Profile picture of Seth Howes
Associate Chair of the School of Languages, Literatures, and Cultures; Associate Professor of German
221D Arts & Science Building

PhD, University of Michigan

BA, University of Texas


My research deals with 20th century literature and culture, focusing in particular upon German cultures of the Cold War. In addition to publishing several essays on punk rock in East Germany, and other articles on experimental filmmaking in East Germany and the early prose of Peter Weiss, with Mirko M. Hall and Cyrus M. Shahan I have co-edited a volume entitled Beyond No Future: Cultures of German Punk. My first monograph, Moving Images on the Margins: Experimental Film in Late Socialist East Germany, studied East German experimental filmmaking as an intermedial practice.

A second research project studies the working life and political thought of Peter Weiss with an eye to the positioning systems—ethical, political, aesthetic—of the Cold War. This work has led to the publication of a special issue of New German Critique on Peter Weiss and the Aesthetics of Resistance, co-edited with Kai Evers (University of California Irvine) and Julia Hell (University of Michigan). Another edited volume on Weiss and his magnum opus is currently in preparation.

In addition to my work in East German studies and on Peter Weiss, I am also preparing an edited collection on sound, music, and noise in German cinema since 1961.

Finally, I am in the early phases of formulating a book-length inquiry into the evolution and influence of the so-called Conservative Revolution after 1945, with particular focus on the relationship between current-day neo-fascist and identitarian movements and the writing and thought of Nazi-aligned and Nazi-adjacent intellectuals. 

If you would like to read any of my work but are unable to find or easily access a copy, please email me, as I am happy to provide a PDF version directly. In addition to the abovementioned books and collections, my publications include:

  • "We Can Come Very Close to Them: Solidarity and the Struggle for Liberation in The Aesthetics of Resistance." New German Critique 147 (2022): 43-63.
  • “AudioVision: Sound, Music, and Noise in East German Experimental Films.” Experimental Cinemas in State Socialist Eastern Europe. Ksenya Gurshtein and Sonja Simonyi, eds. Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press, 2021. 221-242. 
  • “Art Unleashed: Lutz Dammbeck’s Experiments on Film.” ART UNLEASHED: Lutz Dammbeck’s Experiments on Film DVD. Amherst, MA: DEFA Library, 2020.
  • “Artisten on the Surface of the Moon: Alexander Kluge's GDR Reception and Obstinacy in Lutz Dammbeck's Herakles.” Alexander-Kluge-Jahrbuch 6 (2019): 291-310.
  • “DIY, im Eigenverlag: East German tamizdat LPs.” German Politics and Society 35.2 (Summer 2017): 26-47.
    • Republished in Sounds German: Popular Music in Postwar Germany at the Crossroads of the National and Transnational. Kirkland A. Fulk, ed. New York: Berghahn, 2021. 62-83.
  • "Subcultural Studies between the Blocs: Unexpected Cosmopolitanism and Stubborn Blind Spots in East German Theories of Punk.” Beyond No Future: Cultures of German Punk. Mirko M. Hall, Seth Howes, and Cyrus M. Shahan, eds. New York: Bloomsbury Academic, 2016. 71-88.
  • “Pessimism and the Politics of the Future in East German Punk.” The Journal of Popular Culture 49.1 (February 2016): 77-96.
  • “Weiss/Sartre: Cold War Stellungnahme and the Poetic-Political Either/Or in Peter Weiss’s Final Swedish Novel.” The Germanic Review: Literature, Culture, Theory 89.3 (Summer 2014): 285-304.
  • “‘Killersatellit’ and Randerscheinung: Punk and the Prenzlauer Berg.” German Studies Review 36.3 (October 2013): 579-601.

In addition to these scholarly essays, I have also prepared translations and conducted interviews:

  • "Enzensberger's Illusions," a translation of Peter Weiss, "Enzensbergers Illusionen" [1965]. Published in New German Critique 147 (2022): 231–235.
  • "Peter Weiss and Others," a translation of Hans Magnus Enzensberger, "Peter Weiss und andere" [1966]. Published in New German Critique 147 (2022): 237-241.
  • “Cultures Grow Exponentially: An Interview with Rainer Görß.” Published in Otago German Studies 30 (2020): 174-198.

I teach German at the intermediate and advanced levels of our undergraduate curriculum here at MU. I emphasize debate, dialogue and even argument in my conversation courses, which focus on hot-button issues in contemporary German society. My literature classes ask students to take up the challenges posed to them in works of engaged literature by authors such as Anna Seghers, Bertolt Brecht, Aras Ören, and Peter Weiss. While much of my graduate teaching concerns German literature and culture after 1945, I have made limited forays into previous periods. Particularly exciting, in this regard, was a 2015 course called Inszenierungen der Gewalt, in which students read Schiller, Kleist, Kafka, and Büchner through the lens(es) of Benjamin, Arendt, Jünger, and Scarry — and vice versa.

Since coming to MU in 2014, I've taught the following courses:

  • German 1100, Elementary German I
  • German 2100, Intermediate German I
  • German 2320, German Civilization, 1850-present (co-taught with Professor Kristin Kopp, German Studies)
  • German 3160, Conversation and Composition: "Die Deutschen im 21. Jahrhundert”
  • German 3190, Contemporary German Culture: "Deutschsprachige Kultur seit 2010"
  • German 3230, Introduction to German Literature: “Bertolt Brecht”
  • German 3230, Introduction to German Literature: “On Violence”
  • German 3230, Introduction to German Literature: “Kultur, Barbarei, Demokratie”
  • German 4005, Study Abroad: "World History on the German Stage"
  • German 4005W, Topics in German: "White Power Movements'
  • German 4260, Recent German Literature: "Wirklichkeit und Literatur nach der Katastrophe"
  • German 4820, Blogging the World
  • German 4840/7840, Totalitarianism and Culture (co-taught with Professor Nicole Monnier, Russian Studies)
  • German 4980, Capstone in German: "von unten: Undergrounds and Underworlds in German Literature and Culture"
  • German 8087, Graduate Seminar in German Studies: “German Modernisms and Realisms after 1945"
  • German 8087, Graduate Seminar in German Studies: "Inszenierungen der Gewalt"
  • German 8087, Graduate Seminar in German Studies: "On the Uses and Abuse of Myth for Life: German Literature after 1945"
  • German 8087, Graduate Seminar in German Studies: "Totenbilder: The Dead in German Words, Images, and Sounds after 1945"
  • German 8087, Graduate Seminar in German Studies: “Das Experiment: Literatur, Kunst, Theater, Musik, Film”
  • German 8087, Graduate Seminar in German Studies: "Jewish/German Culture"