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Dorothee Ostmeier

Dorothee Ostmeier profile picture
  • Affiliation: faculty
  • Title: Professor
  • Phone: 541-346-4245
  • Office: 215 Friendly Hall
  • Office Hours: Winter 2019: MF: 4:05-5:05pm and by appointment
  • Affiliated Departments: European Studies
  • Interests: German literature and culture of the 18th through 20th century
  • Curriculum Vitae

Research and Teaching Profile

Dorothee Ostmeier: Scholar, Writer, Educator, Administrator with Entrepreneurial Mindset

Dorothee Ostmeier is Head of the Department of German and Scandinavian, Professor of German and Folklore. She also serves as Affiliated Faculty of Comparative Literature, Women and Gender Studies, and the Center for the Studies of Women in Society (CSWS).

Scholar, Writer, Educator

Ostmeier’s research and teaching focuses on the borders between German literatures, culture, and philosophies of the 18th to the 21st centuries. International reviews of her book Sprache des Dramas-Drama der Sprache; Nelly Sachs’ Dramatische Szenen, recognize this study as one of the few works that analyze Sachs’ cryptic dramatic writings, which she composed after escaping Nazi persecution in 1941. Ostmeier’s analysis situates Sachs’ oeuvre within the ongoing debate on obsessive memory in the face of the universal disappearance of idealist utopias.

Her recent book, entitled Gender, Sex, Liebe in Poetischen Dialogen des Frühen Zwanzigsten Jahrhunderts: Peter Hille and Else Lasker-Schüler, Gottfried Benn and Else Lasker-Schüler, Rainer Maria Rilke and Lou Andreas-Salomé , Margarete Steffin and Bertolt Brecht, argues that these poetic debates of the early 20th century anticipate contemporary feminists’ thought and its identity negotiations. Professor Eva Geulen writes: “Ostmeiers Analysen und Reflektionen zeigen, dass diese oft dialogisch engagierte Lyrik in wechselndem Maße bereits das Niveau gegenwärtiger Theoriebildung erreicht hat. Feministische Theoreme Irigarays, Butlers und anderer werden nicht auf Gedichte angewandt, sondern anregende Detaillektüren entfalten neben dem lyrischen auch das theoretische Potential der Gedichte und Texte.”

Ostmeier’s courses on fairy tales, fantasy and the uncanny tackle the moves from utopian to anti-utopian tales and have inspired several essays on Michael Ende’s and Cornelia Funke’s fantasy texts, the film “Ever After” and the link between the Grimms’ concepts of nature and the marvelous. The essays examine how these fantasy texts and films interrogate the borders between reality and fiction and expose the psychological and social risks of crossing such borders. Ostmeier views the popular fascination with such risks as a desire for an ethics that evades the violence of authoritative structures. The essay “Rafik Schami’s Tales about Fairy Tales” places this topic in the context of the hybridity of postmodern storytelling. The following essays have been recently published: “Frogs and Salamanders as Agents of Romanticism.” (MLN, 2014). “Politik des Wunderbaren: Nationale Identität und Utopie in ausgewählten Werken der Gebrüder Grimm. Märchen, Mythen und Moderne: 200 Jahre Kinder- und Hausmärchen der Brüder Grimm (Frankfurt: Peter Lang, 2015). “The Feminine Beast: Exploitation vs. Liberation in Early 20th Century Literature.” (Fall 2014 in Web Journal Konturen:

Recently she has launched a new monograph entitled “Portals-Shape Shifters-Singularity Events in Romanticism to Postmodern Digital Culture.”  She has made a number of contributions to COLLATERAL – Online Journal for Cross-Cultural Close Reading ( housed in Belgium. In summer 2017 she was invited to edit a collaborative interdisciplinary cluster of contributions to COLLATERAL, and recently collaborated with colleagues from Music to publish the Oregon Cluster on the Multi-Interpretability of artifacts like Goethe's poem "Über Allen Gipfeln ist Ruh." She is also preparing the following invited lectures: “Ich bin ein Gedicht”, “Mermaides in the Context of Gender and Ecocritcism,” and “Nature-Non Nature in Lebensreform Contexts.” 



From Fall 2002 to 2012 Ostmeier acted as Director of Graduate Studies, and for 2012-2014 she was elected as College of Arts’ and Sciences’ representative on the UO’s Graduate Council. She has served as a member of the Advisory Board of the Oregon Humanities Center, and as Humanities Representative on Arts and Sciences Curriculum Committees. Ostmeier has initiated, and for many years co-organized the German outreach program to public schools, the manifold activities of the Healing Arts Research Interest Group at CSWS, GERSCAN’s SAIL summer program, and engaged in the manifold discussions of the UO Language Councils (CAS and OIA). As Head of GERSCAN she has collaborated with many entities across campus on revitalizing the language studies and cross-disciplinary lecture and exhibition events. As elected CAS Wise Head for 2016/2017 she has served on CAS’ “Context for Scenario Planning Sessions,” and the committee on “Arts and Humanities Awards.”


