Gerhild Williams

Gerhild Williams

Vice Provost
Associate Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs,
Professor of German,
Director of Graduate Studies in German
Barbara Schaps Thomas & David M. Thomas Professor in the Humanities
PhD, University of Washington
research interests:
  • Early Modern German and French Literature
  • Magic, Daemonologies, Witch Theory
  • Media and Culture
  • Reformation Movements
  • Translation Theory and Practice
  • Travel Narratives
  • Volksbuch/Novel
  • Early Modern Media and the Evolution of the Novel
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contact info:

office hours:

  • N Brookings: Mondays, 3:00 to 4:00 pm
    Ridgley: Wednesdays, 1:30 to 2:30 pm
    by appointment
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mailing address:

  • Washington University
    CB 1104
    One Brookings Drive
    St. Louis, MO 63130-4899
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​Professor Williams has published widely on German and French literature and culture from the Middle Ages to the Early Modern Period (1100-1700), specializing more recently in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.

Williams has been working in translation theory and practice, the early modern witch phenomenon, the early modern Volksbuch, and the development of the novel. She has explored the impact and influence of newspapers and other early modern media on the production of novels. Some of her recent publications include books, edited and co-edited volumes, translations, and articles on the Prosaromane of Fortunatus, Melusine, Dr. Faustus, Wagner, and on the seventeenth-century writers Johannes Praetorius and Eberhard Werner Happel. Currently, she is working on the influence of Ottoman power and culture on German prose texts and on the globalizing impact of the Ottoman imperial ambition and cultural hegemony during the seventeenth century.

Fall 2019 Course

Topics in German Studies: Telling Tales - The Magical, the Wondrous, and the Strange (1500-present) (German 4105)

During the early modern period, roughly 1450-1700, prose fiction developed as one of the dominant literary forms. We will read and review several important expressions of this evolving literary form, marking the structural and thematic trajectory along which the narrative changes are evolving from late medieval to early modern, from Prosaromane (Volksbücher) to early forms of the novel. We will explore the relationship of fact and fiction, the influence of magic, demonology, and travel writings as well as issues of gender construction and their effect on the development of prose narratives. Texts we will explore are: Melusine, Fortunatus, Dr. Faustus, Grimmelshausen's Courage and maybe one or two more.

    Selected Publications

    Mediating Culture in the Seventeenth-Century German Novel (Eberhard Werner Happel, 1647-1690). Ann Arbor: Michigan UP, 2014.

    Mothering Baby: On Being A Woman in Early Modern Germany. GSW trans. Tempe: Arizona Center for Medieval and Renaissance Texts and Studies, 2010

    Ways of Knowing in Early Modern Germany: Johannes Praetorius as a Witness to his Time. Aldershot: Ashgate, 2006

    On the Inconstancy of Witches: Pierre de Lancre's Tableau de l'inconstance des mauvais anges et Demons (1612). Harriet Stone and Gerhild Williams, trans. Tempe, Arizona: Center for Medieval Renaissance Texts and Studies, 2006