Jacob Haubenreich’s scholarship explores the intersections of materiality and meaning in the production and reception of literary works. While focusing on the long 20th century, his research and areas of expertise are tied less to particular historical periods than to broader conceptual issues and theoretical questions—of materiality, mediality, visuality, textual production and reception, and the interrelationship between the hermeneutic and non-hermeneutic—that span historical periods, contexts, and configurations. Haubenreich’s work is rooted in extensive archival analysis and draws on a range of posthermeneutic approaches as well as textual criticism (critique génétique, critical bibliography, book history). Bringing these perspectives to bear on close readings of texts and the processes of their production and reception, he shows how drawing the materiality of texts into the scope of interpretative analysis has the potential to expand our understanding of the material-semiotic complexity of literature as an art form.
Haubenreich’s current book project, Textual Entanglements: Rilke, Handke, Bernhard and the Materiality of Literature, argues that material production processes manifest themselves in the published forms of writers’ works to such a degree that we cannot fully understand semantic dynamics without considering material scenes of production. For all three writers, traces of writing haunt their published texts: printed annotations indicating that certain passages were “im Manuskript an den Rand geschrieben” (Rilke); hand-sketched drawings and notes from wanderings reproduced in printed texts (Handke); fanatically regularized typographic text layouts whose rhythmic and semantic breaks nevertheless betray the writer’s composition in short typewritten episodes (Bernhard).
Haubenreich has also begun work on a second book project tentatively entitled Weird Books. It explores an array of contemporary works (in German and beyond) that challenge distinctions between literature and visual art, and thus pose theoretical challenges for literary studies and art history. Countering claims about the “death of the book” in the digital era, this project shows how the current media shift spells not the end of the book as medium, but has rather generated new forms of experimentation with its material possibilities. Case studies range from artist books, to writers’ notebooks (artistic projects in and of themselves), to contemporary publications that experiment with the material and visual form of the book as medium.
Haubenreich regularly pursues archival research at institutions in Germany, Switzerland, and Austria: the Deutsches Literaturarchiv (Marbach), the Schweizerisches Literaturarchiv (Bern), the Literaturarchiv der ÖsterreichischenNationalbibliothek (Vienna), and the Österreichische Akademie der Wissenschaften (Vienna). He has held positions as Visiting Scholar at the ÖAW and in the Forschungsverbund Marbach Weimar Wolfenbüttel. His research has been funded by the Fulbright Foundation, the DLA Marbach, the Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst, the Österreichischer Austauschdienst (Franz Werfel Stipendium), and the Rare Book School.
Haubenreich received his PhD in German from the University of California, Berkeley in 2013. Before coming to Johns Hopkins, he held the position of Associate Professor of German at Southern Illinois University, Carbondale.