Profile

Susanne C. Knittel is Assistant Professor of Comparative Literature at Utrecht University. She holds a PhD in Italian and Comparative Literature from Columbia University, New York (2011). In her research, she explores questions of memory, commemoration, and cultural amnesia; the figure of the perpetrator and the politics of memory; and the relationship between memory studies, disability studies, and posthumanism.

She is particularly interested in the interaction of literature and other cultural media as vehicles of both majority and minority memory at the local, national, and transnational level. Her book, The Historical Uncanny: Disability, Ethnicity, and the Politics of Holocaust Memory was published by Fordham University Press in January, 2015. In it, she presents a comparative analysis of post-1945 German and Italian memory culture and stages a dialogue between the fields of memory studies, disability studies, and postcolonial studies. She teaches courses on 20th and 21st century European and American literature, literary theory, and cultural memory.

Her current research project, Faces of Evil: The Figure of the Perpetrator in Contemporary Memory Culture, is supported by a grant from the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO). It focuses on the figure of the perpetrator in post-communist Romania and post-reunification Germany.

She is the founder of The Perpetrator Studies Network and co-organizer of the Utrecht Forum for Memory Studies
 
She is a member of the Utrecht Young Academy
Strategic themes / Focus areas
Scientific expertise
German literature and culture
Italian literature and culture
Cultural Memory Studies
perpetrator studies
posthumanist theory

The Historical Uncanny: Disability, Ethnicity, and the Politics of Holocaust Memory (Fordham UP, 2015)
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Curriculum vitae Download PDF

 

 

 

 

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Key publications

Knittel, S.C. (2016). Autobiography, Moral Witnessing, and the Disturbing Memory of Nazi Euthanasia. In Mary Fulbrook, Stephanie Bird, Julia Wagner & Christiane Wienand (Eds.), Reverberations of Nazi Violence in Germany and Beyond: Disturbing Pasts (pp. 65-81). London: Bloomsbury Academics.

Knittel, S.C. (2014). Memory Redux: The foibe on Italian Television. Italianist, 34 (2), (pp. 170-185) (15 p.).

Knittel, S.C. (15.12.2014). The Historical Uncanny - Disability, Ethnicity, and the Politics of Holocaust Memory. (350 p.). New York: Fordham University Press.

Knittel, S.C. (2013). Beyond Testimony: Nazi-Euthanasia and the Field of Memory Studies. The Holocaust in History and Memory, 5, (pp. 85-101) (17 p.).

