Advancing the field of interdisciplinary field of German Studies

About Us

Established in 1992 under the aegis of the College of Arts and Sciences, the Institute for German Cultural Studies is a research-oriented initiative designed both to recognize extraordinary cross-disciplinary strengths in the study of German culture at Cornell University and to foster cutting-edge scholarly exchange pertaining to the interdisciplinary study of German culture from the medieval era to the present.

The Founder

Peter Uwe Hohendahl
Peter Uwe Hohendahl

The Institute for German Cultural Studies owes its existence to the intellectual vision of its founding director, Peter Uwe Hohendahl, Cornell University’s Jacob Gould Schurman Professor of German and Comparative Literature. Under his dynamic leadership, the Institute made its mark as a premier venue, both within Cornell University and in the interdisciplinary field of German Studies more generally, for the critical study of German-speaking cultures from the medieval period to the present. Thanks to the founding director’s foresight and dedication, what began in 1992 as an innovative attempt to overcome traditional disciplinary divisions within our home institution has become an indispensable feature of rigorous inter- and trans-disciplinary inquiry in the College of Arts and Sciences and beyond.

An extraordinary record of individual scholarship has likewise accompanied this colleague’s countless accomplishments on behalf of the Institute for German Cultural Studies. For this distinguished record—which includes expertise in 18th- to 20th-century German literature, intellectual history, critical theory, and the history of the university in Europe and the United States—Peter Uwe Hohendahl was named to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2003 and awarded the Alexander von Humboldt Research Prize for Humanists in 2005. In 1997 the founding director of the IGCS formulated this mission statement, which reflects on the first five years of Institute programming and highlights many commitments that continue to characterize the Institute for German Cultural Studies today.

- Leslie A. Adelson, Director (2007-2013)

Artists in residence program

The artist-in-residence program is a highlight of the yearly events sponsored by the Institute for German Cultural Studies. Launched in 2003 under the directorship of Peter Uwe Hohendahl, the program brings to Cornell artists from the German-speaking countries. During their stay the visitors present their work, conduct compact seminars on related subjects, and interact with students and other members of the Cornell community in a variety of other ways. Visitors to date include Oswald Egger, Stefan Beuse, Monika Treut, Holger Teschke, Christine Rinderknecht, Yoko Tawada, Heiner Goebbels, Hans Christoph Buch, Barbara Köhler, Ulrich Peltzer, Kathrin Röggla, and Clemens J. Setz.

Reflections in the AD White House window

Since 2008, the IGCS has also invited resident artists to give a lecture that addresses questions of contemporary aesthetics from their unique perspective as practitioners and performers. Christine Rinderknecht inaugurated this lecture series in 2008 with creative commentary on literary fiction and natural catastrophe, and Yoko Tawada continued it in 2009 with multilingual reflections on letters, ideograms, alphabets, and other writing systems in modern literature. In 2010 Heiner Goebbels addressed an interdisciplinary audience on the aesthetics of absence in performing arts. In 2011 Hans Christoph Buch presented oral remarks on the multifaceted significance of Haiti for German literary culture and world literature; the author’s written reflections on his aesthetics of “non-identity” appear here for the first time. In 2013 Barbara Köhler presented her conceptual poetics of relationality in motion as performative tour de force and written lecture too; both versions are available on the IGCS Website. In 2015 Ulrich Peltzer analyzed the sophisticated interplay of reading and writing in contemporary aesthetics, and in 2016 Kathrin Röggla inspired us to contemplate the entangled futurities of literature and capital in the age of globalization. In 2017 Clemens J. Setz drew on his experience reading a Samuel Delany novel to offer a profound meditation on computer games as an art form that captures the human experience of time.

Learn more and watch past lectures

German Culture News

German Culture News is the bi-annual newsletter of the Institute for German Cultural Studies at Cornell University. It provides announcements and information about events sponsored by the Institute, including conference reports and summaries of papers presented at the Institute's long-running Colloquium Series. Review articles and faculty profiles are also featured.

Read all past issues

Fall 2019

German Culture News, Vol. XXVIII, Fall 2019 

Unknown author (Institute for German Cultural Studies, 2019-10-16)

German Culture News is produced by the Institute for German Cultural Studies, Cornell U. Patrizia McBride: Director; Olga Petrova: Editor and Designer; Matthew Stoltz: Copy Editor; JJ Aupiais: Student Coordinator.