Leslie A. Adelson

Jacob Gould Schurman Professor of German Studies


Professor Adelson’s teaching and research concentrate on German literature from 1945 to the present and additionally reflect interdisciplinary as well as transnational approaches to culture and history. Her focal interests include German literature of the post-war and post-socialist eras, emergent literatures often associated with minority and migrant populations (especially regarding Jews, Turks, and Black Germans), and postcolonial theories of difference and approximation. Additional research and teaching projects revolve around futurity and experiments in narrative form in German literature of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, especially in the prose miniatures of Alexander Kluge and narrative writing by so-called minority authors. The Jacob Gould Schurman Professor of German Studies, Adelson previously chaired the Department of German Studies for nine years and directed Cornell’s interdisciplinary Institute for German Cultural Studies for seven.  She belongs to Cornell University’s graduate fields in German Studies, Comparative Literature, Jewish Studies, as well as Feminist, Gender & Sexuality Studies.  She additionally serves on advisory boards for several book series, including the Stauffenburg Verlag's Discussion Series on Inter- und Multikultur, the Stauffenburg Verlag's Studies in Contemporary German Literature, and Cornell University Press’s Signale: Modern German Letters, Cultures, and Thought.  A member of the international advisory board for the Alexander Kluge-Jahrbuch since its inception in 2014 and a contributing editor for New German Critique from 1983 to 2020, she additionally served on the editorial board for New German Critique from 2020 through 2023.  She regularly assists many other presses, journals, and research organizations with scholarly evaluations as well.  In 2020 she was one of two senior scholars to be awarded the international Preis der Gesellschaft für interkulturelle Germanistik 2019.


Office Hours

By appointment only

Research Focus

  • German Literature Since 1945
  • Literary Theory and Cultural History
  • Migration and Minority Discourses
  • Turkish-German Literary Studies
  • Future Studies and Narrative Theory
  • Postcolonial Theory and German Studies
  • German-Jewish Studies
  • Feminist Theory and Women's Literature


  • “Experimental Voice and Anti-Racist Narrative in Contemporary German Literature: Alexander Kluge’s Colonial Miniatures and Sharon Dodua Otoo’s Epic Adas Raum.Gegenwartsliteratur: Ein germanistisches Jahrbuch 21 (2022): 259-296

  • “The Heterogeneity of Future Narrative: Reading Time with Hannah Arendt, Michael Götting, and Alexander Kluge.” Parallaxen moderner Zeitlichkeit. Ed. Patrick Eisenlohr, Stefan Kramer, and Andreas Langenohl. Ästhetische Eigenzeiten 22. Hannover: Wehrhahn, 2021, 31-51

  • Alexander Kluge: New Perspectives on Creative Arts and Critical Practice. Guest-edited spec. issue of New German Critique 139 (February 2020)
  • The Poetic Power of Theory. Co-ed. Richard Langston, Leslie Adelson, N.D. Jones, and Leonie Wilms. Alexander Kluge-Jahrbuch 6 (2019)
  • “From Erfahrungshunger to Realitätshunger: Futurity, Migration, and Difference.” Transatlantic German Studies: Testimonials to the Profession. Ed. Paul Michael Lützeler and Peter Höyng. Rochester, NY: Camden House, 2018. 5-22
  • “Future Narrative as Contested Ground: Emine Sevgi Özdamar’s ‘Bahnfahrt’  and Michael Götting’s Contrapunctus.” Gegenwartsliteratur: Ein germanistisches Jahrbuch 17 (2018): 41-67
  • Cosmic Miniatures and the Future Sense: Alexander Kluge’s 21st-Century Literary Experiments in German Culture and Narrative Form (Berlin: De Gruyter, 2017)
  • “Literary Imagination and the Future of Literary Studies.” Deutsche Vierteljahrsschrift für Literaturwissenschaft und Geistesgeschichte 89.4 (2015): 675-683
  • Futurity Now. Co-edited with Devin Fore. Spec. issue of Germanic Review 88.3 (2013)
  • "Horizons of Hope: Alexander Kluge's Cosmic Miniatures and Walter Benjamin." GegenwartsLiteratur: Ein germanistisches Jahrbuch 13 (2014): 203-225.
  • "Kosmopolitisch und parallel? Unterwegs auf 'verrosteten Schienen' mit Yoko Tawada im postnationalen Roman Das nackte Auge (2004)." Trans. Johannes Wankhammer. Kosmopolitische 'Germanophonie'? Postnationale Perspektiven in der deutschsprachigen Gegenwartsliteratur. Ed. Christine Meyer. Würzburg: Königshausen & Neumann, 2012. 273-292.
  • "The Future of Futurity: Alexander Kluge and Yoko Tawada." The Germanic Review 86.3 (2011): 153-184
  • "Experiment Mars, Turkish Migration, and the Future of Europe: Imaginative Ethnoscapes in Contemporary German Literature." Ethnic Europe: Mobility, Identity, and Conflict in a Globalized World. Ed. Roland Hsu. Stanford, CA: Stanford UP, 2010. 192-211
  • “Experiment Mars.” Über Gegenwartsliteratur. Interpretationen—Kritiken—Interventionen.  Ed. Mark W. Rectanus. Bielefeld: Aisthesis, 2008. 23-49
  • The Turkish Turn in Contemporary German Literature: Toward a New Critical  Grammar of Migration. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2005
  • “Migrants and Muses.” The New History of German Literature.  Ed. David E. Wellbery et al. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2004.  912-917
  • The Cultural After-Life of East Germany: New Transnational Perspectives.  Ed. Leslie A. Adelson. Helen & Harry Gray Humanities Program Series 13.  Washington, D.C.: American Institute for Contemporary German Studies, 2002
  • “Against Between: A Manifesto.” Unpacking Europe. Ed.  Salah Hassan and Iftikhar Dadi. Rotterdam: NAI, 2001. 244-255
  • Zafer Şenocak. Atlas of a Tropical Germany: Essays on Politics and Culture,  1990-1998. Ed. and trans. Leslie A. Adelson. Lincoln: University of Nebraska  Press, 2000
  • Making Bodies, Making History: Feminism and German Identity. Lincoln:  University of Nebraska Press, 1993
  • Crisis of Subjectivity: Botho Strauß’s Challenge to West German  Prose of the 1970s. Amsterdam: Rodopi, 1984

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