All publications
  2017 - Scholarly publications
Knittel, S.C. (2017). Die Unheimliche Geschichte. Bielefeld: Transcript Verlag.
Knittel, S.C. (2017). Grafeneck und das Unheimliche in der Geschichte. In Thomas Müller, Paul-Otto Schmidt-Michel & Franz Schwarzbauer (Eds.), Wohin bringt ihr uns? Die nationalsozialistische “Euthanasie.” - Beispiele der Erinnerungskultur und Memorialkunst Zwiefalten: Verlag Psychiatrie und Geschichte .
Driscoll, Kári & Knittel, Susanne C. (2017). Memory after Humanism. Parallax, 22 (4).
Knittel, S.C. (2017). Stand by Your Man - (Self-)Representations of SS-Wives after 1945.. In Christina Morina & Krijn Thijs (Eds.), Probing the Limits of Categorization - The Bystander in Holocaust History New York and Oxford: Berghahn Books.
Knittel, S.C. (2017). The Routledge Handbook of Perpetrator Studies. Routledge.
  2016 - Scholarly publications
Knittel, S.C. (2016). Autobiography, Moral Witnessing, and the Disturbing Memory of Nazi Euthanasia. In Mary Fulbrook, Stephanie Bird, Julia Wagner & Christiane Wienand (Eds.), Reverberations of Nazi Violence in Germany and Beyond: Disturbing Pasts (pp. 65-81). London: Bloomsbury Academics.
Knittel, S.C. (2016). Memory and Repetition - Reenactment as an Affirmative Critical Practice. New German Critique
Knittel, S.C. (2016). The Ruins of Europe: Milo Rau’s Europe Trilogy and the (Re)Mediation of the Real. Frame: Tijdschrift voor Literatuurwetenschap, 29 (1), (pp. 41-59).
Knittel, S.C. (2016). Unheimliche Heimat - Triest als Erinnerungsraum. S.I.M.O.N. – Shoah: Intervention. Methods. Documentation , 3 (1), (pp. 114-127) (13 p.).
  2016 - Other output
S.C. Knittel (01.12.2016). Confronting Violent Pasts and Historical (In)Justice.
S.C. Knittel (13.02.2016). Fragmente einer kulturellen Erinnerung: NS-‘Euthanasie’ und Zwangssterilisation.
S.C. Knittel (22.10.2016). Man will nichts Monumentales.
S.C. Knittel (21.03.2016). Memory and Repetition: Reenactment as an Affirmative Critical Practice – Perpetrator Documents.
S.C. Knittel (19.05.2016). Memory, Posthumanism, and the Anthropocene.
S.C. Knittel (31.08.2016). Representing Perpetrators of Mass Violence.
S.C. Knittel (20.10.2016). Shallow Graves: The Politics of Perpetrator Representation. On Collective Violence. Actions, Roles, Perceptions.
S.C. Knittel (23.06.2016). Shallow Graves: The Politics of Perpetrator Representation. The Impact of WWII on European Society and Culture.
S.C. Knittel (10.11.2016). Teaching about Perpetrators: Ethics, Aesthetics, Politics.
S.C. Knittel (28.04.2016). Teaching about Perpetrators: Theories, Concepts, Approaches.
S.C. Knittel (03.12.2016). Towards a Posthumanist Memory Studies . Thinking Through the Future of Memory.
S.C. Knittel (15.03.2016). Why Look At Perpetrators?.
  2015 - Scholarly publications
Knittel, S.C. (2015). Die Textur der Erinnerung: Grafeneck in der Literatur. In Peter Steinbach, Thomas Stöckle, Sibylle Thelen & Reinhold Weber (Eds.), Entrechtet - verfolgt - vernichtet. - NS-Geschichte und Erinnerungskultur im deutschen Südwesten (pp. 200-212). Stuttgart: Landeszentrale für politische Bildung Baden-Württemberg.
Knittel, Susanne (29.01.2015). Review of A. Sierp, History, Memory, and Trans-European Identity. H-Soz-U-Kult (2 p.).
  2015 - Other output
S.C. Knittel (18.05.2015). Black Holes and Revelations: The Foibe on Italian Television. Utrecht, lezing voor studievereniging Euphorion (Utrecht).
S.C. Knittel (22.01.2015). Book Presentation The Historical Uncanny. Transnational Memory Seminar.
S.C. Knittel (28.09.2015). Bridging the Silence.
S.C. Knittel (01.09.2015). Re: Perpetrators: Repetition, Reenactment, Representation. Encountering Perpetrators of Mass Killings, Political Violence, and Genocide.
S.C. Knittel (24.09.2015). Stand by Your Man: Women in the SS-Sippengemeinschaft. Probing the Limits of Categorization: The 'Bystander' in Holocaust History.
S.C. Knittel (10.09.2015). Teaching about Perpetrators: Documents, Media, Representations.
S.C. Knittel (16.10.2015). The Transatlantic Eugenics Movement as a Site of Memory. Dynamics of Vulnerability and Traumatic Affect.
S.C. Knittel (23.01.2015). The Uncanny Memory of Nazi Euthanasia. Holocaust Memorial Day 2015: Vergeten Slachtoffers: 70 jaar reflectie.
S.C. Knittel (06.05.2015). The Uncanny Memory of Nazi Euthanasia. Historische Lezing, Medische Studenten Faculteitsvereniging Utrecht "Sams".
  2014 - Scholarly publications
