Irene Kacandes

Academic Appointments
  • Professor of German Studies

  • Professor of Comparative Literature

  • The Dartmouth Professor of German Studies and Comparative Literature

Irene Kacandes, The Dartmouth Professor of German and Comparative Literature, chaired the Department of German Studies from 2008-2011. She studied at the Free University of Berlin and as a Fulbright Scholar at Aristotle University in Thessaloniki. In 1991 she completed her Ph.D. in Comparative Literature at Harvard and taught at the University of Texas before coming to Dartmouth in 1994. Her interests in German range from Goethe and Kleist to Grass and Christa Wolf, and she has also published studies on Modern Greek literature. Specializing in narrative theory, cultural studies, and life writing, she has written articles concerning orality and literacy, feminist linguistics, trauma and memory studies, the Holocaust and Holocaust memoir, and experimental memoirs. In 2001 The University of Nebraska Press issued her Talk Fiction: Literature and the Talk Explosion as the first volume of its "Frontiers of Narrative Series," and in 2009 UNP published Daddy's War: Greek American Stories. A Paramemoir.  Let's Talk About Death, co-written with Steve Gordon, appeared with Prometheus Books (2015). The Chinese translation has appeared in the PRC. She is the co-editor of A User's Guide to German Cultural Studies (1997); with Marianne Hirsch, of Teaching the Representation of the Holocaust, published by the Modern Language Association in 2004; with Kathryn Abrams of an issue of Women's Studies Quarterly on "Witness"; and with her colleague Yuliya Komska of Eastern Europe Unmapped (Berghahn 2017). She edited and authored essays for the anthology On Being Adjacent to Historical Violence (De Gruyter, 2022). Irene has served in a number of international leadership positions, including as president of the International Society for the Study of Narrative and of the German Studies Association. She runs a book series on "Interdisciplinary German Cultural Studies" at De Gruyter Verlag in Berlin. Her current research concerns the concept of co-witnessing which she has proposed as a role for those who were not the targets of a trauma but who want to testify to those who were.  This interest also resulted in co-founding with a former student the FB group "Doing Something."


Dartmouth Hall, Room 310F
HB 6084


  • A.B. Harvard-Radcliffe College
  • Freie Universität, Berlin
  • Aristotle University, Thessaloniki
  • A.M. Harvard University
  • Ph.D. Harvard University

Selected Publications

  • “’And What About Your Mother?’” On Being Adjacent to Historical Violence.  Edited Irene Kacandes.  Berlin: De Gruyter Verlag. 2022. 299-314.

  • “How Co-Witnessing Could Transform the Post-Pandemic World.” # 10. In 13 Perspectives on the Pandemic:  Thinking in a State of Exception.  Ed. Rabea Rittgerodt.  Berlin: de Gruyter Verlag, 2020.

  • “A Polish Childhood.” Eastern Europe Unmapped: Beyond Borders and Peripheries.  Eds. Irene Kacandes and Yuliya Komska.  New York: Berghahn Books, 2017.  248-268.

  • “Die Ungnade der späten Geburt:  Challenges in the Twenty-First Century for Central Europeans.  The German Studies Association Presidential Address 2016.”  German Studies Review 40.2 (2017): 389-405.

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Speaking Engagements

  • “Paramemoir Revisited.” Plenary.  Experimental Life Writing Conference. University of Wroclaw, Poland. April 22, 2022.

  • “Considering weiter leben and Still Alive in the Context of Holocaust Life Narratives.  In memoriam. Ruth Klüger.  University of California, Irvine.  February 13, 2021.

Works In Progress

  • “An Anatomy of Family Memory”

  • “Testimony and Co-Witnessing after the Holocaust”