Cover_Beyond Gender

Olson, Greta, Daniel Hartley, Mirjam Horn-Schott, and Leonie Schmidt, eds. (2018). Beyond Gender: Futures of Feminist and Sexuality Studies – An Advanced Introduction. London: Routledge. Reprinted as a paperback (2019). Available at hereBook description:

  • Scholars and activists often narrate the history of gender and feminism as a progression of „waves,“ said to mark high points of innovation in theory and moments of political breakthrough.

    Arguing for the notion of multiple futurities over that of progressive waves, Beyond Gender combines theoretical work with practical applications to provide an advanced introduction to contemporary feminist and sexuality research and advocacy. This comprehensive monograph documents the diversification of gender-related disciplines and struggles, arguing for a multidisciplinary approach to issues formerly subsumed under the unified field of gender studies. Split into two parts, the volume demonstrates how the notion of gender has been criticized by various theories pertaining to masculinity, feminism, and sexuality, and also illustrates how the binary and hierarchical ordering system of gender has been troubled or overcome in practice: in queer performance, legal critique, the classroom, and textual analysis.

    Taking a fresh approach to contemporary debates in feminist and sexuality studies, Beyond Gender will appeal to undergraduate students interested in fields such as Feminism and Sexuality Studies, Gender Studies, Feminist Theory, and Masculinity Studies

Cover_How to do things with narrative

Jan Alber and Greta Olson, eds., with Birte Christ (2018). How to Do Things with Narrative: Cognitive and Diachronic Perspectives. Berlin and New York: De Gruyter.

The Politics of Form

Greta Olson and Sarah Copland, eds. (2018). The Politics of Form. Abingdon: Routledge. Reprinted as a paperback (2019). Available at hereBook description:

  • This volume enacts a project we term ‘a politics of form’, working to politicise the formal analysis of narrative in novels, life narratives, documentaries, dramas, short prose works and multimodal texts while retaining the form specificity that is distinctive of narratology. The introduction offers an overview of how to perform narrative analysis in conjunction with ideological critique, while the chapters unite the formal analysis of texts with readings that uncover how structures of social power are expressed in, as well as challenged by, aesthetic forms. The contributors address the need to develop sustained political analysis of aesthetic and narrative forms, and they articulate methods for performing such analysis while reflecting on the politics of the work they undertake. By establishing criteria to describe the politicised use of narrative forms, and by historicising narratological concepts, the volume bridges theoretical gaps between narratology, critical theory and cultural analysis, resulting in the refinement of existing narratological models. This book was originally published as a special issue of the European Journal of English Studies.

Law Undone provisional cover

Greta Olson and Sonja Schillings, eds. (2017). Special Issue of On_Culture on “Law Undone: De-humanizing, Queering, and Dis-abling the Law – Further Arguments for Law’s Pluralities.” Vol. 1.3 (Summer).


Greta Olson, ed., with Franz Reimer (2017). Special issue of the German Law Journal on “Law’s Pluralities.” Vol. 18.2 (March).

Politics of Form Contents Cover

Greta Olson with Sarah Copland, eds (2016). Special issue of the European Journal of English Studies on “The Politics of Form.” Vol. 20.3 (December). Taylor & Francis.


Greta Olson (2013). Criminals as Animals from Shakespeare to Lombroso. Law and Literature Series. Berlin and New York: De Gruyter.

Criminals as Animals from Shakespeare to Lombroso demonstrates how animal metaphors have been used to denigrate persons identified as criminal in literature, law, and science. Its three-part history traces the popularization of the ‘criminal beast’ metaphor in late sixteenth-century England, the troubling of this trope during the long eighteenth century, and the late nineteenth-century discovery of criminal atavism. With chapters on rogue pamphlets, Shakespeare, Webster, Jonson, Defoe and Swift, Godwin, Dickens, and Lombroso, the book illustrates how ideologically inscribed metaphors foster transfers between law, penal practices, and literature. Criminals as Animals concludes that criminal-animal metaphors continue to negatively influence the treatment of prisoners, suspected terrorists, and the poor even today.


Greta Olson and Ansgar Nünning, eds. (2013). New Theories, Models and Methods in Literary and Cultural Studies: Theory into Practice. WVT: Trier.

