Beate Schirrmacher

Beate Schirrmacher

Department of Film and Literature Faculty of Arts and Humanities
Save contact Download image

Beate Schirrmacher is an associate professor in comparative literature. She earned her PhD in German Literature in 2012 at Stockholm University and her M.A. in Comparative Literature at Freie Universität Berlin in 2000.

Beate's research centers on intermedial questions exploring how literature interacts with other media. Especially, she has focused on the intermedial relationship between literature and music, for example how to analyze fiction that appears to be structured like a sonata or a fugue and why classical music in literature and film is so often linked to violence.

Currently, she explores the representation of legal trials in literature and news media asking how the representation of legal processes also mediates issues of credibility and the construction what we perceive to be facts.

As a former freelance journalist, she continues to comment on research-related questions in news media, on the radio and in newspapers.


Beate teaches Introduction to Literary Analysis in Comparative Literature as well as Literary History at basic level, as well as several courses in intermediality at both basic and advanced level. She also supervises at basic and advanced level.


Representation of Trials in other Media (with Corina Löwe)

A legal trial is a complex process used to agree upon what can be considered as (legal) facts. Representations of trials in other media don't only tell the story of a specific case but also convey questions of truth production and credibility. In this project, we investigate how social conflicts and questions of truth production are mediated when trials appear in literature, film, and news media. Which aspects are chosen for a credible re-presentation of the complexity of the trial? And how can these insights be used in today's social climate which lacks a common basis on what can be regarded as facts and truth?

The Common Ground of Music and Violence in Literature (2014-2016)
Why do so many texts with intermedial reference to music deal with violence, war and trauma? Throughout history, violence and music have proven to be easily combined. The combination of music and violence in literature and film however, repeatedly calls forth ambivalent reactions. This is often superficially explained as a contrast of beauty and barbarism. Texts like A Clockwork Orange or films like Apocalypse Now, however, suggest that music and violence have much in common.

This project follows up on these questions, by analyzing the intermedial references to music in violent contexts in texts of Heinrich von Kleist, Anthony Burgess's A Clockwork Orange and Elfriede Jelinek's Die Klavierspielerin. These texts do highlight the common ground music shares with violence. Taken together, music and violence do render each other ambiguous as ethical and aesthetic questions are at stake at the same time. This merging creates ambivalence in reception, which in the texts is used to highlight affect and performative language, which are felt as an assault in reading.

Music in the Fiction of Günter Grass (2005-2012)
Beates PhD-thesis explores the role of music in Günter Grass's novels. In pointing out the vital role of intermediality for Grass's narrative strategies, the thesis opens up for a new, intermedial perspective on his work. The study develops a transmedial methodology for analysing intermedial references, stressing how the notion of "musicality" within the text is created by media characteristics shared by both music and literature as repetition, simultaneity and performativity. It shows how references to music are used to realise Grass's poetological concept of the simultaneous presence of past, present and future, paspresenture.


Conference paper (Refereed)

Chapter in book (Refereed)

Collection (editor) (Refereed)

Conference proceedings (editor) (Refereed)

Conference paper (Other academic)

Chapter in book (Other academic)

Doctoral thesis, monograph (Other academic)

Collection (editor) (Other academic)

Article, review/survey (Other academic)

Article, book review (Other academic)

Article in journal (Other (popular science, discussion, etc.))

Article, book review (Other (popular science, discussion, etc.))