Navigation: Main Content Sections

Dr. Yasemin Yildiz

Associate Professor of Germanic Languages and Literatures
Associate Professor of Gender and Women's Studies
Center for South Asian and Middle Eastern Studies
European Union Center

User Photo

Contact Information:

  • Address:
    3107 Foreign Languages Building
  • Office Hours:
    • Spring 2016: 12:30-2:30 and by appt
  • Telephone: (217) 333-6330
  • Email:


Ph.D. Cornell University

Specializations / Research Interests

20th- and 21st-century German Literature and Culture, Turkish-German Literature and Culture, German-Jewish Literature and Culture, Literary Multilingualism and Translation Studies, Transnational Studies, Gender Studies, Holocaust Studies

Distinctions / Awards

  • Honorable Mention, 2014 Laura Shannon Prize for Contemporary European Studies, Nanovic Institute at Notre Dame, for Beyond the Mother Tongue
  • 10th Aldo and Jeanne Scaglione Prize for Studies in Germanic Languages and Literatures awarded by the MLA to Beyond the Mother Tongue, 2012
  • 2013-2018 Conrad Humanities Professorial Scholar
  • ACLS Collaborative Research Fellowship 2011-2012
  • 2009 British Council Research Award
  • 2010 Arnold O. Beckman Research Award
  • 2012 IPRH Prize for Research in the Humanities for essay "Governing European Subjects"
  • 2004-2005 Dissertation Fellowship, AAUW


Yasemin Yildiz received her M.A. in German Literature from the Universität Hamburg and her Ph.D. in German Studies from Cornell University. She also undertook graduate course work in Comparative Literature at the City University of New York on a Fulbright scholarship and attended the School for Criticism and Theory in Ithaca, NY. Her research focuses on twentieth- and twenty-first century German literature and culture.

Focused on canonical and minority writers working in German in the twentieth century, her book Beyond the Mother Tongue: The Postmonolingual Condition (New York: Fordham University Press, 2012) is a study of the tense co-existence of proliferating multilingual practices, on the one hand, and a still-dominant monolingual framework tied to the nation-state, on the other. In a key intervention, Beyond the Mother Tongue proposes to treat monolingualism not as a simple quantitative term but rather as a widespread structuring principle of modernity that emerged in late eighteenth-century Europe and impacted the imagination and construction of subjectivities and collectives, as well as the formation of numerous disciplines and institutions. From this historicized vantage point, writings after the emergence of the monolingual paradigm become legible as “postmonolingual,” that is, as marked by monolingualism but also as potentially trying to overcome it.

The specific readings of Beyond the Mother Tongue turn to particular forms of multilingualism, such as writing in one socially unsanctioned “mother tongue” about another language (Franz Kafka), mobilizing words of foreign derivation as part of a multilingualizing constellation within one language (Theodor W. Adorno), producing an oeuvre in two separate languages simultaneously (Yoko Tawada), writing by literally translating from the “mother tongue” into another language (Emine Sevgi Özdamar), and mixing different languages, codes, and registers within one text (Feridun Zaimoglu). Through these writers, Beyond the Mother Tongue suggests that the dimensions of gender, kinship, and affect encoded in the “mother tongue” are crucial to the persistence of monolingualism and the challenge of multilingualism.

Prof. Yildiz is currently at work on two larger projects. Her second authored book project is entitled “Governing European Subjects: The Discourse of “Muslim” Women and the Production of Europeanness in Contemporary Germany.” Observing the increased circulation of life stories of women cast as Muslim in contemporary Europe, this project asks what discursive work these depictions perform. Focusing on German literature, film, and media, “Governing European Subjects” suggests that the figure of the “Muslim woman” is mobilized particularly in contemporary discourses redefining multiculturalism, Holocaust memory, and the welfare state not just for minorities but for all Europeans. Portions of this research have appeared in Cultural Critique and in German Life and Letters. Funding for this project has been provided by a British Council Award, a Hewlett Research Travel Grant, and an Arnold O. Beckman Research Award from the University of Illinois.

Developing her interest in contemporary cultural dynamics in yet another direction, Prof. Yildiz was awarded a 2011-2012 ACLS Collaborative Fellowship from the American Council of Learned Societies for “Citizens of Memory: Immigrants and Holocaust Remembrance in Contemporary Germany,” a joint project with Michael Rothberg and Andrés Nader, which will result in a co-authored book. “Citizens of Memory”explores the effects of transnational migration on cultural memory,demonstrates the ways many immigrants take on the histories of their adopted societies, and interrogates the presumption of Muslim anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial. Remembrance of the Holocaust has been central to Germany’s national self-understanding in the decades since the genocide. Yet, in the last fifty years, the population of Germany has been significantly transformed by migrations of guestworkers and refugees. Immigrants of Muslim background in particular are often described as unwilling to “integrate” into German society and uninterested in Germany history and the Holocaust. However, much evidence exists to complicate this picture. Drawing on the complementary scholarly expertise of its three collaborators in Holocaust studies, migration studies, and memory studies, this project assembles and analyzes examples of immigrants grappling with the history of Nazism and the Holocaust in a variety of arenas, including community activism, novels, essays, performances, and songs. An article co-written by Prof. Yildiz and Prof. Rothberg, which presents initial findings, appeared in the journal Parallax in 2011.

