Forschung/Research

Forschungsschwerpunkte:

 

Literatur-/Kulturhistorisch

  • Britische Literatur-und Kulturgeschichte vom 17. Jahrhundert bis zur Gegenwart mit Schwerpunkten im 18. und 19. Jahrhundert 
  • Mittelalterliche Literatur bis 1500

 

Systematisch/Thematisch:

  • Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies 
  • Body Studies and Theory
  • Medical Humanities mit Schwerpunkt literatur-und kulturwissenschaftliche Konstruktionen von Birth, Pregnancy und Maternity (1700-Gegenwart) sowie Medicine und Mobility im 19. Jahrhundert
  • History of Emotions/Affect Theory
  • Amatory Fiction (v.a. Eliza Haywood and Aphra Behn)
  • Erotica and Pseudo-Erotica (17.-18. Jahrhundert)
  • Gothic, Mystery and Crime Fiction

Aktuelle Forschungsprojekte:

 

d) Locating Intersections of Medicine and Mobility in 19th-Century Britain (2018- ; research network together with Dr. Sandra Dinter, FAU Erlangen-Nürnberg)

While the 18thcentury brought forth important breakthroughs in midwifery, obstetrics, vaccination and public health and hygiene, it is the 19thcentury which witnessed the rise of modern and institutionalised medicine and continues to be known for its scientific discoveries and new diagnostic procedures. A similar development can be observed with regard to mobility during this period: the technological advancements of the industrial revolution, the spread of railways, steam boats, the underground and omnibuses, marked the dawn of mass tourism and made it easier for the greater population to move from one place to another than ever before, be it for necessity or for pleasure. The aim of this research network is to locate and examine possible intersections between medicine and mobility in 19th-century Britain, an intriguing topic that has thus far only received little scholarly attention. At the centre of discussion will be the literary, cultural and historical processes through which medicine and mobility are intertwined and reconfigured in the 19thcentury. We are interested in debating the following questions: What are the links between (im-)mobility, health, and medical cure/surveillance and how are these issues represented in literary texts and/or other cultural artefacts in the 19thcentury? Which physiological movements were pathologised and which were considered beneficial? How did mobility and mass tourism affect forms of therapeutic exercise and the implementation of innovative treatments and vice versa? What impacts did race, gender, sexuality and class have on (im-)mobility and medicine? 

 

c) Passionate Encounters: Negotiating Desire and Shame/-lessness in 18th Century British Literature and Culture (2018 - , working title, book project)

abstract: tba 

 

b) Dissecting Birth: Medicine, Science and the Aesthetic Representation of Birth in 18th Century Medical Documents

The female body in its pregnant state is a body in transition, pregnancy being one of the body’s most conceptualized, cultured and gendered rite de passages, which involves a ritualized change in status or identity, completed by the arrival of the newborn baby, and leading to a negation of existing features towards an affirmation of another order and another hierarchy in its post-pregnant state. This paper wants to trace how male science conquered the sexual reproductive female body in eighteenth century England by exploring how man- midwifery, as a new branch of medicine, managed to create a space for itself in London’s new medical market. With Smellie’s Sett of Anatomical Tables (1754) and Hunter’s The Anatomy of the Human Gravid Uterus (1774) in mind, I want to show the link between anatomy, dissections and obstetric innovations, and the medico-historical preservation of the gravid uterus by engravers such as van Rymsdyk, whose “obstetric art” is arguably a narratological as well as a morbidly aesthetic strategy to document and preserve the transient and deceased pregnant body in order to minimalize the risk of childbirth for other pregnant bodies in their transitory phase from one stage of life into another. 

 

a) Transient Bodies in Anglophone Literature and Culture (edited collection together with Dr. Sara Strauss, University of Paderborn, forthcoming 2019)

Throughout history, the human body has always been a controversial and much debated topic and constantly had to negotiate its place between glorification and vilification. Whereas the beauty and strength of people’s physical structure was praised and positively emphasised, the body’s diseases, flaws and frailties functioned as a constant reminder of human imperfection and the inevitability of natural decay. Despite the fact that the concept of the “body” has been discussed in academic research in recent years, the representation of the transient body – a body located at the intersections of significant phases of life – has not been given the attention it deserves. Against the background of declining fertility rates and ageing populations in Western societies as well as in the context of new paradigms in interdisciplinary research, such as the medical humanities, intersectionality and ageing studies, the high complexity of cultural attitudes towards the body and its metaphorical relevance are currently gaining more public awareness and challenge us to ask new questions. How are bodily rites-de-passage, such as birth, death, disease and decay represented in Anglophone literature, culture and media? Which narrative, aesthetic and medial strategies are employed to represent and document bodily transitions from one stage of life to another?

 

Veranstaltungen 2019

  • Locating Intersections of Medicine and Mobility in 19th Century Britain. Conference Organizer (together with Dr. Sandra Dinter). University of Erlangen-Nürnberg (Erlangen, October 2019). The conference is funded by the Thyssen Foundation. 

