Carnegie Mellon University

Gabriele Maier

Gabriele Maier

Associate Teaching Professor of German

Department of Modern Languages
Carnegie Mellon University
Posner Hall
Pittsburgh, PA 15213


Over the years, my research and teaching have been informed by the overarching question of whether human beings are able to overcome cultural differences and accept diverse ways of living. One of the occasions on which I had the opportunity to examine this question first-hand was in 2008 when I took a group of students from the University of Washington to Vienna to spend three months in one of the most beautiful cities in Europe to explore the German language and Austrian culture. Not only was I witness to their growing understanding of and sensitivity to the foreign environment, but I also noticed their immense interest in comparing Austrian and American culture, and in seeing their own ways of living through European eyes. This experience reminded me of my own trips and longer stays abroad when everything seemed different at first but then became familiar as time went on.

I started out as a double major in Comparative Literature and Japanese Studies at the University of Bonn in Germany. I spent my junior year in Southern Japan to improve my language skills and to learn about Japan and its people. It was a memorable experience and led to another, much longer stay abroad, this time in the U.S.: I went to Seattle to continue my studies at the University of Washington, where I received my M.A. in Comparative Literature. The following year, I traveled to Denmark to study Comparative Literature from a Danish perspective, while also learning about Scandinavian culture and literature. Upon my return to the States a year later, I decided to stay in the U.S. and begin a Ph.D. program in German at the University of Washington so that I would be able to teach my own language while simultaneously learning about my host country’s culture.

This dichotomy between the familiar and the foreign can be easily detected in the research I have been conducting over the past years. In my dissertation, I examine the German notion of Heimat (home) and the impact globalization has had on this very German concept since the fall of the Berlin Wall. I analyze how the local and the global come together, how they create hybrid forms and thus a new understanding of what it means to be German in the new millennium. I am in the process of revising my dissertation and intend to have a publishable manuscript in the very near future. I have also co-edited a volume on Heimat entitled Heimat Goes Mobile: Hybrid Forms of Home in Literature and Film, in which the various contributors explore the recent discourse on Heimat from multiple theoretical and literary angles. Furthermore, I finished a textbook on Germany and globalization for advanced learners of German, which is scheduled to be published in the fall of 2015 with Yale University Press.

Another project of mine is more comparative in its nature and involves a study of the encounter between East and West. Drawing on my background in Comparative Literature and Japanese Studies, I am exploring the German perception of Japan in an article entitled “Orbiting Around the Void: Emptiness as Recurring Topos in Recent German Short Stories on Japan.” I intend to expand my work in the future and also focus on Japanese authors such as Kenzaburo Oe and Yoko Tawada and their respective views of Western society and in particular German culture and history.


Ph.D., University of Washington, 2008


  • Heimat Goes Mobile: Hybrid Forms of Home in Literature and Film. Co-edited with Yvonne Franke. Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2013.
  • Germany in the Age of Globalization. A Textbook for Advanced Learners of German. New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2015 (Forthcoming).

Book chapters in edited volumes

  • “Orbiting Around the Void. Emptiness as Recurring Topos in Recent German Short Stories on Japan.”  Beyond Alterity. Germany Encounters with Modern East Asia. Ed. Qinna Shen and Martin Rosenstock. New York: Berghahn Books, 2014. 240-60.
  • “Heimat Revisited: Stationen der Heimatlosigkeit in Hans-Ulrich Treichel’s Kurzgeschichtenband Heimatkunde oder Alles ist heiter und edel.“ Heimat Goes Mobile. Hybrid Forms of Home in Literature and Film. Ed. Gabriele Eichmanns and Yvonne Franke. Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2013. 56-80.
  • “‘Warum ich immer noch keinen Antrag auf Einbürgerung gestellt habe.‘ Transkulturelle Identitätsformen in Yadé Karas Roman Selam Berlin und in den Werken Wladimir Kaminer.” Akten des XII. Internationalen Germanistenkongress Warschau 2010. Vielheit und Einheit der Germanistik weltweit. Ed. Franciszek Grucza. Frankfurt a.M.: Peter Lang: 2013.
  • “Die ’McDonaldisierung’ der Welt. Das Parodieren der Erwartungen des westlichen Lesers in Christian Krachts Der gelbe Bleistift.“ Strategies of Humor in Post-Unification German Literature, Film and Other Media. Ed. Jill Twark. Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2011.

Articles in Journals

“Christoph Ransmayrs Weg nach Surabaya – Auf den Spuren einer unliebsamen deutsch-österreichischen Vergangenheit.” Glossen 35 (October 2012).

Book Reviews

  • Biendarra, Anke S. Germans Going Global. Contemporary Literature and Cultural Globalization. Berlin/New York: de Gruyter, 2012. Studies in 20th and 21st Century Literature 38.2 (2014).
  • Martin, Alison E. and Susan Pickford (ed.). Travel Narratives in Translation, 1750-1830: Nationalism, Ideology, Gender. New York: Routledge, 2012. German Studies Review 36.3 (2013). 683-86.
  • Faehndrich, Jutta. Eine endliche Geschichte. Die Heimatbücher der deutschen Vertriebenen. Köln: Böhlau, 2011.  Bohemia 52.1 (2012). 209-11.

Courses Taught

Language Courses:

  • Elementary German I and II
  • Intermediate German I and II

Culture Courses:
  • Contemporary Societies in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland
  • The Emergence of the German-Speaking World
  • Germany in the Age of Globalization

Courses taught in English:
  • Vienna at the Last Turn of the Century
  • Travel and Mobility in the 20th and 21st Century

Independent Studies:
  • Japan in Contemporary German Literature
  • The Economic Situation of the GDR after the Fall of the Berlin Wall
  • Germany in the Age of Globalization
  • Translations from English into German
  • Body Image of Young German Adults (senior thesis advising)

Department Member Since