Dr. Carl Niekerk

Dr. Carl Niekerk

Contact Information

Germanic Languages
2090 For Lang Bldg
707 S Mathews
M/C 178
Urbana, IL 61801

Office Hours

  • Fall 2016: MW 1-2 & by appointment
Professor
View CV - Visit Website

Biography

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.

Selected Publications

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 Violence, Gender, and the Construction of the Other in the Story of Inkle and Yarico Amsterdam Rodopi 2014.
Hans Keilson im Exil. Zur jüdisch-niederländisch-deutschen Transkulturation Die vergangene Zeit bleibt die erlittene Zeit. Untersuchungen zum Werk von Hans Keilson Hans Keilson im Exil. Zur jüdisch-niederländisch-deutschen Transkulturation 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 The Legacy of Enlightenment Anthropology and the Construction of the Primitive Other in Kleist’s ‘Die Verlobung in St. Domingo 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 Translating the Pacific: Georg Forster’s ‘A Voyage round the World’ / ‘Reise um die Welt’ (1777-1780) New York Routledge 2012.
Romanticism and Other Cultures The Cambridge Companion to German Romanticism, ed. Nicholas Saul Romanticism and Other Cultures Cambridge UP 2009, p. 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 Mahler, Rembrandt, and the Dark Side of German Culture Palgrave New York 2007, p. 29-40.
Casanova’s Radical Enlightenment The Promise and Limitations of Enlightenment. Festschrift for John A. McCarthy, ed. Richard E. Schade and Dieter Sevin Casanova’s Radical Enlightenment Amsterdam / New York Rodopi 2007, p. 75-92.
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 Radical Thinking and the Dialogic Mode in Karl Philipp Moritz’s Andreas-Hartknopf-Novels 2013.
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 Transkulturation und die Unmöglichkeit der Liebe als Passion: Bodo Kirchhoffs Infanta (1990) 2014.

Special Issues of a Journal

Der Orient-Diskurs in Lessings Hamburgischer Dramaturgie Lessings Hamburgische Dramaturgie Lessing Yearbook / Jahrbuch 2014.
Radical Thinking and the Dialogic Mode in Karl Philipp Moritz’s Andreas-Hartknopf-Novels The Eighteenth-Century Novel Seminar 49 2 2013.
“De Eerste Wereldoorlog en het zwijgen van Karl Kraus” [“World War One and Karl Kraus’s Silence”] Oorlog [War] 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 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] 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 Austrian Studies 19 2011.

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, p. 177-193.
Mahler's Goethe Musical Quarterly 89.2-3 2006, p. 237-272.

Books

Photo of publication
Reading Mahler: German Culture and Jewish Identity in Fin-de-Siècle Vienna Rochester, NY Camden House 2010. Publisher's website.
Zwischen Naturgeschichte und Anthropologie: Lichtenberg im Kontext der Spätaufklärung. Tübingen Niemeyer 2005.
Bildungskrisen: Die Frage nach dem Subjekt in Goethes ‘Unterhaltungen deutscher Ausgewanderten.’ Tübingen Stauffenburg 1995.

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.

Reviews

Berlin Psychoanalytic: Psychoanalysis and Culture in Weimar Republic Germany and beyond Nexus 2012.
The Anatomy of Blackness: Science and Slavery in an Age of Enlightenment Centaurus 2012.
Literarische Anthropologie. Die Neuentdeckung des Menschen Monatshefte 2010.
Turning to Nature in Germany: Hiking, Nudism, and Conservation, 1900-1940 Monatshefte 2009.
Masochismus und Kolonialismus. Literatur, Film und Pädagogik German Quarterly 2007.