Prof. Babette B. Tischleder

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). She lives in Berlin.

  • Habilitation, 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; Communications Arts at University of Wisconsin, Madison, 1992-1993

In recent years, Prof. 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.

Her current book project "Chronotopes of the Nonhuman" brings into focus contemporary art, literature, and critical thinking that imagine "our" world as closely imbricated with other living creatures and vital matters (whether pigs, bees, oaks, crows, corals, carbon, caffeine, microbes, or viruses). Engaging creative practices that probe non-anthropocentric ways of seeing, sensing, and navigating the world, the project explores how survival and extinction, flourishing and suffering of earthbound beings are part of a complex multispecies coexistence. In times of climate crisis, pandemics, and the continued encroachment on habitats, it is more urgent than ever to bring nonhuman forms of agency and creativity into view, challenge human exceptionalism and recast questions of culture, kinship, embodiment, and planetary cohabitation in a larger-than-human frame.

From January to May 2023, Babette B. Tischleder was a Virtual Fellow of the International Forum for U.S. Studies (IFUSS), University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.

In September and October 2019, she was a Resident Fellow of the International Forum for U.S. Studies (IFUSS) at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, and a Visiting Scholar of the Department of English at the University of Chicago.

From September to December 2018, she was Visiting Professor at the Department of English Languages and Literature, and from September 2014 to January 2015, she was a Fellow at the Karla Scherer Center for the Study of American Culture, both at the University of Chicago.

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, digital media and culture. Recent courses in the BA program include an introduction to screen media; seminars on the road movie, television narrative, and African American film; graduate courses on various cities (NYC, Chicago, L.A.), nineteenth-century media culture, and seminars on "Animal Lives," "The Nonhuman Turn," "Sea Worlds," "Creative Nonfiction," "Caribbean Diasporic Writing," and "Racial Passing in Literature and Film."

List of publications

Prof. Tischleder's recent books include the co-edited volume An Eclectic Bestiary: Encounters in a More-than-Human World (2019), which explores literary, sonic, and visual imaginaries that feature encounters between and across a variety of living creatures. Tischleder's introduction "Multispecies Chronotopes" offers a number of critical keywords that suggest ways of thinking creatively beyond a human-centered world. The Literary Life of Things: Case Studies in American Fiction (2014) 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.


  • Cultures of Obsolescence: History, Materiality, and the Digital Age, edited with Sarah Wasserman. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2015.
  • Body Trouble: Entkörperlichung, Whiteness und das amerikanische Gegenwartskino. Frankfurt am Main: Stroemfeld, 2001.

