PD Dr. Simone Knewitz

Senior Lecturer (Akademische Oberrätin)

Institutional mailing address

Institut für Anglistik, Amerikanistik und Keltologie
Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn
Rabinstraße 8
53111 Bonn

Office phone & email
Phone: 0228-73-4964
Fax: 0228-73-9676

I am on leave from the University of Bonn until July 31, 2024, serving as interim professor of American Studies at the University of Mannheim.

Please note that, while on leave, I am not taking on any new students for BA or MA thesis supervision.

Research interests
Cultural Rhetoric and Aesthetics, Private Property, Populism, Television and Digital Culture, Economic Criticism, Literature and Consumption, Critical White Studies; Modernism/Modernity, Poetry and Poetics.

© Simone Knewitz

Academic Profile

The Poetics of Political Protest: Collective Agency in 21st Century North American Poetry and Social Movements
This study examines how contemporary North American poetry intervenes in protest movements and how forms of collective action are negotiated in literature. The focus is on politically engaged contemporary poetry, such as works by Claudia Rankine, Juliana Spahr, Joshua Clover, but also indigenous authors including Natalie Diaz, Heid E. Erdrich and Layli Long Soldier. The project makes an innovative contribution to debates in poetry studies by using methods of New Formalism to explore and evaluate the political functions of poetry in a new way. It examines the interplay of aesthetic and social forms with the help of approaches from cultural studies, which have so far been hardly integrated into poetry research, and it opens up an interdisciplinary dialog between poetry studies, social movement studies and current political and cultural theory. It thus contributes to a better understanding of the aesthetic dimensions of social movements.

Intersections of Whiteness: Race, Class, and Affect in Twenty-First Century Discourses and Representations
This project examines how political, economic and social power structures in the U.S. are negotiated within public and political discourses. In particular, it investigates debates on structural racism and other forms of systemic exclusion, which have emerged with Black Lives Matter and other democratization movements of the past decade. The project draws on approaches from critical whiteness studies and affect theory to examine questions such as the following: In what ways do political actors strive for power, recognition and social justice within contemporary public debates? How do they position themselves within these discourses? To what extent do these discourses contribute to changes in social power structures or cement the status quo?
War of Memes: Populism, Protest Movements, and Digital Popular Culture
This project examines the intersections between political populism, protest movements and digital culture by asking how digital media circulate, amplify and make political fringe positions socially. The project focuses on processes of politicization and the relationships between institutional political actors and protest movements in the US, but also traces how populist media contributions spread globally and enable the creation of collectives across national borders.

July 2018, Habilitation, Bonn University, venia legendi: Anglistik/Amerikanistik: Literatur- und Kulturwissenschaft

Sep 2013 - June 2014, Postdoctoral Research Fellowship, DAAD

June 2011, Fulbright American Studies Fellowship 2011-12, awarded by the German-American Fulbright Commission and the German Association for American Studies

2010, Ph.D., American Studies, Bonn University, Dissertation: "'A poet is flesh and blood as well as brain': Amy Lowell, William Carlos Williams, and the Modernist Poetics of the Material Body"

2006 - 2008 Dissertation Grant, State of North Rhine-Westphalia

July - Oct. 2007 Research Stay at Harvard University, funded by the State of North Rhine-Westphalia and the German Academic Exchange Service

May 2005 M.A. degree from Bonn University. M.A. Thesis: "Making Progress: Pragmatism and Utopia in the Works of Charlotte Perkins Gilman and John Dewey"

2002 - 2003 Studies at University of Missouri-St. Louis, USA, direct exchange program with Bonn University

1999 - 2005 Studies at Bonn University. Major: North American Studies, Minors: Philosophy, Political Science

since Feb. 2024: Interim Professor of American Studies at the University of Mannheim

Oct. 2021 - March 2022: Interim Professor of American Studies at the University of Hamburg

Oct. 2020 - March 2021: Deputy Chair of American Studies at the University of Münster

as of Oct 2018: Senior Lecturer (Akademische Oberrätin auf Zeit) at the North American Studies Program, Department of English, American and Celtic Studies, Bonn University

