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Erik Born

Assistant Professor

Erik Born

Goldwin Smith Hall, Room 193

Educational Background

PhD, University of California, Berkeley, German Studies and Medieval Studies, Designated Emphasis in Film & Media Studies

BA, The University of Chicago, Fundamentals: Issues & Texts



Erik Born is an Assistant Professor in the Department of German Studies. His work brings insights from contemporary (German) media theory to bear on diverse historical contexts, especially the Late Middle Ages and Early European Modernity. With a focus on relations among “old media” and “new media” (in the broad sense), Born explores diverse constellations of literature, science, and technology, from manuscripts to print, analog to digital film, and wireless telegraphy to Wi-Fi. 

He is the author of articles on medieval media theory, early German science fiction, and the media history of cinema and television, as well as translations and book reviews on topics in literature, film, and media studies. His current book project, Wireless Futures: Aesthetics, Experiment, Infrastructure, presents an archaeology of wireless media in German modernity. His next large-scale research project will address premodern cultural techniques of reading, writing, and counting.

Office Hours
T 11:00-12:00. An advance appointment is required for in-person office hours. Students are also welcome to email me to schedule a virtual meeting outside of this timeframe; please e-mail preferred meeting date(s) and time(s) to


  • German Studies
  • Institute for German Cultural Studies
  • Medieval Studies Program
  • Performing and Media Arts

Graduate Fields

  • Medieval Studies
  • Germanic Studies
  • Cinema and Media Studies


  • Visual Studies


  • German Language, Literature, and Culture (Pre-1800)
  • Media History and Theory
  • German Cinema (esp. Silent Film)
  • Science Fiction
  • Critical Theory


Fall 2021

Spring 2022


Selected Journal Articles (Peer-Reviewed)

Some Omissions in the Universal Library: Kurd Lasswitz and the Emergence of Science Fiction.” Monatshefte 110.4 (Winter 2018): 529–551. doi: 10.3368/m.110.4.529

Media Archaeology, Cultural Techniques, and the Middle Ages: An Approach to the Study of Media before The Media." Seminar: A Journal of Germanic Studies 52.2 (2016): 107–133. doi: 10.3138/seminar.52.2.2

Selected Book Chapters

“Cinema Panopticum: Wax, Work, Waxworks.” In ReFocus: The Films of Paul Leni, edited by Martin Norden and Erica Tortolani. Edinburgh, UK: Edinburgh University Press. Forthcoming.

“Notation: From Scrolls to Scores.” In Hans Richters Rhythmus 21. Schlüsselfilm der Moderne. Würzburg: Königshausen & Neumann, 2012.

Selected Web-Based Publications

Going Wireless in the Belle Époque.” Continent 7.1 (Spring 2018): 5–16.

The Promise of Television.” The Promise of Cinema: German Film Theory, 1907–1933. Companion Website (October 2017).

Selected Translations

Florian Sprenger. “Environments of Experimentation and Epistemologies of Surroundings: John Scott Haldane’s Physiology and Biopolitics of the Living.” Grey Room 75 (Spring 2019): 6–35.

Timon Beyes and Jörg Metelmann, eds. The Creativity Complex. Translated by Erik Born and others. Bielefeld: transcript Verlag, 2018.

Kurd Lasswitz, “The Universal Library.” Mithila Review: The Journal of International Science Fiction & Fantasy 9 (September 2017).