Gerhard F. Straßer
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Gerhard F. Straßer

Emeritus Professor of German and Comparative Literature



  1. Ph.D. Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island, 1974
  2. „Pädagogisches Staatsexamen für das Lehramt an Gymnasien,“ Regensburg, Germany, 1967
  3. „Wissenschaftliches Staatsexamen für das Lehramt an Gymnasien,“ Munich, 1965
  4. “Abitur” (with distinction), 1959


Dr. Straßer retired in 2004 as professor emeritus after 25 years at Penn State. Some of his recent publications focus on the work of the German 17th-century polyhistor, Athanasius Kircher; in commemoration of his 400th birthday on May 2, 2002, he organized an exhibit at the Herzog August Bibliothek for which a "virtual tour" is available at URL: In 2000, he published Emblematik und Mnemonik im Zusammenspiel, and in 2004 the co-edition of a symposium entitled Die Domänen des Emblems, highlighting his renewed interest in emblematics and mnemonics. In the same year Dr. Straßer returned to his native Bavaria. He continues his research work at the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek in Munich, where he is working in several separate areas—emblematics, cryptology, and historical linguistics. In 2007, "The Rise of Cryptology in the European Renaissance" appeared in The History of Information Security: A Comprehensive Handbook. Amsterdam (Holland) et al.: Elsevier, 277-325. In September of 2007, he co-organized a symposium at the Herzog August Bibliothek with Dr. Thomas Stäcker of this library on "Bibliotheken und ihre Nutzer, 1650-1850."

A year later, Dr. Straßer brought to the Penn State Libraries an exhibition on the heroic rescue by a local policeman of 13 Nazi concentration camp prisoners from their death march through Bavaria in April of 1945, and in 2011 he participated at Ergoldsbach (Bavaria), the town where the 13 prisoners were rescued, in a follow-up exhibit that researched the fate of these survivors. “Von der Lingua Adamica zur Lingua universalis“ came out in Diskurse der Gelehrtenkultur in der Frühen Neuzeit, a collection of essays edited by Herbert Jaumann for De Gruyter in Berlin in 2011, 517-592.  You may read his essay  “Ansätze zu internationaler Verständigung durch konstruierte Sprachen“ [Attempts at International Communication Through Constructed Languages]: Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, Munich: Online resource, 2013.  51 pg. with illustrations), which is an expanded version of a symposium lecture delivered at the opening of the exhibit entitled “Zwischen Utopie und Wirklichkeit: Konstruierte Sprachen für die globalisierte Welt“ (Between Utopia and Reality: Constructed Languages for a Globalized World), accessible through the URL: (bottom of page, “Weiterführende Literatur.  Gerhard F. Strasser). 

At the same time a second, extensive on-line publication appeared at the Herzog August Bibliothek—the edition (in English) of an illustrated para-emblematic French sonnet sequence from 1600, URL: With Prof. Christian Biet, Université de Paris X, he is currently preparing this on-line material for a publication in French in the series Classiques Garnier (to appear 2016).

Dr. Strasser also published “The Impact on the European Humanities on Early Reports from Catholic Missionaries from China, Tibet and Japan between 1600 and 1700.“  In Rens Brod, Japp Maat and Thijs Weststeijn, eds.  The Making of the Humanities.  Vol. II: From Early Modern to Modern DisciplinesAmsterdam: Amsterdam Univ. Press, 2012, 185-207.

In the fall of 2012, Dr. Strasser was distinguished with the College of the Liberal Arts Emeritus Distinction Award!

In 2013, Dr. Strasser delivered a keynote lecture, “Die Wissenschaft der Alphabete.  Universalsprachen vom 16. bis zum frühen 19. Jahrhundert im Kontext von Kryptografie und Philosophie“ (The Science of Alphabets.  Universal Languages from the 16th to the Early 19th Century within the Framework of Cryptography and Philosophy) to the Conference at the Forschungszentrum Gotha/University of Erfurt on “Geheime Post.  Kryptologie und Steganographie der diplomatischen Korrespondenz europäischer Höfe während der Frühen Neuzeit“ (Secret Mails.  Cryptology and Steganography in the Diplomatic Correspondence of European Courts During the Early Modern Period).

In 2014 he participated in the Fifth International Comparative Literature Conference in Mersin (Turkey), speaking on “Reflections of Mid-17th-Century Plague Epidemics in Science and Literature.“ He returned to Turkey in 2015 for invited lectures at Bilkent University and Gazi University.