Ertegun Staff and Scholar Profiles

Jana Maria Weiss

Current course: 
MSt in Modern Languages

Throughout my BA in German, English and North American Studies at the Free University of Berlin the idea of a cultural turn in literary studies has fascinated me. Looking at how texts are both affected by and constitutive of their cultural context of origin, I soon wondered what happens when two cultures meet and merge in a text. I therefore examined literary representations of interculturality and how they were shaped by the society of their time in materials ranging from medieval travel reports to contemporary German-Turkish poetry. I am especially interested in concepts of home, displacement, cultural hybridity and the Other. In June 2016 I graduated with a thesis on the relation of time, space and narrative identity in Jenny Erpenbeck’s ‘Gehen, ging, gegangen’, a novel, which explores the current situation of refugees in Germany.

My particular interest now lies in encounters with Islamic culture in German literature – a topic that I became immersed in while working in the literary sector of the FU research cluster ‘Affective Societies’. I am very excited to further this interest at Oxford as an MSt student in the Modern Languages Department. In my thesis, I intend to explore representations of Islam in German poetry through a diachronic study ranging from Goethe’s ‘West-Eastern Diwan’ to contemporary post-migrant literature.

Interculturality also plays an important role for me outside the academic world: During the past few years I’ve been working as a German language teacher for the Federal Office for Migrants and Refugees and in 2015 started to run my own integration project SoliNaR, which aims to foster intercultural dialogue between migrants and their Berlin neighbours.

Being invited to study and exchange ideas with outstanding scholars from all over the world in the Ertegun Programme is a great honour and privilege. I am very grateful for this unique opportunity and greatly look forward to being an active member of the interdisciplinary and multicultural community at Ertegun House.