Professor Ostmeier leads the annual SAIL camp for the Department of German and Scandinavian. See photos from German and Science presentation with Prof. Steve Golledge here.


Dorothee Ostmeier's Research Profile Video:

Click here to view


Dorothee Ostmeier's "Fairy Tale Video"

This video explores the world of fantasy and its relation to both national literature and postmodern popular culture. Click here to watch!


Winter 2017

GER 354  German Gender Studies: Mermaids and Shapeshifters in the Context of Gender Studies (4 credits) Ostmeier
CRN: 26106; Taught in English. Fulfills the Arts and Letters (A&L) as well as the Identity, Pluralism, and Tolerance (IP) requirement. Study of mermaids, undines, gorgons, shapeshifters and other hybrid figures as they penetrate the history of mythology, folklore, literature, music and art. Contemporary gender theories will guide our discussion of these figures’ tensions between sex and gender, the longing for and loss of transcendence, fantasy and reality, nature and culture. We will focus on poetic texts and inter-texts from the 16th to the 20th centuries, including texts by Paracelsus, Goethe, Eichendorff, Heine, Hoffmann, Fouque, Keller, Kafka, Schwitters, Bachmann, Sachs, and Frischmuth.






Fall 2016

GER 407 Fairy Tales (Seminar) (4 cr) Ostmeier

CRN: 12676; Taught in English.  Fantasy/Fairy Tale Studies Now

Fantasy crosses the boundaries of national literature and cultures by inserting its presence in a broad variety of genres. Critical examinations of the multidimensional categories of the fantastic will re-examine and move beyond Vladimir Todorov’s definition of the Fantastic and work towards defining the broad connotations of the term fantasy as it applies also to postmodern popular culture.

The study of fairy tales is closely linked to controversial debates about the complex aesthetic, philosophical and social connotations of fantasy and the imaginary. We will examine the transitions from magic to uncanny, surrealist, and fantasy tales in texts from Romanticism to the 21st century, and rethink and refashion our perceptions of reality by challenging the fluid borders between various fictive realities.  Texts to be discussed include tales by Jakob and Wilhelm Grimm, Johann Wolfgang Goethe, Novalis, Ludwig Tieck, ETA Hoffmann, Franz Kafka, Ingeborg Bachmann, Christian Kracht,  Rafik Schami. As theoretical frameworks we will study texts by Friedrich Schlegel, Stith Thompson, Vladimir Todorov, Sigmund Freud, Walter Benjamin, Peter Brooks, and Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari. Individual research projects that are linked to fantasy studies are encouraged and will expand the horizon of our discussions.

German undergraduate students will be invited to meet for an additional hour for discussions in German.


Spring 2017

GER 355 German Cinema: History, Theory, Practice (Seminar) (4 cr) Ostmeier

CRN:36280; Taught in English. This course fulfills the Arts and Letters (A&L) as well as the International Cultures (IC) requirement.

In-depth analysis of various facets of German cinema. Students will acquire a vocabulary of film analysis and learn how to interpret film from a historical and theoretical perspective. Topics include Weimar film, cities and modernity, German filmmakers in American exile, German New Wave, and contemporary film.




Fall 2017

CAS 101H Reacting to the Past (4 credits) Ostmeier
CRN: 16727; Taught in English. This course satisfies the Social Science (SSC) requirement.
In this course you will study, act, and play. You’ll meet with suffrage, labor and women’s movement activists. Organize, publicize, and participate in a woman suffrage parade. Debate with anarchists, recruit villagers for the strike of silk workers, advocate for birth control, and join the salons of the avant-garde in New York and Berlin.








Recent Courses: Poetry of the 20th Century, Translations-Transformations: Fairy Tales on the Move, Dramas of Revolution, Translations-Transformations: Brecht and Context (crosslisted with Theater and Comparative Literature), Gender and Ethics, Weimar Modernisms, Fantasy/Fairy Tale Studies Now (crosspublished with Folklore), Mermaids and shapeshifters in the Context of Gender Studies.

Items of Interest


fairy tale.jpg

Project 1: Fairy tales, fantasy, and the uncanny, invited/ collaboration with the Office of international Affairs, UNniversity of Oregon, Spring 2016

Project 2: Cascade story

Project 3: Babel German Sail Camp

Project 4: Diversity, STEM Education, Outreach and Global Engagement Initiatives

Project 5: "Poetic Materialities: Semiotics of Ruhe in Goethe's 'Wanderer's Nachtlied' and 'Ein Gleiches' 

Project 6: FIG Promotion video, invited by First Year Programs (2017)

Project 7: SAIL Spirit Challenge, invited collabotation, (2016)

Project 8: "The Masses" (See attached file at bottom)

  • Student-produced newspaper as a part of the "Reacting to the Past" course (CAS 101)



Click here to visit the healing arts website.

Read an article about Prof. Ostmeier.

Read stories written by students in Prof. Ostmeier's German Fairy Tale class.

Deutsch in der Oberflaechenanalytik:

Spirit Challenge Video

Student project in the context of teaching with digital media

Visit Professor Ostmeier's fairy tales website: click here!

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