Prof. Dr. Laura Bieger

Universitätsprofessorin American Studies

Raum: GB 6/160
Tel: +49 (0)234 32-19885
Sprechstunde: In der Zeit vom 05.02. bis 31.03.2024 sowie im SoSe 24 bitte ich um Terminabsprache per eMail.

  • 2006 Dr. Phil., Freie Universität Berlin
  • 2013 Habilitation, Freie Universität Berlin (Venia Legendi: Amerikanistik)
  • 2014-2017 Professorin für amerikanische Literatur und Kultur an der Albert-Ludwigs-Universität in Freiburg
  • 2017-2022 Professorin für American Studies, Political Culture and Theory an der Rijksuniversiteit Groningen in den Niederlanden
  • since 2022 Professorin für American Studies an der Ruhr-Universität Bochum

Prof. Dr. Laura Bieger
© Damian Gorczany
Teaching and Research Interests
  • American & African American Literature 
  • Literary Theory, Critical Theory, Aesthetics & Praxeology
  • Relations of Space and Place, esp. Public Space  
  • American Cultural & Media History
  • Pragmatism & Hermeneutics
  • American Art & Architecture   
  • Transnational American Studies

My scholarly work revolves around the multiple and ever-changing social uses and functions of cultural practices and artifacts. I have a long-standing interest in the relation between aesthetics and politics and how it shapes our life-worlds. Specifically, I ask how U.S. cultural and literary history is intertwined with the technological and ideological developments that define ‘western modernity.’ Literary texts, cultural artifacts, and modern mass media thus come into view as agents shaping social developments—which, in turn, become tangible as fundamentally defined by aesthetic factors, by things such as sensory perception, modes of depiction and their critical evaluation. 

My work is grounded in the belief that these dynamics deserve our attention because they define the worlds we live in, together with other human beings and non-human life forms. Understanding them is the first step toward creating less violent and more sustainable forms of coexistence.

My first book, Ästhetik der Immersion (transcript 2007) examines public spaces such as Washington’s government district, Chicago’s White City, and the Las Vegas Strip as sites that turn world-image-relations into immersive spectacles. My second book, Belonging and Narrative (transcript 2018) considers the human need to belong as a driving force of literary production and the American novel as a primary place and home-making agent. 

My current work on ‘Reading Publics’ and ‘Engaged Literature’ is concerned with the political functions and uses of literature. It addresses the old question of literature’s social responsibility from a praxeological view: literature is, among other things, a social practice—a collective doing and making that involves a multiplicity of human and non-human actors and institutions. In this framework, literary works are not stable objects; they are actors in their own right. As nodal points in a complex and shifting web of relations, they catalyze a range of activities (reading, writing, publishing, reviewing, citing, reciting, recommending, republishing). Political engagement thus emerges from this web of relations. Rather than being intrinsic to certain styles, forms or genres, it defines literary practice from within this web in accordance with historically specific ideas about social responsibility and justice. This is the point of departure of my forthcoming book Reading for Democracy (Metzler 2024).

I have been a research fellow at Harvard University, New York University, IFK Internationales Zentrum für Kulturwissenschaft Wien and UC Berkeley. 

Prior to Bochum, I had academic positions at FU Berlin, Freiburg University and the University of Groningen.

I received my Magister degree (in American Studies, History and Philosophy) from FU Berlin. While writing my doctoral dissertation I was also a professional long-distance triathlete, with regular top-placements in international races including the World Championship in Hawaii.


Go here for a Complete List of Publications.

Many of my publications are posted here: 


Reading for Democracy. Heidelberg: Metzler (forthcoming, 2024).

Belonging and Narrative. A Theory of the American Novel. Bielefeld: transcript, 2018.

Ästhetik der Immersion. Raumerleben zwischen Welt und Bild. Las Vegas, Washington und die White City. Bielefeld: transcript, 2007.

Recent and Forthcoming Articles

“The Underground Railroad and the Aesthetics of Infrastructure.” Special Issue “Literature and Public World-Making.” Parallax (forthcoming 2024).

“Literature as a Guide to the World as Experienced; or, Reading with William James (and against Sigmund Freud).” In: The Cambridge Companion to William James and Literary Studies. Ed. Kirsten Case and Kate Stanley. Cambridge UK: Cambridge University Press (forthcoming 2024).

“Reading for Premises: Some Throughts on Winfried Fluck’s Field Shaping Method.” In: Dialogues with Winfried Fluck: Essays and Responses on American Studies. Ed. Laura Bieger and Johannes Voelz. REAL Yearbook of Research in English and American Literature Vol. 38 (forthcoming 2023).

“Audre Lordes Berlin, oder: Schreiben jenseits der Buchseite.” In: Berlin, Blicke: Fallbeispiele internationaler literarischer Austauschbeziehungen in der geteilten Stadt. Ed. Susanne Klengel, Jutta Müller-Tamm and Ulrike Schneider. Berlin: DeGruyter, 2023. 279-289.

