Title Hidden

Section 1

Dr. Carl Niekerk

Professor of French and Italian,Germanic Languages and Literatures,Comparative and World Literature, and Jewish Culture and Society

User Photo

Contact Information:

Office Hours:

  • Fall 2016: MW 1-2 & by appointment


My teaching and research interests are broad and include German literature and culture since 1750, European perceptions of other cultures, music and literature, and also comparative Dutch studies (including Dutch colonial literature and responses to that literature in contemporary Indonesian writing).

For undergraduates, I teach a general education course on the “History of Sexuality and Literature” (CWL 272 / GER 270 / GWS 270) which is offered every fall (in English).  In recent years I also have taught "Europe in Trouble" – a broad lecture / seminar class focusing on the development of European societies and cultures (north and south) since 1945 that includes weekly film screenings and is crosslisted with European Union Studies and Global Studies.  I also frequently teach GER 211 (Advanced German Conversation and Composition 1), GER 332 (a topics course on German Literature and Culture), and GER 471 (Overview 18th- and early 19th-century German Literature and Culture). In all of my classes I emphasize the importance of cooperative and communicative learning strategies. My classes look at literature and culture in their socio-historical contexts and at the impact of art on society. In all of the classes I teach, I use other media (music, film) to document important topics and developments in culture and society

For graduate students, I teach a variety of seminars on 18th- and early 19th-century German Literature and Culture, and on twentieth-century and contemporary Austrian literature and culture. Recent seminar topics have been: ’The Enlightenment and Other Cultures’; ‘Goethe’s Modernity’; ‘Postcolonialism and its Germanic Contexts’; ‘From Modernism to Fascism: Austrian Literature 1893-1938’  and 'Sexuality, Literature and Film since 1774.'  I also cooperate occasionally with colleagues in Musicology on graduate seminars.  

I am the author of a book that looks at the music of Gustav Mahler (1860-1911) in the context of German cultural and literary history, focusing in particular on the Jewish-German cultural tradition (Reading Mahler: Text, Culture, and Jewishness in Fin-de-Siècle Vienna 2010 / paperback 2013). The central argument of this book is that Mahler’s literary interests were highly eclectic and need to be understood as a critique of the normative aspects of German culture, in particular the aesthetics of Richard Wagner. Instead of embracing a nostalgic Modernism as many of his contemporaries did, Mahler insisted on the cosmopolitanism and heterogeneity inherent to German culture. In 2005, I published a monograph on the eighteenth-century German physics professor, essayist, and satirist Georg Christoph Lichtenberg (1742-1799) who lived and worked in Göttingen. This book looks at the relevance of eighteenth-century debates in Natural History and Anthropology for understanding Lichtenberg’s work. In particular, I am interested in the connections between Lichtenberg’s work and that of his colleague at the University of Göttingen Johann Friedrich Blumenbach, one of the founding fathers of German Anthropology. Reconstructing these discourses can help us understand the complex and sometimes contradictory nature of the German Late Enlightenment. My first book was a study of the construction of subjectivity in Goethe’s 'Unterhaltungen deutscher Ausgewanderten' (1995) which I read in the context of – but also as a critique of – Goethe's ideas abut 'Bildung.'

I am currently working on a project that seeks to reconstruct the history of ‘back-to-nature’ thinking from the seventeenth-century Dutch landscape painter Jacob van Ruisdael to the contemporary German author Christoph Ransmayr and filmmaker Werner Herzog. I am also continuing to pursue my interests in the history of European Anthropology and Ethnology and in the intersections of literature, culture, and music.



Publication Photo

Book Contributions

  • "Violence, Gender, and the Construction of the Other in the Story of Inkle and Yarico." Gender Matters: Discourses of Violence in Early Modern Literature and the Arts. . Amsterdam: Rodopi, 2014.

  • "Transkulturation und die Unmöglichkeit der Liebe als Passion: Bodo Kirchhoffs Infanta (1990)." Nach der Utopie der Liebe? Beziehungsmodelle nach der romantischen Liebe, ed. by Henriette Herwig und Miriam Seidler. . 2014.

  • "Hans Keilson im Exil. Zur jüdisch-niederländisch-deutschen Transkulturation." Die vergangene Zeit bleibt die erlittene Zeit. Untersuchungen zum Werk von Hans Keilson. . 2013.