Selected Articles

  • ​"On the Rich Choreographies of Critical Thought: From Dancing Bodies to Human-Animal Relations in Art, Anthropology, and American Studies.​" A Conversation with Jane Desmond. ​New American Studies Journal ​2022, no. 72 (2022): ​50​. ​DOI.
  • "Neither Billiard Ball nor Planet B: Latour’s Gaia, Literary Agency, and the Challenge of Writing Geohistory in the Anthropocene Moment." In New Directions in Philosophy and Literature, edited by David Rudrum, Ridvan Askin, and Frida Beckman, 179-97. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2019.
  • “Multispecies Chronotopes: Keywords for Thinking Creatively Beyond the Human.” Introduction to An Eclectic Bestiary: Encounters in a More-than-Human World. Eds. Birgit Spengler and Babette Tischleder. Bielefeld: transcript, 2019, pp. 11-30. Download as free excerpt (PDF).
  • "Urban Animals" (photo series). An Eclectic Bestiary: Encounters in a More-than-Human World. Eds. Birgit Spengler and Babette Tischleder. Bielefeld: transcript, 2019, pp. 163-77.
  • "Theorising Things, Building Worlds: Why the New Materialisms Deserve Literary Imagination." Open Cultural Studies 3, no. 1 (2019): 125-34.
  • "Thinking Objects, Building Worlds: Why the New Materialisms Deserve Literary Imagination." In Projecting American Studies: Essays on Theory, Method, and Practice. Eds. Frank Kelleter and Alexander Starre. Heidelberg: Winter, 2018. 225-39.
  • "Beating True: Figuring Object Life Beyond Ontology." Colloquy "Thing Theory in Literary Studies," Curators: Sarah Wasserman, Patrick Moran. Arcade: Literature, the Humanities, & the World. Stanford University, November 2017
  • "Thickening Seriality: A Chronotopic View of World Building in Contemporary Television Narrative. "The Velvet Light Trap, No. 79: "Serials, Seriality, Serialization" (Spring 2017): 120-25.
  • "Earth According to Pixar: Picturing Obsolescence in the Age of Digital (Re)Animation." In America After Nature: Democracy, Culture, Environment. Eds. Catrin Gersdorf, Juliane Braun. Heidelberg: Winter, 2016. 441-60.
  • "Introduction: Thinking out of Sync: A Theory of Obsolescence." Cultures of Obsolescence: History, Materiality, and the Digital Age. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2015. 1-17 (with Sarah Wasserman).
  • "iDob 5.3: Wiring Wetware, or Dreaming the Medium that Holds All the Answers." Das Medium meiner Träume: Hartmut Winkler zum 60. Geburtstag. Eds. Ralf Adelmann, Ulrike Bergermann. Berlin: Verbrecher Verlag, 2013. 271-82.
  • "A Soap Bubble is as Real as a Fossil Tooth: Physical Objects and the Presence of the Past." The Pathos of Authenticity: American Passions of the Real. Eds. Ulla Haselstein, Andrew S. Gross, MaryAnn Snyder-Koerber. Heidelberg: Winter, 2010. 75-92.
  • "The Deep Surface of Lily Bart: Visual Economies and Commodity Culture in Wharton and Dreiser." Amerikastudien / American Studies 54.1; special issue: Appropriating Vision(s): Visual Practices in American Women's Writing (2009): 59-78.
  • "Literary Interiors, Cherished Things and Feminine Subjectivity in the Gilded Age." English Studies in Canada 31.1 (March 2005; special issue: "Interiors"): 96-117.
  • "Plump with Fuel, Ripe to Explode: Media Aesthetics after 9/11." Media Cultures. Eds. William Uricchio and Susanne Kinnebrock. Heidelberg: Winter, 2005. 267-273.

Invited Talks and Keynotes (selection)

  • "Coyotes in Chicagoland: Narrative Encounters in the More-than-Human City." Keynote Lecture at the Symposium "More-than-Human Studies." Karlstad University, Sweden, 16 May 2023.
  • "Mind Your Nonhuman Neighbors: Rethinking Urban Naturecultures." W.E.B. DuBois Lecture Series, Humboldt University, Berlin, 14 February 2023.
  • Research Cluster Lecture "Best(iary) Practice: Imagining and Inhabiting a Multispecies World (Literature, Visual Art, Theory)". Sponsored by the The Animal Turn Research Cluster and the Illinois Program for Research in the Humanities, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, 27 September 2019.
  • “Planetary Figures and Sublunary Zones: A Critique of Bruno Latour's Gaia Project.” Lecture Series of the Scherer Center for the Study of American Culture, co-sponsored by the Department of English, University of Chicago, 8 November 2018.
  • “Till the Cage is Full: How We Come to Inhabit Heterotopic Worlds Through Serial Watching.” Screen Cultures Colloquium, Department of Radio/Television/Film, Northwestern University, Chicago, 9 November 2018.
  • "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

  • "Nonhuman Worlding: In the Eye of the Beholder?" Symposium: "Articulations of the Nonhuman Turn in Theory, Literature, and the Arts." Organizers: Babette B. Tischleder and Jane Desmond, University of Göttingen, 23-24 June 2022.
  • "Coming to (Critical) Terms with Multispecies Relations." Workshop I of the Workshop Series in More-than-Human Studies", (Organizers: Birgit Spengler (Wuppertal), Maria Holmgren Troy (Karlstad), Babette Tischleder (Göttingen) 28 February – 1 March, 2022.
  • “The Inconvenience of Loving Gaia: On the Style and Sentiment of Ecocritical Documentaries.” Featured Speaker of the Workshop "Muckraking 2.0: Activist Modes and Media of Documentary Revisited." Annual Conference of the German Association of American Studies. John F. Kennedy Institute, FU Berlin, 24-27 May 2018.
  • "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

  • Organizer of the Symposium (with Jane Desmond): "Articulations of the Nonhuman Turn in Theory, Literature, and the Arts." Historical Observatory, University of Göttingen, 23 -24 June 2022
  • 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.