Seminar für Englische Philologie

Prof. Dr. Babette B. Tischleder

Professor of North American Studies and Media Studies

Teaching at the University of Göttingen since 2010. Previously, Babette Tischleder held positions at the John F. Kennedy Institute, Free University of Berlin (2007-2010), the Universities of Freiburg and Paderborn (2006-2007), and the University of Frankfurt am Main (1996-2006).


  • Habilitation (Lehrbefähigung: "Amerikanische Literatur und Kultur"), Fachbereich Philosophie und Geisteswissenschaften, Freie Universität Berlin, 2010
  • Promotion (Ph.D.), American Studies, Goethe-Universität Frankfurt am Main, 2000
  • M.A., American Studies (German Lit., Political Science), Goethe-Universität Frankfurt, 1995
  • Study Abroad: English and Communications Arts, University of Wisconsin, Madison, 1992-1993


In recent years, Tischleder's research has focused on the questions of materiality, obsolescence, and the agency of the nonhuman—from cherished objects and animated robots to the life of garbage and the truculence of rivers. Addressing different aesthetic and narrative modes, she has studied literature, screen media, and digital animation in their respective material, geological, and historical contexts. She asks how these creative practices contribute to building the worlds we inhabit and how they reflect the current ecological trouble—the precarity of humans and other species, our bodies, habitats, and endangered futures in the age of the Anthropocene.
Currently Babette Tischleder is also collaborating with Jeffrey Sconce (Northwestern University) on a book project entitled "Serial Chronotopes Across Media." It asks how serial narratives engender social and cultural diversity by creating complex diegetic worlds that producers and viewers become equally invested in. Bakhtin's notion of the chronotope serves as a central concept for apprehending both the productive and the receptive dimensions of serial storytelling.


Her teaching offers a wide a range of topics in literary, cultural, and media studies. The two-semester lecture course "Introducing Critical Theory" covers approaches in literary, cultural, and media theory: from New Criticism to ecocriticism, gender and queer studies, postcolonial and critical race studies in part I; part II covers the historical development of media, film, and television theory, actor-network-theory and thing theory, and approaches to new media and digital culture. Recent courses in the BA program include an introduction to analyzing screen media; seminars on the road movie, television narrative, and African American film; graduate course on diverse U.S. cities in literature and the arts, nineteenth-century media culture, and topics such as "Creative Nonfiction," "Animals, Androids, Artifacts," "Caribbean Diasporic Writing," "The American West," and "Racial Passing in Literature and Film."

Recent Publications

Tischleder's recent books include The Literary Life of Things: Case Studies in American Fiction (2014), which engages with a range of texts, from Harriet Beecher Stowe to Jonathan Franzen, disclosing our affective, aesthetic, and ethical entanglements with the object world. Cultures of Obsolescence: History Materiality, and the Digital Age (2015), edited with Sarah Wasserman, is dedicated to historical, architectural, and digital forms of obsolescence, as they are reflected in contemporary art, photography, literature, and theory.

Two recent essays, "Earth According to Pixar: Picturing Obsolescence in the Age of Digital (Re)Animation" (2016) and "Thinking Objects, Building Worlds: Why the New Materialisms Deserve Literary Imagination" (2018), consider a Pixar movie and writings by Twain, Faulkner, and Bruno Latour respectively, asking how these texts project and problematize the agency of the nonhuman — the forces of floods, pollution, and the interspecies entanglements on a damaged planet that historical and fictional characters have to face. The essay "Thickening Seriality: A Chronotopic View of World Building in Contemporary Television Narrative" (2017) critically engages with current theories of seriality and proposes Bakhtin's concept of the chronotope as a way of thinking through the intricacies of serial world building both in terms of narrative production and audience investment.


The Literary Life of Things: Case Studies in American Fiction. Frankfurt am Main: Campus, 2014.
Publisher Websites: Campus Verlag and University of Chicago Press (international distribution).


Cultures of Obsolescence: History, Materiality, and the Digital Age. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2015 (edited with Sarah Wasserman).

