Vanessa Schmolke has just completed her PhD exams and started working on her dissertation project, called “Unseen Dangers: the Narration of Invisible Environmental Threats in Contemporary German Literature” (advisor: Sabine Wilke). In her dissertation, she is going to analyze the presentation of urgent environmental threats, such as climate change, the extinction of species, and nuclear danger, in contemporary German literature. Many of these environmental perils cannot be perceived visually by our human eye and Vanessa is aiming to identify narrative patterns and strategies to present these threats in contemporary literary narratives.
Vanessa also serves as this year’s graduate student representative of the department. In this position she was involved in organizing a roundtable discussion on gender equity earlier this quarter. Further, she has helped organize professionalization workshops to prepare the department’s graduate students for their lives after their dissertation.