Matt Erlin

Matt Erlin

Professor of German
PhD, University of California, Berkeley
research interests:
  • 18th and 19th-Century German Literature and Culture
  • Aesthetic Theory
  • Economics and Literature
  • Philosophies of History
  • Urban Culture
  • Digital Humanities
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    • Washington University
      CB 1104
      One Brookings Drive
      St. Louis, MO 63130-4899
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    ​Professor Erlin's research focuses on the literary, cultural, and intellectual history of late eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century Germany.

    In addition to essays on topics ranging from Moses Mendelssohn's philosophy of history to the eighteenth-century novel, Matt Erlin has published two books: Berlin’s Forgotten Future: City, History, and Enlightenment In Eighteenth-Century Germany (2004) and Necessary Luxuries: Books, Literature, and the Culture of Consumption in Germany, 1770-1815 (2014). He has also co-edited, together with Lynne Tatlock, two essay anthologies: German Culture in Nineteenth-Century America: Reception, Adaptation, Transformation appeared in 2005, and Distant Readings: Topologies of German Culture in the Long Nineteenth Century was published in 2014.

    Erlin is a member of the steering committee of Washington University's Humanities Digital Workshop (HDW). Together with student and staff collaborators, he is currently working on several digital humanities projects that use computational tools to challenge traditional notions of genre and period as they apply to eighteenth- and nineteenth-century German literature. He is also a co-investigator on the multi-university partnership grant “Text Mining the Novel,” which aims to produce the first large-scale cross-cultural study of the novel according to quantitative methods.

    Professor Erlin’s course offerings range widely but generally reflect his fascination with the interface between aesthetic theories and practices and the sociopolitical contexts in which they emerge. He also has a strong interest in pedagogy. In addition to general courses in German language and culture, he has taught seminars on German poetry, consumer culture and the eighteenth-century novel, Marxist cultural theory, cultural representations of nationalism, and the sociology of literature. He also teaches in the Interdisciplinary Project in the Humanities.

    Fall 2020 Courses

    Basic German: Core Course II (German 102D)

    Continuation of German 100D or 101D. In preparation for more advanced academic study in German, this second course will further introduce students to fundamental German grammar, culture and history. It is comprised of a combination of situational lessons and tasks which will challenge their critical thinking abilities. Students in 102 will familiarize themselves with the language necessary to understand and give directions, apply for a job and speak with a doctor; students will also read more advanced content such as Grimm's fairy tales and a text by Franz Kafka. Prerequisite: German 100D, 101D, the equivalent, or placement by examination. Students who complete this course successfully should enter German 210D.

      Advanced Grammar and Style Lab (German 402)

      Take your German skills to the next level! This 1-unit lab is designed for advanced students seeking to master the finer points of German grammar and style through targeted exercises and discussion. Students will learn to construct sophisticated, elegant, and accurate sentences, with the goal of improving their effectiveness as writers and speakers of German. A rotating weekly focus will cover such topics as: complex sentence structures; advanced passive and subjunctive forms; idiomatic prepositional and verb phrases; and infinitive constructions. Prerequisite: German 302 or the equivalent.