Dr. Sarah Koellner

Assistant Professor of German

Address: JC Long 421
E-mail: koellnersk@cofc.edu


Prior to coming to the US from Germany, I studied at the University in Mainz and Leiden to receive my M.A. in German, Political Science and Book Studies. I have earned my Ph.D. at Vanderbilt University in German Studies with a specialization in twenty-first century German literature and culture.  Over the course of the last years, I have published on issues relating to identity, migration, privacy & surveillance in the works of Juli Zeh, Angela Richter, Hasan M. Elahi, Tomer Gardi, Idrissou Mora-Kpai, Birgit Kempker, and Aléa Torik in journals such as Seminar, Gegenwartsliteratur, Variations, and Surveillance & Society. Besides working on artistic evaluations of contemporary mass surveillance, I have developed an interest in migration studies and digital humanities. 

Currently, I am working on my book project Participatory Privacy in Contemporary German Culture that investigates the challenges posed to traditional notions of privacy in the face of mass surveillance, predictive analytics, and a digital sharing culture in the twentieth and twenty-first century. The book argues that notions of privacy have not disappeared or atrophied as a result, but rather adapted to the new cultural, legal, and political contexts of the digital age. It explores how the notion of privacy as an individual right is reconfigured, in contemporary German literature and culture, as a collective concept to protect the most vulnerable members of society against discriminatory processes of mass surveillance. Through the lens of selected literary, filmic, and theatrical works by Ulrich Peltzer, Juli Zeh, Sybille Berg, Angela Richter, Hasan M. Elahi, and Hito Steyerl, the volume examines contemporary discourses on collaborative decision-making processes, the embracing of counter-surveillance techniques, and the creation of digital movements. Ultimately, it argues for an understanding of privacy as having a “participatory” dimension in the digital age. It proposes we view privacy as both a tool of collective self-protection and a means of resistance against everyday mass surveillance. 

In the classroom, courses such as “Nothing to Hide: The Art of Surveillance in German Literature, Film, and Theatre” explore aesthetic, legal, and political questions relating to the greater impact of different surveillance cultures on converging communities. Other than on surveillance, my teaching focuses on German and Austrian literature and culture, ranging from the twentieth to the twenty-first century, the cultural industry with a particular focus on the German book market, as well as on questions relating to cultural (post)memory and remembrance. 


Vanderbilt University

Johannes Gutenberg-University in Mainz, Germany
Magister Artium (M.A.)

Courses Taught

Honors College 

Borders, Art, and Migration: Voices from Europe (Advanced Honors Course, 390) 

Lives in Standstill: On Borders, Waiting, and Asylum in German Film (Honors Immersed GRMN 489) 

First Year Experience 

All Eyes on You: Surveillance, Control, and Community, First-Year-Experience learning community with Brianna McGinnis (Political Science, CofC) 

Department of German and Russian Studies 

Skandal! Artistic Scandals at the turn of the Millennium (GRMN 490, Special Topics)  

Behind Crumbling Walls: Tales of Love, Violence, and the Stasi (GRMN 390, Special Topics)] 

Nothing to Hide: The Art of Surveillance in German Literature, Film and Theatre (LTGR 250, Gen Ed) 

German Grammar, Sustainability Focused: Global Warming and Climate Change (GRMN 314) 

German Conversation, Sustainability Focused: Global Warming and Climate Change (GRMN 313) 

Intermediate German (GRMN 201), Sustainability Related: Food Security 

Elementary German (GRMN 102 & German TV-Series Deutschland 83) 

Elementary German (GRMN 101 & the German TV series Dark


Selected Publications

Koellner, Sarah. “The All-Seeing Community: Charleston’s Eastside, Video Surveillance, and the Listening Task.” Surveillance & Society. In Press.  

Koellner, Sarah. “Metaphors of Surveillance: The ‘All-Seer’ and its Legacy in Hasan M. Elahi’s Tracking Transience and Angela Richter’s Supernerds.” Variations. Literaturzeitschrift der Universität Zürich 27 (2021). In Press.   

Balint, Lilla and Sarah Koellner. “The Contemporary as Multilingual: Tomer Gardi’s Broken German.” Gegenwartsliteratur: Ein germanistisches Jahrbuch 20 (2021): 233–255. 

Koellner, Sarah. “Data, Love, and Bodies: The Value of Privacy in Juli Zeh’s Corpus Delicti. Seminar. A Journal of Germanic Studies 52.4 (2016): 407–425.   

Koellner, Sarah review of Transkulturelle Dynamiken. AktantenProzesseTheorien. Ed. by Jutta Ernst and Florian Freitag. Bielefeld: Transcript, 2015, New German Review: A Journal of Germanic Studies 27 (2016): 77–79.   

Koellner, Sarah. “Tabula rasa, im Namen des Volkes. Selbstzensur als ein Muster der literarischen Provokation in Birgit Kempkers Mike und Jane.” In Skandalautoren. Zu repräsentativen Mustern literarischer Provokation und Aufsehen erregender Autorinszenierungen. Edited by Andrea Bartl and Martin Kraus. Würzburg: Königshausen & Neumann, 2014. 337–354.