Associate Professor of German Studies and
Director of Hamburg Program in Germany
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Joel Westerdale is a scholar of German culture specializing in intellectual history, literary analysis, and media studies. His research focuses both on early German cinema and on the writings of Friedrich Nietzsche. Among his publications is the book Nietzsche's Aphoristic Challenge (DeGruyter, 2013), which examines developments in the philosopher's writing style in light of his often misleading self-presentation. His current book project examines the strange, yet for centuries widespread associations of German culture with the dark and diabolical. This research arises from and contributes to his courses on Weimar and Nazi cinema, the Faust legend, evil in modern German thought, and the intersections of literature, science, philosophy, and technology.
Westerdale earned his Ph.D. at Harvard University after studying German literature and philosophy at the University of Michigan, with extended research stays at the University of Freiburg, the Humboldt University in Berlin, the LMU in Munich, and the Zentrum für Literatur- und Kulturforschung in Berlin. His research has been supported by the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, the Fulbright Scholar Program, the Whiting Foundation, and the Center for European Studies in Cambridge.
In 2011-2012 he co-directed a year-long interdisciplinary project on "Evil" at the Kahn Liberal Arts Institute. Currently he is Director of the Smith College Study Abroad Program in Hamburg, which fully matriculates students from across the disciplines at the University of Hamburg and associated institutions.