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Emeritus Faculty

Volker Durr

Volker Durr

In Memoriam

Professor Volker Dürr, a professor of German, who taught at Northwestern from 1973 until his retirement in 2008, died on May 11th of this year in his hometown of Rockenhausen, Germany. Professor Dürr received his Ph.D. from Princeton University in 1973 in the Comparative Literature Department with a specialization in modern European literature. His dissertation compared the works of Gottfried Keller with those of Gustav Flaubert. Among the many projects he undertook while at Princeton was the careful examination of the manuscripts of Hermann Broch, whose literary archive had recently been acquired by Princeton. Soon after Professor Dürr completed his dissertation he was appointed to the position of assistant professor in the German Department at Northwestern. Upon his promotion he became one of the founding members of the Program in Comparative Literature and Theory. Professor Dürr was a highly active scholar of modern European literature, with expertise in both the French and German literary traditions. He wrote a wide variety of articles, which ranged from the theology of Gotthold Ephraim Lessing to the mode of literary criticism practiced by his colleague Erich Heller. One of the major poles of his inquiries into the German literary tradition were the poetry and prose of Goethe, which was the subject-matter of five essays; but he also published essays on the poetry of Eduard Mörike and Gottfried Benn, among others. Professor Dürr was a renowned expert on the writings of Rainer Maria Rilke, having published numerous essays and his final book R.M. Rilke: The Trajectory of the Poet (2006). He also made a major scholarly contribution to the study of Flaubert with several articles and his monograph, Flaubert’s Salammbô: The Ancient Orient as a Political Allegory of Nineteenth-Century France (2002). He was also the editor or co-editor of several collections of essays, including Versuche zu Goethe, Festschrift für Erich Heller (1976), Imperial Germany (1985), Nietzsche: Literature and Values (1988), and Coping with the Past (1990). A beloved teacher, Professor Dürr’s lecture course on modern European literature often attracted more than 150 students, and was a rite of passage for a generation of Northwestern undergraduates. He taught at all levels, developing a large following among students who enjoyed his immense knowledge and subtle humor. The patois of student evaluations captures some of the excitement his classes engendered: “A blitzkrieg of knowledge,” one student wrote, “Every aspect of German history and culture, as well as much of European history, was dealt with thoroughly and in a fascinating manner.” Students were often astonished by the breadth of his knowledge, prompting one graduate students to call him a Wikipedia before its invention. As the chair of the German Department for many years in the 1980s and ‘90s, he successfully steered the department and mentored the faculty amidst many major changes both in the profession and at the university. Above all, he sought to create an environment in which the serious study of literature could be conducted, fostered, and developed. He is missed by his colleagues.

Kathy Harms

Kathy Harms

In Memoriam

Professor Kathy Harms, who was born August 24, 1925 in Emden (Eastfrisia), Germany, and who died on April 4, 2017 at the age of 91, was an esteemed member of the Northwestern Department of German for almost thirty years.  After receiving her undergraduate degree at De Paul University in 1960, Professor Harms entered into the PhD program in German, with Eric Heller as her principal advisor.  In 1968 she was hired an instructor of German.  Immediately upon completion of her dissertation on the nineteenth-century novelist Theodor Fontane, she was appointed to assistant professor of German and was promoted to the position of associate professor with tenure in 1974.  Professor Harms was a tireless teacher, who helped create a nationally recognized program of language instruction.  Among her professional accomplishments, she was a long-time member of the review committee for the Advanced Placement Test in German for the Educational Testing Service and was appointed to the College Board Advisory Council for German.  In 1981 the College of Arts and Sciences granted her its outstanding teacher award.  In the words of her colleague Rainer Rumold, “it was, to a great part, her achievement that the Department of German's undergraduate program was consistently rated to be among the top tier of all programs in the nation.”  From 1984 to 1987 she served as chair of the Department and retired from the University after the spring quarter of 1994.  She was a resident of Evanston during all of these years.  Her students remember her with great fondness, for, in the words of Professor Rumold, she evinced a “150% dedication” to the craft of teaching.  This dedication is evident in the letters students wrote to Professor Harms: "This class has been the greatest learning experience I have had in 14 years of school. You are perhaps the most culturally learned person I have met and your ability to teach your field seems unsurpassable."  "The energy, enthusiasm, vibrancy and good humor you brought to the class were all just terrific ... You made me want to work. You made me want to do well. Your enthusiasm made me want to learn the language. All I can say is thank you, Miss Harms."

