Wolfram Nitsch

Romance Studies, Köln
Fellowship: 01.04.–30.09.2019


+49 (0)221 470-6304


Wolfram Nitsch is Professor in Romance Studies at the University of Cologne. He received a doctor's degree in 1991 in and qualified as a lecturer in 1998 at the University of Munich. He has written a book on language and violence in Claude Simon (»Sprache und Gewalt bei Claude Simon,« 1992) and a study on the role of play and games in the Spanish drama of the Golden Age (»Barocktheater als Spielraum,« 2000; Spanish translation 2018); furthermore, he is the co-author of a book on European comedy (»Komödie,« 2013). He has also published articles on various modern French and Argentine novelists as well as on French cinema. Recently, he directed a research project on the poetics and aesthetics of the urban wasteland (›terrain vague‹). Currently, he works on a study concerning the effects of transportation in literature and film. 


Fields of Research

  • French prose of the 20th and 21th century
  • Spanish literature of the Golden Age
  • Modern Argentine literature
  • Literary Anthropology and theory of play
  • Theory and history of visual technologies
  • Space and transportation in literature and cinema


Project outline

Life in machines. Autobiography and technology in the novels of Claude Simon


The novels of French Nobel Prize winner Claude Simon present a cyclical autobiographical narrative in so far as they constantly return to some decisive moments of the author’s life related to the experience of war and prison camp. In this context, technologies play a crucial role, especially media of transportation and communication which give the protagonist an insight into his social position and his individual formation, but also embody different periods of his existence. Due to his constant use of such technical objects, echoed by the narrator’s frequent use of technical metaphors for perception, memory and writing, the narrated life marked by violent breaks is described as a life with and in machines that are essential for the process of becoming a writer. This nexus between autobiography and technology in Simon's work will be explored in the light of current reflections on the cultural impact of technical practices (Latour) and technical objects (Simondon).


Publications (Selection)

  • Sprache und Gewalt bei Claude Simon. Interpretationen zu seinem Romanwerk der sechziger Jahre, Tübingen: Narr 1992 (Romanica Monacensia, 39).
  • Barocktheater als Spielraum. Studien zu Lope de Vega und Tirso de Molina, Tübingen: Narr 2000 (Romanica Monacensia, 57).
  • »Supplementary organs. Media and machinery in the late novels of Claude Simon,« in: Jean H. Duffy/Alastair Duncan (Hrsg.): Claude Simon. A retrospective, Liverpool: Liverpool University Press 2002, S. 152–167.
  • »Dädalus und Aramis. Latours symmetrische Anthropologie der Technik,« in: Georg Kneer/Markus Schroer/Erhard Schüttpelz (Hrsg.): Bruno Latours Kollektive. Kontroversen zur Entgrenzung des Sozialen, Frankfurt a. M.: Suhrkamp 2008, S. 219–233.
  • »Prousts Telegramme. Technisierte Korrespondenz in ›À la recherche du temps perdu,‹« in: Karin Westerwelle (Hrsg.): Proust und die Korrespondenz, Berlin: Insel 2010 (14. Publikation der Marcel Proust Gesellschaft), S. 143–162.
  • »Mobile Mediatope. Verkehrsmittel als Medien und Milieus in der französischen Literatur der Gegenwart,« in: Zeitschrift für Medien- und Kulturforschung H. 2 (2012), S. 151–166.
  • »Terrain vague. Zur Poetik des städtischen Zwischenraums in der französischen Moderne,« in: Comparatio 5 (2013), S. 1–18.
  • »Mécaniques démantibulées. Claude Simon et la technique,« in: Europe Nr. 1033 (2015), S. 81–91.
  • »Vom Kreisverkehr zum Karussell. Nicht-Orte als komische Spielräume bei Jacques Tati,« in: Romanische Studien Nr. 3 (2016), S. 301–317.
  • »Luftschutzraum und Lustrevier. Die Metro in ›Le temps retrouvé,‹« in: Jürgen Ritte/W. N. (Hrsg.): Marcel Proust und der Erste Weltkrieg, Berlin: Insel 2017 (Publikationen der Marcel Proust Gesellschaft, 17), S. 51–67.