Kevin Vennemann

Assistant Professor of German

Chair, Department of German Studies
Assistant Director for the Core Curriculum in Interdisciplinary Humanities

Department: German Studies
Office Address: Humanities 215
Office Phone: (909) 607-2502
Office Hours: MW, 3:00PM-4:00PM (Spring 2022). Click below to book or email for other times.
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Kevin Vennemann

Academic History

PhD, New York University

MA, Freie Universität Berlin

Areas of Expertise

Kevin Vennemann's fields of interest include 19th-century comparative literature, the Avant-Garde, Holocaust and exile studies, critical urban studies.

His most recent book, The World from the Back of the Crane. Thermodynamics and the Decline of a Family (published in German in 2020), discusses individual, cultural, and societal fatigue in a selection of 19th-century fiction. At the center of the book's argument is the enormous impact thermodynamic physics had on its time and culture—the discovery of thermodynamic entropy in the late 1840s brought the bourgeois dream of eternal human progress to an abrupt end. As a result, the work of many scientists, intellectuals, and artists in late-19th-century Europe is defined by the effort to propagate the importance of a hermetically enclosed social energy system while keeping the overall productivity rate steady and slowing down society’s now-certain exhaustion.

Nietzsche polemically summarizes this development by claiming that “bourgeois morality” was invented as a sealant to keep the social body’s energies in check. Accordingly, some of the era’s best- known literary reflections about a tiring world consider the “immoral”, unalienated self and specifically the female self to be the greatest threat to the energy balance of a productive modern society. Works of fiction by Gustave Flaubert, Theodor Fontane, Lew Tolstoy, Henry James, Thomas Hardy, Thomas Mann and others, as the book shows, rarely convey a viable alternative to the tragic narrative which demands the sacrifice of the sinful female body for the greater good. Only later exceptions such as Kate Chopin or Edith Wharton’s novels venture to suggest a vision for the survival of the female protagonist even during times of inevitable exhaustion.

Another recent book, Sunset Boulevard. On Filming, Building, and Dying in Los Angeles (published in German in 2012), is an essayistic inquiry into the history of Hollywood cinema and the city of Los Angeles at the intersections of architecture, film, and race politics.

Prof. Vennemann's editorial and translation work includes volumes of fiction and non-fiction by Chris Kraus, Mark Greif, Franco Berardi, Milton Rokeach, and Else Lasker-Schüler.

In progress is a book manuscript on the early-modern Western colonial gaze on Japanese architecture and aesthetics.

Selected Research and Publications


  • Die Welt vom Rücken des Kranichs. Thermodynamik und der Verfall einer Familie (Berlin: Matthes & Seitz, 2020).
  • Sunset Boulevard. Vom Bauen, Filmen und Sterben in Los Angeles (Berlin: Suhrkamp, 2012).
  • Mara Kogoj (Frankfurt: Suhrkamp, 2007). Translated to Spanish (Valencia: Pre-Textos, 2012) and Slovenian (Ljubljana: Matija, 2011).
  • Nahe Jedenew (Frankfurt: Suhrkamp, 2005). Translated to English (New York: Melville House, 2008), French (Paris: Gallimard, 2008), Spanish (Valencia: Pre-Textos, 2008), Italian (Udine: Forum, 2009), Hebrew (Tel Aviv: Books in the Attic, 2011), Danish (Roskilde: Batzer, 2009), Polish (Wołowiec: Czarne, 2007), Croatian (Zagreb: Novela, 2009), Latvian (Rīga: Dienas Grāmata, 2008).


