Director of American Studies
Department of History
Katharina Vester is Assistant Professor of History and Director of the American Studies Program at American University in Washington, D.C. She specializes in cultural theory, transnational studies, and the dynamics of power in everyday practices. She was Assistant Professor of American Studies at the University of Bochum from 2002-2007, where she earned her Ph.D. summa cum laude. She holds an MA in American Culture from the University of Potsdam and the Free University of Berlin. She is completing a book manuscript on the construction of identity narratives and resistance to hegemonic norms of gender, race and sexuality in culinary discourses.
Her most recent publications include "Regime Change: Gender, Class, and the Invention of Dieting in Post-Bellum America" in the Journal of Social History (Fall 2010) and "Queer Appetites, Butch Cooking – Recipes for Lesbian Subjectivities," Queers in American Popular Culture, edited by Jim Elledge (Praeger, 2010). She is the editor, with Kornelia Freitag, of Another Language: Poetic Experiments in Britain and North America, in series: Transnational and Transatlantic American Studies (LIT Verlag, 2008).
DegreesPhD, American Studies, University of Bochum
MA, American Culture, University of Potsdam and Free University of Berlin
Languages Spoken:Fluent in English and German, State certificate in Latin and ancient Greek, Reading knowledge of Spanish
Scholarly, Creative & Professional Activities
Vester studies American cultures under the impact of globalization, immigration and post-colonialism. She uses an interdisciplinary approach, drawing on literary criticism, history, philosophy, and visual studies. She examines the power relations inherent in discourses surrounding body ideals, culinary practices, and ethnic communities from the mid-nineteenth to the twenty-first century.
- Kornelia Freitag and Katharina Vester, eds., Another Language: Poetic Experiments in Britain and North America, in series: Transnational and Transatlantic American Studies (Berlin: LIT Verlag, 2008).
- “Tender Mutton: Recipes, Sexual Identity and Spinster Resistance in Gertrude Stein,” in Kornelia Freitag and Katharina Vester, eds., Another Language: Poetic Experiments in Britain and North America, in series: Transnational and Transatlantic American Studies (Berlin: LIT Verlag, 2008).
- “‘I Yam What I Am’: Identitätsstiftende Texte aus der afro-amerikanischen Küche” [Identity Construction in Texts from African American Foodways], in Peter Drexler, ed., Negotiating Diversity: Aspects of Identity in Anglophone Culture (Berlin: Trafo Verlag, 2003), 191-208.
- “International Students - Transnational Research,” in Walter Grünzweig, ed., The United States in Global Contexts: American Studies after 9/11 and Iraq (Münster: LIT Verlag, 2004).
- “Turning the Holocaust into 200,000 Square Feet of Cement.” Jewish Bulletin of Northern California, October 21, 2005.
- “Das dritte Geschlecht. Male Warbrides, musizierende Transvestiten, und Metrosexuality: Die Herstellung von Heterosexualität als hegemonialer Diskurs.” [The Third Gender: Male Warbrides, Musical Transvestites, and Metrosexuality: The Creation of Heterosexuality as a Hegemonic Discourse.] Schwubile (January 2004).
- Editor, Food and Culture, student online journal, 2008, www.american.edu/cas/amstud/foodculture.
- Herta Nagl-Docekal, Feminist Philosophy, trs. Katharina Vester (Boulder: Westview Press, 2004).
- “Excellent” translation - Linda López McAlister in Hypatia: A Journal of Feminist Philosophy.
- Ottmar Ette, Literature on the Move, trs. Katharina Vester (Amsterdam, New York: Rodopi, 2003).
Honors, Awards, and Fellowships
- Summa cum laude for doctoral dissertation, Ruhr-Universität Bochum, 2007
- DAAD Doctoral Fellowship (German Academic Exchange Service), 2004-05
- American Studies Prize, best M.A. thesis, Universität Potsdam, 2002
- American Studies Prize, best seminar paper, Universität Potsdam, 2000
- “Queer Appetites, Butch Cooking,” Lavender Languages & Linguistics, Washington, D.C., 2009.
- “Reducing Women: Politics and Power in Early Diet Discourses,” inaugural Patrick Clendenen Conference, Washington, D.C., 2008.
- Commentator, “New Directions in Queer Excavations,” Lavender Languages & Linguistics, Washington, D.C., 2008.
- “Beauty and the Feast: Diet and the Female Body in American Popular Culture,” Postgraduate Forum of the German Association for American Studies, Dortmund, 2005.
- “Tender Mutton: Recipes, Sexual Identity and Spinster Resistance in Gertrude Stein,” Another Language – Contemporary U.S. Poetic Experiments in a Changing World, Bochum, 2005.
- “’Date with a Dish’ - Kochen und Konstruktion von Männlichkeit in den USA der 30er und 40er Jahre” [Cooking and the Construction of Masculinity in the USA of the 1930s and 40s], International Doctoral Colloquium, Bochum, 2004.
- “Viral Discourse and Cultural Infection: Alejandro Morales’ Rag Doll Plagues,”Representations of Chicana/o Culture(s): Images, Texts, Products, Potsdam, 2002.
AU News and Achievements
Undergrads Present at Gender and Foodways Conference
Three undergrads from Professor Katharina Vester's Food, Media, and Culture class present at Gender ...