Barbara von Bechtolsheim

Ph.D, Stanford University

Barbara von Bechtolsheim studied German literature, psychology, philosophy, and biology in Bonn, Munich and at Stanford University where she received her PhD. Over the years, Barbara has contributed to the transatlantic dialogue as a translator of contemporary North American literature and as an author. Her recent research about creative couples explores the divide between biographical study and formalistic analysis.  In Paare (2022) and Hanna Arendt und Heinrich Blücher (2023) she discusses creative relationships in the context of their respective cultural, historic, and psychological life trajectories.

Among her twenty literary translations are books by authors Louise Erdrich, Mavis Gallant, Diane Middlebrook, Toni Morrison, Joyce Carol Oates.

She has taught a range of literature and language courses at Sacred Heart University in Fairfield, CT, and at Free University in Berlin and at Leuphana University in Lüneburg, Germany, as well as seminars on Intercultural Skills at Hochschule für Medien, Kultur und Wirtschaft in Berlin.

Research interests

Post WWII German and American literature


Creativity and aesthetics

Reception of classical music in literature

Academic Honors

6/18             Aspen Leadership Seminar, Madlitz, Brandenburg/Germany

4/11 - 3/17    Advising scholar at the Da Ponte Research Center, Vienna

4/92 – 6/92    Residency at the Djerassi Foundation Artists Program

9/83 – 4/87    Graduate Studies Fellowship, Stanford University

Authored Books

Hannah Arendt und Heinrich Blücher, Berlin: Insel to be published in the spring of 2023

Paare. Von Beziehungskünstlern und ihrer Liebe, Berlin: Insel 2022

Selected Articles and Essays

“Künstlerpaare, Krisen, Kreativität”, in: Empathie, Krise und Psychose, Erich Boelke et al. (ed.) Berlin 2013

“Gedichte haben mir das Leben gerettet. Von der Identität stiftenden  Kraft des Schreibens”, in: Identität und Ich-Störung, Josef Schwitzer et al. (ed.), Berlin 2012

“Full Circle. Mindy Weisel. Preface”, in: catalogue to exhibition at Lorch & Seidel, Berlin, 10/23 – 12/5/2009

“The Behavior of Light. Janet Sternburg. Introduction”, in: catalogue to exhibition at Galerie Café Einstein, Berlin, 11/28 – 12/31/2005

“ ‘Wer sich der Luft hingibt, vermag auf ihr zu reiten.’  Toni Morrison”, in: Madame Curie und ihre Schwestern, Charlotte Kerner (ed.), Weinheim 1997

“Schreiben – Bewegung– Freiheit. Neue US-amerikanische Literatur von Frauen”,
in: Eigenmächtig, Karen Nölle-Fischer/Lydia Willkop (eds.), München 1990

Selected Teaching Record

Literary Couples, John-F.-Kennedy Institute, Free University Berlin, SS 2020

Intercultural Skills (HMKW WS 22/21, SS 2021, WS 2020/21, SS 2020, WS 2019/20, SS 2019)

Journalistic Writing (HMKW WS 2016/17, WS 2017/18)

Creative Couples (Leuphana University WS 2015/16)

Anti-Heroes in the German Literature of the 20th Century & Literary Couples (both: Leuphana University WS 2014/15)

Pursuit of Happiness. American & German Visions (Leuphana, SS 2014)   

Crossing Borders. American & German Prose (Leuphana, WS 2013/14)

German as a Foreign Language, Advanced and Intermediate (multiple courses at the Goethe Institutes in Berlin, Dresden, Weimar and ten consecutive years at the International Summer School Salem)

Selected Examining Record

Primary Advisor on 2 Master theses and on 12 Bachelor theses.

Selected Invited Lectures

“Freedom of Thought. Hannah Arendt and Heinrich Blücher”, Hannah Arendt Center, Bard College, September 20, 2021

“Literary Couples. Transforming Trauma”, Stanford University, April 15, 2019

Workshop for Literary Translators. University Düsseldorf, November 8, 2018

“In der Liebe wachsen. Workshop”. Annual Conference for Psychotherapy, Bad Kissingen, May 20, 2017 

“Moments of Happiness in Literature”, Literatursalon Korschenbroich, June 21, 2017 

“Atemwende. Ingeborg Bachmann und Paul Celan”. Evangelische Akademie Meissen, July 1 – 3, 2016

“Am Brunnen meiner Heimat. Else Lasker-Schüler und Gottfried Benn”, Evangelische Akademie Meissen, March 27 – 29, 2015

“Metaphors of the Soul and their Transformation”, Convention of the German Association for Psychiatry, Psychotherapy, & Psychosomatics, Berlin, November 29, 2014