  • "In der Nähe sprechen. Trinh T. Minh-Ha’s Poetics of Non-Appropriation,” in Merkur 75 (2021), No. 867, 19-31.
  • “Schreien und Schweigen,” in German Quarterly 94 (2021), No. 1, 29-33.
  • "Arbeit und Selbst im Zeitmeer," in Merkur (February 2020), No. 849.
  • “Was man weder hört noch sieht. Donald Richie und die japanische Ästhetik.“ Forthcoming in Donald Richie, Versuch über die japanische Ästhetik (Berlin: Matthes & Seitz, 2018).
  • “Seasonal Associate—Labor and Self in an Ocean of Time,” in Heike Geissler, Seasonal Associate (Los Angeles: Semiotext(e), 2018), 222-239.
  • “'Now, you think you're still in the bush some damn where?' Migration und Urbanität in den Filmen der L.A. Rebellion,” in testcard. beiträge zur popgeschichte 24/26 (2018).
  • “Das Recht ohne Recht: Rosefeldt, Marx und Tzara, Manifeste und Heiligkeit,” in Tomas Sommadossi, ed., Polytheismus der Einbildungskraft. Wechselspiele von Religion und Dichtung von der Aufklärung bis zur Gegenwart (Würzburg: Königshausen und Neumann, 2018), 99-120.
  • “Femina Fabra,” in Edit 26/73 (2017), 6-17. (on journalist Charlotte Beradt)
  • “Swing Kids,” in Jonas Engelmann, ed., Damaged Goods. 150 Einträge in die Punk-Geschichte (Mainz: Ventil 2016).
  • “1948,” in Neue Rundschau 127/1 (2016). (on visual artists Gwendolyn Knight and Jacob Lawrence)
  • “1970,” in Metamorphosen 35/5 (2014). (on Israeli architect Aaron Sipol)
  • “1966,” in Edit 21/57 (2012). (on visual artist Eva Hesse)


  • Chris Kraus, Ehrgeiz, Demut, Glück. Schriften zur Kunst (Berlin: Matthes & Seitz, forthcoming in 2022).
  • die horen. Zeitschrift für Literatur, Kunst und Kritik. Special Edition: Literarische Orte (Göttingen: Wallstein, 2015). (With Jan Süselbeck, Jörg Schuster).
  • Mark Greif, Bluescreen. Essays (Berlin: Suhrkamp, 2011).
  • Else Lasker-Schüler, IchundIch (Frankfurt: Jüdischer Verlag, 2009). (With Karl-Jürgen Skrodzki).


  • Chris Kraus, Ehrgeiz, Demut, Glück. Schriften zur Kunst (Berlin: Matthes & Seitz, forthcoming in 2022).
  • Chris Kraus, Aliens und Anorexie (Berlin: Matthes & Seitz, 2020).
  • Milton Rokeach, Die drei Christi von Ypsilanti (Berlin: Matthes & Seitz, 2020).
  • Donald Richie, Versuch über japanische Ästhetik (Berlin: Matthes & Seitz, 2019).
  • Franco Berardi, Die Seele bei der Arbeit (Berlin: Matthes & Seitz, 2019).
  • Chris Kraus, I Love Dick (Berlin: Matthes & Seitz, 2017). Paperback edition: Chris Kraus, I Love Dick (Munich: btb Verlag, 2018).
  • Franco Berardi, Helden (Berlin: Matthes & Seitz, 2016).
  • Franco Berardi, Der Aufstand. Poesie & Finanzwesen (Berlin: Matthes & Seitz, 2015).
  • Chris Kraus, Schreib mir! (Berlin: Sukultur, 2013). (With Charlotte Brombach)
  • Mark Greif, Bluescreen. Essays (Berlin: Suhrkamp, 2011).
  • Benjamin Kunkel, Ein Schritt weiter. Die n+1-Anthologie (Frankfurt: Suhrkamp, 2008).

Courses Taught

  • Core 1: Truth
  • Core 2: Poetry of the Revolution: Art & Politics of the Manifesto
  • Core 3: Building Los Angeles
  • German 101B: Vienna Modernism
  • German 103: A History of German Film
  • German 106: German Art 1810-2010
  • German 107: Trauma & Guilt: Shoah Memories
  • German 108: Pop & Protest
  • German 109: Heimat as Dream and Nightmare
  • German 110: Modern Thought I: Karl Marx
  • German 111: Leaden Times. Film after 1968
  • German 112: Modern Thought II: Walter Benjamin
  • German 113: Modern Thought III: Else Lasker-Schüler
  • GRMT 102: Poetry of the Revolution: Art & Politics of the Manifesto
  • GRMT 103H: Karl Marx: Capital