Dec 2008 - Sep 2018 Lecturer (wiss. Mitarbeiterin) at the North American Studies Program, Department of English, American and Celtic Studies, Bonn University

Sep 2013 - June 2014 Postdoctoral Research Fellow at George Washington University, Washington, DC

Feb-Apr and Aug-Sep 2012 Fulbright American Studies Fellow at George Mason University, Fairfax, VA

Fall 2008/09 and 2006/07, Spring 2006 Lecturer, Department of English, American and Celtic Studies, Bonn University

June - Sept. 2006 Lecturer (wiss. Mitarbeiterin) at the North American Studies Program, Department of English, American and Celtic Studies, Bonn University

2005-2010 Lector for netzwelt.de, German online magazine for IT and Consumer Electronics

Sept. 2002 - May 2003 Assistant, German Culture Center, University of Missouri-St. Louis, USA


  • The Politics of Private Property: Contested Claims to Ownership in U.S. Cultural Discourse. Lexington Books, 2021.
  • Modernist Authenticities: The Material Body and the Poetics of Amy Lowell and William Carlos Williams. Heidelberg: Winter, 2014.
  • Making Progress: Pragmatism and Utopia in the Works of Charlotte Perkins Gilman and John Dewey. London: Turnshare, 2006.

Edited Volumes

  • The Aesthetics of Collective Agency: Corporations, Communities, and Crowds in the Twenty-First Century, edited by Simone Knewitz and Stefanie Mueller, transcript, forthcoming.
  • Knowledge Landscapes North America. Ed. Christian Kloeckner, Simone Knewitz, and Sabine Sielke. Heidelberg: Winter, 2016.
  • Beyond 9/11: Transdisciplinary Perspectives on Twenty-First Century U.S. American Culture. Ed. Christian Kloeckner, Simone Knewitz, and Sabine Sielke. Frankfurt: Lang, 2013.


