Cohort 5

Duration of stay: 1 October 2022 – 31 March 2023

KWI's current cohort of fellows (from the left): Alexandra Irimia, Marissa Petrou, Kris Decker, Verena Kick, Tim Altenhof, L. Sasha Gora, Sandra Janßen.
Fellows of the 5th Cohort. From left to right: Alexandra Irimia, Marissa Petrou, Kris Decker, Verena Kick, Tim Altenhof, L. Sasha Gora, Sandra Janßen.

Dr. Tim Altenhof

Dr. Tim Altenhof is an architect and university assistant in architectural theory at the University of Innsbruck. His research investigates how medical, scientific and cultural discourses on air and a heightened awareness about the function of the human lungs inflected modern architecture and its historiography. During his fellowship, Tim worked on finishing his book manuscript titled Breathing Space.

Dr. des. Kris Decker

Kris Decker / Has a background in Science Studies / Conducts fieldwork in the borderlands of science and the arts / Currently running the project Academized Artists (funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation) at Zurich University of the Arts in Switzerland / Did a dissertation on the day-to-day work of climate scientists / While at KWI, will delve into materials from activism and the arts to study the public life of climate issues / Interested in ways of writing that cut across scholarly genres (but how to do that?) / Recently published: Machines under Pressure (Vexer, 2022).

Dr. L. Sasha Gora

Sasha Gora is a cultural historian and writer with a focus on food history and contemporary art (often separately but sometimes together). In 2020 she received a PhD from Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich and the Rachel Carson Center for Environment and Society on the subject of Indigenous restaurants in Canada. While pursuing her doctoral work she taught over a dozen courses at LMU Munich’s Amerika-Institut, surveying food history, film studies, and the environmental humanities. She spent spring 2019 as a visiting scholar in the Department of Ethnic Studies at UC Berkeley, and has given talks at Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin, Ocean Space, Venice, the Centre for Contemporary Art, Glasgow, and elsewhere.

She writes about food, the environment, culture, and art. From the politics of serving wild game to figurative painting and feminism and from cookbooks by artists to shellfish and sustainability, her writing has been published by Gastronomica, BBC Travel, VICE, C Magazine, and others. She has also contributed to books such as Canadian Culinary Imaginations, Food Cults, and Museums of Ideas. Her first monograph, based on her doctoral research and titled Culinary Claims, is forthcoming.

Following a postdoctoral fellowship at the Center for the Humanities and Social Change at Ca’ Foscari University of Venice, Sasha furthered her current work on culinary reactions to climate change. Her research zooms in on human relationships to fish and shellfish and studies restaurants as venues for cultural and environmental negotiation. As an international fellow at KWI she worked on a book about the global history of the anchovy.

Dr. Alexandra Irimia

Alexandra Irimia holds a PhD in Philology from the University of Bucharest, where she had previously studied Comparative Literature, French, and Political Science. In 2020, she defended her doctoral thesis on figural voids and empty signifiers in literature, cinema, and contemporary arts, at the Centre of Excellence in Image Studies, with support from the FIGURA-UQAM research center in Montreal. In 2017, she enrolled in a second doctoral program in Comparative Literature at Western University, in Canada, where she designed and taught a Law and Literature course, worked as a teaching assistant, and began research on bureaucratic fiction. Her project investigates representations of officialdom and the portrayal of clerks in literary and cinematic narratives on bureaucratic themes (1950-2000).

During her time in Essen, she co-edited a special issue of the journal Administory (vol. 8) entitled Bureaucratic Cultures and their Aesthetics, while also working on the publication of her second PhD thesis. The provisional title for her book project is Red Tape: (De)Ontologies of Writing and the Writing Subject in Late Twentieth-Century Bureaucratic Fiction.

Alexandra has published in journals including Ekphrasis, Discourse, The Comparatist, MuseMedusa, Euresis, and Studia Politica, and contributed to edited volumes such as Contact Zones (Leuven UP, 2021), The Rhetoric of Topics and Forms(De Gruyter, 2021), Socializing Art Museums (De Gruyter, 2020), Working through the Figure (University of Bucharest Press, 2019), Usages de la figure, régimes de figuration (University of Bucharest Press, 2017). More generally, her work revolves around formal paradoxes of representation, seeking to explore text-image relations with an emphasis on the topics of the figure, figurability, and their negative ontological regimes. Occasionally, she ventures into the troubled waters of translation.

Dr. Sandra Janßen

Sandra Janssen is a researcher in comparative literature and in the history of science. She is an Annemarie Schimmel Fellow at the University of Erfurt and has previously taught German and comparative literature at the Freie Universität Berlin, the University of Geneva and most recently as a Visiting Professor at the University of Vienna. Her research is concerned with the history of subjectivity as it is constituted by the convergence of different fields of knowledge. A particular focus lies on the interrelation of 19th and 20th century German and French literatures with historical psychology. She authored the monograph Phantasmen. Imagination in Psychologie und Literatur 1840-1930 (Flaubert, Čechov, Musil), published by Wallstein in 2013, which studies theories of imaginative phenomena such as hallucinations and dreams and relates them to varying models of the psyche. Recent publications related to these interests include a special issue of the Zeitschrift für Kulturwissenschaften (ZfK 1/2021), co-edited with Maximilian Bergengruen, on psychopathologies of time, and a volume that theorizes the history of subjectivity as dependent on the history of knowledge (Selbstsein als Sich-Wissen?, Mohr Siebeck 2021, co-edited with Thomas Alkemeyer).

