Associate Chair, Department of Germanic Languages and Literatures, Associate Professor of German Studies and Director, Museum Studies Program
Kerstin Barndt studied German literature, philosophy, and linguistics. Her research and teaching focuses on the literary, museum and exhibition cultures of the long twentieth century, and the history of reading.
Sentiment and Sobriety. The New Woman Novel in the Weimar Republic, Barndt's first book, explores the intersections between gender, literary form, and an emerging "middle sphere" within Germany's literary public after WWI. The project's particular emphasis on gender theory and women's history has also opened doors to the museum world. At Dresden's Hygiene Museum (Museum of Hygiene), Barndt curated exhibits on the history of abortion, and the birth control pill.
Her current book manuscript, Layers of Time. Exhibiting History in Contemporary Germany undertakes a journey through a number of museums, post-industrial landscape projects, and exhibitions. The sites selected for this study work through the tensions between national representation and regional revival, globalization, deindustrialization, and migration. Each site also carries a particular set of temporal and historiographical concerns foward, from the deep time of nature to the anthropocene, from the history of war, industrialization to the temporal structure of the everyday.
Her research and publication projects also include a new book series, co-edited with Stephan Jaeger on "Museums and Narratives" (de Gruyter), and two editorial projects: a critical edition of Vicki Baum's play Menschen im Hotel/Grand Hotel that will be part of a new edition of Baum's works at Wallstein Verlag; and the first English translation of Friedrich Wolf's 1929 abortion drama Cyanide.
Barndt has also worked as a curator, first at the Deutsches Hygiene-Museum in Dresden, Germany, and currently in Michigan. For the University of Michigan's bicentennial year in 2017, Barndt has collaborated with Carla Sinopoli on an extensive research project into the history of the University's collections and museums of natural history, archaeology and art. As part of this project Barndt curated the exhibition Object Lessons. Recollecting Museum Histories at Michigan and co-edited the book Object Lessons and the Formation of Knowledge. The University of Michigan's Museums, Libraries and Collection, 1817-2017. From 2020-2023, she served as director of the University of Michigan's Museum Studies Program.
- Humanities Collaboratory Project Development Grant 
- LSA and U-M Bicentennial Grants for Object Lessons 
- UMOR Grant for Artistic Production 
- MCubed Grant 
- Helmut F. Stern Professor Fellowship, Instiute for the Humanities [2013-14]
- DAAD Research Fellowship 
- Women in German Dissertation Prize 
Field(s) of Study
- Modernism and the Avant-Gardes
- Museum Studies
- Cultural Studies
- Gender Studies