Vance Byrd Photo

Vance Byrd

Associate Professor

Frank and Roberta Furbush Scholar in German Studies

On leave in academic year 2019–2020.

Professor Byrd is a scholar of nineteenth-century German literature who investigates how literary and print history intersect with the history of visual media. In addition to his first book, A Pedagogy of Observation: Nineteenth-Century Panoramas, German Literature, and Reading Culture (Bucknell UP, 2017), he has published on topics related to the history of books and periodicals, museum studies, environmental humanities, commemoration, and graphic novels. His research has been supported by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the Fulbright Commission, Max Kade Foundation, Klassik Stiftung Weimar, and the Quadrangle Historical Research Foundation. He is committed to serving the profession. He was elected to be a Director-at-Large of the Goethe Society of North America (2019–22), a member of the Executive Committee of American Friends of Marbach, as well as a member of the MLA Executive Committee (2018–22) and the MLA Delegate Assembly (2018–20). He is on the German Studies Association's Program Committee (19th Century) and represents German on the ADFL Executive Committee (2020–23). He is proud to serve on the Rare Book School's NEH-Global Book History Initiative scholarship program, which helps support non-western and immigrant book history and bibliography as well as applicants from underrepresented groups who want to attend Rare Book School. He received his Ph.D. and M.A. from the Department of Germanic Languages and Literatures at the University of Pennsylvania and a B.A. in History and German from the University of Georgia.



A Pedagogy of Observation: Nineteenth-Century Panoramas, German Literature, and Reading Culture, New Studies in the Age of Goethe (Lewisburg: Bucknell University Press, 2017). Reviewed in The German Quarterly, Monatshefte, European Romantic Review, and The Goethe Yearbook.


Edited Volumes and Journal Issues:

Market Strategies and German Literature in the Long Nineteenth Century, in the series Interdisciplinary German Cultural Studies (Berlin: De Gruyter, forthcoming January 2020), co-edited with Ervin Malakaj, with essays by the editors, Richard B. Apgar, Henning Marmulla, Jonathan M. Hess, Alexander Phillips, David Meola, Jessica Resvick, Jan Behrs, Petra McGillen, Shane D. Peterson, Petra Watzke, and Tobias Boes.

The Studied Environment, a special theme issue of The Germanic Review: Literature, Culture, Theory 94, no. 3 (2019), co-edited with Matthew H. Birkhold, with essays by the editors, Anna-Lisa Baumeister, and May Mergenthaler.

Periodical Literature in the Nineteenth Century, a special double issue of Colloquia Germanica 49, no. 2–3 (2016 [2018]), co-edited with Sean Franzel, with essays by the editors, Dennis Senzel, Tobias Hermans, Angela Borchert, Kirsten Belgum, Shane D. Peterson, Lynne Tatlock, and Daniela Gretz.


Selected Journal Articles and Book Chapters:

"The Production of Books and the Production of the Professional Self: Droste-Hülshoff's Predicament of Authorship," in Market Strategies and German Literature in the Long Nineteenth Century (forthcoming January 2020), 219–243.

"Orientations in German Studies," in the forum "Does German Cultural Studies need the Nation-State Model?" The German Quarterly 29, no. 4 (Fall 2019): 445–448.

"Lese-und Handarbeiten: Illustrated German Fashion Journals and Sewing in the Nineteenth Century," in Visuelles Design. Die Journalseite als gestaltete Fläche / Visual Design. The Periodical Page as Designed Surface, ed. DFG-Forschergruppe "Journalliteratur" (Hannover: Wehrhahn, 2019), 361–381.

"Saving the Forest: The Serialization of Wood Specimen Collections," in The Studied Environment, a special theme issue of The Germanic Review: Literature, Culture, Theory 94, no. 3 (2019): 228–238.

“Introduction: Periodical Literature in the Nineteenth Century,” Colloquia Germanica 49, no. 2–3 (2016 [2018]): 105–118, with Sean Franzel.

“Epigraphs and the Journal Edition of Droste-Hülshoff’s Judenbuche,” Colloquia Germanica 49, no. 2–3 (2016 [2018]): 177–200.

“Family, Intercategorical Complexity, and Kleist’s Die Verlobung in St. Domingo,” The Germanic Review: Literature, Culture, Theory 92, no. 3 (2017): 223–244.

