Reinhild Steingröver

Professor of German




Photo Credit: Gerry Szymanski

Reinhild Steingröver is a Professor of German at the Eastman School of Music.  She is also an affiliate Professor of Film Studies in the Program of Film and Media Studies at the University of Rochester. Her main research interests focus on contemporary German film and literature, in particular the intersection of art and politics and the role of the artist in society.

Steingröver is the author of Last Features; East German Cinema’s Lost Generation (2014), which appeared in German translation as Spätvorstellung – Die chancenlose Generation der DEFA (2014). She also authored a monograph on Thomas Bernhard (2000) and co-edited with Randall Halle the volume After the Avant-garde: Engagements with Contemporary German and Austrian Experimental Film (Camden House, 2008), as well as the anthology Not so plain as Black and White; Afro-German History and Culture 1890-2000 (with Patricia Mazon, 2005). Steingröver’s publications include essays on DEFA film, Kerstin Hensel, Autobiographical writing, Lilian Faschinger, Werner Herzog, and Glenn Gould. She is currently writing a book on cinematic miniatures.

Steingröver has won many grants and awards, including from the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD), the DEFA Foundation, the Suhrkamp Foundation, as well as the Eisenhart Award for Excellence in Teaching from the Eastman School of Music.  She has lectured widely in Germany, UK, Canada, and the US. Steingröver has curated silent film/live music programs for the George Eastman House, Rochester Institute of Technology, and the Cinematheque Berlin.  In 2009 she co-curated with the DEFA Film Library at UMASS Amherst the film festival Wendeflicks – Last Films from East Germany in Los Angeles.


Works / Publications



Last Features – East German Cinema’s Lost Generation Camden House, 2014.  “Outstanding Academic Title List” Choice Magazine,2014.

Spätvorstellung-Die chancenlose Generation der DEFA Bertz & Fischer, Berlin, 2014, (my translation of Last Features).

After the Avant-garde: Engagements with Contemporary German and Austrian Experimental Film.
Edited with Randall Halle, Camden House, 2008.

“Not So Plain As Black and White:” Afro-German History and Culture 1890-2000. Edited with Patricia Mazón, University of Rochester Press, 2005.

Einerseits und Andererseits, Essays zur Prosa Thomas Bernhards. New York: Peter Lang, 2000, in the series “Literature and the Science of Man.” Editor Peter Heller. 

Book Manuscripts in Progress

Cinematic Miniatures—DEFA Short Films


‘Lies, Sex and Narrative; Confessional Politics in Magdalena the Sinner and Private Confessions.” Winning Back Lost Territory – The Writing of Lilian Faschinger. Eds. Vincent Kling, Laura McLary.  Riverside:  Ariadne Press. Invited contribution. 2014.

“Experimental Film” lead essay in History of World CinemaGermany 2. Ed. Michelle Langford. Bristol: Intellect Boooks, 2013.

“Encountering Herzog at the End of the World” in Blackwell Companion to Werner Herzog. Ed. Bradley Prager. London: Blackwell, March 2012.

“The Unread Manifesto: DEFA’s Last Generation” in New History of German Cinema. Ed. Michael Richardson, Jennifer Kapczynski. Camden House, September 2012.

“From Farbe Bekennen to Schololadenkind – Generational Change in Afro-German Autobiographies” in Generational Change in German Literature Ed. Lauren Cohen Pfister, Suzanne Vees-Guliani, Rochester: Camden House, 2011, 287-307.

“The Films of Jörg Foth.” Essay on Foth in special features section of DVD Latest aus der DaDaeR Amherst: Icestorm International 2009.

“Blackbox GDR – DEFA’s Untimely Avant-garde.” After the Avant-garde: Engagements with Contemporary German and Austrian Experimental Film. Edited with Randall Halle. 2008.

“Gesichter der DEFA” Introduction (German and English) to photographer Sandra Bergemann’s. Gesichter der DEFA/ Faces of DEFA.Edition Braus, 2008, 4-11, invited contribution.

“Filming the End of the Cold War.” A Fearsome Heritage-Traces of the Cold War.  Eds. John Schofield and Wayne Concroft.  London: University College of London Press, 2007.

“Narren und Clowns: Abschied von der DDR in den letzten Defaproduktionen.” apropos: Film 2005, Das Jahrbuch der DEFA-Stiftung. Ed. Ralf Schenk. Berlin: Das Neue Berlin. 2005, 37-57. Translated and expanded version of  “On Fools and Clowns.” Invited contribution

“On Fools and Clowns: Generational Farewell in Two Final DEFA Films; Egon Günther’s Stein and Jörg Foth’s Letztes aus der DaDaeR.” German Quarterly. 78.4 (Fall 2005) 441-460.

“’The most sharp-witted fool’: Glenn Gould, Schopenhauer and Thomas Bernhard.” Seminar, Journal for German Studies. 39:2 (May 2003): 135-52.

“Violent Acts- Comic Savagery in the Theater of Kerstin Hensel.” Violence and Patriarchy in Literature and the Arts: Perspectives for the New Millenium. Eds. Agatha Schwartz and Fernando Diega. Ottawa: Ottawa University Press, 2003, 87-98.

Not Fate, Just History.” Contemporary German Writers: Kerstin Hensel. Eds. Birgit Dahlke and Beth Linklater. Swansea: University of Wales Press, UK, 2002, 91-106.

“’Der Hellsichtigste aller Narren’: Diskurse über das Genie.” Thomas Bernhard, Die Zurichtung des Menschen. Eds. Alexander Honold and Markus Joch. Würzburg: Königshausen & Neumann, 1999, 83-91.



