Educational History PhD in Comparative Literature, Union Institute & University
MA in Germanic Languages and Literature, Columbia University
BA in German, Barnard College
Kirsten joined Antioch University in spring 2005 after a sixteen-year career at Vermont College, where she served as core faculty advisor and co-director of the Master of Arts Program. She was born and raised in Wauwatosa, Wisconsin, a suburb of Milwaukee, where she learned to enjoy bratwurst and root for the Green Bay Packers. As a junior in high school, the American Field Service selected her as a foreign exchange student to spend part of her senior year living in a village on the North Sea coast of Germany, not far from Denmark. This is where her life-long interest in German literature began as well as her continuing preoccupation with the Germans’ postwar amnesia about the crimes of the Nazis.
While serving as Co-Chair of Undergraduate Studies, Kirsten also teaches courses in literary modernism and in the humanities in the BA in Liberal Studies and in the Bridge Program.
She is also currently Chair of the Getty Villa Council, one of four councils of the Getty Trust that supports educational programming, antiquities conservation, exhibitions, lectures, theater, and research.
Kirsten’s current research focuses on the ways in which contemporary Germans are engaging in diverse artistic and social forms of Holocaust memory work today that repudiate the ethos of silence and forgetting that dominated the post-war decades. This project derives from a long-standing fascination with the German émigré author W. G. Sebald, whose widely celebrated books The Emigrants and Austerlitz engage in the process of searching for the traces of evidence of National Socialist crimes that were covered up and forgotten, of remembering and mourning the victims, and confronting critically the repression of memory of the National Socialist crimes in the post-war years.
Kirsten’s publications reflect the range of her commitments. She is the author of a scholarly monograph on the German author Thomas Mann, The Modern Revival of Gnosticism and Thomas Mann’s Doktor Faustus, published by Camden House (2002). Mann’s Faust novel, written 1943-1947, was the first book by a German author to engage the German catastrophe in fictional form. This work has inspired her current interest and research on the new forms of public memory about the Holocaust.
In the 1970s she co-authored two commercial books on the feminist movement, The New Woman’s Survival Catalog (Berkeley Publishing Company) and The New Woman’s Survival Sourcebook (Knopf), which together compiled a portrait of the organizations and activities of the women’s alternative culture in the 1970s. The success of these two publications led to her becoming a co-founder and executive editor of Chrysalis: A Magazine of Women’s Culture, which was published out of the Los Angeles Woman’s Building during the period 1977-1981. The two books and all ten issues of Chrysalis were on display in 2012 at the exhibition, “Doin’ It in Public: Feminism and Art at the Woman’s Building” at Otis College of Art and Design, as part of the Pacific Standard Time festival of post-war Southern California Art.
She also served as supervising editor on numerous volumes in the field of art conservation, as consultant to the Getty Conservation Institute and International Council of Museums.