Sylvia Schmitz-Burgard


Department of World Languages, Literatures, and Cultures

Associate Professor, German Studies
German Program Coordinator
Ph.D., University of Virginia


Fields: 20th, 19th, 18th Century German Literature and Culture, Austrian Cultural History, 18th Century European Novel, Women Writers, Law and Literature, Contemporary Literary Theory, German Environmentalism

Office Phone: 508-793-3305
Office: Stein 461
PO Box: 94A
Office Hours: TBD each semester



Sylvia Schmitz-Burgard has published one book on 18th-century novels by Richardson, Rousseau and Goethe and another book on 20th-century German women authors. Her research interests focus on literary, psychoanalytic, legal, and feminist issues. She also teaches courses on German environmentalism, Vienna around 1900, Metropolis Berlin as well as the Bauhaus.


In 2000, Das Schreiben des anderen Geschlechts appeared at Königshausen & Neuman: A comparative study of the creation and creativity of female writing figures in key narrative texts of the 18th century, the book examines writing and reading according to gender, narrative inscription of the body, and entanglement of desire for and simultaneous repression of the other in Richardson's Pamela novels, in Rousseau's Julie and Émile, and in Goethe's three Wilhelm Meister novels.

My recent book, Gewaltiges Schreiben gegen Gewalt, an interdisciplinary study of law, ethics, and literature investigates the possible evolution of a feminine ethics in literature by women. The historical parameters are the Prussian legal code of 1794, the Allgemeines Landrecht, and its regressive revisions during the 19th century, on the one hand, and the post-WWII reforms of family and marriage laws in the German civil code on the other. (Würzburg: Könighausen und Neumann, 2011)

"Psychoanalyse eines Mythos: Nachdenken über Christa T.," Monatshefte 79 (1987): 463-77.

"Normative Gender Discourse: Laplanche vs. Freud's Critics," in Fictions of Culture:Essays in Honor of Walter H. Sokel, ed. Steven Taubeneck (New York: Lang, 1991), 247-72.

"Body Language as Expression of Repression: Lethal Reverberations of Fascism in Die Ausgesperrten," in Framed by Language, ed. Jorun B. Johns and Katherine Arens (Riverside: Ariadne Press, 1994), 194-228.

"'Spieglein, Spieglein an der Wand, wer ist Subjekt in diesem Land?': Spektakuläre Spekulationen schreibender Frauen," in Bodies, Discourses, Practices:Readings in the German Cultural Tradition, ed. Brigitte Prutti and Sabine Wilke (Dresden: Dresden University Press, 2003).

“Überhörtes Leid: Ungeahndete Verbrechen in Annette von Droste-Hülshoff’s Die Judenbuche” (Droste-Hülshoff Yearbook 8, 2011), pp. 63-104.

“Fashioning Mind or Body: Women’s Choices in 1736. Luise Adelgunde Victorie Gottsched’s Life in View of Die
Pietisterey im Fischbeinrocke, oder die Doctormäßige Frau,’ Daphnis 42 (2013), 237-263.

Awards in German at Holy Cross

Holy Cross students who excel in German are eligible for several awards. Those who are at the sophomore level and beyond are encouraged to apply for membership in Delta Phi Alpha, the National German Honor Society. Graduating seniors should apply for various scholarship programs. In addition, the German section awards excellence through yearly book prizes and certificates of merits. 

Representative Courses

GERMAN 301 Take your German to the next level-speak and write more precisely and idiomatically. Fine-tune your understanding of German grammar in order to achieve stylistic literacy. Literary, philosophical, political, and scientific writings will serve as points of departure for discussions and essay assignments.

CISS 192 BERLIN: From Prussian Capital to German Capital to modern Metropolis in 100 years. By the early 1900s Berlin had become a magnet for political, social, and artistic subversions. A lack of traditions, anonymity, and a 'frontier,' anything goes mentality made Berlin a "hellhole and paradise in one." After WWI, Berlin was 'it': the center for the Weimar Republic, Germany's first democratic government; the off-center for the Bauhaus architectural and design movement in Dessau; and the off-off-center for the shocking radicalism of expressionism in literature and art. All the while, fascism was gaining ground, culminating in Hitler's rise to power in 1933.