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Lorna Martens

Professor of German and Comparative Literature

Office Hours: Tuesdays & Thursdays 3:30 p.m. - 4:30 p.m., and by appointment.

Specialties: Comparative literature 18th-20th centuries, modern German and Austrian literature, women's studies, GDR literature, poetry, narrative and narrative theory, cognitive approaches to literature


Comparative literature 18th-20th centuries, modern German and Austrian literature, women's studies, GDR literature, poetry, narrative and narrative theory, cognitive approaches to literature


  • Cognitive Approaches to Literature
  • Narrative Theory
  • Autobiography and Autobiography Theory
  • Turn-of-the-Century Literature
  • Freud and Others
  • German Expressionism and its European Contexts
  • Lyric Poetry 
  • Women Writers: Women on Women


  • Modern Poetry: Rilke, Valéry, Stevens
  • Literary Theory
  • Freud and Literature
  • Kafka and His Doubles
  • Women, Childhood, Autobiography
  • Narratives of Childhood


As Told by Herself:  Women's Childhood Autobiography,1845-1969.  (Madison, WI:  University of Wisconsin Press, 2022), 306pp.  .

(A history of women’s childhood autobiographies worldwide)

The Promise of Memory: Childhood Recollection and its Objects in Literary Modernism (Cambridge, MA:  Harvard University Press, 2011).

(On adult memories of childhood; Proust, Rilke, Benjamin.)

The Promised Land? Feminist Writing in the German Democratic Republic (Albany: State University of New York Press, 2001), 273 pp.
(A Women's Studies title.)

Shadow Lines: Austrian Literature from Freud to Kafka (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1996), 291pp.
(Literary analysis of major writers of the 1890-1924 period.)

The Diary Novel (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1985), 307pp.
(First history of the diary novel, concentrating on French, German, and English works; some Russian and Scandinavian; genre theory; interpretations of major works by writers such as Defoe, Gide, Rilke, Frisch, Butor, and Doris Lessing.) Reissued in paperback, 2009.


Rilke’sSchauen.’” In The Tender Gaze: Compassionate Encounters on the German Screen, Stage, and Page, edited by Muriel Cormican and Jennifer Marston William (Rochester, New York:  Camden House, 2021), 159-176.

“Corporeality, Materiality, and Unnamed Emotions in Rilke’s Dinggedichte.”   In Feelings Materialized: Emotions, Bodies, and Things in Germany, 1500-1950, edited by Heikki Lempa, Derek Hillard, and Russell Spinney.  (New York:  Berghahn, 2020), 235-251. 

“Autofiction in the Third Person, with a Reading of Christine Brooke-Rose’s Remake,” in Autofiction in English, ed. Hywel Dix (Cham, Switzerland:  Palgrave Macmillan, 2018), 49-64.

“Mood, Voice, and the Question of the Narrator in Third-Person Fiction,” Narrative 25:2 (May 2017), 182-202.  

"Framing an Accusation in Dialogue: Kafka’s Letter to His Father and Sarraute’s Childhood.” European Journal of Life Writing[Online], 5 (2016): MC61-MC76. Web. 28 Nov. 2016

 “‘The Words at My Back’: Maxine Hong Kingston’s The Woman Warrior and the Power of Discourse,” in Critical Insights: The Woman Warrior, ed. Linda Trinh Moser and Kathryn West (Amenia, NY: Grey House Publishing, 2016), pp. 109-124.

“The Truth Criteria of Autobiography: Doris Lessing and Telling the Truth,” a/b: Auto/Biography Studies 29.2, 319-340 (2014).

"Gender, Psychoanalysis, and Childhood Autobiography: Christa Wolf's Kindheitsmuster," in From Kafka to Sebald: Modern Civilization and Narrative Form, ed. Sabine Wilke (New York: Continuum, 2012) 145-165.

"Nostalgia and Childhood Autobiography," in The Proceedings of Eleventh Cultural Studies Symposium "Memory and Nostalgia" (Izmir: Ege University Publishing House, 2009): 193-208.

"Constructing Interiority in Eighteenth-Century Narrative Fiction: Wieland's Geschichte des Agathon," in German Quarterly 81.1 (2008): 49-65.

"Ich-Verdoppelung und Allmachtsphantasien in Texten des frühen Hofmannsthal: 'Erlebnis', Das Bergwerk zu Falun, 'Reitergeschichte,'" in Sprachkunst 33 (2002): 215-238.

"The Institutionalization of Conflict as an Interpretative Strategy in Freud's Interpretation of Dreams," in Agonistics: Arenas of Creative Contest, ed. Janet Lungstrum and Elizabeth Sauer (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1997), pp. 129-151.

"Naked Bodies in Schnitzler's Late Prose," in "Die Seele ist ein weites Land": Kritische Beiträge zum Werk Arthur Schnitzlers, ed. Joseph P. Strelka (Bern: Lang, 1997), pp. 107-129.

“'Der Schwung der Figur': Rilke's Debt to Valéry," Comparative Literature 47 (1995): 215-234.

"Kunst und Gewalt: Bemerkungen zu Hofmannsthals Ästhetik," Austriaca, 37 (1993): 155-165.

"A Dream Narrative: Schnitzler's 'Der Sekundant,'" Modern Austrian Literature, 23, Nr. 1 (1990), 1-17.

"Art, Freedom, and Deception in Kafka's 'Ein Bericht für eine Akademie,'" Deutsche Vierteljahrsschrift, 61 (1987), 720-732.

