Gerhild Williams

Gerhild Williams

​Vice Provost
Associate Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs,
Professor of German
Barbara Schaps Thomas & David M. Thomas Professor in the Humanities
PhD, University of Washington
research interests:
  • Early Modern German and French Literature
  • Magic, Daemonologies, Witch Theory
  • Media and Culture
  • Reformation Movements
  • Translation Theory and Practice
  • Travel Narratives
  • Volksbuch/Novel
  • Early Modern Media and the Evolution of the Novel

contact info:

office hours:

  • Monday 11:00 am - 12:00 pm (N Brookings)
    Wednesday 1:00 - 2:00 pm (Ridgley)
Get Directions

mailing address:

  • WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY
    CB 1104
    ONE BROOKINGS DR.
    ST. LOUIS, MO 63130-4899

​Professor Williams has published widely on German and French literature and culture from the Middle Ages to the Early Modern Period (1100-1700), specializing more recently in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.

Williams has been working in translation theory and practice, the early modern witch phenomenon, the early modern Volksbuch, and the development of the novel. She has explored the impact and influence of newspapers and other early modern media on the production of novels. Some of her recent publications include books, edited and co-edited volumes, translations, and articles on the Prosaromane of Fortunatus, Melusine, Dr. Faustus, Wagner, and on the seventeenth-century writers Johannes Praetorius and Eberhard Werner Happel. Currently, she is working on the influence of Ottoman power and culture on German prose texts and on the globalizing impact of the Ottoman imperial ambition and cultural hegemony during the seventeenth century.

 

Selected Publications

Mediating Culture in the Seventeenth-Century German Novel (Eberhard Werner Happel, 1647-1690). Ann Arbor: Michigan UP, 2014.

Mothering Baby: On Being A Woman in Early Modern Germany. GSW trans. Tempe: Arizona Center for Medieval and Renaissance Texts and Studies, 2010

Ways of Knowing in Early Modern Germany: Johannes Praetorius as a Witness to his Time. Aldershot: Ashgate, 2006

On the Inconstancy of Witches: Pierre de Lancre's Tableau de l'inconstance des mauvais anges et Demons (1612). Harriet Stone and Gerhild Williams, trans. Tempe, Arizona: Center for Medieval Renaissance Texts and Studies, 2006

Spring 2019 Course

Seminar in Reformation & Humanism: From Volksbuch to Novel - Vom Volksbuch zum Roman

During the early modern period, roughly 1450-1700, prose fiction developed as one of the dominant literary forms. We will read and review several important expressions of this evolving literary form, marking the structural and thematic trajectory along which the narrative changes are evolving from late medieval to early modern, from Prosaromane (Volksbücher) to early forms of the novel. We will explore the relationship of fact and fiction, the influence of magic, demonology, and travel writings as well as issues of gender construction and their effect on the development of prose narratives. Texts we will explore are: Melusine, Fortunatus, Dr. Faustus, Grimmelshausen's Courage and maybe one or two more.

    From our podcast:

    Hold That Thought Podcast
    Mediating Culture in the Seventeenth-Century German Novel

    Mediating Culture in the Seventeenth-Century German Novel

    Eberhard Happel, German Baroque author of an extensive body of work of fiction and nonfiction, has for many years been categorized as a “courtly-gallant” novelist. In Mediating Culture in the Seventeenth-Century German Novel, author Gerhild Scholz Williams argues that categorizing him thus is to seriously misread him and to miss out on a fascinating perspective on this dynamic period in German history.

    Happel primarily lived and worked in the vigorous port city of Hamburg, which was a “media center” in terms of the access it offered to a wide library of books in public and private collections.  Hamburg’s port status meant it buzzed with news and information, and Happel drew on this flow of data in his novels. His books deal with many topics of current interest—national identity formation, gender and sexualities, Western European encounters with neighbors to the East, confrontations with non-European and non-Western powers and cultures—and they feature multiple media, including news reports, news collections, and travel writings. As a result, Happel’s use of contemporary source material in his novels feeds our current interest in the impact of the production of knowledge on seventeenth-century narrative. Mediating Culture in the Seventeenth-Century German Novel explores the narrative wealth and multiversity of Happel’s work, examines Happel’s novels as illustrative of seventeenth-century novel writing in Germany, and investigates the synergistic relationship in Happel’s writings between the booming print media industry and the evolution of the German novel.