German Professor Wins National Fellowship

Prof. Katja Garloff receives award to study German Jewish Literature.

Ben Williams ’13 | June 7, 2018

Katja Garloff, professor of German and Humanities, was chosen to be a 2018 fellow by the American Council of Learned Societies. She will be spending this coming year in Germany, researching and writing Making German Jewish Literature New, which will be her third book. “It feels great, I didn’t expect it,” said Garloff.    

Garloff’s focus will be on the Jewish literature that arose in Germany and Austria in the late-1980s and especially after the 1990 reunification of Germany. She portrays a new generation of writers after the Holocaust who are distinct in their claiming and articulation of Jewish identity. Garloff describes what she refers to as the “founding gestures” of these writers, looking at how they perform authorship, remake memories, and claim places.

Garloff, who has taught at Reed since 1997, investigates the many ways in which authors express their Jewishness in their writing. “[These writers] help us explore the tension between intrinsic definition and external ascription of identity precisely because [they] are so aware—and often highly critical—of the marketing and reception mechanisms that classify them as Jewish.” With fewer and fewer survivors of the Holocaust still living, it is on the cusp of turning from memory to history. These writers contend with the new challenges of remembrance, a key feature being that writing is not just an act of recording, but of creation.

ACLS fellows were chosen for their potential to make an original and significant contribution to knowledge. Of over a thousand applicants, 78 received fellowships. In being chosen as a fellow, Garloff described how she became deeply immersed in research but would ultimately need to communicate to people unfamiliar with the work why they should support it.

“I realized that you have to lay out the project, why it matters and why you’re the best person to write it,” said Garloff. “Teaching helps; you have to make clear to students why things matter.”

Tags: Awards & Achievements, Professors