GER 101/ 102 (101G/ 102G):  Elementary German

This two-semester sequence offers an introduction to German language acquisition for students without prior knowledge in the language with emphasis on all four skills: reading, speaking, writing and listening comprehension. Students with prior study of German must contact the instructor for a placement test.

GER 201/ 202 (201G/ 202G):  Intermediate German

This two-semester sequence continues the study of the German language on a more complex level. Elementary grammatical structures will be briefly reviewed but the goal of this course is to move students from drills and textbook study to free expression in German. Students finish the course by reading a drama or novel in German.

GER 221: Advanced German: Exploring Berlin

This course is designed to improve language skills of students with at least four semesters of college German. By focusing on the history and culture of Germany’s capital Berlin, students will read a variety of sources about Berlin’s architecture, history, literature, and the arts. Students will learn to analyze literary and non-literary sources, as well as films in German and are required to compose significant papers in German. The focus will be on 20th century topics.

GER 222: Advanced German: German Romantic Poetry

This advanced German class introduces students to major works of German literature from the period between 1780 and 1830. In addition to reading poetry by Goethe, Schiller, Brentano, Eichendorff, Tieck, Hölderlin, Heine, Novalis, and Mörike, we will study prose and dramatic works by Kleist, Lessing, Schiller, Goethe, and Hoffmann as well as philosophical writings by Schlegel, and Kant. Students should have completed four semesters of college German. Course language is German.

GER 223: German Through Film

This course is an advanced German course that is designed to increase students’ ability to speak and write in German, as well as improve reading and listening comprehension. Grammar will be reviewed only as it applies to students’ writing or reading. The course will offer an overview of German film history – or it may focus on a particular period and/ or genre. Course language is German.

FS 225/ GER 225: Introduction to German Film

This course provides an overview of cinematic production in Germany from the 1920s to the present. We will study the golden age of expressionist cinema during the Weimar inter-war years, Nazi cinema, East and West German films as well as examples of post unification cinema. We will study the films as artifacts as well as historical sources that reflect the rapid political and social changes of German society during the 20th century. We will view films by Robert Wiene Fritz Lang, Veit Harlan, Ernst Lubitsch, Leni Riefenstahl, Wolfgang Staudte, Frank Beyer, Wim Wenders, Werner Herzog, Rainer Maria Fassbinder, Helma Sanders Brahms, Doris Dörrie, and Angelina Maccarone among others. Films are in German with English subtitles, all readings and discussion will be in English. No previous knowledge of German or German culture necessary. Cross-listed with GER 225

FS 226/ GER 226: German Film After 1945

This course offers an overview of German film after WWII, i.e. the formation of two German national cinemas. In the East, the state run studio DEFA dominated all film production while the West established a complex system of state and privately sponsored film funding. Students will compare East and West German films, and learn about their respective historical and cultural context. Students will also study how German unification was reflected in East and West German films, and how unified Germany reorganized its film production system. Cross-listed with GER 226

GER 271: Brecht

This course will introduce students to the works of Bertolt Brecht (1898-1956). As an influential playwright, prolific poet, philosopher and political thinker, Brecht has had a lasting impact on generations of writers. His work was directly affected by and responded to the political events of his time: World Wars 1 & 2, exile, and the building of socialist East Germany. We will consider his ideas on socialism, art and politics, art and pedagogy, high and low culture among others. The course will conclude with a few examples of more recent artists, who applied Brechtian concepts in their own works.

GER 276: Kafka

Born in Prague of German-Jewish descent, Franz Kafka was one of the most daring and experimental storytellers of the modern period. Many regard him as the first existentialist writer. In this course we will read one of his novels—The Trial—as well as shorter works such as his parables and paradoxes, short stories, and excerpts from his letters and diaries. Although all of his novels remained unfinished and unpublished at the time of his death, he would become one of the most influential figures in all of twentieth-century literature. His works would continue to shape those of later authors such as Samuel Beckett, Jorge Luis Borges, Italo Calvino, Thomas Bernhard, and Paul Auster, whose works we will read this semester. All readings and discussions will be in English, although students who wish to read some or all of the works in German will be encouraged to do so. Cross-listed as ENG 276.

FS 243 Avant-garde Film

This course provides an overview of international avant-garde film production with emphasis on the early stages of avant-garde film from 1919 to the 1960s. Topics covered include expressionist film, surrealist film, absolute film, abstract animation, new objectivity, trance film, diary film, the political avant-garde. In addition to analyzing films, students will read film theory, manifestoes, and criticism.

FS 254: Documentary Film

This course explores the many facets of documentary filmmaking from its early beginnings as “actualities” in the 1910s through the romanticized ethnographic views of “Nanook of the North”(1922), propaganda films of the 1940s, cinéma vérité of the 1960s to current popular films such as “An Inconvenient Truth.” Directors studied include Flaherty, Vertov, Riefenstahl, Morris, Herzog, Moore, Gore and Melitopolous.

HUM 268: Reading the Absurd: Explorations in Modern and Postmodern Literature

How should we read the following: a human being trapped in the body of a bug, dangling from the ceiling of a claustrophobic room, a person riding a chainless bicycle, another one speaking monologues while buried to his neck in sand, a critic sitting on the same bench in an Art museum for 23 years contemplating the same painting, a writer wanting to re-write Cervantes’ Don Quixote? These and other absurd scenarios will be examined in this course in an attempt to understand the absurd as an expression of existential crisis, a reflection on the role of art itself but also as political criticism. Writers’ studied will include Kafka, Borges, Calvino, Ionesco, Beckett, Bernhard and Jelinek. All readings will be available in English, students wishing to read in the original languages may do so.