Knittel, S.C. (2014). Borderline Memory Disorder - The Risiera di San Sabba and the Staging of Italian National Identity. In B Sion (Eds.), Death Tourism - Disaster Sites as Recreational Landscape (pp. 247-266) (19 p.). London: Seagull.
Knittel, S.C. (2014). Case Histories: The Legacy of Nazi Euthanasia in Recent German Heimatkrimis. In T Herzog & L Kutch (Eds.), Tatort Germany: The Curious Case of German-Language Crime Fiction (pp. 120-138) (18 p.). Rochester: Camden House.
Knittel, S.C. (2014). Memory Redux: The foibe on Italian Television. Italianist, 34 (2), (pp. 170-185) (15 p.).
Knittel, S.C. (15.12.2014). The Historical Uncanny - Disability, Ethnicity, and the Politics of Holocaust Memory. (350 p.). New York: Fordham University Press.
  2014 - Other output
S.C. Knittel (19.06.2014). “Basta con le rimozioni!” Le foibe nella televisione italiana. L’istituto italiano di cultura per i Paesi Bassi, Amsterdam, Televisionismo.
S.C. Knittel (19.10.2014). Literature and Testimony. Herdenking Opstand Sobibor.
S.C. Knittel (19.06.2014). Memory Redux: The foibe on Italian Television. Utrecht, Negotiating Memories on Television and in the Public Sphere: The Case of Italy.
S.C. Knittel (27.06.2014). Mnemopathographies: Crime Fiction as Vehicle for Local and (Trans)National Memory Work. Konstanz, Memory Transfers and Transformations (Konstanz).
S.C. Knittel (19.06.2014). Negotiating Memories on Television and in the Public Sphere: The Case of Italy. Transnational Memory Seminar.
S.C. Knittel (03.07.2014). The Uncanny Memory of Nazi Euthanasia. University College London, Disturbing Pasts: Reverberations of the Second World War in Europe after 1945.
  2013 - Scholarly publications
Knittel, S.C. (2013). Beyond Testimony: Nazi-Euthanasia and the Field of Memory Studies. The Holocaust in History and Memory, 5, (pp. 85-101) (17 p.).
  2013 - Other output
S.C. Knittel (17.09.2013). Constructing a Nation of Victims: The Repression of Fascism in Italian Memory. In Search of Transcultural Memory, COST Action Conference, Work Group Politics of Memory, Social Construction of Guilt and Victimhood.
Knittel, S.C. (17.06.2013). What we talk about when we talk about perpetrators. Memory with(out) Borders.
  2011 - Other output
S.C. Knittel (19.04.2011). Vicarious Witnessing: The Memory of Nazi Euthanasia in German Post-War Literature. New York, WWII, the Resistance and the Holocaust in Italian Literature and Cinema.
  2010 - Scholarly publications
Knittel, S.C. (2010). Bridging the Silence: Towards a Literary Memory of (Nazi) Euthanasia. In M Schillmeier & E Joshua (Eds.), Edinburgh German Yearbook Volume 4 (pp. 83-103) (21 p.). Rochester, NY: Camden House.
  2010 - Other output
Knittel, S.C. (01.04.2010). Black Holes and Revelations: The ‘Foibe’ and Triestine Literature. ACLA Conference.
Knittel, S.C. (22.04.2010). Intruding on the Present, Searching for the Past: Negotiating the Memory of Nazi Euthanasia at a German Care Facility. Death/Dark/Thanatourism.
  2009 - Scholarly publications
Knittel, S.C. (2009). Das Schweigen brechen: Zu einer literarischen Geschichte der NS-Euthanasie. In T Lutz (Eds.), 51. Bundesweites Gedenkstättenseminar NS-Krankenmorde – Historischer Rahmen, das Beispiel Grafeneck, Aufarbeitung 51st Bundesweites Gedenkstättenseminar NS-Krankenmorde – Historischer Rahmen, das Beispiel Grafeneck, Aufarbeitung.
Knittel, S.C. (2009). Remembering Euthanasia: Grafeneck in the Past, Present, and Future. In W Niven & C Paver (Eds.), Memorialization in Germany since 1945 (pp. 124-133) (10 p.). London: Palgrave Macmillan.
  2009 - Popularising publications
Knittel, S.C. (2009). NS-Euthanasie im Fernsehfilm Holocaust: Fragen zur Repräsentation und Rezeption. Gedenkstättenrundbrief, (pp. 3-10) (8 p.).
  2008 - Other output
Knittel, S.C. (07.02.2008). Learning from the Past, Teaching for the Future. Is an Interdisciplinary Field of Memory Possible?.
Knittel, S.C. (10.09.2008). Uncanny Homelands: NS Euthanasia between Remembering and Forgetting. Cultural Memory: Forgetting to Remember/Remembering to Forget.
  2006 - Other output
Knittel, S.C. (2006). F.T. Marinetti and German Expressionism: ‘Everything is Poetry!'. 2006 Romance Studies Colloquium.
  0 - Other output
S.C. Knittel (0). Colonial Ruin: (In)Visible Sites of Postcolonial Memory.
S.C. Knittel (0). Memory and Repetition: Reenactment as an Affirmative Critical Practice. Memory Practices and the Making of Europe. International NITMES Conference.
S.C. Knittel (0). The Perpetrator Paradox.
S.C. Knittel (0). Vicarious Witnessing: Towards a More Inclusive Memory Studies.

