Prof. Dr. Birte Wege

Birte Wege

John-F.-Kennedy-Institut

Abteilung Literatur

Assistant Professor

Address
Lansstr. 7-9
Room 217
14195 Berlin

Office hours

Thursday, 2-3 pm

Academic Education & Employment


October 2017 - present

Assistant Professor, John F. Kennedy Institute, Department of Literature

October 2015-September 2017
Postdoctoral Researcher, John F. Kennedy Institute, Department of Literature
Substitute Assistant Professor for North American Literature

2011-2015
PhD, Graduate School of North American Studies, Freie Universität Berlin
Dissertation: “Drawing on the Past: The Graphic Narrative Documentaries of Emmanuel Guibert, Ho Che Anderson, Art Spiegelman, and Joe Sacco.” (summa cum laude)
Supervisors: Prof. Dr. Ulla Haselstein, Prof. Dr. Martin Klepper, and Prof. Dr. Laura Bieger.

2008-2009
Master of Business Administration, Segal Graduate School of Business, Simon Fraser University, Vancouver, Canada

2004-2005
Master of Arts, Department of English and Film Studies, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Canada

2000-2004
English Literature and Linguistics, Political Science, Islamic Studies (Undergraduate- and Graduate-Level Coursework)
Albert-Ludwigs University Freiburg, Germany

 


Fellowships and Awards


2016

Rolf Kentner Dissertation Prize of Heidelberg Center for American Studies (HCA)

2011-2015
Doctoral Grant, Graduate School of North American Studies, Freie Universität Berlin

2004-2005
Sarah Nettie Christie MA Scholarship, University of Alberta

 


Conference Talks

PAMLA 2012 – 110th Annual Conference of the Pacific Ancient and Modern Language Association
Presentation Title: Picturing Reality: Photographs and Graphic Images as Narrative Tracks in Emmanuel Guibert’s The Photographer

MLA 2014 – 129th Annual Convention
Presentation Title: “A story lived, photographed[,] told[,] written and drawn”: The Dance of Pen and Camera in Guibert and Lefèvre’s The Photographer

Graduate School of North American Studies - Seventh International Graduate Conference 2014
Presentation Title: "Weapons of Mass Displacement:" In the Shadow of No Towers and the War of Images

Political Art and the Aesthetic-Political: International Workshop 2015 (John F. Kennedy Institute)
Presentation Title: A Documentary of Documentation: MLK, Civil Rights Photography, and Graphic Narrative

Wintersemester 2019/20

Understanding North America A

American Anarchy ((MA Interdisciplinary Seminar Lit/Sociology)

Sommersemester 2019

Introduction to Literary Studies II

"I would prefer not to": Reading Herman Melville (MA Seminar)

Wintersemester 2018/19

Understanding North America A

Methods in Literary Studies (MA/GradSchool)

Imagery and Race (MA Interdisciplinary Seminar Lit/Hist)

Sommersemester 2018

Introduction to Literary Studies II (BA Seminar)

Art of Science Fiction (BA Seminar)

Winter Semester 2017/18

Understanding North America A

BA Colloquium Literature/Culture

Sommer Semester 2017

Nasty Women Writing: Feminist Theory and Literature (MA Seminar)

Building the Canadian Literary Institution (MA Seminar)

Winter Semester 2016/17

Interventions of the Stage (MA Seminar)

BA Colloquium Literature/Culture

Sommer Semester 2016:

20th Century American Drama (MA Seminar)

Writing, Picturing, Performing the Great Depression (BA Seminar)

Winter Semester 2015/16

Introduction to Literary Studies I (BA Seminar, John -F.-Kennedy-Institut, Freie Universität Berlin)

Bloody Books: Theories of Violence (MA Seminar, John -F.-Kennedy-Institut, Freie Universität Berlin)

Sommer Semester 2015
“All’s fair in love and war” War Literature from the Civil War to Iraq (BA Seminar, John -F.-Kennedy-Institut, Freie Universität Berlin)

Sommer Semester 2014
Graphic Narrative and War (BA Seminar, John -F.-Kennedy-Institut, Freie Universität Berlin)

Dissertation

“Drawing on the Past: The Graphic Narrative Documentaries of Emmanuel Guibert, Ho Che Anderson, Art Spiegelman, and Joe Sacco.”

Long disregarded as trivial entertainment, comics – or, the preferred term of this dissertation, graphic narrative – have gained increased attention over the past three decades. More and more frequently, they are the medium of choice for artists wanting to give voice to criticism of the way in which the mainstream media deal with political issues. Works such as Art Spiegelman’s Maus and In the Shadow of No Towers, Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis and Joe Sacco’s Footnotes in Gaza and Palestine have cemented the importance of graphic narrative within the larger debate about the role of visual images in our culture, especially with regards to forms of portraying past and present political conflict. It seems a strange twist of fate that a medium which for much of its history was relegated to a page of daily funnies added to newspapers to improve circulation and sell the news is now, through comics journalism and documentary, increasingly providing its own perspective on the visual representation of conflict.

Based on the analysis and close reading of four exemplary graphic narratives – Emmanuel Guibert’s The Photographer, Ho Che Anderson’s King: A Comics Biography, Art Spiegelman’s In The Shadow of No Towers, and Joe Sacco’s Footnotes in Gaza – this dissertation explores the potential of graphic narrative as documentary (understood in the broad sense as texts that “give tangible representation to aspects of the world we already inhabit and share, [making] the stuff of social reality visible […] according to the acts of selection and arrangement carried out by a filmmaker” (Nichols, Introduction to Documentary 1-2) – or, in the case of comics, by an artist. Within the context of a fast-changing and ever-expanding visual culture, Drawing on the Past examines how these four graphic narratives draw an arch between past and present crisis; how photography is utilized in these graphic narratives (whether depicted as a pictorial element within the texts, or through direct and indirect reference to photographs); and how the individual artists complicate notions of authenticity, objectivity, and reality, in their own work, and at the same time allow this to reflect on other media representations of ‘reality.’

This dissertation argues that even as graphic narrative documentary is marked by tensions inherent to the form – the perceived subjectivity of the artist’s handmark on the page, for example – these works nonetheless function compellingly as nonfiction, adding a unique and valuable voice to the genre of documentary.