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 Term 2021/22 (while classes are in session): Thursdays, 3-4 pm; Winter Break: 7 Feb., 4-5 pm; 25 Feb., 1-2 pm; 7 March, 2-3 pm; until further notice, all office hours via zoom (pls email me at least one hour in advance)
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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

  • “The Cringe and the Sneer: Structures of Feeling in Veep.” Humanities 10.4 (2021).

  • “Invective Form in Popular Media Culture: Genre — Mode — Affordance. Kulturwissenschaftliche Zeitschrift 6.1 (2021): 26-36.

  • “Die invektive Produktion gegenderter Körper im Makeover TV: Von What Not to Wear bis Queer Eye.Körper-Kränkungen. Der menschliche Leib als Medium der Herabsetzung, edited by Uwe Israel and Jürgen Müller, Campus, 2021. 400-413.

Recent and Upcoming Talks

  • “Affective Labor in 21st Century Popular Culture.” Keynote at the Conference of the Swiss Association of North American Studies, St. Gallen, 5-6 Nov., 2021.

  • “Social Space, Bodies, and Histories in North American Food Fiction: Shani Mootoo’s ‘Out on Main Street.’” Conference “Literary Landscapes of Time,” U Leipzig, 22 April, 2021.

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. In addition, I serve as chair of the board for the German-American Institute Saxony, the only GAI in the former GDR.

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