Elisabeth Bronfen

Literature and Cultural Studies, University of Zurich & New York University

Elisabeth Bronfen is Professor Emerita at the University of Zurich and Global Distinguished Professor at New York University. After completing her B.A. and M.A. at Harvard University, she received both her PhD from the University of Munich in 1986 and her habilitation in 1991. She has had visiting professorships at the University of Copenhagen, at the University of Odense, the University of Aarhus, Columbia University, Princeton University, the University of Queensland, the Catholic University in Lisbon, the University of Bergamo, and the Université Paris-Diderot. She has been a fellow at the Louise Bourgeois Studio in New York, at the IKKM in Weimar and at the Instituto Svizzero in Rom. She was awarded the Martin Warnke-Medaille from the Aby-Warburg Stiftung in 2017 and an honorary doctorate from the Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg in 2020. She has curated exhibitions at the Ausstellungshalle der BRD, the Aargauer Kunsthaus, and is currently working on a show at the Graphische Sammlung of the ETH, Zürich. She is a member of the Advisory Board of the Hamburg Institute for Advanced Studies.

Elisabeth Bronfen’s research is in English, American, and Comparative literature from the 18th century to the present. Her interest in gender studies, cultural analysis, psychoanalysis, visual culture, and intermedia studies includes monographs on the aesthetic representations of feminine death, on hysteria as a form of artistic expression, on the cultural history of the night, on Hollywood genre cinema, on contemporary TV drama as well as on literary and cinematic representations of pandemics. Under the title Crossmappings. Essays in Visual Culture (Scheidegger & Spiess 2011) she has published a selection of her essays for exhibition catalogues. Her longstanding interest in Shakespeare has resulted in a recent monograph, Serial Shakespeare. An Infinite Variety of Appropriations in American TV drama (Manchester University Press 2020). She has also published her cooking memoires, Obsessed (Rutgers University Press 2019), and a novel, entitled Händler der Geheimnisse (Limmat Verlag 2023).

At HIAS, Elisabeth Bronfen will continue her work on seriality and Shakespeare and finish a book manuscript (for S. Fischer Verlag). Rather than discussing these plays in relation to questions of genre or historical chronology, her project proposes a serial reading of Shakespeare’s oeuvre. At issue is both the interplay between repetition and variation as a dramaturgic principle for individual plays as well as the transformation of key thematic constellations as these open up lines of association between various plays. Part of this project is also the production of a dramatic mash-up, which focusses on one such constellation, namely the Shakespearean heroine as theatrical director.

Elisabeth Bronfen’s tandem partner is Cornelia Zumbusch, professor for Modern German Literature at Universität Hamburg.

Her HIAS fellowship is funded by the ZEIT STIFTUNG BUCERIUS.


Cornelia Zumbusch, professor for Modern German Literature, Universität Hamburg.