Associate Professor Emeritus, Comparative Literature
School of Humanities
Ph.D., Humboldt-Universitaet Berlin, 1999, American Studies
M.A. in American Studies and German Literature, Freie Universitaet Berlin
Phone: (949) 824-6406
Fax: (949) 824-6416
University of California, Irvine
274 Humanities Instructional Building
Mail Code: 2651
Irvine, CA 92697
Critical Theories of Gender and Sexuality; Constructions and Critiques of Heterosexuality; Subjects and Objects of Cultural Critiques; Gender and Sexuality in Literature; Contemporary American Literature
Publication Award, Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft, for Die Figur der verrückten Frau, awarded Dec. 1999
Junior Fellow, Institute for Human Sciences, Vienna, July - December 1994
My research interests are feminist theories, gender and literature, comparative women's literature, critical theories of sexuality, multiculturalism and contemporary American literature. Using discourses on gender and sexuality as paradigmatic examples, I engage with the question of what constitutes a current cultural critique and how that critique constitutes its subjects. I am especially interested in the different rhetorical and aesthetic strategies that theoretical and literary writings bring to contemporary critical discourses.
My first book provides an analysis of feminist theory through "the madwoman", which as a critical figure has become central to second wave feminism. Focusing on the role of the madwoman in the feminist critique of representation, I read theoretical as well as literary texts in order to discuss the various critical approaches that shaped feminist debates between the 1960 and 1990s.
I am currently working on a project titled Troubling Straightness: Feminism, Queer Theory, and the Subject of Heterosexuality, which aims at proposing new directions for a critical study of heterosexuality at the intersection of queer theory and feminism. I am particularly interested in an interrogation of the figure of straightness in the history of queer and feminist discourses and in very recent attempts to theorize a non-normative heterosexuality (under the signs of "queer heterosexuality" and of "feminist heterosexuality"). In addition, I read literary narratives, such as the novels of Kathy Acker, Toni Morrison, Marguerite Duras, and Elfriede Jelinek. These authors have acquired a canonized status, representing a literary feminism that explores the dynamics of female desire in different social and cultural contexts. However, their works have not yet been analyzed as specific representations of heterosexual norms and identities. I therefore suggest a "queer feminist reading", which pays attention to the relationships between the critical narratives of gender relations and those of heterosexuality. I am particularly interested in a comparative view, considering the authors' various theoretical influences (critical theory, race theory, psychoanalysis, Marxism), their aesthetic strategies enacting specific critical approaches, and the different cultural contexts of their writings (U.S., France, Austria).
Die Figur der verrückten Frau: Weiblicher Wahnsinn als Kategorie der feministischen Repräsentationskritik. (The Figure of the Madwoman: Feminine Madness in the Feminist Critique of Representation) Tübingen: Edition Diskord, 2000.
with Antje Hornscheidt and Gabriele Jähnert (eds.). Kritische Differenzen, geteilte Perspektiven: Zum Verhältnis von Feminismus und Postmoderne. (Critical Differences, Split/Shared Perspectives: On Feminism and Postmodernism). Opladen: Westdeutscher Verlag, 1998.
"Critical Madness, Enunciative Excess: The Figure of the Madwoman in Postmodern Feminist Texts". Cultural Studies <-> Critical Methodologies 3:3 (2003). 308-330.
"Queer at Last? Straight Intellectuals and the Desire for Transgression". GLQ 1:4 (2004): 543-564.
"Re-Thinking Sex: Feminismus, queere Theorie und die Kritik normativer Sexualpolitiken." Queering the Humanities. Eds. Elahe Haschemi Yekani and Beatrice Michaelis. Quer durch die Geisteswissenschaften. Perspektiven der Queer Theory (Queering the Humanities). Berlin: Querverlag, 2005, 132-157.
"Contesting Straights: Lesbians, Queer Heterosexuals and the Critique of Heteronormativity." The Journal of Lesbian Studies. Special issue on "Lesbian Studies in the Twenty-First Century." Eds. Ursula Barry, Noreen Giffney and Katherine O'Donnell. (in print)