  • (Dis)Orderly Desire in Eliza Haywood’s Fantomina and The Masqueraders. (Un)Ordnungen. Interdisziplinäres Nachwuchskolloqium. Universität Koblenz-Landau (Campus Koblenz, January 2019)

 

Abgeschlossene Forschungsprojekte:

a) The Gendered Body - Female Sanctity, Gender Hybridity and the Body in Women's Hagiography (monograph/dissertation, Winter: Heidelberg 2016)

The (female) body was a highly controversial and much debated topic in the Middle Ages. It constantly had to negotiate its place between glorification and crucifixion, be- tween superiority and subordination, and many social, cultural and gender-related implications were closely connected to it. Unfortunately, among cultural historians the body belonged for a long time to nature rather than culture, an assumption which led to the fact that no other aspect of medieval cultural history has been more neglected within scholarship than the body, leaving a research gap in chronicles of cultural history and in the modern understanding of the past. This study investigates the complex constructions of the medieval female body in popular female saints’ legends.
By focusing on frequently recurring body parts in women’s hagiography, such as the breast, hair(styles) and the tripartite construction of mouth, teeth and tongue, this work critically reflects on the gendered treatment of these body parts and the role of women at that time. Furthermore, the study examines the phenomenon of gender hybridity among female saints, arguing that hybridity is a common method to indicate the transcendence of the secular, passive-feminine body, particularly among female martyrs, in order to reach a higher
social acceptance within the Christian community.

 

b) The Dangerous Other: Transgressing Gender in Medieval English Hagiography (panel organization ("Sektionsleitung") at the International Medieval Congress 2017, together with Meg Gregory, Illinois State University) (2016-2017)

The effect of sexual and gender hybridization, of "inbetweeness", is a frequently employed theme in the construction of the unexplainable Other in medieval English literature and in particular in women's hagiography. These hybrid figures are beings on the border, who perform as men. As such these women highlight hierarchies inherent in the patriarchal system and also through their very existence challenge and transgress them, making these women threats to the social environment. The panel held at the International Medieval Congress in Leeds (July 2017) explores the monstrous and dangerous hybridity (physical and otherwise) of those female saints who stand between the human and the non-human world, femininity and masculinity.

 

c) Withering Bodies: Objectifying the Female Adolescent Body in Lauren DeStefano's Chemical Garden Trilogy (article, 2018)

The dystopian female body, as presented in classics such as Margret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale (1985), but also in literary debuts such as in Lauren de Stefano’s The Chemical Garden triology (2011-2013), is a docile one, frequently robbed of liberty, self- agency and self-determination, disturbingly selected, examined, used, consummated, impregnated by (aging) men and/or disposed if no longer needed. It seems as if in dystopian societies in which death lures around each corner, in which women live only up to the age of twenty, in which sterility and fertility are constantly contrasted and conceiving rituals, forced (polygamous) marriages and chemical treatments ensure either the fragile future of a dying nation or function as a form of dystopian birth control, the young fertile female body “must be controlled by implicit or explicit rules and regulations” (Day 77) and is thus “expected to conform to specific physical requirements” (77). This paper will explore the connection between the withering body, sexuality and fertility in dystopian fiction for young readers to show that, despite the time span between Atwood and de Stefano’s work, contemporary dystopian fiction still wants girls and women for their wombs or bodies or “it doesn’t want us at all” (de Stefano Fever). 

 

d) Embracing New Domesticity: Mommyblogs and the Return to Home and Hearth (article, 2018)

What will future historians and feminists see when trying to reconstruct and to define femininity and particularly motherhood at the dawn of the twenty-first century? The construction of contemporary femininity seems fragmented and ever changing, socially liberated and at the same time still bound to traditional cultural expectations. With regard to the ‘New Domesticity’-movement, this paper explores maternal life writing in popular culture within the private and yet public world of mommy blogs. Mommy blogs, as this study will show “capture maternal experiences, give mothers a voice and foster a conversation and participation in a community” (Friedman 2013: 11). As such mommy blogs, their authors and readers support the undeniable fact that twenty-first century motherhood is no longer a monolithic, private and housebound experience. Rather, in contrast to previous generations, it is now based on a collective of publicly shared maternal experiences in a steadily growing online community which arguably influences and reshapes the traditional understanding of maternal subjectivity, agency and authority.

    Exams

    Term Papers (M6) 

    Students who need to obtain an LN/Prüfungsleistung in my classes will need to write a critical, innovative paper with a strong literary or cultural focus on one of the texts in class, or on questions and ideas which came up to you during the semester.  As we are commonly dealing with time periods and a number of different genres and phenomena in my courses, you are more than welcome to conduct a research project according to your individual interests. Students are required to write a short (1 page, minimum 300 words) proposal for their research topic that needs to be approved by the instructor beforehand. All students writing term papers in my courses have to come and see me at least once in person during office hours to talk about their projects. 

    The length of the term paper has to be between 4000-6000 words (Modulprüfung B.Ed) unless stated otherwise in your individual “Prüfungsordnung”. Written work should conform to the format presented in the MLA Handbook (8thEdition) for appropriate quotation and citation and follow the style sheet found on the department's website. Term papers need a minimum of eight secondary sources in their Works Cited section. Not more than half of the sources used should be electronic sources. 

    Bachelor/Master Theses: 
    I welcome discussion about possible bachelor/master thesis projects from students interested to engage with topics in accordance with my research areas (s. Forschung/Research). If you plan to write your bachelor or master thesis with me as your first supervisor, please schedule an appointment for individual consultation about your topic idea ahead of time. Before I will sign any official documents for the HPA, you will have to submit a research proposal about your topic (ca. 2 pages), in which you outline your project idea (preliminary arguments, scientific relevance, research question, primary sources) and, most importantly, your working thesis. Your proposal should be accompanied by a time frame for the project and a list of sources (primary/secondary) you intend to use. Only proposals meeting all of these requirements will be accepted - if I feel that your thesis abstract is too vague, unanswerable or lacks a clear focus/thesis you will have to revise and resubmit. 
    Please note: Currently, I am not available for any B.Ed./M.Ed. supervision.