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Patrizia C. McBride


Goldwin Smith Hall, Room 188



Patrizia McBride’s research and teaching span German-language literature and culture from the eighteenth to the twentieth century, with a special emphasis on theories of modernity and modernism, the intersection of aesthetics, philosophy, and political theory, visual studies, and Austrian literature and culture, especially fin-de-siècle Vienna. Her scholarship revolves around three main themes: the development of narrative within literary and visual media; the ways in which the reflection on art and society in the twentieth century contributed to the politicized practice of the avant-garde; and the increasing concern, in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, with grasping literature and the arts in terms of the ideological, rhetorical, and material effects produced by the media that carry them. What holds these interests together is an overarching preoccupation with appraising the modalities of knowledge to which literature and the arts can grant access, as well as the political and ethical visions that sustain them.

McBride’s first book, The Void of Ethics: Robert Musil and the Experience of Modernity (Northwestern University Press, 2006), examines Robert Musil’s engagement with narrative as a lens for analyzing the rise of totalitarianism in the 1920s and 1930s. Her second book, The Chatter of the Visible: Montage and Narrative in Weimar Germany (The University of Michigan Press 2016) traces the path-breaking notion of storytelling developed under the rubric of montage by Weimar-era artists associated with Dadaism, Constructivism, and the New Objectivity in high and low-brow genres and media (besides literature, film, photography, graphic design, advertising, and typography). She recently completed an essay that focuses on the clash between vitalist and political revolution in the work of Berlin Dada and is currently at work on an article on Else Lasker-Schüler’s engagement with journalistic writing and the small prose form.

Office Hours
On leave - by appointment only



  • German Studies

Graduate Fields

  • Film and Visual Studies
  • Germanic Studies


  • 18th to 20th-century literature and culture
  • Modernism and theories of modernity
  • The intersection of literary theory, philosophy, and political theory
  • Visual studies
  • Austrian literature and culture, especially fin-de-siècle Vienna.




  • The Chatter of the Visible.  Montage and Narrative in Weimar Germany.  Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Press, 2016.
  • Legacies of Modernism: Art and Politics in Northern Europe, 1890-1950. Co-edited with Richard McCormick and Monika Zagar. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2007.
  • The Void of Ethics. Robert Musil and the Experience of Modernity. Evaston, IL.: Northwestern University Press, 2006.


  • "Berlin Dada and the Time of Revolution." Forthcoming, PMLA.
  • "Else Lasker-Schüler’s Early Prose Texts and the Small Form." Forthcoming, Modern Language Notes, special issue on Else Lasker-Schüler.
  • Montage/Collage." German Aesthetics: Fundamental Concepts from Baumgarten to Adorno. Eds. J.D. Mininger and Jason Peck. Bloomsbury 2016.
  • "Erfahrung und Erzählung: Walter Benjamin und Kurt Schwitters." Von den Rändern zur Moderne. Studien zur deutschsprachigen Literatur zwischen Jahrhundertwende und Zweitem Weltkrieg. Eds. T. Lörke, G. Streim, R. Walter-Jochum. Würzburg: Königshaus und Neumannm 2014. 307-21.
  • "Konstruktion als Bildung: Rethinking the Human in German Constructivism." The Germanic Review, 88 (2013).
  • "Rethinking the Academic Journal in the Digital Age." German Studies Review 35.3 (2012): 465-469. Special issue on new directions in German Studies.
  • "Narrative Resemblance: Weimar Germany’s Photography and the Modernist Photobook of Hannah Höch." New German Critique, Fall 2011. 169-97.
  • "Learning to See in Irmgard Keun’s Das kunstseidene Mädchen." The German Quarterly, 84.2 (Spring 2011): 220-38.
  • "Montage and Violence in Weimar Culture: Kurt Schwitters’ Reassembled Individuals." Violence, Culture, Aesthetics: Germany 1789-1938. Eds. Carl Niekerk and Stefani Engelstein. Amsterdam: Rodopi, 2011. 245-65.
  • "De-Moralizing Politics: Bertolt Brecht’s Early Aesthetics." Deutsche Vierteljahrsschrift für Literaturwissenschaft und Geistesgeschichte 82.1 (2008): 85-111.
  • "’Ein schreibender Eisenkönig’? Robert Musil und Walther Rathenau." Musiliana, vol. 14. Eds. Annette Daigger and Peter Henninger. Frankfurt a.M./Berlin/Bern/New York: Peter Lang, 2008. 1-17.
  • "The Game of Meaning: Collage, Montage, and Parody in Kurt Schwitters’ Merz." MODERNISM/Modernity 14.2 (April 2007): 249-72.
  • "The Future’s Past. Modernism, Critique, and the Political." Legacies of Modernism: Art and Politics in Northern Europe, 1890-1950. Eds. Patrizia McBride, Richard McCormick, and Monika Zagar. New York: Palgrave/Macmillan, 2007. 1-13.
  • "The Value of Kitsch. Hermann Broch and Robert Musil on Art and Morality." Studies in Twentieth and Twenty-First Century Literature, 29. 2 (Summer 2005): 88-106.
  • "‘In Praise of the Present’: Adolf Loos on Style and Fashion." MODERNISM/Modernity 11.4 (November 2004): 745-67. 
  • "Whose Community? Jörg Haider’s Freedom Party, Count Leinsdorf’s Wisdom, and the Logic of the Political." Modern Austrian Literature 34.1/2 (2001): 37-51.
  • "On the Utility of Art for Politics: Musil’s ‘Armed Truce of Ideas.’" The German Quarterly 73.4 (Fall 2000): 366-86.
  • "The Paradox of Aesthetic Discourse: J.M.R. Lenz’s Anmerkungen übers Theater." German Studies Review 22.3 (October 1999): 397-419.