Caroline Kita

Caroline Kita

​Associate Professor of German and Comparative Literature
Director of Undergraduate Studies in German and in Comparative Literature
PhD, Duke University
research interests:
  • 19th and 20th Century German and Austrian Literature and Culture
  • German-Jewish Studies
  • Aesthetic Philosophy and Religion
  • Music and Narrative
  • The Radio Play (Hörspiel) in German Culture
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    • All being held via Zoom
      Monday, 1:00 to 2:00 pm
      Wednesday, 10:00 to 11:00 am
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    • Washington University
      CB 1104
      One Brookings Drive
      St. Louis, MO 63130-4899
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    ​Professor Kita's scholarship focuses on German and Austrian culture in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

    Professor Kita is particularly interested in aesthetic philosophy, music and literature, drama and sound studies. Her research has examined religious and cultural identity in the works of Jewish writers and composers in Austria from the turn of the twentieth century to the Second World War, and she has published on the works of Richard Beer-Hofmann, Siegfried Lipiner, Gustav Mahler, and Arnold Schoenberg.

    Her monograph, Jewish Difference and the Arts in Vienna: Composing Compassion in Music and Biblical Theater examines the role of music and theater in shaping discourses of inclusion and otherness in fin-de-siècle Vienna. Her current book project, Border Territories: The Emancipatory Soundscapes of Postwar German Radio, focuses on the narrative radio drama, or Hörspiel, and traces how the ability of this acoustic-narrative genre to realize dynamic relationships between the temporal and spatial, the real and imaginary, the past and the present, allowed it to function as a unique mode of cultural critique and political commentary. In spring 2018, she will co-host a symposium together with colleague Jennifer Kapczynski on the subject of “The Arts of Democratization: Styling Political Sensibilities in Postwar West German Culture.”

    Professor Kita teaches language courses on all levels, as well as seminars on various aspects of German and European culture. Her course offerings include "Rebellion, Regression, Rebirth: German Literature from the Vormärz to the Fin-de-Siècle," "Vienna 1900," "What Dreams May Come: Explorations of the Psyche in Viennese Modernism," and "Reading Radio: The Sounds of German History and Culture."

    She has studied at the University of Vienna, the University of Potsdam, and the University of Duisburg-Essen. Kita was the recipient of a Fulbright Grant to Austria in 2004-05, and has received funding for advanced research from the Austrian Exchange Service (OeAD), who awarded her an Ernst Mach Grant in 2012 and a Franz Werfel Fellowship in 2015 and 2017. She was a faculty fellow at the Center for the Humanities here at Washington University in spring 2018.

    Fall 2020 Courses

    Undergrad Seminar: What Dreams May Come - Explorations of the Psyche in Viennese Modernism (German 432)

    This course investigates the relationship of the burgeoning field of psychoanalysis to modernist art and literature in Vienna at the beginning of the twentieth century. Examining literary texts and artworks alongside theories of dreams and the unconscious by thinkers such as Ernst Mach and Sigmund Freud, we analyze the ways that visual artists, composers and poets sought to divulge the inner workings of the psyche. Our discussion will focus on key questions such as: what forms and what visual, aural and verbal languages were developed to represent subjective experience? How did theories of memory and trauma, and ideas about gendered psyches shape the depiction of individual agency in these works? What can these works tell us about the larger societal forces at play in this cultural moment? Readings will include the drama, poetry and novellas of Arthur Schnitzler and Hugo von Hofmannsthal, musical works by Mahler and Schoenberg, and the visual art of Gustav Klimt, Helene Funke, and Oskar Kokoschka. Readings and discussion in German. Prerequisite: Ger 302D and Ger 340C/340D OR Ger 341/341D OR Ger 342/342D or permission of the Director of Undergraduate Studies.

      Literary Seminar: German-Jews and the Arts - Identity & Culture from 1780 to 1933 (German 528)

      This graduate seminar will examine the artistic and literary production of German-speaking Jews from the late-eighteenth to the mid-twentieth centuries. By studying a wide variety of primary "texts," including novels, visual art, music, drama and film, we will explore the critical role that Jews played in shaping German culture from the Enlightenment to the rise of National Socialism. Topics include dialogues between the German and Jewish Enlightenments, Salon culture and the development of meaningful contacts between Germans and Jews, the intersections of aesthetic discourse and antisemitism, the rise of Yiddish theater and the visual and acoustic language of the Jewish Renaissance. Moving beyond narratives of assimilation or acculturation, we will discuss the complex and shifting nature of German-Jewish subjectivities and investigate the entanglements of German, Austrian and Jewish culture through frameworks of difference, indifference, performance, and cultural transfer. Primary readings in German, discussion in English. Accommodations can be made for interested graduate students in other programs who do not read German at the graduate level. Please see instructor.

        Selected Publications

        Jewish Difference and the Arts in Vienna: Composing Compassion in Music and Biblical Theater. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press. 2019.

        "Richard Beer-Hofmann’s Die Historie von König David: Jewish Biblical Drama and the Limits of Epic Theater." The German Quarterly. 89.2 (2016). 133-149.

        "Myth, Metaphysics and Cosmic Drama: The Legacy of Faust in Lipiner's Hippolytos and Mahler's Eighth Symphony.Monatshefte. 105.4 (Winter 2013).

        Jewish Difference and the Arts in Vienna

        Jewish Difference and the Arts in Vienna

        During the mid-nineteenth century, the works of Arthur Schopenhauer and Richard Wagner sparked an impulse toward German cultural renewal and social change that drew on religious myth, metaphysics, and spiritualism. The only problem was that their works were deeply antisemitic and entangled with claims that Jews were incapable of creating compassionate art. By looking at the works of Jewish composers and writers who contributed to a lively and robust biblical theatre in fin-de-siècle Vienna, Caroline A. Kita, shows how they reimagined myths of the Old Testament to offer new aesthetic and ethical views of compassion. These Jewish artists, including Gustav Mahler, Siegfried Lipiner, Richard Beer-Hofmann, Stefan Zweig, and Arnold Schoenberg, reimagined biblical stories through the lens of the modern Jewish subject to plead for justice and compassion toward the Jewish community. By tracing responses to antisemitic discourses of compassion, Kita reflects on the explicitly and increasingly troubled political and social dynamics at the end of the Habsburg Empire.