New Theories, Models and Methods in Literary and Cultural Studies offers readers compact information about advances in literary and cultural theory. Each essay presents an application of a recent theoretical innovation in order to demonstrate how it may be put into practice. The volume thus gives students a reliable and informative overview of innovative approaches to Literary and Cultural Studies that will facilitate their research. Separated into four sections, the first part of the volume comprises a discussion of theory itself. The first essay contests the practicality and usefulness of theory from the perspective of a literary author (Ulrich Horstmann) and one that seeks to describe literary theory as a movable feast from which the practitioner may pick and choose as from a smorgasbord (Herbert Grabes). The second part opens with a description of the lasting critical achievements of New Historicism and Cultural Materialism (Ute Berns) and continues by describing the pertinence of these methods to Media Ecology (Ingo Berensmeyer) and Performance Studies (Anneka Esch-van Kan). The third part offers descriptions of methodologies that have developed out of political concerns, including Queer Theory (Nadyne Stritzke), Ecocriticism (Sonja Frenzel), and Critical Media Studies (Greta Olson). Finally, the last section is devoted to theoretical developments that position themselves as critical and social practices. It includes chapters on literary studies as a life science (Ansgar Nuenning and Michael Basseler) and translation as a critical practice (Doris Bachmann-Medick).


Greta Olson with Birte Christ, eds. (2012). Obama and the Paradigm Shift – Measuring Change. Heidelberg: Winter.

This book asks if Barack Obama’s election as the 44th President of the United States represented a paradigmatic shift in the political and cultural tides. It works to move beyond a renewed acknowledgement of the extraordinary symbolic value of a black man having become president in a country still rife with racial problems.

Specifically, Obama and the Paradigm Shift investigates those areas of cultural politics in which Obama’s election to the U.S. presidency were expected to make the greatest impact. These include racial politics, normative forms of masculinity and femininity, and an abatement of the divisiveness of the political climate. Outside of the United States, the volume questions the degree to which these phenomena have affected related areas in German culture. Adopting a trans-Atlantic perspective, ‚Obama and the Paradigm Shift‘ reflects on ways the presidency has impacted on German cultural politics particularly regarding women in power and a politics of affect.


Greta Olson, ed. (2011). 9/11 Ten Years On. Special Issue of Der Fremdsprachliche Unterricht Englisch 111 (May).


Greta Olson, ed. (2011). Current Trends in Narratology. Berlin and New York: De Gruyter.

Current Trends in Narratology offers an overview of cutting-edge approaches to theories of storytelling. It describes the move to cognition, the new emphasis on non-prose and multimedia narratives, and introduces a third field of research – comparative narratology. This research addresses how local institutions and national approaches have affected the development of narratology. Leading researchers detail their newest scholarship while placing it within the scope of larger international trends.


Greta Olson with Martin Kayman, eds (2007). Special Issue of the European Journal of English Studies on Law, Literature, and Language. Vol. 11. 1 (April). Taylor and Fancis.


Greta Olson with Monika Fludernik, eds. (2004). In the Grip of the Law: Trials, Prisons and the Space Between. Frankfurt: Peter Lang.

In the Grip of Law: Trials, Prisons and the Space Between contributes significantly to Law and Literature studies. Arguing for the political relevance of their work, the editors open the volume with an introduction that summarizes topical developments in law enforcement and penal politics including the ‚prisonization‘ of American society and popular support for „no tolerance“ approaches to crime. The fifteen essays that follow – seven on trials and eight on prisons – discuss subjects ranging from the political ramifications of Captain Kidd’s trials for piracy to a reading of South African prison memoirs and include treatments of prison films, courtroom dramas and works by Dickens, Shakespeare and Scott. The volume demonstrates powerfully how concepts of criminality are constructed and how literature participates in, and sometimes enhances, general discursive traditions of adversarial litigation and carcerality. Taking a variety of methodological approaches from critical legal studies and Law and Literature, the essays on trials and prisons in this volume demonstrate the mutual influence between legal and fictional texts, show how legal institutions serve to reify social divisions, and finally read legal practices in literary texts within wider discursive and cultural practices.


Greta Olson (2003). Reading Eating Disorders: Writings on Bulimia and Anorexia as Confessions of American Culture. Frankfurt: Peter Lang.

Reading Eating Disorders uses literary texts as a key to open the door of American culture. Novels and poems on disordered eating reveal America’s bulimic relationship to food and the tendency to punish individuals—particularly women and the poor—for not being slender. These texts partake of the confessional ethos in American public culture—the need to testify to and hear about intimate physical details. Tracing the history of eating disorders and Western culture’s idealization of thinness with reference to canonical literary works such as Christina Rossetti’s “Goblin Market” (1859) and Samuel Richardson’s Clarissa (1747-8), I illustrate anorexia, bulimia, and the binge-eating disorder using contemporary accounts of these disorders. A cultural studies approach to literature is taken to describe how writings on eating disorders reveal the political and economic world out of which they are written.

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