Waltraud Maierhofer, Ph.D.

Professor, German
Professor, Global Health Studies

I am a professor of German literature and culture and also of Global Health Studies at the University of Iowa. I love to get students excited about another culture, learn what we have in common and what differentiates us, and explore human nature through narratives of human striving and accomplishments in its diverse forms. My research and teaching interests include German literature and culture from the eighteenth century to the present. I am especially interested in representations of health and Human Rights issues (contraception, abortion, disabilities), in intersections of historiography and fiction, ego-documents and biography, but also book illustrations and text–image relations, and I have edited several historical documents and translations.

I came to the University of Iowa in 1990 from the University of California at Santa Barbara. I earned my Dr. phil. (Ph. D.) in German and Philosophy at the University of Regensburg, Germany, in 1988.


I began with a dissertation on Goethe's last novel ('Wilhelm Meisters Wanderjahre' und der Roman des Nebeneinander [Goethe's last novel and the panoramic novel or Zeitroman of the nineteenth Century; Aisthesis, 1990) and teaching 18th- and 19th-century German literature as well as language at all levels, of course, and cultural history. My research and teaching areas have grown over the years and can be grouped in the areas of Classicism and its reception including in art and film, creative women of the 18th and 19th centuries, history and fiction, ego-documents/biography/biographical fiction; representations of historical women including persecutions. My publications include three monographs, six critical editions of primary sources, three editions volumes of scholarly articles, a text anthology with teaching materials for introductory German literature course (Deutsche Literatur im Kontext 1750-2000), three edited volumes of fictional works in English translation with notes and introductions plus several sections of edited books, and about 90 research articles and chapters in journals and collective volumes as well as about 90 book reviews. My main research interests over the last decade have been dedicated to representations of health and human rights issues in German (and World) fiction and film and book illustrations in the eras of German Classicism and Romanticism. My most popular book is an introduction to the life and works of the painter Angelika Kauffmann (Rowohlt, 1997, 5th edition 2019). I have also edited her correspondence.

My most recent books are critical editions of artworks by Johann Heinrich Ramberg, a nineteenth-century painter and prolific book illustrator: I investigate text and image relations in commentary and introduction in Karikatur in der Goethezeit. Die Bildergeschichte “Leben Strunks des Emporkömmlings” (Caricature in the Age of Goethe. The Picture Story “Life of Strunk the Upstart”; Schnell und Steiner, 2019) and in Reineke Fuchs. 31 Originalzeichnungen und neu kolorierte Radierungen mit Ausschnitten aus der Übersetzung des Epos von D. W. Soltau in Knittelversen / Reynard the Fox. 31 original drawings and newly colored etchings with excerpts from the English translation of the burlesque poem by Soltau (VDG 2016). Join me in the related Public Humanities project, a database of Ramberg’s illustrations and the corresponding publications, rambergillustrations.

Hexen – Huren – Heldenweiber. Bilder des Weiblichen in Erzähltexten über den Dreißigjährigen Krieg (Böhlau, 2005) examines representations of historical women and images of femininity in German narrative fiction about the Thirty Years’ War from Grimmelshausen to the Present.

I have worked with several students on translation and editing projects, such as Eveline Hasler’s Anna Goeldin: The Last Witch (Lighthouse Publishing, 2018). A translation of Hasler’s novel The Child Witches of Lucerne and Buchau with introduction and notes has been published with Roman & Littlefield. I use these translations in my class on witch hunts.

My interest in health and rights issues has taken me in a new direction. For example. I have contributed two chapters to the book coedited with Beth Widmaier Capo, Reproductive Rights Issues in Popular Media: International Perspectives (McFarland, 2017). I have contributed chapters to Disability in German-Speaking Europe (Camden House, 2022) and The Palgrave Handbook of Reproductive Justice and Literature (Palgrave, 2022).

For a more comprehensive view of my work, please see my list of publications.

For most recent publications, please to go "Research and Creative Work" in the navigation bar above.


  • Many first-year seminars and seminars in the Honors program.
  • GHS/WLLC/GWSS:1100 - Contraception across Time and Cultures
  • GHS/GRMN/WLLC/DST:1200 - Disabilities in Global Writing and Film
  • GRMN:2600 - Witch Hunts in Fact and Fiction
  • GRMN/CL:2666 - Pact with the Devil
  • GRMN:3010 - Stories in German
  • GRMN:3104 - Composition and Conversation
  • GRMN:3405 - German Cultural History
  • GRMN:3501 - Introduction to Literature
  • GRMN:4540 - Literature in Film
  • GRMN:4730 - Beautiful Souls and Scandalous Writings

Dissertations Directed (selection)

M.A. Thesis Director (selection)

  • Casey Wilmesmeier (2008), World Language Teacher, City High School, Iowa City
  • Kim Harpole (2007), German teacher, Millard South High School, Omaha, Nebraska
  • Amber Wozniak (2010), German teacher, Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy

Honors thesis mentor (latest)

Awards and Service

  • 2020-2025 International Association for Germanic Studies/Internationale Vereinigung für Germanistik (IVG): Elected Vice President: conference preparation for the 2025 conference in Graz, Austria
  • 2021-2022 Interim DEO for the Department of German
  • Main organizer of 2022 "Provost's Global Forum: Teaching Anne Frank"
  • For the department and DWLLC: UI International Programs Major Project Award (2021)
  • For the department: UI International Programs Global Research Partnership Award (2020)
  • Advisory board International Association for Germanic Studies (IVG) (2010-2021)
  • Alexander von Humboldt Foundation fellowship (several)
  • Co-editor Feminist German Studies (2015-2018)
  • Duke August Library Wolfenbüttel short-term fellowship (2013)
  • University of Iowa May Brodbeck Award (2009)
  • Humboldtians on Campus liaison for prospective applicants
  • Eighteenth-Century Studies: advisory editor
  • Eighteenth-Century Current Bibliography: field editor and book review editor (2004-2012)
  • 2010-2021 International Association for Germanic Studies/Internationale Vereinigung für Germanistik (IVG): Elected member of the international advisory board and conference preparation for the 2015 conference in Shanghai, China and 2021 (postponed from 2020) in Palermo, Italy
  • 2019 CLAS DSHB Faculty Scholar Award
  • 2018 Interim faculty director of the Global Health Studies Program
  • 2018-2021 Coalition of Women in German, an affiliated organization of the Modern Languages Association of America: Member editorial board, Feminist German Studies
  • 2015-2018 Co-editor for Women-in-German Yearbook; 2018 new title, Feminist German Studies
  • 2006-2015 Coalition of Women in German elected treasurer and endowment fund administrator
Research areas
  • German
Waltraud Maierhofer
Dr. phil. (Ph. D.) in German and Philosophy, University of Regensburg, Germany, 1988
Contact Information

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