Nicole A. Sütterlin

Nicole A. Sütterlin

Associate Professor of Germanic Languages and Literatures
Nicole  A. Sütterlin

Office Hours: by appointment

Nicole Sütterlin studied German Philology and English Philology in Basel, Freiburg i.Br., and Leeds, UK. She received her M.A. and Dr. phil. from the University of Basel. Before joining Harvard’s German Department in 2014, she taught Modern German Literature at the University of Basel and at Middlebury College, VT. 

Her research and teaching interests include the Age of Goethe; Romanticism; contemporary literature; trauma studies; poetics and politics of the body; literature and science; literature and social justice; literary and cultural theory, particularly discourse analysis, deconstruction, and Wissenspoetik. 

She is the recipient of numerous awards, such as a DAAD Research Fellowship for Faculty, and a Marion and Jasper Whiting Foundation Fellowship for Higher Education. In spring 2018, these grants took her to the Ludwig-Maximilian-University of Munich and to the Derrida-archive at the University of California, Irvine. 

Nicole Sütterlin is the author of Poetik der Wunde: Zur Entdeckung des Traumas in der Literatur der Romantik (Göttingen: Wallstein, 2019; Engl. “Poetics of the Wound: The Discovery of Trauma in German Romantic Literature”). Challenging current histories of the concept of psychological trauma, Sütterlin argues that Clemens Brentano, E.T.A. Hoffmann, and other early 19th-century authors discovered traumatic processes such as dissociation and intrusion ahead of psychiatrists such as Janet and Freud. Her study shows how Romantic texts perform these processes in what she calls a “poetics of the wound.” 

Her publications include articles on E.T.A. Hoffmann, Clemens Brentano, Goethe, Kleist, Ulrike Draesner, Marcel Beyer, and Jacques Derrida. She has published in peer-reviewed journals such as Gegenwartsliteratur: A Contemporary German Yearbook, and in acclaimed textbooks such as Reclam's Zugänge zur Literaturtheorie: 17 Modellanalysen zu E.T.A. Hoffmann's 'Der Sandmann'. She authored the lead article in the newest addition to the prestigious Routledge Companion series, The Routledge Companion to Literature and Trauma (2020).

In her current book project Bodies of the Posthuman Age, Nicole Sütterlin explores how contemporary German literature constructs the body, defines the self, and critiques the biopolitical power structures that govern both our molecular and our digital bodies in the 21st century. How can literature help us address the challenges and injustices created by recent technological advances such as bioengineered cell enhancement or artificially intelligent surveillance systems – challenges that the current Sars-CoV-2 pandemic has critically exacerbated? Questions such as these drive Sütterlin’s engagement with our so-called “post-human predicament.”

In the classroom, Prof. Sütterlin’s biggest passion is using education to promote a more equal society and ethical citizenry. She teaches various courses on social justice, most recently a new freshman seminar that explores how German, South African, and American literature help us address the lingering legacy of the Holocaust, Apartheid, and Slavery, respectively. These courses are committed to expanding the bounds of the classroom, for example through a memorable workshop with Boston Mobilization, a student-led non-profit organization promoting social justice.

Nicole Sütterlin is also committed to promoting professional development and scholarly exchange for graduate students, for example through a bi-annual graduate student conference jointly organized by the German Departments of Brown, Harvard, and Yale Universities, initiated by her in 2016.

List of Publications on

Courses 2020-21
Frsemr 63L. Memory Wars: Cultural Trauma and the Power of Literature
German 102. German Literature, Art, and Thought (with N. Schwakopf)
German 260. Writing the Body in the Posthuman Age
German 291/ROM-STD 201. Questions of Theory (with D. Sommer)

Contact Information

Barker Center 357
p: 617-496-4924