Julia Hell studied in France, Germany, and the U.S. After receiving her Ph.D. in 1989 with a dissertation on the historical novel, she taught at Duke University from 1989 to 1997 in the Department of German and the Program in Literature. In 1998, she received the MLA’s Scaglione Prize for her Post-Fascist Fantasies (Duke UP, 1997). For selected parts of the text, see the following pdf documents: Contents, Introduction, History as Trauma. Interested in the politics of culture, Hell has published extensively on the topic of post-fascist East and West German literature and visual arts, and German culture after 1989 (with articles on Uwe Johnson, W. G. Sebald, Neo Rauch, Anselm Kiefer, Uwe Tellkamp; Janina Bauman, Heiner Müller, Peter Weiss; for more see list of publications below). Hell also contributed entries on East German literature to the The New History of German Literature (Harvard UP, 2004).
Hell subsequently pursued this interest in the intersection of politics and the arts in the field of ruin studies, organizing a conference (2005), followed by the publication of Ruins of Modernity (Duke UP, 2010). She contributed an essay on the ruins of the Third Reich (“Imperial Ruin Gazers, or Why did Scipio Weep?”), and co-authored the introduction with Andreas Schönle (Slavic Studies; University of London). For more information, click here. Hell and also published a special issue on ruin studies (for her introduction, see “Las Vegas/Detroit: Endings and New Beginnings.” The Germanic Review, vol. 86, no. 4 (Winter 2011): 225 – 231). Dealing with the connection between the phenomenology of ruins and the epistemology of realism after 1945, Hell’s original contribution to the ruins conference appeared in John Zilcosky’s Writing Travel under the title “Ruins Travel: Orphic Journeys Through 1940s Germany.”
In her recent scholarship, Hell has moved beyond national and chronological boundaries. Her current work deals with European imperialism, focusing on the problematic of post-Roman mimesis and the specter of Rome’s fall. This work is informed by political theory, in particular the work of Hannah Arendt and Carl Schmitt. Her article on Schmitt’s concept of the katechontic sovereign (see below) addresses the topic of post-Roman mimesis in the context of the Nazi Empire. One of her recent articles explores the nexus of empire and ruins in a contemporary setting (see “Ruinopolis: Post-Imperial Theory and Learning from Las Vegas.” International Journal of Urban and Regional Research 38.3 (April 2014): 1047 – 1068; first author; with George Steinmetz; German Studies and Sociology). In “Demolition Artists: Icono-Graphy, Tanks, and Scenarios of (Post-) Communist Subjectivity in Works by Neo Rauch, Heiner Müller, Durs Grünbein, and Uwe Tellkamp” (The Germanic Review. 89.2 (2014): 131-170) Hell proposes a post-imperial approach to the study of East German culture.
A former co-editor of The Germanic Review Hell is currently serving on the editorial board of the PMLA. She served on the editorial board of PMLA and The German Quarterly and currently serves on the advisory board of Signale: Modern German Letters, Culture, and Thought (electronic book series at Cornell UP), and the e-journal Konturen: Interdisciplinary Journal for German Cultural Analysis.
On the undergraduate level Professor Hell’s courses include: The Third Reich and its Legacies; Introduction to German Literature: The Family; Twentieth Century German Philosophy. On the graduate level: Realism: Theory and Aesthetics; German Colonialism (with George Steinmetz); Hauntings: A Seminar in Psychoanalysis; Trauma and Cultural Analysis (with James Porter); Post-Fascist Cultures; Ruins (with Andreas Schönle); Political Theory: From Weber to Schmitt (with George Steinmetz).