Erin McGlothlin

Erin McGlothlin

Chair and ​Associate Professor of German and Jewish Studies
PhD, University of Virginia
research interests:
  • 20th- and 21st-Century German Literature
  • Holocaust Studies (Literature, Film, and Theory)
  • Jewish Studies (Contemporary German-Jewish and Diasporic Jewish Literature)
  • Narrative Theory
  • Autobiography
  • Memory Studies
  • The Graphic Novel
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contact info:

mailing address:

  • Washington University
    CB 1104
    One Brookings Drive
    St. Louis, MO 63130-4899
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Professor McGlothlin's main research interests are in the areas of Holocaust literature and film and German-Jewish literature.

McGlothlin is the author of Second-Generation Holocaust Literature: Legacies of Survival and Perpetration (2006) and has co-edited two volumes: After the Digital Divide?: German Aesthetic Theory in the Age of New Digital Media (2009, with Lutz Koepnick) and Persistent Legacy: The Holocaust and German Studies (2016, with Jennifer Kapczynski). A third co-edited volume, The Construction of Testimony: Claud Lanzmann's Shoah and its Outtakes (with Brad Prager and Markus Zisselsberger), will appear in 2020. Additionally, she has published articles in major journals and edited volumes on Art Spiegelman’s Maus, Ruth Klüger’s weiter leben, Edgar Hilsenrath’s Der Nazi und der Friseur, Bernhard Schlink’s Der Vorleser, and other fictional and non-fictional works of Holocaust literature and film and German-Jewish literature. She is currently finishing a book titled Constructing the Mind of the Holocaust Perpetrator in Fictional and Documentary Discourse, which is under advance contract with Wayne State University Press. 

In addition to a comparative focus on the literature of the Holocaust, McGlothlin’s research and teaching interests include postwar and contemporary German literature, Jewish Studies, narrative theory, autobiography, and the graphic novel. She has also created with Anika Walke a year-long first-year seminar on the Holocaust that culminates in a study trip to Holocaust-related sites in Germany, Poland, and Lithuania.

McGlothlin was a research fellow in residence at the US Holocaust Memorial Museum’s Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies in 2006, was a co-leader with Anita Norich of the Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies Hess Faculty Seminar on Holocaust Literature in January 2014, and was an instructor at the Summer Institute on the Holocaust and Jewish Civilization at Northwestern University in 2016 and 2018. She has received additional research grants from the Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies, the Fulbright Foundation, and the Washington University Center for the Humanities. In Summer 2010, she was a DAAD Guest Professor at the Universities of Dortmund and Paderborn. She is also co-editor (with Brad Prager) of the Camden House book series Dialogue and Disjunction: Studies in Jewish German Literature, Culture, and Thought, and is on the editorial board of German Studies Review and a member of the Academic Council of the Holocaust Educational Foundation at Northwestern University.

From 2010 to 2012, Professor McGlothlin was Director of Research, and, in 2013, Interim Director of the Washington University Center for the Humanities.

Fall 2019 Course

Literary Seminar: German Life Writing since 1968 (German 528)

This graduate seminar aims to introduce students to one of the most important trends in German literary culture of the last half century, namely the profusion of texts that can be grouped loosely under the designation "life writing." In our survey of this large body of literature, which encompasses such referential genres as autobiographical narrative, biography, the diary, the personal essay, testimony, and other modes of self-expressive or confessional writing, we will concentrate on two objectives. First, we will become conversant in the literary and theoretical discourse on life writing, examining contributions to autobiographical theory from structuralism, poststructuralism, postcolonial theory and gender theory and focusing in particular on issues of authority, referentiality, performativity, positionality, dialogism, genre conventionality, the autobiographical pact, and the shifting boundaries between the autobiographical and the fictional. Second, we will explore the range of German life writing of the last several decades, from the New Subjectivity of the 1970s to the "father literature" of the 1980s, to the boom in post-Holocaust and post-Wende memory texts of the 1990s, to the generational and feminist writing of the 2000s, and to the more recent referential explorations of the self within the context of an increasingly diverse Germany. Primary texts in German; discussion (and some theoretical texts) in English.

    Second-Generation Holocaust Literature

    Second-Generation Holocaust Literature

    Among historical events of the 20th century, the Holocaust is unrivaled as the subject of both scholarly and literary writing. Literary responses include not only thousands of autobiographical and fictional texts written by survivors, but also, more recently, works by writers who are not survivors but nevertheless feel compelled to write about the Holocaust. Writers from what is known as the second generation have produced texts that express their feeling of being powerfully marked by events of which they have had no direct experience. This book expands the commonly-used definition of second-generation literature, which refers to texts written from the perspective of the children of survivors, to include texts written from the point of view of the children of Nazi perpetrators. With its innovative focus on the literary legacy of both groups, it investigates how second-generation writers employ similar tropes of stigmatization to express their troubled relationships to their parents' histories. Through readings of nine American, German, and French literary texts, Erin McGlothlin demonstrates how an anxiety with signification is manifested in the very structure of second-generation literature, revealing the extent to which the literary texts themselves are marked by the continuing aftershocks of the Holocaust.