 

 

 

 

 

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NWO VENI

Faces of Evil: The Figure of the Perpetrator in Contemporary Memory Culture

01-02-2014 tot 01-02-2017

The fierce debates surrounding the publication of Jonathan Littell’s novel Les Bienveillantes in 2006 exposed a central tension in public and academic conceptions of witnessing and the Holocaust. A fictional memoir of an SS-officer, the novel was a huge success, but opinion was divided about its artistic merits and ethical implications. Is it acceptable to present a Nazi as the ideal witness to the Holocaust? Is it possible to reconcile the critical imperative to understand the motivations of historical actors with the moral imperative not to rationalise the perpetrators’ acts? Littell’s novel forms part of a broader shift in contemporary culture away from the preoccupation with trauma and victimhood and toward a more nuanced engagement with the figure of the perpetrator. The aim of this project is to provide insight into the recent emergence in contemporary culture of the figure of the perpetrator as a viable perspective on the past, and to help develop a critical vocabulary on perpetratorship that is able to respond to this current shift.

This project traces the figure of the perpetrator through post-1989 memory culture in Germany and Romania, where the joint legacies of Fascism and Communism render questions of perpetration and victimhood inherently ambiguous and complex. I analyse the role of perpetrators in literature, drama, film, and at documentary exhibitions in order to elucidate how these cultures create narratives about their own history through which they negotiate questions of complicity and collaboration in order to ascribe or disavow guilt and responsibility. Through a comparative and interdisciplinary analysis of the figure of the perpetrator across different literary and visual media in these two countries I will shed new light on how questions of perpetratorship and collaboration influence the construction of cultural identity, both at the national level and within the broader framework of European memory.

A further aim of this project is to build an interdisciplinary and transnational research network.  For more information about the network, please visit The Perpetrator Studies Network online at http://perpetratorstudies.sites.uu.nl.

 

Events Organized by The Perpetrator Studies Network 

Workshop Series: Teaching about Perpetrators

There is a growing consensus that presenting perpetrators of mass crimes as monsters or psychopaths is ultimately counterproductive, as it obscures the social, political, historical, and cultural mechanisms that enable them and inhibits an understanding of their continued relevance for today. Yet, the representation and reception of perpetrators and, more importantly, the pedagogical approaches to these figures in contemporary culture are still largely characterized by a distancing amalgamation of sensationalism on the one hand and moralistic condemnation on the other. This series of workshops examined how our contradictory attitudes toward perpetrators in society and culture can in themselves be made the object of enquiry. Furthermore, we explored the opportunities and challenges for teaching and learning about past atrocities through the figure of the perpetrator across disciplines.

Workshop 1: Teaching about Perpetrators: Documents, Media, Representations (September 10–12, 2015, Utrecht University).

Workshop 2: Teaching about Perpetrators: Theories, Concepts, Approaches (April 28-30, 2016, Utrecht University).

Workshop 3: Teaching about Perpetrators: Ethics, Aesthetics, Politics (November 10-12, 2016, Utrecht University).


International Conference: Representing Perpetrators of Mass Violence
August 31 - September 3, 2016, Utrecht University

Organizers: 

Susanne C. Knittel, Assistant Professor of Comparative Literature at Utrecht University

Ugur Ümit Üngör, Associate Professor of History at Utrecht University and Research Fellow at the Institute for War, Holocaust, and Genocide Studies (NIOD) in Amsterdam

Keynote Speakers:

Prof. Scott Straus (U Wisconsin, Madison)

Milo Rau, International Institute of Political Murder (http://international-institute.de)

This conference explored the questions and problems that arise in the context of the representation of perpetrators in the media, public discourse, in cultural representations, as well as in education and academic scholarship. The conference title invokes all forms of representation, including but not limited to self-representation (in social media, auto-documents, interviews, testimonies), representation in the news and the media, fictional representation (in literature, film, and the arts), legal representation (either contemporary or historically), representation in the accounts and testimonies of their victims and survivors, and representation in academic scholarship of various disciplines (including history, sociology, anthropology, political science, literary and cultural studies, media studies, philosophy, law, criminology, religious studies, etc.).

The conference also featured the English-language world premiere of The Woman at His Side, a staged reading that explores the complicity of wives of SS officers in the crimes of their husbands, and a screening of Milo Rau’s film Hate Radio, which investigates the role of “Radio-Télévision Libre des Mille Collines” (RTLM) in the Rwandan genocide.

Main research interests include: Memory and trauma in literature from the 20th century to the present, text-image relationships, literature and architecture, comparative media studies, cultural studies, Modernism and the metropolis, Futurism and Expressionism, disability studies, posthumanist theory.  

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Currently dr. Susanne Knittel teaches the following course(s):
CodeDescriptionF/PLevelECTS
TLRMV16210 Tlc-Aesthetics of the Posthuman V M 5.0
TL3V14115 Tlc-Debating the Past V 3 7.5
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Full name
dr. S.C. Knittel Contact details
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Trans 10
Room 2.20
3512 JK  UTRECHT
The Netherlands


Gegenereerd op 2017-04-29 21:37:39
Last updated 19.02.2017