“The 1619 Project as Aesthetic and Social Practice; or, the Art of the Essay in the Digital Age.” In: The Public Mind and the Politics of U.S. American Post-Millennial Writing. Ed. Jolene Mathieson, Marius Henderson and Julia Lange. London: Bloomsbury, 2022. 253-277.

“Reading and Writing (at) the Site of the Social; or David Alworth’s Site Reading (2015) as Pandemic-Proof Model of Cultural Critique.” In: Culture2: Key Works for the 21st Century. Ed. Frank Kelleter and Alexander Starre. Bielefeld: transcript, 2022. 81-94.

“Public Intellectuals, Cultural Fields, and the Predicament of Popularity; or, Richard Wright Meets Pierre Bourdieu.” In: American Cultures as Popular Culture. Ed. Astrid Böger und Florian Sedlmeier. Heidelberg: Winter, 2022. 207-223.

“Toward a History (and Future) of the Human Being in American Art.” Mit Joshua Shannon und Jason Weems. In: “Humans.” Ed. Laura Bieger, Joshua Shannon and Jason Weems. Terra Foundation Essays in American Art, Vol. 6. (Chicago: Chicago University Press, 2021): 10-38.

“Committed Writing as Common Ground: Jesmyn Ward’s Poetics of Breathing While Black.” Amerikastudien / American Studies 66.1 (2021): 73-79.

“What Dewey Knew: The Public as Problem, Practice, and Art.” European Journal of American Studies 15.1 (2020).

“Jean-Paul Sartre, Richard Wright, and the Relational Aesthetics of Literary Engagement.” The Return of the Aesthetic in American Studies. Hg. Johannes Voelz, Rieke Jordan and Stefan Kuhl. REAL Yearbook of Research in English and American Literature Vol. 35 (2020): 169-188.

“Learning from Hannah Arendt; or, The Public Sphere as a Space of Appearance and the Fundamental Opacity of the Face-to-Face.” In: American Counter/Publics. Ed. Ulla Haselstein, Frank Kelleter, Alexander Starre and Birte Wege. Heidelberg: Winter (2019). 37-52.

“Say the Words. Reading for Cohesion in Don DeLillo’s Point Omega.” Narrative 21.6 (2018): 1-16.

“Reading for Democracy.” Democratic Cultures and Populist Imaginaries. Hg. Donald E. Pease. REAL Yearbook of Research in English and American Literature Vol. 34 (2018): 203-219.

Edited Volumes

Dialogues with Winfried Fluck: Essays and Responses on American Studies. With Johannes Voelz and contributions by Jonathan Arac, Laura Bieger, Lenonard Cassuto, Rita Felski, Winfried Fluck, Stephen Greenblatt, Heinz Ickstadt, Frank Kelleter Susanne Rohr, Ramón Saldívar Peter Schneck, Philipp Schweighauser and Johannes Voelz. REAL Yearbook of Research in English and American Literature Vol. 38 (forthcoming 2023).

“Humans.” With Joshua Shannon and Jason Weems and contributions by Jean-Philippe Antoine, Caroline Arscott, Alan Braddock, Larne Gogarty, Jessica Horten, Michael Leja and Cherise Smith. Terra Foundation Essays in American Art, Vol. 6. Chicago: Chicago University Press, 2021.    

“Space, Place and Narrative.” With Nicole Maruo-Schröder and contributions by Klaus Benesch, Laura Bieger, Kai Horstmannshoff, Georgiana Lolea, Nicole Maruo-Schröder and David Nye. Zeitschrift für Anglistik und Amerikanistik 1 (2016).

Revisiting the Sixties: Interdisciplinary Perspectives on America’s Longest Decade. With Christian Lammert and contributions by Andreas Etges, Winfried Fluck, Nancy Fraser, Vivien Green Fryd, Andrew Gross, Sulgi Lie, Martin Lüthe, Elisabeth Paefgen, Simon Schleusener, Florian Sedlmeier, Casey Shoop, Blair Taylor, Lora Ann Viola, Hayden White and Eli Zaretsky. Frankfurt: Campus, 2013.

The Imaginary and Its Worlds: American Literature after the Transnational Turn. With Ramón Saldívar and Johannes Voelz and contributions by Lawrence Buell, Christa Buschendorf, Winfried Fluck, Herwig Friedl, Heinz Ickstadt, Lene Johannessen, Walter Benn Michaels, Christopher Newfield, Donald Pease, Ramón Saldívar and Mark Seltzer. Dartmouth, NH: The University of New England Press, 2013.

Mode. Ein kulturwissenschaftlicher Grundriss. With Annika Reich and Susanne Rohr and contributions by Annette Geiger, Ulrich Lehmann, Hanne Loreck, Susanne Rohr, Kaja Silverman and Barbara Vinken. München: Fink, 2012.

Winfried Fluck. Romance with America? Selected Essays on Culture, Literature and American Studies. With Johannes Voelz. Heidelberg: Winter, 2009.