  • "The Legacy of Enlightenment Anthropology and the Construction of the Primitive Other in Kleist’s ‘Die Verlobung in St. Domingo." Heinrich von Kleist: Style and Concept. Explorations in Literary Dissonance. . 2013.

  • "Radical Thinking and the Dialogic Mode in Karl Philipp Moritz’s Andreas-Hartknopf-Novels." The Eighteenth-Century Novel, ed. by Matt Erlin and Sean Franzel, special issue of Seminar. . 2013.

  • "Translating the Pacific: Georg Forster’s ‘A Voyage round the World’ / ‘Reise um die Welt’ (1777-1780)." Travel Narratives in Translation, 1750-1830: Nationalism, Ideology, Gender. . New York: Routledge, 2012.

  • "Romanticism and Other Cultures." The Cambridge Companion to German Romanticism, ed. Nicholas Saul. . Cambridge UP, 2009. 147-162.

  • "Mahler, Rembrandt, and the Dark Side of German Culture." Legacies of Modernism. Art and Politics in Northern Europe, 1890-1950, eds. Patrizia C. McBride, Richard W. McCormick, and Monika Zagar. . Palgrave: New York, 2007. 29-40.

  • "Casanova’s Radical Enlightenment." The Promise and Limitations of Enlightenment. Festschrift for John A. McCarthy, ed. Richard E. Schade and Dieter Sevin. . Amsterdam / New York: Rodopi, 2007. 75-92.

Edited Books

  • Contemplating Violence: Critical Studies in Modern German Culture. . Amsterdam: Rodopi, 2011.

  • One Hundred Years of Masochism: Literary Texts, Social and Cultural Contexts. . 2000.

Journal Articles

  • "Reading Proust with Sacher-Masoch." Comparatio. Zeitschrift für Vergleichende Literaturwissenschaft 4.1 (2012):
  • "Modernity, Sexuality, and Gender in Pramoedya Ananta Toer’s This Earth of Mankind (1980)." Symposium 65.2 (2011):
  • "Vienna around 1900 and the Crisis of Public Art (Klimt, Mahler, Schnitzler)." Neophilologus 95.1 (2011):
  • "Poetik der Metonymie: Alterität in Christoph Ransmayrs Der fliegende Berg." Literatur für Leser 3/08 (2008): 177-193.
  • "Mahler's Goethe." Musical Quarterly 89.2-3 (2006): 237-272.

Special Issues of a Journal

  • "Der Orient-Diskurs in Lessings Hamburgischer Dramaturgie." Lessings Hamburgische Dramaturgie. Spec. iss. of Lessing Yearbook / Jahrbuch (2014):
  • "Radical Thinking and the Dialogic Mode in Karl Philipp Moritz’s Andreas-Hartknopf-Novels." The Eighteenth-Century Novel. Spec. iss. of Seminar 49.2 (2013):
  • "“De Eerste Wereldoorlog en het zwijgen van Karl Kraus” [“World War One and Karl Kraus’s Silence”]." Oorlog [War]. Spec. iss. of Vooys. Tijdschrift voor letteren 30.3 (2012):
  • "The Postmodern Moment and the Return of History in Doron Rabinovici’s Ohnehin (2004)." After Postmodernism / Nach der Postmoderne. Spec. iss. of Germanistik in Ireland. Jahrbuch der / Yearbook of the Association of Third-Level Teachers of German in Ireland (2011):
  • "“Tussen neoromantiek en avant-garde” [“Between Neoromanticism and Avant-garde”]." De laatste vragen van Gustav Mahler [Gustav Mahler’s Final Questions]. Spec. iss. of Nexus 59 (2011):
  • "Image, Sound, and Text: Aesthetic Education in the Age of New Media in Josef Haslinger’s Das Vaterspiel (2000)." The Austrian Noughties: Films, Texts, Debates. Spec. iss. of Austrian Studies 19 (2011):


  • Rev. of Berlin Psychoanalytic: Psychoanalysis and Culture in Weimar Republic Germany and beyondNexus (2012):
  • Rev. of The Anatomy of Blackness: Science and Slavery in an Age of EnlightenmentCentaurus (2012):
  • Rev. of Literarische Anthropologie. Die Neuentdeckung des MenschenMonatshefte (2010):
  • Rev. of Turning to Nature in Germany: Hiking, Nudism, and Conservation, 1900-1940Monatshefte (2009):
  • Rev. of Masochismus und Kolonialismus. Literatur, Film und PädagogikGerman Quarterly (2007):