Degree in German, Philosophy, Italian, and Pedagogy in Bonn. 1984 doctorate in German Studies on Jean Paul’s approaches to a theory of language. 1983–1989 academic staff (Wissenschaftliche Mitarbeiterin) at the Germanistisches Seminar of the University of Bonn. 1989–1994 teaching contracts at the Universities of Bonn, Essen, and Jena. 1992 Habilitation on the Poetics of Decipherment and Writing at Bonn. 1992 Professor of European Literature of the Modern Period at the Fernuniversität in Hagen. Since 1995 Professor of Literary Theory and Comparative Literature at the Ruhr-Universität Bochum. 1999–2005 Chairperson of the Deutschen Gesellschaft für Allgemeine und Vergleichende Literaturwissenschaft. 2002 Max Kade Distinguished Visiting Professor at the University of Notre Dame, Indiana (USA). Since 2007 President of the Jean-Paul-Gesellschaft. 2009 Tateshina Visiting Lecturer of the Japanische Gesellschaft für Germanistik. 2011 Max Kade Distinguished Visiting Professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison (USA).
Lexicographical ways of writing, which have been used in different accentuations throughout recent literature, have in the past decades given new impulses also to biographical and autobiographical writing. Authors of various cultures and language-areas shape their literary self-portraits, as well as portraits of other people, in the form of (usually alphabetic) sequences of articles that recall dictionary entries. This is often combined with reflections on the chosen form, concerned, among other things, with the self-conception of the (auto-) biographical undertaking in each case. Framed by (real and apparent) paratexts and supported by the resources of graphics and book design, (auto-) biographical alphabets thus present multifaceted contributions to a poetics of (auto-) biography. The pioneer of literary self-presentation in alphabetic-lexicographic form in the 20th century is Alberto Savinio. But already in Jean Paul the idea of an autobiography pegged to the alphabet had been at least formulated. Important variations of the autobiographical or autofictional alphabet include those by Roland Barthes, Carlos Fuentes, and Juri Rytchëu.