University of Erfurt

Prof. Dr. Ilka Saal

Foto © Die Hoffotografen

My work in the field of American Studies focuses on literary, performance, and visual cultural studies. I have published widely on the literature of September 11 as well as on various aspects of 20th and 21st century American drama and theater, particularly on the political theater of the 1930s, including the monograph New Deal Theater: The Vernacular Tradition in American Political Theater (Palgrave 2007).

My current research focuses on recent engagements with transatlantic slavery in contemporary African American performing and visual arts. The project has been supported by a Feodor Lynen Fellowship for Experienced Researchers of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, which enabled me to carry out work at the University of Toronto from 2015-2017. It has also benefitted from participation in the international DFG Network Cultural Performance in Transnational American Studies.” As part of this project, I have edited together with Bertram D. Ashe the essay collection Slavery and the Post-Black Imagination (forthcoming with the University of Washington Press in Seattle). I am also currently writing a monograph with the working title Collusions of Fact and Fiction: Performing Slavery at the Turn of the Millennium.

Before coming to Erfurt, I have taught for thirteen years at universities in the United States and for one year at the University of Ghent in Belgium. My teaching at Erfurt encompasses a broad range of topics in American literature and culture from the colonial period to the present, with special foci in the areas of:

  • American Drama, Theater, and Performance
  • African American Literature
  • Visual Culture
  • Critical Race Studies
  • Trauma and Memory Studies
  • Literature and Historiography
  • Literature and War

Academic Career and Education

  • Tenure and Promotion, University of Richmond, Richmond, VA (2008)
  • Ph.D. in Literature, Duke University, Durham, NC, USA (2002)
  • M.A. American Studies, Universität Leipzig, Germany (1996)



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