German Zantop Travel Award, 2006
  • Fulbright Fellow, 2003-04
  • Fellow of the German Research Foundation (Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft), 2002-03



Books and Edited Volumes:

Geburt der Avantgarde book cover 2018
Geburt der Avantgarde: Emmy Hennings

Author: Nicola Behrmann (Göttingen: Wallstein Verlag, 2018)

Geburt der Avantgarde (Birth of the Avant-Garde) traces the contribution of Emmy Hennings (1885-1948), Expressionist poet and Dada performer, and reevaluates the interdependency between avant-garde and archive, art movements and historiography. The consideration of Hennings’ confessional narrative and a critical analysis of the avant-gardes’ founding gestures reveal the degree to which any art movement, particularly in its self-declaration as anti-art, remains dependent on those very figures that it has sought to repress or undermine.





Cover Hennings Brandmalgefaengnis cover 676

Emmy Hennings Gedichte vol 3










Emmy Hennings: Werke und Briefe, vol. 1-3
Co-editor: Nicola Behrmann 
(Göttingen: Wallstein, 2016-2020)

The first volume of the annotated study edition of the writings of Emmy Hennings, edited together with Christa Baumberger, contains three autobiographical novels on Henning’s imprisonment: GefängnisDas graue HausDas Haus im Schatten (Wallstein, 2016); the second volume, edited together with Christa Baumberger, contains the two novels Das BrandmalDas ewige Lied (Wallstein, 2016), in which Hennings tells about her life on the streets and her illness; the third volume, edited together with Simone Sumpf, contains Hennings’ complete poems, Gedichte (Wallstein, forthcoming 2020), many of which have been unpublished until now. All three volumes contain an extended apparatus of additional materials such as reviews and photographs, and a detailed commentary regarding genesis and receptions of each text.



GermanicReviewCover 2016
Special issue of The Germanic Review, vol. 91, no. 4
 (December 2016): "Dada 1916/2016"
Guest editors: Nicola Behrmann and Tobias Wilke









Cover Emmy Hennings Dada crop

Emmy Hennings Dada
 (Zürich: Scheidegger & Spiess, 2015)
Author/Editors: Nicola Behrmann and Christa Baumberger

This award-winning anthology offers a new take on the history of the Dada movement in Zurich. The volume contains Hennings' literary works from the Dada period as well as a vast range of archival documents, photographs, and short biographies of 140 people associated with Dada in Zurich. For their editorial work, the authors received the Award "Schätze heben" by the Swiss foundation Migros Kulturprozent. Three Rutgers students and Aresty Research Assistants—Camille Lathbury, Kelsey Haddorff, and Fiona Wong—worked closely with Professor Behrmann to complete research in German on the book. Check out a recent radio interview with Professor Behrmann on DeutschlandradioKultur.


Articles (selected):

“American Flirt: Surface in Hitchcock’s The Birds,” RISS. Zeitschrift für Psychoanalyse, no. 90: Flirt, eds. Marcus Coelen, Judith Kaspar, Karl-Josef Pazzini, Mai Wegener, 2019. 

"Krankheit und Avantgarde. Sontags Metaphern." Radikales Denken. Zur Aktualität Susan Sontags. Eds. Anna Lisa Dieter/Silvia Tiedtke. Zürich: Diaphanes 2017, 151-167. 

"Varieté, Telefon, Kino: Die Entstehung des Prinzen von Theben." Modern Language Notes, vol. 132, no. 3, special issue: Avant-Garde Revisited: Else Lasker-Schüler (April 2017), 639-657.

In großer Bedrängnis: Die Briefe von Hugo Ball an Helene und Ferdinand Schohl. Hugo Ball Almanach. Studien und Texte zu Dada. Neue Folge 8 (2017).

"Scenes of Birth and Founding Myths: Dada 1916/17." The Germanic Review, vol. 91, Special Issue: Dada 1916/2016 (November 2016). Eds. Nicola Behrmann and Tobias Wilke.

"Brief/Freundschaft: Rahel Levins Archiv." Ein Buch für Rahel Levin. Ed. Barbara Hahn. Göttingen: Wallstein, 2015.

"Grenzen in Bewegung: Bild und Text in den Historischen Avantgarden." Handbuch Literatur und visuelle Kultur. Eds. Claudia Benthien/Brigitte Weingart. Berlin: de Gruyter, 2014.

"You Can't Go Home Again: Exiles in Klaus Mann's The Volcano." "Escape to Life": German Intellectuals in New York. A Compendium on Exile after 1933, eds. Eckart Goebel/Sigrid Weigel, Berlin: deGruyter, 2012.

“Words at War: Hugo Ball and Walter Benjamin on Language and History.” Nexus: Essays in German Jewish Studies, vol. 1 (2011).

“Food Comes First: Labor and Poverty in Kafka and Brecht.” Journal of the Kafka Society of America, vol. 32 (2010).

“Das Versprechen des Phallus: Zur Schnitttechnik in Frank Wedekinds Lulu.” Narziss und Eros: Bild oder Text?. Eds. Eckart Goebel/Elisabeth Bronfen, Wallstein Verlag: Göttingen, 2009.


Translations (selected):

Avital Ronell: “Die Fabel von der Medientechnik: Unter meiner Aufsicht,” and Laurence A. Rickels: “Halbes Leben.” Medias in Res. Medienkulturwissenschaftliche Positionen, eds. Til Heilmann/Anne von der Heiden/Anna Tuschling, Bielefeld: transcript, 2011

Samuel Weber: “Kommende Demokratie. Zu einer Poetik des Unmöglichen.“ Mnêma. Derrida zum Andenken. Eds. Hans Joachim Lenger/Georg Christoph Tholen, Bielefeld: transcript, 2007

Michael Fried: “Jeff Wall, Wittgenstein und das Alltägliche.” Figurationen 8:2 (Special Issue: Ends of Photography, ed. Ulrich Baer), 2006

Professional Activities:

Member of the Aresty Research Council, Rutgers University (2019-)

Elected Member of the Delegate Assembly, Modern Languages Association (MLA), Region 3 (Mid-Atlantic States). 2016-2019

Director of the Rutgers in Berlin Exchange Program

Recent Courses Taught at Rutgers:


Impossible Economies: Literature and Prostitution (Spring 2014, Spring 2019)
What Woman Wants (Spring 2018)
Nervous Systems: Gender, Literature, Technology (Spring 2017) 
20th Century Avant-Gardes, Between Archive and Exile (Spring 2013)
Image, Text, Medium: Literature and the Visual Arts (Spring 2011)


Animal Spirits (Fall 2013, Spring 2019 [Honors College])
Dada to Punk Rock (Fall 2016, Spring 2019)
Tales of Horror (Fall 2016, Fall 2017, Fall 2018)
From Nietzsche to Superman: Literature and Popular Culture (Fall 2014, Fall 2018)
Realism and Revolution (Spring 2011, Spring 2018)
Dreams of the (Human) Machine (Spring 2015, Fall 2016, Fall 2017)
Rebels and Loners (Spring 2013, Fall 2017)
Dreams and Delusions (Spring 2017)
Classics of German Cinema (Fall 2014)
Bachelor Machines: Authorship, Automatons, and the Avant-garde (Fall 2010)