Yasemin Yildiz is Associate Professor of German and Comparative Literature at UCLA. Previously, she held a tenured position in German at the University of Illinois and served as a Visiting Associate Professor of German at Harvard University.
Her research focuses on twentieth- and twenty-first century literature and culture, with interests in literary multilingualism and translation, migration and transnational studies, minority discourses (especially Turkish-German and German-Jewish), memory studies, gender studies, and Holocaust studies.
Prof. Yildiz’s book, Beyond the Mother Tongue: The Postmonolingual Condition (New York: Fordham University Press, 2012) won the MLA’s Scaglione Prize in Germanic Languages and Literatures in 2012 and received Honorable Mention for the Laura Shannon Prize for Contemporary European Studies in 2014. Beyond the Mother Tongue argues that the multilingual practices in literature, arts, and everyday life that have increasingly come into public and scholarly view since the 1990s cannot be understood without recognition of monolingualism as a historically specific, shaping force that continues to frame and impact those practices to this day. The particular chapters investigate the investments in, engagements with, and attempted resistances to the monolingual paradigm in the multilingual writings of authors ranging from Kafka and Adorno to Yoko Tawada, Emine Sevgi Özdamar, and Feridun Zaimoglu. Through these readings, Beyond the Mother Tongue suggests that the dimensions of gender, kinship, and affect encoded in the “mother tongue” are crucial to the persistence of monolingualism and the challenge of multilingualism.
Currently, Prof. Yildiz is working on the book project Citizens of Memory: Migrant Archives of Holocaust Remembrance, co-authored with Michael Rothberg. This book in progress explores the effect of transnational migration on cultural memory. More specifically, Citizens of Memory assembles and analyzes a wide range of memory work by Germany-based immigrant writers, artists, and activists relating to National Socialism, the Holocaust, and World War II. The interventions of the project lie in offering a new (or newly visible) archive of materials, a recalibrated account of postwar Germany that brings together memory discourses and migration history, and a conceptual rethinking of the relationship of memory and migration more generally. Funding for this project has been provided by the ACLS.
In a separate research project that has to date led to peer-reviewed articles and the organization of an interdisciplinary conference, Prof. Yildiz has been investigating the figure of the “Muslim woman” in contemporary European discourses. Observing the increased circulation of life stories of women cast as Muslim in contemporary Europe, this project asks what discursive work these depictions perform. It proposes that the stock figure of the oppressed Muslim woman has taken on new functions in twenty-first century Europe, namely redefining European values, subjects, and attachments particularly on the political left, in addition to functioning as a disciplinary tool targeting minorities (newly) cast as Muslim.
Prof. Yildiz received her M.A. in German Literature from the Universität Hamburg and her Ph.D. in German Studies from Cornell University. She also undertook graduate course work in Comparative Literature at the City University of New York on a Fulbright scholarship and attended the School for Criticism and Theory in Ithaca, NY.
More information can be found here.
“Berlin as a Migratory Setting.” Cambridge Companion to the Literature of Berlin. Ed. by Andrew Webber. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2016 (forthcoming).
“Wordforce: Ethnicized Gender and Literary Style in Kanak Sprak and Koppstoff.” Feridun Zaimoglu. Ed. by Tom Cheesman and Karin E. Yesilada. Contemporary German Writers and Filmmakers Series. Bern: Peter Lang, 2012. 71-91.
“Memory Citizenship: Migrant Archives of Holocaust Remembrance in Contemporary Germany.” With Michael Rothberg. Parallax. Special Issue: “Transcultural Memory” 17.4 (2011): 32-48.
“Governing European Subjects: Tolerance and Guilt in the Discourse of ‘Muslim Women’” Cultural Critique 77.1 (2011): 70-101.
“Turkish Girls, Allah’s Daughters, and the Contemporary German Subject: Itinerary of a Figure.” German Life and Letters 62.3 (2009): 465-481.
“Immer noch keine Adresse in Deutschland? Adressierung als politische Strategie.” Kritik des Okzidentalismus: Transdisziplinäre Beiträge zu (Neo-)Orientalismus und Geschlecht. [Still no Address in Germany? Forms of Address as Political Strategy. Critique of Occidentalism: Transdisciplinary Contributions on (Neo-)Orientalism and Gender] Ed. by Gabriele Dietze, Claudia Brunner, and Edith Wenzel. Bielefeld: Transcript, 2009, 83-99.