Senior Lecturer of German
Assistant Dean for Graduate Education and Research
Alan Itkin received his Ph.D. in Comparative Literature from the University of Michigan in 2011. Before coming to Vanderbilt, Dr. Itkin taught as Faculty Fellow and Visiting Assistant Professor in Literary Cultures in the John W. Draper Interdisciplinary Master’s Program at NYU.
Dr Itkin’s first book, Underworlds of Memory: W. G. Sebald’s Epic Journeys through the Past (2017), argues that the strange encounters with the past that fill the literary works of the expatriate German author W. G. Sebald are modeled on the central tropes of classical epic poetry. By revealing this connection between Sebald’s works and classical epic, Underworlds of Memory describes and traces the origins of the unique intervention into cultural memory Sebald’s works embody.
Dr. Itkin is also the author of several articles on post-war German literature and thought, Holocaust literature, and museum culture and classical reception in Berlin, and he guest-edited a special section of the journal The Germanic Review on the Austrian writer and Holocaust survivor, Jean Améry. He is currently working on a second book project, tentatively titled Post-Holocaust Poetics: The Reevaluation of Classical Poetic Concepts in Holocaust Fiction, in which he explores how fiction writers who address the Holocaust reevaluate four key concepts at the core of Western poetics— representation, vividness, pity, and catharsis—in response to the crisis for literature constituted by the Holocaust.