  • “White Fragility and White Shame: Liberal Performances of Anti-Racism and the Politics of Vulnerability in the U.S.” Vulnerability: Real, Imagined, and Displayed Fragility in Language and Society. Hg v. Silvia Bonacchi, Carsten Junker, Ingo H. Warnke, Hanna Acke und Charlotta Seiler Brylla. V&R (forthcoming).
  • “Modernist Materialities: Objects in Poetry.” Handbook of American Poetry. Ed. by Sabine Sielke. De Gruyter (forthcoming).
  • “The Politics of White Rage and the War of Memes: Authoritarian Populism and Far-Right Online Culture in the Trump Era.” Popkultur und Populismen: Interdisziplinäre und internationale Perspektiven. Ed. by Mario Anastasiadis and Charis Goer. Transcript (forthcoming).
  • "‘Singing the Epiphanic Song’: Post-Language Lyric as Oppositional Practice in Juliana Spahr’s That Winter the Wolf Came.” Special Issue “Capitalist Crisis Poetry”, hg. v. Stefan Benz, Marcel Hartwig, und Hannah Schoch, Amerikastudien/American Studies
    vol. 68, no. 2, 2023, 167-81. 
  • “Longing for Appalachia: Poverty, Whiteness, and the Aesthetics of Nostalgia in Hillbilly Elegy.” Special Issue “Depicting Destitution across Media”, Journal for Literary and Intermedial Crossings, vol. 7, no. 1, 2022.
  • “Reimagining the Cold War: Capitalist Realism, Anticommunism, and Nostalgia in Twenty-First Century TV and Streaming Series.” Journal of Popular Television, vol. 10, no. 1, 2022, 79-94, https://doi.org/10.1386/jptv_00071_1.
  • “Life on the Collar Line: Discontent, Nostalgia, and the Professional-Managerial Class in 1950s Fiction.” Fictions of Management: Efficiency and Control in American Literature and Culture. Hg. v. James Dorson and Jasper Verlinden. Heidelberg: Winter, 2019. 189-212
  • “Creating an Ownership Society? Social Security Reform and the Temporalities of Libertarian Rhetoric.” Finance and Society 4.1 (2018): 60-75.
  • “White Middle-Class Homelessness: Nostalgia from Babbitt to Mad Men.” Nostalgie/Nostalgia: Imaginierte Zeit-Räume in globalen Medienkulturen/Imagined Time-Spaces in Global Media Cultures. Hg. v. Sabine Sielke. Frankfurt: Lang, 2017. 85-104.
  • "American Modernist Poetry: Wallace Stevens's 'High-Toned Old Christian Woman' and William Carlos Williams's 'The Red Wheelbarrow." A History of American Poetry: Contexts - Developments - Readings. Ed. Oliver Scheiding, Clemens Spahr, and René Dietrich. Trier, WVT, 2015.
  • "'The fading memory of those flowers': Metaphorical Lineages and Poetic Selves in William Carlos Williams’s Later Poetry." Recovery and Transgression: Memory in American Poetry. Ed. Kornelia Freitag. Cambridge: Cambridge Scholars, 2014.
  • "The Aesthetics and Economics of Television Series in the Age of Digital Media" Media Economies: A Reader. Ed. Marcel Hartwig and Gunter Süß. Trier: WVT, 2014. 27-42.
  • "'Try My Tivoli': Conspicuous Consumption in William Dean Howells's A Modern Instance." Literature and Consumption in Nineteenth-Century America. Ed. Nicole Maruo-Schröder and Christoph Ribbat. Heidelberg: Winter, 2014. 133-52.
  • "9/11 and the Literature Industry." Beyond 9/11: Transdisciplinary Perspectives on Twenty-First Century U.S. American Culture. Ed. Christian Klöckner, Simone Knewitz, and Sabine Sielke. Frankfurt: Lang, 2013. 153-68.
  • "God Hates Fangs? Morality, Ideology, and the Domesticated Vampire in American Culture." Collisions of Reality: Establishing Research on the Fantastic in Europe. Ed. Lars Schmeink and Astrid Böger. Berlin: De Gruyter, 2012. 119-37.
  • "Black Bodies, White Subjects: Modernist Authenticities and Anxieties in the Avant-Garde Film Borderline." Forum 12 (2011).
  • "Poetics of an Enclosed Garden: The Orient in Amy Lowell's Pictures of the Floating World." Orient and Orientalisms in American Poetry and Poetics. Ed. Sabine Sielke and Christian Klöckner. Frankfurt: Lang, 2009. 167-87.
  • "Spoken Art: Amy Lowell's Dramatic Poetry and Early Twentieth-Century Expressive Culture." Current Objectives in Postgraduate American Studies 9 (2008).

Encyclopedia Articles

  • "Jean Toomer." Routledge Encyclopedia of Modernism. [online publication]
  • Alternative Right.“ Political Violence in America: Historical Flashpoints and Modern-Day Trends. Ed. by Lori Cox Han and Tomislav Han. ABC-CLIO (2022).


  • Rev. of American Bonds: How Credit Markets Shaped a Nation, by Sarah Quinn. H-Soz-Kult. www.hsozkult.de, 2021.
  • Rez. v. A Poetics of Global Solidarity: Modern American Poetry and Social Movements, von Clemens Spahr. Anglia 135.3 (2017): 608-11.
  • Rez. v. Future-Founding Poetry: Topographies of Beginnings from Whitman to the Twenty-First Century, von Sascha Pöhlmann. Amerikastudien/American Studies 62.2 (2017).
  • Rez. v. Unexpected Chords: Musico-Poetic Intermediality in Amy Lowell's Poetry and Poetics, von Regina Schober. Amerikastudien/American Studies 58.2 (2013): 316-18.
  • Rez. v. American Economies, hg. v. Eva Boesenberg, Martin Klepper und Reinhard Isensee. Anglia 131.2-3 (2013): 463-67.
  • Rez. v. Pursue the Illusion: Problems of Public Poetry in America, von Astrid Franke. Zeitschrift für Anglistik und Amerikanistik 64.2 (2011): 201-03.

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