Body Trouble: Entkörperlichung, Whiteness und das amerikanische Gegenwartskino. Frankfurt am Main: Stroemfeld,
  • Förderpreis der Deutschen Gesellschaft für Semiotik 2002
  • Cornelia Goethe Preis 2002

Selected Articles

Selected Lectures, Papers, Conferences

Invited Lectures (selection)

  • "Sites of Serial Encounter: The Case of the Women’s Prison (Orange Is the New Black)." Lecture Series: "Sites of Encounter: Boundaries, Liminalities and their Media." University of Oldenburg, 21 November 2017.
  • "Latour, Literary Studies, and Storytelling: Rethinking Agency in a More-than-Human World." Lecture Series: "New Developments in Theory." University of Basel, 19 May 2017.
  • "Toward a Critical New Materialism: Nonhuman Agency, Narrative, and the Anthropocene (William Faulkner and Bruno Latour)." Guest Lecture, Obama Institute for Transnational American Studies, Johannes Gutenberg University of Mainz. 2 February 2017.
  • "What is It Like to Be a Thing? Toward a Critical New Materialism as Creative Practice." Plenary Lecture: International Conference "Materialities: Objects, Matter, Things." Convener: Bill Brown; organized by the Forum on Contemporary Theory, Baroda, Gujarat. Doon University, Dehradun, India, 18-21 December 2016.
  • "On the Cultural Iconography and Theoretical Life of Garbage." Keynote Lecture, Seventh International Summer Academy of the Bavarian American Academy on "Material Cultures." Munich, 14 May 2015.
  • "Earth According to Pixar: Picturing Obsolescence in the Age of Digital (Re)Animation." Lecture Series of The Karla Scherer Center for the Study of American Culture, University of Chicago, 16 January, 2015.
  • "Digital Virtuosity and Huggable Machines: The Appeal of the Nonhuman in Pixar Animation." Guest Lecture at the Institute for Advanced Studies, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, 11 December 2014.
  • "The Politics and Aesthetics of Obsolescence", Fellow Colloquium of the Lichtenberg-Kolleg / Göttingen Institute of Advanced Studies, (Introduction and Chair: William Uricchio), 23 April 2013.
  • "A Sense of Place: Taste and the Aesthetic Self in Edith Wharton's The House of Mirth." Guest Lecture, Institut für Anglistik und Amerikanistik, University of Paderborn, 6 July 2011.
  • "Tearing through the Curtain of that Blue September Morning: Figuring 9/11 in Deborah Eisenberg's 'Twilight of the Superheroes'", Guest Lecture in the Honor Students Seminar "Post-9/11 Fiction and Film," University of Maryland, College Park, 22 September 2010.
  • "Time Made Tangible: Recapturing the Lost Moment of Authenticity." Keynote Lecture: Conference "Authenticity", English Department, University of Berne, Switzerland, 24 October 2008.
  • "Nerves and Decoration: Revisiting Charlotte Perkins Gilman's Scene of Writing." Plenary Lecture: A Week-Long Summer Institute: "Re-Configurations of American Studies." The Future of American Studies Institute. Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire, 19 June 2008.

Selected Conferences Papers

  • "Critical Proximity and Anecdotal Agency: Theorizing the Nonhuman." Conference in Honor of Ulla Haselstein: "Exemplary Singularity: Fault Lines of the Anecdotal." John F. Kennedy Institute, Free University of Berlin, 1-3 February 2018.
  • "Doing Time in Spatial Fashion: The Women’s Prison as Serial Chronotope." Panel: Serial Chronotopes: On Narrative World Building in Screen Media (Organizers: Jeffrey Sconce und Babette B. Tischleder). 58th Annual Conference of the Society for Cinema & Media Studies (SCMS), Chicago, 22-26 March 2017.
  • "The Material Imaginary: Theorizing Object Life Beyond Ontology," Panel: "Thing Theory 2017" Convention of the Modern Language Association (MLA), Philadelphia, 5-8 January 2017.
  • "Serial Chronotopes: The Cultural Work of Narrative World Building in Contemporary Web and Television Series." Third International Berkeley Conference on Film & Media: Serialities 1915/2015." University of California, Berkeley, 26-28 February 2015.
  • "American Studies and the New Materialisms: Vibrant Matter at Work in the American Literary Imagination." Conference "Looking Forward, 2014: Current Projects in American Studies." John F. Kennedy Institute, FU Berlin, 13-15 November 2014.
  • "Celebrating Rusty Toys: Pixar's Economies of Nostalgia in the Age of Digital (Re)Animation." Featured Speaker of the panel "Scrap, Spam, Bit Rot: The Politics and Poetics of Digital Detritus." Annual Conference of the GAAS/DGfA: "America After Nature: Democracy, Culture, Environment." Würzburg, 12-15 June 2014.
  • "Lessons of the New World: Women and Americanization." Filmsymposium: "Erste unter Gleichen. Die Filmarbeit der Alice Guy von 1896 bis 1920." A Project of the Kinothek Asta Nielsen in collaboration with the Deutsches Filmmuseum (DIF). Frankfurt/Main, 28-30 September 2012.
  • "'Like Adam Taking the Apple': Shopping and Sentimental Possession in Stowe and Chopin." International Conference: "Buying America: Literature and Consumption in the 19th Century." University of Paderborn, 12-13 June, 2012.
  • "Obsolescence and Ecological Crisis: Visual Configurations of the American Scene." Panel: "Obsolescence: The Economics and Aesthetics of American Wastelands." Annual Meeting of the American Studies Association (ASA): "Crisis, Chains, and Change: American Studies for the 21st Century," San Antonio, Texas, 18-21 November 2010.
  • "The Acoustic (Re)Memory of Reconstruction: Blind Tom, Mimicry, and the Human Phonograph." Response to Daphne A. Brooks (Princeton). Symposium: "Reconstruction, Representation, and the Rules of the 'Democratic Game'." Kennedy-Institute, FU Berlin, 19-20 June 2009.
  • "Final Commentary: On the Theory and Aesthetic of Material Objects" (with Avinoam Shalem). Interdisciplinary Conference: "Dinge im zeitlichen und kulturellen Transfer," Kunsthistorisches Institut/Max-Planck-Institut, Florence, Italy, 25-27 October 2007.

