Petra Spies McGillen, Assistant Professor of German at Dartmouth College, works on German literature, media, and culture, ca. 1750 to 1900. Her research focuses on the material history of creativity. In particular, she explores the impact of different forms and media of notation—from doodles to writers’ notebooks, from lists to databases—on creative writing processes. She is currently completing a book manuscript, The Compiler’s Moment: Fontane and the Manufacture of Literature in the Industrial Age of Print, the first in-depth study of the unpublished notebooks and other paper tools of the great German novelist Theodor Fontane. Her other research and teaching interests include poetics, the aesthetics of production, historical forms of knowledge organization, book history, and literary genres. Petra McGillen holds a Ph.D. in Germanic Languages and Literature from Princeton University (2012). Before coming to the United States, she studied Intellectual History at the University of Sussex in England (M.A., 2006) and European Media Studies at Potsdam University in her native Germany (B.A., 2005).
“You are right – our writing tools take part in the forming of our thoughts.”
[Friedrich Nietzsche to Heinrich Köselitz, 1882]