Sarah M. Henneböhl


  1. Ph.D. University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign
  2. Magistra Artium, Universität Konstanz, Germany


I earned my Master’s degree in English and American Literature, German Literature and Philosophy from the University of Constance, Germany, and my PhD from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. My research interests include twentieth and twenty-first century German literature – women writers in particular, postcolonial studies, and critical whiteness studies. I am currently working on a book-length manuscript Weiße Weiblichkeiten: Afrika, deutschsprachige Schriftstellerinnen und ihre (post-)koloniale Verortung von Geschlecht.

My research interests and my strong belief that it is important to teach German culture as a diverse culture inform my course design. I invite my students to critically reflect on German culture and their own native culture(s) by challenging their belief systems and expanding their abilities to examine a topic critically and from multiple perspectives. I consider my commitment to my students the central drive behind my teaching, and I honor it - and will continue to do so - through a critical reflection of my own teaching practices, and a curiosity towards new course topics.

Recent Publications


“The Survivor as ‘Implicated Subject’ in Stefanie Zweig’s Autobiographical Novels.” German Speaking Women, Africa and the African Diaspora. Eds. Lisbeth Hock, Michelle James and Priscilla Layne. Forthcoming.



FALL 2020

GER 420: Genre ("'Deutschland Schwarz Weiss:' Afro-German History and Writing") 

Course Description: Das Thema dieses Kurses ist motiviert durch die im Sommer 2020 entstandene globale Diskussion über strukturellen Rassismus, die angestoßen durch Proteste in den USA u.a. durch die #BlackLivesMatter-Protestbewegung in vielen Staaten mit einer weißen Mehrheitsgesellschaft und daher auch in Deutschland geführt wird. Afrikaner und Menschen afrikanischer Herkunft sind seit der Antike ein Bestandteil der deutschen Gesellschaft. In diesem Kurs werden wir Momente schwarz-weißer Begegnungen historisch beleuchten, aber auch Einzelschicksale von Afrodeutschen mithilfe von Autobiografien und Videointerviews herausstellen. Ein Einblick in die historische Entwicklung der Afrodeutschen Minderheit und eine kritische Auseinandersetzung mit rassistischen Strukturen und Tendenzen in der deutschen Gesellschaft – damals und heute – sollen in diesem Kurs zu einem kritischen Deutschlandbild beitragen.

GER 302: Intermediate German Composition and Grammar

Course Description: In GER 302, students will practice their reading and writing skills in German. The language of instruction will be German. If you are looking to improve your speaking and/or listening skills in German, this is not your class. Those skills are targeted in GER 301.The goal of the course is to familiarize students with not only written German texts but to improve students’ grammatical and stylistic precision in written German discourse. Writing assignments may include descriptive, narrative, summarizing/expositional, argumentative, or imaginative text forms. You will receive instruction to help you with your accurate and correct use of intermediate-level grammatical structures in written German. However, this is a 300-level German language class, which means that students have had at least 4-5 semesters of German language instruction (or the equivalent) prior to taking this course. We will review certain grammatical features, but students are expected to know the basic grammatical components of the German language. In addition, you will read a number of shorter texts (non-fictional and fictional). You might wonder why the course has a reading component. Here is why:

    • Reading German texts exposes students to new vocabulary and familiarizes them with writing conventions of the German language.
    • Genre-specific texts will serve as a model for students’ own writing projects.
    • There simply is no good writer who is not also an avid reader.


GER 190: 20th-century German Literature in English Translation ("Narratives of Injustice")

Course Description: Historically, the twentieth century was a very turbulent century for Germany. It was a century of extreme violence, as witnessed by the years 1914 and 1939 with the outbreak of the First World War and the unleashing of the Second World War and the Holocaust. It was also a century of revolutions: the revolutionary autumn in 1918 and the establishment of Germany’s first democracy, the Weimar Republic; and the peaceful revolution of the late 1980s that led to the Fall of the Berlin Wall and the reunification of a country that had been divided into East and West as a result of its defeat during WWII. In this class, we look at these complex histories through the lens of major works of literature and film that feature social injustice, e.g. racism, sexism, and other forms of oppression. Sadly, and unjustifiably, some of these works, e.g. Vicki Baum’s Grand Hotel, a bestseller in the 1930s that not only made it to the screen, but won the Academy Award in 1932; or Verena Stefan’s Shedding which became arguably the most influential novel for the German feminist movement of the 1970s/1980s, fell into oblivion. Yet, all of the works offer not only an intriguing and important perspective on the time of their origin, but a relevant lesson for readers/viewers in the present. We will examine the uniquely German experience of the 20th century by situating these works into their socio-political context, but we will show their relevance and use them to discuss social injustice as a global and timeless phenomenon by tying them to political debates of the 21st century. Although the main emphasis of this course lies on literary works, we will discuss a number of films in dialogue with the readings.

 Recent Courses

  • GER 408: Advanced Business German
  • GER 401: Advanced German Composition
  • GER 310: Introduction to the Study of German Literature
  • GER 1: Beginning German (online)


PSU German Day (Committee Co-chair)

Germanic and Slavic Languages Awards and Graduation Ceremony, Spring 2020 (Committee Chair)