“Cultural Legitimacy and Nicolas Mahler’s Autobiographical Comics,” in Novel Perspectives on German-Language Comics: History, Pedagogy, Theory, ed. Lynn Marie Kutch (Lanham: Lexington Books, 2016), 215–235.

“Covering the Wound: Panorama Exhibitions and Handmade History,” Seminar: A Journal of Germanic Studies 51, no. 1 (2015): 10–27.

“Der holzgerechte Jäger: Forester Fictions and Annette von Droste-Hülshoff’s Die Judenbuche,” The Germanic Review: Literature, Culture, Theory 89, no. 4 (2014): 345–364.

“The Politics of Commemoration in Wien und die Wiener,” Journal of Austrian Studies 47, no. 1 (2014): 1–20.

“Regarding the Cousin: Surveillance and Narration in Hoffmann’s Des Vetters Eckfenster,” German Studies Review 35, no. 2 (2012): 249–264.



In the News

Two Penn Graduates Have Been Elected to the Board of the American Friends of Marbach,” University of Pennsylvania website, September 2019. “This election highlights the academic achievements of Vance [Byrd] and Matt [Handelman], but also Penn's strong tradition in German studies, and its engagement with the education in archival work and the History of Material Texts.”

"Vance Byrd receives New Directions Fellowship from The Mellon Foundation," Grinnell College website, June 20, 2019.

"German Department Rebrands as German Studies, Changes Scope," Scarlet & Black, April 25, 2019. “'[…] we’re not so sure about the nation-state, we’re acknowledging that people are always moving, that people don’t have equal resources, but people have a variety of modes of expression, and that we’re resisting a highly hierarchical, kind of canonical thing. … It’s raising of awareness and saying that postcolonial, transnational, global, different perspectives like black German studies, Asian German studies, all of these things are part of who we are, and it reflects our scholarship, our training, our teaching, but importantly, student interests,' said Byrd."

"Students, Faculty Push for Jewish Studies at Grinnell," Scarlet & Black, April 12, 2019. "Vance Byrd, German, said, 'It was really this academic year after Pittsburgh, where students and some faculty and staff started asking more active questions about what is the place of Jewish studies within the academic program of Grinnell, what is the history, like why don’t we have it, and what are the possibilities of introducing programming. … I think there is more of an awareness of the absence that was maybe exacerbated by the absence of a rabbi on campus.'"

"Professors Byrd, Tracy, and Lussier Receive Research Grants," Scarlet & Black, April 4, 2019. "Associate Professor Vance Byrd, German, is the first person at Grinnell College to ever receive the New Mellon Directions Fellowship. This grant, $298,000 in total, is the largest grant that an individual faculty member in the humanities and social studies has received in the history of the College. […]  With the New Mellon Directions Fellowship, Byrd will spend the next year studying at Northwestern University, taking courses in Art History, African American studies, and Civil War History. The grant will pay for his salary during that year and his tuition at the university, as well as fund his experiential learning and research for the two summers in between. […] 'The wonderful thing about the Mellon New Directions Fellowship is it’s not about the product, it’s about the process,” said Byrd. “It’s about my process of learning over eighteen months, and when I return, my teaching and scholarship should be even more interdisciplinary than it was before.'"

"Intermediale Selbstthematisierung," Institute for Contemporary German Studies at Cornell University, November 2, 2018. "[…] While acknowledging the panorama’s important role in provoking reflection about social and historical subjects, Byrd stressed that this very function can be problematic, since the perspective a panorama lends to historical knowledge always remains simplified rather than differentiated. Many questions following Byrd’s short presentation revolved around the forms that productive spectatorship can take in this inter-medial context, as well as how one is to appraise the relation between different kinds of media."

"Stifters starker Stellenwert," Oberösterreichische Nachrichten, January 27, 2018. “Adalbert Stifters Todestag jährt sich morgen zum 150. Mal. Wie aktuell der Landeshauptdichter heute noch ist, stellt das Stifterhaus in Linz dar, u. a. mit Hilfe von Schriftstellerin Teresa Präauer und Germanistik-Professor Vance Byrd (USA).”

"Stifter Lesen / Reading Stifter – Zum 150. Todestag Adalbert Stifters. Vance Byrd (USA) und Teresa Präauer: Persönliche Stifterlektüren." 


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