Karl F. and Bertha A. Fuchs Professor of German Studies and
Chair, Modern Languages and Cultures
PhD Stanford University
18th-20th century German literature, feminism and gender studies, psychoanalysis
408A Lattimore Hall
Susan Gustafson's areas of research include 18th-20th century German literature, aesthetic theory, family fantasies, gender studies, psychoanalysis, feminism, Lessing, Goethe, Moritz, Kleist, Hoffmann, Poe, Kafka, Freud, Kristeva and Foucault. She has explored the representation of absent mothers and orphaned fathers in Lessing’s dramas to illustrate the fundamental deep structures informing his aesthetic and dramatic production and to demonstrate that the missing mother is actually not absent, but plays a central role in Lessing’s literary work. Gustafson has also published extensively on Goethe. Her book length study of German Classicism demonstrates in contrast to Foucault’s theories how 18th century poets—and particularly Goethe—were establishing their own poetry of same-sex identity and desire. Gustafson is now working on a book-length study, Family Fantasies, which outlines literary representations of families that challenge Enlightenment and post-Enlightenment notions of family ideals.
- “I suffered and I loved”: Narcissism and Abject Desire in Goethe’s Confessions of a Beautiful Soul. In The Self as Muse: Narcissism from 1750-1900, ed. Alexander Mathas, Bucknell UP 2011, 150-65.
- “‘Wo Bhogovotgitas Meister unser warten:’ Finding the Self in E.T.A. Hoffmann’s Der goldene Topf” in Liber Amicorum Festschrift zum 85. Geburtstag von Katharina Mommsen. Bernstein Verlag de. 2010, 141-156.
- “‘Ich suchte meinen Freund:’ Melancholy Narcissism, Writing, and Same-Sex Desire in Moritz’s Anton Reiser.” Lessing Yearbook, 2008/09, 135-159.
- “Asymbolia and Self-Loss: Narratives of Depression by Women in Contemporary German Literature” Monatshefte, 99:1 Spring (2007), 1-21.
- “Paternal Narcissism and the Abjection of the Maternal in Lessing’s Aesthetic Theory.” 103pp. First chapter from: Absent Mothers and Orphaned Fathers: Narcissism and Abjection in Lessing’s Aesthetic and Dramatic Production, WSUP, 1995. Reprint in Literature Criticism Vol 124, ed. Larry Trudeau, Thomson Gale, 2006.
- “Don’t See, Don’t Tell: Gender Transgression and Repetition Compulsion in Goethe’s Die Natürliche Tochter.” Reprinted by Janet Witalec Ed. Drama Criticism: Criticism of the Most Significant and Widely Studied Dramatic Works for All the World’s Literature. Vol. 20, Thomson Gale (2003), 70-80.
- Men Desiring Men: The Poetry of Same-Sex Identity and Desire in German Classicism. (Wayne State University Press, 2002
- “Watching the Subject: The Mother’s Gaze in Dickens’ David Copperfield and Kafka’s Der Verschollene.” Monatshefte, 93:1 (2001) 53-72.
- “From Werther to Amazons: Cross-Dressing and Male-Male Desire in ‘Goethe’s Weimar.’” Unwrapping Goethe’s Weimar, ed. By Burkhard Henke, Simon Richter, and Suzanne Kord. Camden House (2000), 178-99.
- “The Cadaverous Bodies of Vampiric Mothers and the Genealogy of Pathology in E.T.A. Hoffmann’s Tales.” In a special edition on Bodies in the 18th Century in German Life and Letters, 52:2 (April 1999), 238-254.
- “Sado-masochism, Mutilation, and Men: Lessing’s Laocoon, Herder’s Kritische Wälder, Gerstenberg’s Ugolino, and the Storm and Stress of Drama.” In a special edition on the reception of Lessing’s Laocoon, in Poetics Today, 20:2 (Summer 1999), 38-52.
- Absent Mothers and Orphaned Fathers: Narcissism and Abjection in Lessing's Aesthetic and Dramatic Production. (Wayne State University Press, 1995).
Susan Gustafson teaches courses on 18-20th German literature, horror films and literature, psychoanalysis, fantasy literature, and comparative literature and film. She particularly enjoys teaching the surreal stories of Kafka, Kleist, ETA Hoffmann, and Poe.
- Poe and Hoffmann (fall 2011)
- Monsters, Ghosts and Aliens (fall 2010)
- Freud and Psychoanalysis (fall 2010)
- Kafka (spring 2010)
- Bestsellers (spring 2010)
- MLC Major Seminar (spring 2009)
- Monsters, Ghosts, and Aliens (spring 2009)
- Wizards, Magic, and Fantasy (fall 2009)
- Introduction to German Literature (fall 2009)
Honors and Activities
- Editor, German Studies in America book series, Peter Lang Bern (2011- )
- Elected to the MLA Delegate Assembly, Committee on the Status of Women in the Profession (2011-2014)
- European Romantic Review, Editorial Board (2010- )
- PMLA Advisory Committee (2007-2010)
- University of Rochester Medallion for Distinguished Academic
- Goergen Award for Distinguished Achievement and Artistry in Undergraduate Teaching at the University of Rochester (2006)
- Appointed Karl F. and Bertha A. Fuchs Professor of German Studies (2005)
- 2004 GSA/DAAD Biennial Book Award for the Outstanding book on German language, literature, or culture for Men Desiring Men: The Poetry of Same-Sex Identity and Desire in German Classicism, Wayne State University Press, 2002. (2004)
- National Endowment for the Humanities Grant (1995)
- Florence Howe Award, Hon. Mention for: "Beautiful Statues, Beautiful Men: The Abjection of Feminine Imagination in Lessing's Laocoon." Publications of the Modern Language Association. (October 1993),1083-1097. (1992)
- Alexander von Humboldt Research Fellow, Bonn (1991-92)
- Charles Taft Postdoctoral Fellow, University of Cincinnati (1986-87)