Conference Organization, Chairs, Panel Discussions

  • Chair of the panel "Conservatism and the West," International Conference "Cultures of US-American Conservatism." University of Göttingen, 9-12 February 2017.
  • Chair of Panel 2 at the International Conference "Surveillance | Society | Culture," University of Göttingen, 26-28 February 2016. 
  • Chair of the panels “Non/Humans: Institutions—Agencies—Networks,” International Conference “Seriality Seriality Seriality: The Many Lives of the Field that Isn’t One”; organized by the DFG-Research Unit "Popular Seriality," FU Berlin, 22-24 June 2016. 
  • Panelist, Final Roundtable Discussion, and Chair of the panel “Migratory Letters and Prints" at the International Symposium "The Refuge of Objects / Objects of Refuge." Organization: Obama Institute for Transnational American Studies, University of Mainz, and Center for Material Culture Studies, University of Delaware. Mainz, 15-17 December 2016.
  • Panelist, Plenary Panel Discussion "The State of the Humanities in the Present Time" (with Bill Brown, Sara Guyer und Prafulla Kar) and Chair of the panels “Techne of Materiality”, International Conference "Materialities: Objects, Matter, Things," Doon University, Dehradun, India, 18-21 December 2016.
  • Organization of the International Conference "Cultures of Obsolescence in North America: Aesthetics, Materiality, History" (with Emily Petermann). Hosted by the English Department and the Lichtenberg-Kolleg, supported by the Fritz Thyssen Stiftung, the DGfA, and the Universitätsbund Göttingen, Historic Observatory, Göttingen, June 27-29, 2013. Introduction and chair of the Final Panel Discussion "Following the Obsolete."
  • Chair of session 5: "Temporality." International Conference "Popular Seriality," University of Göttingen, 6-8 June 2013.
  • Chair of the panel "Dinge und Wissen." Interdisciplinary Conference: "Materialitäten. Herausforderungen für die Sozial- und Kulturwissenschaften." University of Mainz. 19-20 October 2011.
  • Organization (with Rebekka Habermas) of the Workshop "Featured Thinker: Hayden White" with Hayden White (Prof. Emeritus, University of California, Santa Cruz). Center for Theory of Culture & Society (ZTMK), University of Göttingen, 8 June 2011.
  • Organization of the panel "Obsolescence: The Economics and Aesthetics of American Wastelands," (with MaryAnn Snyder-Koerber & Sarah Wasserman), Chair: Bill Brown. Annual Meeting of the American Studies Association (ASA): "Crisis, Chains, and Change: American Studies for the 21st Century," San Antonio, Texas, 18-21 November 2010.
  • Chair of the panel "Mediating 9/11." Third International Graduate Conference: "States of Emergency – Interdisciplinary Perspectives on the Dynamics of Crisis," John F. Kennedy Institute, FU Berlin, 11-12 June 2010.
  • Chair of the Plenary Panel Discussion "HBO’s The Wire and American Economies," with Richard Price (writer for The Wire), Patricia Williams (Columbia), Mary Pattillo (Northwestern), Frank Kelleter (Göttingen), und Tavia Nyong’o (NYU). Annual conference of the German Association of American Studies (DGfA) 2010: "American Economies." Humboldt University of Berlin, 27-30 May 2010.
  • Organization and co-chair of the panel: "Alternative American Economies: Gift, Theft, Gambling" (with Kirsten Twelbeck). Annual conference of the German Association of American Studies (DGfA) 2010: "American Economies." HU Berlin, 27-30 May 2010.
  • Organization: Reading and Discussion with Richard Powers on the Human Genome Project, Literature and Authorship (with Heinz Ickstadt and Catrin Gersdorf), Graduate School of North American Studies. John F. Kennedy-Institute, Berlin, 9 July 2009.