Rainer Rumold

Rainer Rumold

Professor Emeritus

r-rumold@northwestern.edu
Rainer Rumold, Prof. emeritus, is the author of Archeologies of Modernity. Avant-garde Bildung ( Oskar Kokoschka, Jean Arp, Eugene Jolas, Franz Kafka, Carl Einstein, Walter Benjamin, Georges Bataille; Northwestern University Press, 2017). Articles relating to this project have been published as "Archeologies of Modernity in Documents and transition1929/30," Comparative Literature Studies, vol. 37,1: 2000, 45-67;  “Kafka Global: Nomadic Images,” Journal of the Kafka Society of America, New International Series; June/December 2003 27, 1 and 2. 65-78; Carl Einstein: Die Visuelle Wende der Avant-garde- Gegen literarische Kultur, in Die Visuelle Wende der Moderne; "Carl Einstein: Die Kunst des 20. Jahrhunderts," Munich: Fink Verlag, 2003, 273-288, and "Painting as a Language. Why not? Carl Einstein in Document", in October 107 Winter 2004, ed. by Sebastian Zeidler, MIT Press, 75-94. Other books published by Professor Rumold are:  The Janus Face of the German Avant-Garde. From Expressionism to Postmodernism (Northwestern University Press, 2001); Gottfried Benn und der Expressionism: Provokation des Lesers, Absolute Dichtung (Athenaeum/Scriptor, 1982); and Sprachliches Experiment und Literarische Tradition. Zu den Texten Helmut Heissenbuettels (Stanford Series in German Studies, 1975). Professor Rumold also co-edited the followingng volumes: The Ideological Crisis of Expressionism (with O.K Werckmeister, Camden House, 1992); Eugene Jolas's autobiography Man from Babel (with Andreas Kramer, Yale University Press,1998), and "Eugene Jolas, Critical Essays 1924-1951," (with Klaus Kiefer, Northwestern University Press, Spring 2009). Professor Rumold has written numerous articles on avant-garde and modernism in literature and the visual arts, with German expressionism as a focal point for international relations: on Gottfried Benn, Carl Sternheim, Carl Einstein, Zurich and Berlin Dada, the dadaist text, the history and theory of Dada in Central Europe, Heinrich Mann, Franz Kafka, WalterBenjamin, Bertold Brecht, Georg Grosz, Eugene Jolas (the journals transition and documents), Helmut Heissenbuettel, and  an essay on Guenter Kunert in “’No!Art’and the Aesthetics of Resistance,” in Beyond Resistance, edited by Robert Fletcher (Nova Science Publishers, 2008). From 1994 to 2013, Rainer Rumold was the general editor at Northwestern University Press of the series on Avant-Garde and Modernism Studies together with Marjorie Perloff  Rainer Rumold received his PhD from Stanford University. Other than at Northwestern University, Prof. Rumold has been a visiting faculty member at Stanford University, and taught as Chism Gould Visiting Professor in the Humanities at the University of Puget Sound, WA, and as visiting Professor at Nagoya City University in Japan.His current project , conveniently conducted in Albuquerque, NM with its 19 surrounding pueblos is called The Wish to Become an Indian, transatlantic Essays on Play and War (Aldolph Bandelier, Franz Boas, Frank Hamilton Cushing, Aby Warburg- and Karl May).

Kristine Thorsen

Kristine Thorsen

Lecturer Emeritus

kat162@northwestern.edu
Kristine A. Thorsen is currently Lecturer Emeritus in the Department of German. During her nearly thirty-year association with Northwestern, Dr. Thorsen coordinated both Beginning and Intermediate German courses, pioneered courses on contemporary German and Austrian literature, and literature by women, taught in the M.A. Literature program in the School of Continuing Studies, and also served as a bibliographer for foreign language literature in the University Library. Since her retirement in 2011, Dr. Thorsen has focused on translation and poetry. Her reference volume, Poetry by American Women, 1900-1975: A Bibliography is found in research libraries both in the USA and abroad. She has been a participant at the Bread Loaf Writers' Conference and writing workshops at Ragdale Foundation, Lake Forest, Illinois as well as the Summer School Translation Workshop at the British Centre for Literary Translation, University of East Anglia. Her translation of Peter-André Alt’s biography Franz Kafka, the Eternal Son will be published in summer 2018 by Northwestern University Press.

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