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Petra McGillen


Address: Department of German Studies
6084 Dartmouth Hall
Hanover, New Hampshire 03755-3511

Office: 329 Dartmouth Hall

Telephone: (603) 646-2218

Fax: (603) 646-1474


Petra Spies McGillen joined Dartmouth in 2012 as Assistant Professor of German Studies. She works on German literature, media, and culture, ca. 1750 to 1900. Her research focuses on the material history of creativity. In particular, she explores the impact of different forms and media of notation—from doodles to writers' notebooks, from lists to databases—on creative writing processes. Her other research interests include poetics, the aesthetics of production, historical forms of knowledge organization, and literary genres.

She is currently working on a book manuscript, Original Compiler: Fontane's Notebooks and the Making of Literature in the Industrial Age of Print, the first in-depth study of the unpublished notebooks and other paper tools of the great German novelist Theodor Fontane. The book shows that peculiar compilatory working methods and note-taking techniques enabled Fontane to produce literature that was at once highbrow and had a broad popular appeal, providing the foundation for his freelance authorship in later 19th-century Germany.

A second research project, Johann Gottfried Herder's Media Poetics, takes a fresh look at a selection of Herder's less known writings, arguing that they tacitly articulate a media theory of different textual genres, from the aphorism to the epic. Her research on 19th-century writers (e.g. Th. Fontane, Heinrich Heine) and the creative impact of textual practices such as compiling and list-making has been published in English and in German in The Germanic Review, the Archiv für Mediengeschichte, and the Marbacher Kataloge.

Petra McGillen offers courses on Understanding German Media, the History of Paper, and Pulp Fiction in 19th-century German Literature, in addition to German language courses. She also teaches courses in the Humanities sequence and has directed the Language Study Abroad program in Berlin. She holds a Ph.D. in Germanic Languages and Literatures from Princeton University (2012), an M.A. degree in Intellectual History from the University of Sussex in the UK (2006), and a B.A. degree in European Media Studies from Universität Potsdam (2005) in her native Germany. 

Click here for a link to Petra McGillen's homepage.

Last Updated: 10/14/14