Susanne Nienhaus, M.A.

Universitätsstr. 105
44789 Bochum
Room: UNI 105, 3/38

Phone: +49 (0) 234/32-27234


Title of the Dissertation

Zum Verhältnis von Dokument und Literatur: Praktiken der bürokratischen und literarischen Selbst-/Dokumentation im modernen Großbetrieb. (working title)

Project Description

Historically, documentary literary genres have been largely shaped by the workers’ movement; since the nineteenth century, many such works have focused on the world of industrial labour, be it in the form of social and industrial reportage, the worker correspondent movement in the Weimar Republic, the worker’s novel, or the literature of the Dortmund Gruppe 61 or that of the GDR. The main appeal of documentary forms is their strong relation to reality, in which many authors saw socio-political potential. What is often overlooked however is that documentation of working conditions is primarily undertaken by the company itself and sometimes possesses existential significance for both the company’s organisation and the workers themselves.

This doctoral project seeks to redefine the relationship between documentation and literature via a historical and theoretical analysis of documentation as part of bureaucratic administrative practice. The focus is not on the extent to which the (literary) attempts at documentation reflect reality, but on the extent to which they work with or against bureaucratic regulatory policy. The study considers the working subject, who can be both the object and the author of (self-)documentation in the workplace, documentation as part of company and political organisation, and the portrayal of company order in order to negotiate societal order. Can we arrive at a new understanding of documentary literature as a bureaucratic, bureaucracy-critical or antibureacratic genre?

Scholarly Career

  • Since October 2019: Researcher (doctoral candidate) in the DFG post-graduate programme “The Documentary. Excess and Withdrawal”, Ruhr University Bochum
  • 10/2014 to 11/2017: Master’s degree in Modern German Literature, University of Hannover
  • 03/2015 to 03/2017: Undergraduate assistant to Prof. Michael Gamper in the DFG Priority Project “Aesthetic Proper Times”.
  • 10/2009 to 09/2014: Bachelor’s degree in German Studies and European Literature