"Musil and Freud: The Foreign Body in 'Die Versuchung der stillen Veronika,'" Euphorion, 81 (1987), 100-118.

"The Theme of the Repressed Memory in Hofmannsthal's Elektra," The German Quarterly, 60 (1987), 38-51.

"Geschlecht und Geheimnis: Expressive Sprache bei Stefan Zweig," in Stefan Zweig heute, ed. Mark H. Gelber (New York: Peter Lang, 1987), pp. 44-65.

"Autobiographical Narrative and the Use of Metaphor: Rilke's Techniques in Die Aufzeichnungen des Malte Laurids Brigge," Studies in Twentieth Century Literature 9 (1985), 229-249.

"Saying 'I'", Stanford Literature Review, 2 (1985), 27-46.

"Mirrors and Mirroring: 'Fort/da' Devices in Texts by Rilke, Hofmannsthal, and Kafka," Deutsche Vierteljahrsschrift, 58 (1984), 139-155.

"Secrets, Speech, and Silence: Stefan Zweig's Concept of Expressive Language," Hebrew University Studies in Literature, 10 (1982), 181-207.

“Irreversible Processes, Proliferating Middles, and Invisible Barriers: Spatial Metaphors in Freud, Schnitzler, Musil, and Kafka," in Focus on Vienna 1900, ed. Erika Nielsen, Houston German Studies 4 (München: Fink, 1982), 46-57.

"Empty Center and Open End: The Theme of Language in Michel Butor's L'Emploi du temps," PMLA, 96 (1981), 49-63.

Book Reviews

Review Articles

  • The Wall in My Backyard: East German Women in Transition, edited by Dinah Dodds and Pam Allen-Thompson (Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 1994) and Helen H. Frink, Women After Communism: The East German Experience (Lanham, Maryland: University Press of America, 2001), Signs 29 (2004), 939-942.
  • "The Hellenistic Age of Narratology" (reviewing Ann Fehn, Ingeborg Hoesterey, and Maria Tatar, eds., Neverending Stories: Toward a Critical Narratology)Semiotica 109-1/2 (1996): 187-93.


  • Kellner, Renate.  Der Tagebuchroman als literarische Gattung.  Thematologische, poetologische und narratologische Aspekte.  Berlin:  De Gruyter, 2015. German Quarterly  90.1 (2017), 103-105.
  • Barbara L. Surowska, Auf Rilkes Wegen. Warshauer Studien zur Kultur-und Literaturwissenschaft, ed. Karol Sauerland. (Frankfurt a.M.: Lang, 2012). Forthcoming in Arbitrium.
  • Leeder, Karen and Robert Vilain, eds. The Cambridge Companion to Rilke. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2010. German Quarterly 84.4 (2011) 513-515.
  • Silke von der Emde. Entering History: Feminist Dialogues in Irmtraud Morgner's Prose. Bern: Peter Lang, 2004. German Quarterly 79.1 (2006), 123-4.
  • Cheryl Dueck. Rifts in Time and in the Self: The Female Subject in Two Generations of East German Women Writers. Amsterdamer Publikationen zur Sprache und Literatur, vol. Cola Minis and Arend Quak, eds.  (Amsterdam: Rodopi, 2004), in Seminar 42:1 (2006), 90-92.
  • Henk De Berg, Freud's Theory and Its Use in Literary and Cultural Studies: An Introduction (Rochester, NY: Camden House, 2003), in German Quarterly, 77 (2004), 115-116.
  • Timothy J. Casey, A Reader's Guide to Rilke's Sonnets to Orpheus (Galway: Arlen House, 2001), in Journal of English and Germanic Philology 102:3 (July 2003), 417-419.
  • Judith Ryan, Rilke, Modernism, and Poetic Tradition (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999), in Modern Language Quarterly 65:1 (2002), 126-130.
  • Massimo Cacciari, Posthumous People: Vienna at the Turning Point, trans. Rodger Friedman, in German Quarterly, 73 (2000), 215-216.
  • Karl Eibl, Kritisch-rationale Literaturwissenschaft, in Canadian Review of Comparative Literature, 10 (1983), 392-98.
  • Expressionism Reconsidered, ed. Gertrud Pickar & Karl Eugene Webb, in German Quarterly, 54 (1981), 237-8.
  • Karl Ludwig Pfeiffer, Sprachtheorie, Wissenschaftstheorie und das Problem der Textinterpretation: Untersuchungen am Beispiel des New Criticism und Paul Valérys, in Canadian Review of Comparative Literature, 6 (1979), 405-10.
  • Frederick Will, The Fact of Literature, in Canadian Review of Comparative Literature, 5 (1978), 133-37.

Awards, Grants and Honors

  • Page Barbour grant for “Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Memory” conference (2016)
  • University of Virginia Summer Grant 2013
  • Arts and Sciences Support for Research in the Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences, April-May 2013; 2021
  • Faculty Research Grant, University of Virginia 2007
  • Sesquicentennial Associateship 1993-94, 1999-2000, 2005-06, 2012-2013, 2018-2019
  • Fulbright Senior Fellowship to Berlin 1994-95
  • Guggenheim Fellowship, 1987-88
  • Summer Institute for the Study of Avant-Gardes, Harvard, 1987
  • Yale University Senior Faculty Fellowship, 1984-85
  • Morse Fellowship, 1981-82
  • DAAD Fellowship for dissertation research in Germany 1974-75
  • Yale University Fellowship 1970-73
  • Fulbright Grant to Germany 1969-70
  • Woodrow Wilson Fellow 1969-70
  • Phi Beta Kappa 1969