As a Thyssen@KWI Fellow, Sandra Janssen worked on finishing a book project that constellates psychology, political theory, and literature from the 1930s and 1940s around the figure of a ‘totalitarian subject.’ The idea the book elaborates is that a ‘totalitarian’ subject is not simply defined by the political regime to which it conforms, but—more importantly—by notions of totality that prefigure and legitimize such forms of power. It studies contemporaneous psychology in order to identify the conceptions of subjectivity on which the totalitarian thinking of this period also relies. However, it is literature that renders this epistemic connection conspicuous, for in literary texts of that period, psychological and political subject models are closely interwoven. The significance of political totalitarianism can thus be understood in new ways by considering other fields of knowledge.

Dr. Verena Kick

Verena Kick is Assistant Professor of German at Georgetown University. She received her Ph.D. from the University of Washington, Seattle, in 2019. Her scholarship encompasses 20th century German modernism, film, and Digital Humanities.

As a KWI International Fellow, she focussed on her book manuscript Weimar Germany’s Counter Publics – Workers, Soldiers, and Women in Weimar Photobooks. This project examines the intersection of German non-fiction writing and visual culture, specifically the montage of texts and images in photobooks as an approach to analyze the changing public sphere during the Weimar Republic. Her study aims to show how the representation of workers, soldiers, and women in photobooks creates—compared to mass media—oppositional understandings of these groups, casting them as counter publics. This interpretation offers an alternative view of the public sphere at the time, and also demonstrates at least a possibility of the photobook for creating an effective consciousness to combat impending fascism.

In addition, using the online publishing platform Scalar, Verena is also developing a digital addendum for her book project. This project curates her research in a primarily visual way and also demonstrates how photobooks can be curated online: https://scalar.usc.edu/works/revolutionizing-the-public-sphere/index (work in progress)

Her recent publications include articles on works by Kurt Tucholsky, John Heartfield, Annemarie Schwarzenbach, and Werner Herzog. An article on montage principles in Kurt Tucholsky and John Heartfield’s photobook Deutschland, Deutschland über alles (1929) appeared in 2018 in Studien zur deutschen Sprache und Literatur. In 2021, she published in Seminar: A Journal of Germanic Studies a second article related to her book project, focusing on the digital curation of photobooks. In fall 2021, an article on Swiss photojournalist Annemarie Schwarzenbach and her focus on intersectional issues in photographs of the 1930s US South appeared in Monatshefte. Verena’s research has been supported by the American Friends of Marbach (AFM) and the Kurt Tucholsky-Stiftung. This support has, for instance, allowed her to conduct research at the Deutsches Literaturarchiv Marbach, where she presented in June 2022 a paper on Weimar Germany’s book clubs and reading practices of photobooks at the AFM’s conference The Persistence of Reading in a Digital Age.

Dr. Marissa Petrou

Marissa Petrou is Assistant Professor of History, Thelma and Jamie Guilbeau Endowed Professor of History and Director of the Guilbeau Center for Public History at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. Before arriving in Louisiana, Marissa was Faculty Fellow in Museum Studies at New York University. Marissa received her PhD from UCLA, with a focus on visual culture in the history of science, medicine, & technology. She has published on the history of German anthropology, gender, photography, scientific publication and land acknowledgment. She has also co-curated numerous museum and library exhibits on artists’ engagement with science, the history of gender, race, and sexuality in medicine, and the relationship between science and the public.

As Director of the Guilbeau Center for Public History, Marissa is Co-PI of the American Library Association- and National Endowment for the Humanities-funded project, Queering the Collection: Expanding and Archiving LGBTQ+ History in Southwestern Louisiana. She is also editing a volume of essays on Shared Histories: Documenting COVID19 and the Movement for Black Lives in Southwest Louisiana, the Center’s rapid response digital archive of oral histories, digital media and webinars.

At KWI, Marissa will work on her book project, Collecting Asia-Pacific: Museums, “Race,” and the Anthropological Sciences in Imperial Germany. As European museums begin to address the harms they have and continue to cause descendant communities, this book examines the complex history behind the Dresden Museum for Zoology, Anthropology and Ethnology, which aimed to prevent such harms at its founding.  This book seeks to support decolonizing work by considering how cultural resources were displayed, how and why they were acquired and how various stakeholders perceived these activities. In order to expand our understanding of the complex development of these sciences and their diverse participants, she emphasizes the importance of visual approaches to the human sciences and sciences of collection. Drawing on recent literature in Indigenous Studies, STS, Black Studies, and Jewish history, this book also considers how the anthropological project of mapping Blackness in Asia and Oceania overlapped with political and scientific debates about how to categorize German-Jews in the context of European colonialism. Research for this book draws on materials at state archives, libraries, and museums in Germany, Austria, England, the Philippines, Spain, and the United States.