About

Petra S. McGillen, Associate Professor of German Studies at Dartmouth College, works on German literature, media, and culture, ca. 1750 to 1900. Her research focuses on material histories of intellectual and cultural production. In particular, she explores the impact of different forms and media of notation—from doodles to writers’ notebooks, from lists to databases—on writing processes and modes of knowledge organization. Her first book, The Fontane Workshop: Manufacturing Realism in the Industrial Age of Print, which was awarded the Modern Languages Association’s Aldo and Jeanne Scaglione Prize for the best work in German Studies in 2020, is the first in-depth study of the “paper tools” of the great German novelist Theodor Fontane and a new take on the relationship of creativity and literary mass production. Her other research and teaching interests include print culture, book history, and the history of journalism. She is currently working on a new book about the history of “everyday fakery” in the American, English, and German press. 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)