• Helfer, Martha
  • Professor
  • Department: Department of German, Russian, and East European Languages and Literatures
  • Tel: : 848-932-0440
  • Office: AB, Room 4125
  • Webpage: Visit Website


Ph.D., Stanford University

Research Interests

Literature of the Age of Goethe, Romantic aesthetic and philosophical theories, German intellectual history (18th-20th-century), questions of gender and the construction of subjectivity, philosophical approaches to literature, representations of Jews in German critical discourse.

Awards, Fellowships, Grants

  • Excellence in Graduate Teaching Award (Rutgers Graduate School New Brunswick, 2007-2008)
  • Max Kade Award for Best Article in German Quarterly (1998)

Selected Publications


  • The Word Unheard: Legacies of Anti-Semitism in German Literature and Culture, Northwestern University Press, 2011.
  • The Retreat of Representation: The Concept of Darstellung in German Critical Discourse , Albany: State University of New York Press, 1996.

Edited Volumes:

  • Nexus 1: Essays in German Jewish Studies , co-editor with Bill Donahue, Camden House, 2011.
  • Commitment and Compassion: Essays on Georg Büchner , co-editor, with Patrick Fortmann, Rodopi, 2012. (please click here for publishing information)
  • Rereading Romanticism, Amsterdam/Atlanta: Rodopi, 2000 .

Selected Articles:

  • " 'Ein heimlich Ding': Das Selbst als Objekt bei Annette von Droste-Hülshoff," in Redigierte Tradition, ed. Claudia Liebrand, Irmtraud Hnilica, and Thomas Wortmann (Schöningh, 2010), 271-279.
  • "The Fairy Tale Jew," Neue Lektüren/New Readings, ed. Gerhard Knapp and Norbert Eke, Amsterdamer Beiträge zur neueren Germanistik 67 (Rodopi: 2009), 31-42.
  • "Die Judenbuche" [The Jews' Beech Tree]. The Literary Encyclopedia, 23 Aug. 2006. .
  • "Annette von Droste-Hülshoff," The Literary Encyclopedia, 12 July 2006, .
  • "The Male Muses of Romanticism: The Poetics of Gender in Novalis, E.T.A. Hoffmann, and Eichendorff." The German Quarterly 78.3 (2005): 299-319.
  • "Natural Anti-Semitism: Stifter's Abdias," Deutsche Vierteljahrsschrift 78.2 (2004): 261-86. [Reprinted in Nineteenth-Century Literature Criticism , Volume 198 (Gale, Cengage Learning 2008): 306-320.]
  • "Romanticism and Gender Studies," Camden House History of German Literature: The Literature of German Romanticism , ed. Dennis Mahoney (Camden House 2004): 229-49.
  • "Wilhelm Meister's Women," Goethe Yearbook 11 (2002): 229-54.
  • "Framing the Jew: Grillparzer's Die Jüdin von Toledo." German Quarterly 75.2 (2002): 160-80.
  • "'Wer wagt es, eitlen Blutes Drang zu messen?': Reading Blood in Annette von Droste-Hülshoff's Die Judenbuche." German Quarterly 71.3 (1998): 228-253. Best Article Award, German Quarterly 1998 (Max Kade Prize).
  • "Dorothea Schlegel's Florentin: Constructing a Feminist Romantic Aesthetic." German Quarterly 69.4 (1996): 144-160.
  • "'Confessions of an Improper Man': Friedrich Schlegel's Lucinde," Outing Goethe and His Age, ed. Alice Kuzniar (Stanford: Stanford UP, 1996): 174-193.

Courses Offered


  • What's so Great about Goethe? (German 625, Fall 2010)
  • German Romanticism (German 523, Fall 2009)


  • Introduction to Literary and Cultural Analysis: Enchanted Worlds (German 302, Spring 2010)

Professional Affiliations


  • Co-editor, Amsterdamer Beiträge zur neueren Germanistik
  • Co-editor, Nexus: Essays in German Jewish Studies
  • Co-founder and co-organizer, German and Jewish Studies Workshop
  • Editorial Board, Goethe Society of North America book series at Bucknell University Press
  • Editorial Board, Athenäum
  • Editorial Board, German Studies Review


  • Executive Committee, MLA, Division on 18th - and early 19th -Century German Literature
  • Executive Committee, German Studies Association
  • Program Committee, German Studies Association
  • Executive Committee, Goethe Society of North America
  • Book Review Editor, Goethe Yearbook
  • Secretary-Treasurer, Goethe Society of North America