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Dorothee Ostmeier

Dorothee Ostmeier is a Professor of German at the University of Oregon, Director of Graduate Studies and Affiliate Professor of Folklore and Participating Faculty of Comparative Literature (Ph.D., The Johns Hopkins University, MA in Philosophy and Literature, Ruhr Universitaet, Bochum). She taught previously at the University of Washington. Her research and teaching focuses on German literature and culture of the 18th to the 20th centuries. International reviews of her book, Sprache des Dramas-Drama der Sprache. Nelly Sachs' Dramatische Szenen, recognize this study as one of the few works that analyze Sachs' cryptic dramatic writings, which she composed after escaping Nazi persecution in 1941. Professor Ostmeier’s analysis situates Sachs’ oeuvre within the ongoing debate on obsessive memory in the face of the universal disappearance of idealist utopias. Aspects of her current book project “Gender Constructs in German Literature of the Early Twentieth Century” have been presented at international conferences and have discussed concepts of the body in culturally subversive philosophical treatises, theatrical and artistic texts, and reform movements, as for example, alternative living communities. The book will demonstrate that the poetic culture of the early Twentieth century is inseparable from modernist and post-modernist feminist discourses, and claims that the early poetic dialogues anticipate and challenge contemporary feminists’ thought. It explores the poetic exchanges between major representatives of modernist poetry, between expressionists, symbolists and representatives of new objectivism. Ostmeier loves to engage in discussions about poetry, its aesthetics and powerful capacity to further philosophical, political, and cultural identity negotiations.

Her courses on fairy tale traditions, especially on their magic and uncanny realities, tackle the moves from utopian to anti-utopian tales and link these to questions of social marginalization, gender imbalance, imaginary friends and schizophrenic characters. Recently she has organized a panel for researchers to discuss the sociological, psychological, philosophical, and gender issues raised by the cross-cultural circulation of fairy tales. Ostmeier has taught a broad variety of other culture and literature classes, ranging form survey courses on the 19th and early 20th century, dramas of revolution and terror to more theoretically focused courses on gender issues.

Recently she has served as a member of the Advisory Board of the Oregon Humanities Center, as Director of Graduate Studies in Germanics, and as Humanities Representative on the Arts and Sciences Curriculum Committee. She has initiated and co-organized the German outreach program and the manifold activities of the Healing Arts Research Interest Group at CSWS.