Katrin Pahl received her PhD from the Department of Rhetoric at the University of California, Berkeley. In addition to her work in MLL, she serves as co-director of the Program for the Study of Women, Gender, and Sexuality. The arc of her research is situated in the field of affect and emotion studies with an emphasis on gender and sexuality. Three books (will) address the epistemological, aesthetic and political implications of emotionality while moving the emphasis from subjectivity to theatricality to sociability.
Her first book, Tropes of Transport: Hegel and Emotion (Northwestern UP, 2012) demonstrates that a fresh analysis of Hegel’s thought offers an important resource for the theory of emotionality. It addresses emotions as transformational forces, which carry one out of oneself and to a different self, while introducing impersonal transports, such as release, juggle, acknowledging, tremble, and broken.
Her forthcoming book, Sex Changes with Kleist (Northwestern UP, 2019) shows that Kleist responded to the historical sex change (around 1800), which consisted in the emergence of the second sex, by multiplying the sex changes. Focusing on his theater – on the theatricality of his interventions and on the way his dramatic texts unhinge major tenets of classical European theater – Pahl probes Kleist’s appreciation for incoherence, his experimentation with alternative symbolic orders, his provocative understanding of emotion, and his camp humor. She proposes that sex might change again if we learn, with Kleist, to see what has long remained invisible and to speak to what could otherwise continue to remain unintelligible: queer female desire.
Shifting the emphasis to the social, Pahl currently pursues two research projects, one on queer procreation and one on patterns of (sexualized) violence in mental and social ecology. Under the heading of procreation, rather than reproduction, the first inquiry develops the sensorium for new, unseen, and unheard-of forms of queer life. This involves thinking kinship beyond the apotheosis of the human. In the other study, Pahl analyzes contemporary political theater, narrative and multimedia art in order to trace the interrelation of sexualized and ecological violence, war, migration, and psychic life.
Pahl was awarded the Best Article in Feminist Scholarship Prize from the Coalition of Women in German for “Transformative Translations: Cyrillizing and Queering.” She was a Fellow of the Cluster of Excellence “Languages of Emotion” at the Freie Universität Berlin in 2008 and gave the Kenneth Weisinger Memorial Lecture in the Department of Comparative Literature at the University of California, Berkeley in 2016.