MA Rebekka Nordmann


Biographical Note

Rebekka Nordmann holds both a BA (2015) and MA (2017) in English Literature and Linguistics and History from the University of Zurich. Her MA thesis entitled “Transgressing Frontiers in Nineteenth-Century American Literature – Nature, Civil War, and Women’s Rights” focused on reading the frontier not only as the westward movement of a nation but also as a social movement key to the tumultuous 19th-century America. She is currently working on her PhD under the supervision of Prof. Dr. Elisabeth Bronfen, analyzing the depiction of glass in American literature.

PhD Project: Glass in American Literature

The aim of this thesis is to analyze how different forms of glass are employed in 19th century American literature and photography. Although mundane and ambiguous, this fragile material stands in for a powerful distortion and alteration of the gaze – both on a diegetic and extra-diegetic level. The effect of different forms of glass, including lenses, for example, will be analyzed, showing how they influence perception, and how they are employed to construct different narrative effects. Because of the visual nature of the material, not only texts, but also early forms of photography will be read, taking into account theories including Freud’s uncanny, Lacan’s mirror stage, and Barthes’ elaborations of photography.

Research Interests

19th and 20th-century American literature, specifically Civil War and Frontier literature and questions of race and slavery, sociocultural representations in literature, portrayal of things in literature (thing theory), literary and cultural theory, including Freud and Barthes.