Prof. Yildiz holds additional appointments in the Program in Comparative and World Literature, the Program in Jewish Culture and Society, and in Gender and Women’s Studies. She is also a member of the European Union Center and the Center for South Asian and Middle Eastern Studies.

During Fall 2013, she was Visiting Associate Professor of German at Harvard University.



Book Contributions

  • "Wordforce: Ethnicized Masculinity and Literary Style in _Kanak Sprak_ and _Koppstoff_." Feridun Zaimoglu. Comp. Tom Cheesman and Karin Yesilada. Cardiff/ UK: University of Wales Press, 2012. forthcoming.
  • "Immer noch keine Adresse in Deutschland? Adressierung als politische Strategie." Kritik des Okzidentalismus: Transdisziplinäre Beiträge zu (Neo-)Orientalismus und Geschlecht. Ed. Gabriele Dietze, Claudia Brunner, and Edith Wenzel. Bielefeld: Transcript, 2009. 83-99.
  • "Kritisch ‘Kanak’: Gesellschaftskritik, Sprache und Kultur bei Feridun Zaimoglu." Wider den Kulturenzwang: Migration, Kulturalisierung, Weltliteratur. Ed. Özkan Ezli, Dorothee Kimmich, and Anette Werberger. Bielefeld: Transcript, 2009. 187-206.
  • "Tawada’s Multilingual Moves: Toward a Transnational Imaginary." Yoko Tawada: Voices from Everywhere. Ed. Doug Slaymaker. Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 2007. 77-89.
  • "Critically ‘Kanak’: A Reimagination of German Culture." Globalization and the Future of German. Ed. Andreas Gardt and Bernd Hüppauf. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter, 2004. 319-340.
  • "Keine Adresse in Deutschland? Adressierung als politische Strategie." AufBrüche: Migrantinnen, Schwarze und jüdische Frauen im deutschsprachigen kulturellen Diskurs. Ed. Cathy Gelbin, Kader Konuk, and Peggy Piesche. Königstein: Ulrike Helmer Verlag, 1999. 224-236.
  • "Sharing Divided Times: Responses to the Uses of the Holocaust in the Works of Jean Améry and Ruth Klüger." Hearing the Voices: Teaching the Holocaust to Future Generations. Comp. Michael Hayse. Merion Station, PA: Merion Westfield P International, 1999. 173-180.

Journal Articles

  • "Governing European Subjects: Tolerance and Guilt in the Discourse of 'Muslim Women'." Cultural Critique 77.1 (2011): 70-101.
  • "In the Postmonolingual Condition: Karin Sander's 'Wordsearch' and Yoko Tawada's Wordplay." TRANSIT 7.1 (2011): 1-22.
  • Yildiz, Yasemin, and Michael Rothberg. "Memory Citizenship: Migrant Archives of Holocaust Remembrance in Contemporary Germany." Parallax (Special Issue on Transcultural Memory) 17.4 (2011): 32-48.
  • "Turkish Girls, Allah’s Daughters, and the Contemporary German Subject: Itinerary of a Figure." German Life and Letters 62.3 (2009): 465-481.
  • "Political Trauma and Literal Translation: Emine Sevgi Özdamar’s 'Mutterzunge’." Gegenwartsliteratur 7 (2008): 248-270.


  • Yildiz, Yasemin, and Andrés Nader. "Kritische Weißseinsforschung für die Praxis." Berliner Zustände 2008: Ein Schattenbericht über Rechtsextremismus, Rassismus und Homophobie. Berlin: 2009. 18-21.
  • "Transnationales Kulturarchiv: Deutsch zwischen Liebe, Migration und Mongolei." Berliner Gazette. 2006. <>.


  • Rev. of Germany in Transit: Nation and Migration 1955-2005, by Deniz Göktürk, David Gramling, and Anton Kaes. Germanic Review (2009): Forthcoming.
  • Rev. of Postmoderne und postkoloniale deutschsprachige Literatur. Diskurs—Analyse—Kritik, by Paul Michael Lützeler. Colloquia Germanica. 38.3/4 (2007): 327-329.
  • Rev. of Interkulturelle Literatur in Deutschland: Ein Handbuch, by Carmine Chiellino. Women in German Newsletter Summer (2002): 11-12.

Courses Taught

  • GER 211 Conversation and Writing I
  • GER 212 Conversation and Writing II
  • GER 331 Introduction to German Literature I
  • GER 332 Introduction to German Literature II
  • GER 401 Current Issues in German Media
  • GER 401 20 Years After the Fall of the Berlin Wall
  • GER 401 A Unified Country? Perspectives on German Unification
  • GER 420 German Cultural History
  • GER 473 Home, Homelessness, and Estrangement in German Literature from the 1920s to Today
  • GER 496 Reimagining Germany: Minority Literature
  • GER 575 Literature and Migration (Graduate Course)
  • GER 575 Writing after Monolingualism (Graduate Course)