Kurt Beals

Kurt Beals

Assistant Professor of German
PhD, University of California, Berkeley
research interests:
  • 20th and 21st-Century German Literature and Culture
  • Translation Theory and Practice
  • Experimentalism and Avant-Gardes
  • Digital Humanities
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    • Washington University
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      St. Louis, MO 63130-4899
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    Professor Beals' research focuses on experimental movements in 20th-century and contemporary German literature, including Dada, Concrete poetry, and digital poetry.

    Beals focuses on the ways that these movements incorporate, respond to, and reflect on contemporaneous developments in media technologies and information theory. His book Wireless Dada: Telegraphic Poetics in the Avant-Garde was published in 2019 by Northwestern University Press. He has published articles on authors including George Grosz, Paul Celan, Regina Ullmann, and Max Bense, in journals including New German Critique, The German Quarterly, and Dada/Surrealism. He is also co-editor of the volume Hans Richters Rhythmus 21: Schlüsselfilm der Moderne. In addition, Beals has translated a wide range of works from German into English, including a volume of poetry by the contemporary German poet Anja Utler, a collection of stories by the Swiss author Regina Ullmann, the volume Is that Kafka? 99 Finds by Reiner Stach, and a forthcoming volume of speeches and essays by Jenny Erpenbeck.

    Beals earned his bachelor's degree in philosophy from Oberlin College, with a minor in German. He earned his master's degree and doctorate in German from the University of California, Berkeley. His dissertation research was supported by grants from the DAAD (Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst) and the ACLS (American Council of Learned Societies). Beals teaches general courses on German language and culture, as well as courses focused more specifically on experimental literature, media theory, and contemporary poetry.

    Spring 2020 Courses

    Advanced German: Core Course IV (German 301D)

    Discussion of literary and non-literary texts combined with an intensive grammar review. Systematic introduction to the expressive functions of German, with an emphasis on spoken and written communication. In addition to regular class meetings, students should sign up for a twice-weekly subsection. Prerequisite: Ger 210D, the equivalent, or placement by examination. Students who complete this course successfully should enroll in German 302D.

      Literary Modernities in Europe and America: Text and Traditions (IPH 3050)

      The course examines the various facets of modernity in major works of European, Eurasian, and, sometimes, American literature from the early Seventeenth Century to the 1920s, starting with Don Quixote. We will explore, among other things, the eruption of the novel, the secularization of autobiography, the literary discovery of the city, the rise of literary and aesthetic criticism that takes literature and art seriously as political and social institutions. In addition to literary works, the course will engage with two or three important models of critical practice e.g. Wollstonecraft's Vindication of the Rights of Women, Marx's German Ideology, Freud's The Interpretation of Dreams, T.S. Eliot's Tradition and the Individual Talent, or perhaps that great work of fictionalized literary criticism, Borges' "Pierre Menard, Author of the Quixote."

        Selected Publications

        Wireless Dada: Telegraphic Poetics in the Avant-Garde (Northwestern University Press, 2019).

        “High-Tech Heimat: Mountains and Mediation in Literature, Film, and Visual Art,” German Quarterly 92, no. 2 (2019)

        “‘Do the new poets think? It’s possible’: Computer Poetry and Cyborg Subjectivity,” Configurations (2018)

        “Dada: Art and the Discourse of Advertising,” New German Critique (2017)

        Regina Ullmann, The Country Road. New Directions, 2015. (Translation)