In her research, Petra combines literary studies, “German” media theory, and philological analysis to reconstruct the material history of creativity, especially in late 18th- and 19th-century Germany. Her other research interests include poetics, historical forms of knowledge production, intellectual tools, and the history of journalism.
- Book Manuscript (under review): The Compiler’s Moment: Fontane’s Paper Tools and the Making 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The first in-depth study of the unpublished notebooks and other paper tools of the great German novelist Theodor Fontane, the book shows that peculiar compilatory working methods and note-taking techniques enabled Fontane to produce literature that emulated the mediated reality of its time, providing the foundation for his freelance authorship in later 19th-century Germany.
- A second major research project, From Our Own (False) Correspondent: A Transnational Media History of Fakery in 19th-Century Press Wars, analyzes the everydayness of fakes in German and British newspapers of the nineteenth century and shows how newsmakers and governments attempted to control the contested territory between truths and lies in the interest of effective information warfare.
- Editorial work: Petra is an Associated Member of the Theodor Fontane-Arbeitsstelle at Göttingen University, led by Gabriele Radecke, to edit the Fontane volume Aus England for the Große Brandenburger Ausgabe (Berlin: Aufbau-Verlag).