Waltraud Maierhofer

Waltraud Maierhofer
Professor of German
579 PH
Office Hours: 
12:30 - 1:45 T Th

Goethe and Beyond

“Can Classicist Art Be Fun?" I asked in an article on Goethe’s Italian Journey and Emma Hamilton’s famous, if not notorious performances of attitudes in classical costume, such as longing Iphigenia, mad Medea, a bacchante or fainting Julia (Goethe Yearbook 1999). Goethe’s answer was, of course, a definite no in the sense of Hamilton’s fun, superficial performances. After all, the travel journal as incorporated into his autobiography advertised himself and his “rebirth” as a neo-classical author with an important agenda, or even as the German national author. Yet, for me, it is a lot of good fun.

Research on Goethe and his works and more broadly fiction of the nineteenth-century has been the focal point of my career, starting with my dissertation and first book on Goethe’s last novel, Wilhelm Meisters Wanderjahre, and the Zeitroman or panoramic novel of the mid-nineteenth century (by Immermann and Gutzkow) (Aisthesis, 1990) and articles an works by Goethe and other authors such as Bettine von Arnim, Heinrich Heine, Ricarda Huch, Benedikte Naubert, and Adele Schopenhauer. I also became fascinated with the art of the Age of Goethe, especially the Swiss-born Angelica Kauffmann. I have written an introduction to her life and works, edited her correspondence (Dieterich’sche Verlagsbuchhandlung, 1999 and Libelle, 2001). Adele Schopenhauer, the neglected sister of the philosopher, wanted to be a painter as well, but received no professional training and later discovered her talent in writing fiction, but became a victim of cancer when she just began to reap success. I published her travel book on Florence (VDG, 2007) with which she hoped to educate and entertain especially women travellers.

The writing of history, especially the representation of historical women and the persistence of traditional images of femininity, is the subject of my monograph Hexen – Huren – Heldenweiber. Bilder des Weiblichen in Erzähltexten über den Dreißigjährigen Krieg (Böhlau, 2005). It encompasses a wide range of narrative texts from the seventeenth century to the present that retell the Thirty Years War.

Looking ahead, I am writing an introduction to German Literature, Deutsche Literatur im Kontext (Focus publishing) which spans the middle of the eighteenth century to the present and draws a lot on my experience of teaching undergraduates here at the University of Iowa.



•13E:085 (GRMN:2785) Fantastic and Supernatural in German Literature

Join us on flights of fancy. Explore and discuss works such as the detective novel "The Devil's Elixier" by Romantic author Hoffmann, "Metamorphosis" and "The Trial" (including a film adaptation) by Kafka, the opera "The Magic Flute," or the fantasy novel "Inkheart" by bestseller author Cornelia Funke.

•13E:66 (GRMN:2666) Pact with the Devil

Since Early Modern Times, the pact with the devil has served as a metaphor for humankind's desire to surpass the limits of knowledge and power. This course explores a variety of works from German literature and culture from the Early Modern Time to the present with this topic. They include works such as the Faust legend, Goethe's Faust, Carl Maria von Webers opera Freischütz [Sharpshooter] (video, sung in German with subtitles).   Students also critique the different twist that the fascination with the forbidden takes in regard to women, in the making of the 'witch,' such as in Meinhold's Amber Witch and feminist reinterpretations.

•13:150 (GRMN:4730) Beautiful Souls and Scandalous Writings

This course provides the opportunity to study a variety of works from and about the eighteenth century, its enlightened ideals and literary scandals. A postmodern mystery or historical novel set in the 18th century will be included.  Fairy tales, plays, short novels, poems and other texts by authors such as Lichtenberg, Goethe, Naubert, Schiller will be discussed with special regard to the gender roles ascribed to women and men.

•13:140 (GRMN:4540) Literature in Film

This course is a literature class which contrasts and enriches readings of representative texts of German literature with film adaptations as specific readings. It provides the opportunity to familiarize yourself with and study a variety of works including longer novels by both canonical and non-canonical writers in a relatively short period of time. The literary movements surveyed include Romanticism, Realism, Expressionism, Modernism, Post-Unification, and Feminist Writing.


Affiliations and Links


•The Twelfth Congress of the International Association for German Studies (Internationale Vereinigung für Germanistik - IVG) will take place July 30 through August 7, 2010 in Warsaw. The theme of the Congress is "Vielheit und Einheit der Germanistik weltweit."

Together with Dr. Ulrike Gleixner (Wolfenbüttel), Dr. Gabriele Kaemper (Berlin) und Prof. Dr. Marianne Henn (Alberta/Kanada), Prof. Maierhofer is organizing Sektion 37 "Erzählte Geschichte – Erinnerte Literatur."



•Elected treasurer Coalition of Women in German, an affiliate organization of the Modern Languages Association, a "democratic forum for all people interested in feminist approaches to German literature and culture or in the intersection of gender with other categories of analysis such as sexuality, class, race, and ethnicity."

•Field-editor for Foreign Languages and Literatures of ECCB–The Eighteenth-Century Current Bibliography. Contact me if you would like to review books on the Eighteenth Century. Contact John Blair if you would like to write a review in the area of German language and literature or have a book for review.

•Alexander-von-Humboldt Foundation: "Humboldtian on Campus" -- faculty liaison for prospective applicants. I'll be happy to answer your questions about:

•German Chancellor Fellowship

for prospective leaders who have completed at least a first degree (Bachelor or comparable degree) and have demonstrated outstanding potential for future leadership in their careers to date. The fellowship allows them the carry out a project of their own choice in Germany over a period of twelve months.

•Humboldt Research Fellowship for Postdoctoral Researchers

from abroad to sponsor a 6 to 24 month research stay at a research institution in Germany.

•Humboldt Research Fellowship for Experienced Researchers

from abroad to sponsor a 6 to 18 month research stay at a research institution in Germany. The fellowship is flexible and can be divided up into as many as three stays within three years.

•Elected member of the editorial advisory board Eighteenth-Century Studies 2007


Wilhelm Tell Festival