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Beate Schirrmacher

Senior lecturer
Department of Film and Literature Faculty of Arts and Humanities
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My research circles around intermedial questions. How and when do we perceive literature as a medium interacting with other media? In which aspects does intermedial interaction build on and highlight the similarities of the media involved? How can we apply intermedial methods in teaching? How can intermedial theory address and answer crucial problems on digitization and the increasing complexities of mediated communication in society?

I am currently exploring different tensions that arise between different forms of narration, giving testimony and bearing witness. I have recently finished a project on the common ground of music and violence, which highlights aspects of affect and performance in the texts, and I continue to explore relations of performance, performativity and mediation.

For the past several years, I have been interested in intermedial relations between literature and music. I have explored the poetological role of music in the writings of and Günter Grass as well as the relation of performative language and performance of music in Elfriede Jelinek's writings. .
As a former freelance journalist, I continue to comment on research-related questions in news media, on the radio and in newspapers.


Currently, I teach Literary History and Introduction to Literary Studies. I also teach several courses in intermediality at both the first and the advanced level.


 Medial performance
Both performativity and mediality are concepts that focus on how materiality contributes to meaning making. Now and again, this connection has been pointed out in media and performance studies. Still, how exactly do they connect? In this project, I try to trace this connection in a certain kind of literary texts. In these texts, narrated performance, increased intermedial references and self-reflexive performativity interact. They form a combination that literally disturbs the narrated story in texts by Elfriede Jelinek, Günter Grass, Heinrich von Kleist and J.M Coetzee.

Narrating the Trial – Mediating Authenticity
When and how do we believe in a mediation? When do we think a mediated narrative to be credible, an "authentic" mediation, which provides knowledge we could not gain by our own experience? In these times of fake news and alternative facts it is important to better understand how and why mediated knowledge is to be trusted . Applying theories on the mediation of witnessing (Peters 2004, Krämer 2008), this project approaches questions of the mediation of authenticity and media as reliable witnesses by exploring representation of trials in film, literature and new media. Representations of the trial can be seen as instances where questions of authenticity, credibility of mediation have to be made explicit.

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 Apokalypse Now, however, suggest that music and violence have much in common. In this project, I follow 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)
In my PhD-thesis, I explore 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)

Chapter in book (Other academic)

Doctoral thesis, monograph (Other academic)

Article, review/survey (Other academic)

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

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