April 24, 2023

Story-keepers: Augst receives research grant

Dr. Therese Ahern Augst, Associate Professor of German Studies and German Section Head, has been awarded a two-month fellowship in Germany during her upcoming 2023-24 sabbatical. Funding from the Research Stays for University Academics and Scientists program at the DAAD (German Academic Exchange Service) will allow Dr. Augst to collaborate with colleagues at the Free University in Berlin, and conduct archival research at several sites in Berlin, Munich and Marbach. This research will be invaluable to Dr. Augst’s manuscript project currently in development, tentatively titled The Journeywoman’s Tale.

For the past several years, Dr. Augst’s research has focused on women writers and artists in exile from Nazi Germany, including former members of the Bauhaus, Hannah Arendt, and Anna Seghers. While many exiled German artists have written autobiographical texts, Augst proposes that some of these women are not just storytellers, but story-keepers: “writers of some prominence who, composing their work in the relative safety of exile, assumed responsibility for amplifying the stories of those who had been disempowered by circumstance, whether through their anonymity or the simple inability to escape the perils of Europe in the 1930s and 40s. The task of the story-keeper, in this context, is to bear witness to a shadow history of lives that might otherwise be erased or forgotten.” By focusing on the transformative and prolific work of these story-keepers from this innovative perspective, The Journeywoman’s Tale will explore where their practice of story-keeping started and how it is expressed in their bodies of work. In terms of contributions to the larger scholarship, this work will help reorient the history of writers and artists in exile toward perspectives that offer a more complex picture, bring important female voices from the margins of history into the existing scholarship, and contribute a missing gender balance to the discourse.

April 2023