Prof. Dr. Katja Kanzler

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Prof. Dr. Katja Kanzler
Professor and Chair for American Literature
Room 3507 | Phone: (0341) 97-37331
Office Hours: Winter Break 2020: Feb. 13, 3-4 pm; Feb. 27, 12-1 pm; March 12, 3-4 pm; March 26, 3-4 pm


I spent much of my previous academic life at the University of Leipzig, where I earned all of my degrees and where I discovered my love for American Studies. After a station at the University of Konstanz, I served as professor of North American Literature at TU Dresden for eight years. I have greatly enjoyed teaching American Studies and building research networks in different places, learning so much from the colleagues and students I have met. Now I am thrilled to return to Leipzig, as is my husband who is looking forward with me to rediscovering the region’s hiking and biking opportunities.


I teach American literature across its history, with a particular emphasis on the cultural work that literature does and on how this work is connected to the formal properties of texts. I make a point in using a broad concept of 'literature' that covers not only the classic literary genres of prose, poetry, and drama but also genres of popular culture; not only texts bound to the medium of print but also 'texts' bound to other media or to oral traditions. In my classes, I want to empower students to become (more) curious and critical readers, by exposing them to (hopefully) exciting texts and by engaging them in methods and ideas that open up new perspectives on the materials of culture.


My research is governed by an interest in how literature and related forms of cultural expression work as venues in which US-American society reflects on itself – in which it thinks through, rehearses, or fights over interpretations of social reality, and in which it makes social alternatives thinkable. Among other things, I have worked on literary negotiations of gender and its intersections with other relations of power, on the role of narrativity in processes of social meaning-making, and repeatedly on the poetics and politics of popular culture. I currently have a project in the Collaborative Research Center (SFB) 1285 “Invectivity: Constellations and Dynamics of Disparagement” on disparagement in American popular culture, with an initial emphasis on contemporary television culture (project homepage). I also co-founded an interdisciplinary network for Television Studies called “weiter sehen” (project homepage). In addition, I am co-applicant and member of the DFG-funded research network “Narrative Liminality” (project homepage).

Recent Publications

  • “Veep, Invective Spectacle, and the Figure of the Comedic Antiheroine.” Zeitschrift fuer Anglistik und Amerikanistik 67.2 (2019)
  • “'To Tell the Kitchen Version': Architectural Figurations of Race and Gender in Harriet Jacobs’s Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl.” Repub. Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl: A Norton Critical Edition. 2nd ed. Ed. Frances Smith Foster and Richard Yarborough. New York: Norton, 2018. 341-50.
  • With Brigitte Georgi-Findlay, eds. Mensch, Maschine, Maschinenmenschen: Multidisziplinäre Perspektiven auf die Serie Westworld. Springer VS, 2018.
  • “Kate Chopin's The Awakening”. Handbook of the American Novel of the 19th Century. Ed. Christine Gerhardt. de Gruyter, 2018. 543-557.

Recent and Upcoming Talks

  • “'Trumpism': Mediated Populism and Reality TV Scripts of Anger.” June 20-21, 2019, U of Toronto.

  • “From Duck Dynasty to 'Quality Reality TV': On the Invective Performativity of Taste.” June 15, 2019, Keynote at the Annual Conference of the German Association for American Studies, Hamburg.

  • “'This game is not meant for you': HBO’s Westworld at the Crossroads of Narrative and Play.” May 30, 2019, Narrative 2019 Conference, Pamplona.

  • #NastyWoman: Vernacular Feminism and the Poetics of Resignification in 21st Century US Popular Culture.” Annual Conference of the Austrian Association of American Studies, Vienna, 16-18 Nov. 2018.

Full CV (pdf file)

Community Service

I strongly believe that public outreach is vital for academia, especially in the humanities – because the knowledge we produce can and should enrich civic culture in our communities, and because our communities have much to contribute to our knowledge production. In this spirit, I have been involved in a number of outreach activities, such as podium discussions (e.g. at Zentralbibliothek Dresden or at “Open Ohr” Festival Mainz), teacher training workshops, or interviews.