Dr. Susan Morrow

Dr. Susan Morrow

Postdoctoral Fellow

Period at the center: September 2021 - July 2022

Research Project: Politics of Movement: From Expressionism to Carl Schmitt

Email: morrow@uni-potsdam.de


Susan Morrow is a visiting postdoctoral researcher at the Universität Potsdam. She has previously taught at Yale University (Dept. of German) and the Freie Universität Berlin (Dept. of Comparative Literature) and been a postdoctoral researcher at the Leibniz-Zentrum für Literatur und Kulturforschung (ZfL) Berlin (History of Theory Research Area). Her dissertation, Schematism: Poetics on the Way to Kant: 1760–1790, won the ZfL’s 2019 Carlo-Barck-Prize. She received her Ph.D. in Germanic Languages and Literatures at Yale in 2019.

Research Project

Politics of Movement: From Expressionism to Carl Schmitt

My project focuses on dance as a poetological model in the early 20th century—particularly Expressionist literature and dance—and its connection to Carl Schmitt’s model of authoritarian politics in Staat, Bewegung, Volk: die Dreigliederung der politischen Einheit (1933). This constellation is complex and troubling: Schmitt’s treatise offers disturbing legitimation for the Nazi Party’s claims as a “movement”, whereas Expressionism was vilified under National Socialism. My aim is to reveal what Schmitt took to be at stake in National Socialism’s self-characterization as a movement through its comparison with models of movement in dance and literary practice, from Carl Einstein’s “Brief an die Tänzerin Napierkowska” (1911) to Rudolf von Laban’s movement notation system (1928) and Mary Wigman’s Deutsche Tanzkunst (1935). I am particularly interested in the way a vitalistic model of movement in dance displaced an older European model of dance as a mechanical art around the same time that cinema faced criticism by Bergson as a mechanical technique of producing motion. I am similarly motivated by an interest in the way an earlier aesthetics that understood ‘Lebendigkeit’ as an effect of artistic techniques gave way to an opposition between life and technically produced movement. A final interest concerns the tension between the vitalistic rejection of technical movement and the revival of a late 17th-century project that had originally been linked to dance’s own technicity: the project of creating a system of dance notation (chorégraphie) comparable to that of music.

Selected publications


“Revising the Aesthetics of Illusion: The Character of ‘Pictures’ and their Reception in Lessing’s Laokoon”, in: Lessing Yearbook, forthcoming.

“Irgendetwas und irgendetwas: Husserl’s Arithmetik and The Poetics of Epistemology”, in: Phenomenology to the Letter: Husserl and Literature, ed. P. Haensler, K. Mendicino, R. Tobias, (Berlin/Boston: de Gruyter, 2021), 61—84.

Foucault’s Risks“, together with P. Raccuglia and A. Shechtman, in: The Los Angeles Review of Books, November 7, 2014.