Michael Swellander, Ph.D.

Visiting Assistant Professor

Michael Swellander joined the Department of German in 2019. His research interests include the history of political literature, aesthetics under censorship, journalism, satire, German nationalism, and the Vormärz period (especially Heinrich Heine and Georg Büchner). He is currently working on a study of how the historicity of literature—the irresistible trace in literary writing of the times in which its written—was imagined as being inherently subversive by Vormärz writers like Ludwig Börne, Heinrich Heine, and the authors of Young Germany.

Michael Swellander teaches at all levels of the German curriculum. In his language, literature, and culture courses he encourages students to use German as a means of expressing and questioning their experience. In Michael’s classroom, German is a living language that can be learned, but also used creatively. In literature classes, Michael enjoys teaching literary forms that push canonical boundaries, from Kleist’s anecdotes to Dadaist sound poetry to Stefanie Sargnagel’s Facebook status updates.

Upcoming and recent presentations 

  • “Substituting Tin for Bronze: How Censorship Made Vormärz Authors Write Longer Books,” MLA 2022 Convention, Washington, D.C., January 6-9, 2022.
  • “‘Yes, He Was a Mighty Poet’”: Heine’s ‘Jehuda Ben Halevy’ and World Literature,” MLA 2021 Convention, Toronto, ON, January 7-10, 2021.
  • “State Corrections Office: Ludwig Börne’s Errata and the Importance of Error for History,” MLA 2020 Convention, Seattle, WA, January 9-12, 2020.
  • “The Censored Present: Young Germany’s Realism,” 43rd Annual Conference of The German Studies Association (GSA), Portland, OR, October 3-6, 2019.

Professional Memberships 

  • Modern Language Association
  • German Studies Association
  • The North American Heine Society (board member)
Research areas
  • German
Michael Swellander
Ph.D., Columbia University, 2019

554 Phillips Hall (PH)
Iowa City, IA 52242
United States