Research Interests

In her research, Petra combines literary studies, “German” media theory, and philological analysis to reconstruct material histories of intellectual and cultural production, especially in 18th- and 19th-century Germany. Her other research interests include print culture, historical forms of knowledge organization, intellectual tools, the history of journalism, and fake eyewitnessing.

Projects in Progress

  • A new monograph, tentatively titled All the News That’s Fit to Twist: Stories of Everyday Fakery in the Nineteenth-Century Press, analyzes liminal cases of fakery in the German, British and American press from the first professional foreign correspondents to the onset of press photography. Written from the perspective of newsmakers and practitioners, it sheds new light on the prehistory of contemporary phenomena of fake news.
  • “Unreliable Reporters of the Pencil: Practices of Illustrating Current Events on the Threshold of Photography” [journal article related to All the News That’s Fit to Twist].
  • Encyclopedia entry “Faken.” In Historisches Wörterbuch des Mediengebrauchs. Ed. Heiko Christians, Matthias Bickenbach, and Nikolaus Wegmann, vol. 3, Cologne: Böhlau [invited contribution, scheduled for 2020].
  • Co-Editor (with Deborah Helmer) of Theodor Fontane: Aus England for the Große Brandenburger Fontane-Ausgabeed. Gotthard Erler, continued by Heinrich Detering and Gabriele Radecke, Abteilung VIII “Das kritische Werk,” Bd. 1. Berlin: Aufbau, scheduled for 2020/21.