Nicole Coleman Awarded 2014 Dissertation Writing Fellowship


Nicole ColemanIn my dissertation, “Horizons of Difference: Polyphonous Intercultural Literature from Germany,” I ask in what way intercultural literature contributes to the re-definition of ‘Germanness.’ I define intercultural literature as an inclusive term encompassing all texts that are written and read in Germany, thus uncoupling the attribute intercultural from the author’s biography. Intercultural is too often used to refer politely to migrant literature. However, I intend the term to highlight the dynamic among all literary voices writing in the same historical moment. The goal is to transcend ethnic categorization of literature and to point to the inherent interculturality of texts that negotiate alienness. I analyze novels that represent aspects of alterity in different circumstances: among neighbors within a community (chapter 1), in the repressive setting of a camp (chapter 2), and the repatriation of the dead (chapter 3). In each case, alienness is connected to the violation of human rights: Neighbors are presumed to be alien which leads to genocide; characters have to expand their horizons through semantic re-coding in order to survive in the alienating political prison; and the descendants of deceased expellees fight for a right to return home. A fourth chapter creates intercultural exchange intertextually and interactively in digital space, thereby undermining alterity. The interdisciplinarity of my work contributes to recent research done in the field of human rights and literature, including law and literature, trauma studies, and questions of refugees as well as electronic literature.

I am grateful for the Human Rights Institute’s generous support that allowed me to complete my dissertation this April.

Nicole Coleman has been a member of the German section of the Department of Literatures, Cultures, and Languages since August 2010. Before coming to Connecticut, she taught German language and culture classes at the University of Montenegro and to immigrants in Berlin, Germany. Nicole received her M.A. in Political Science (Development Policy), Modern History and Comparative Literature from the University of Bonn, Germany (2007) and studied transitions to democracy at Charles University in Prague, Czech Republic (2004-05). At UConn, her work has focused on intercultural exchange and human rights in contemporary German literature. This April, Nicole successfully defended her dissertation. She will assume the position of Assistant Professor of German at Wayne State University in the Fall semester 2015.