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Claudia Bornholdt


Associate Professor of German Studies

on leave 2016-2017 

208 McMahon Hall

German at CUA      







After passing her Zwischenprüfung (intermediary examination) in Older German Literature and Language, History, and Art History at Christian-Albrechts Universität in Kiel, Germany, Claudia Bornholdt continued her studies in the US. She earned her M.A. in German from Bowling Green State University (1996) and her Ph.D. in Germanic Languages and Literatures, Medieval Studies, and Historical Linguistics from Indiana University Bloomington (2001).


Dr. Bornholdt, who in 2010 received the Teaching Excellence in Early Career Award from CUA, teaches courses on all aspects of German language, literature, and culture. She also teaches courses for the Program in Medieval and Byzantine Studies, the Honors Program, and the Certificate Program in European Studies.

Her teaching occurs inside and outside the classroom, using the resources offered by the multicultural city of Washington, DC. Frequent visits to museums, the Austrian, German and Swiss Embassies, and the German Goethe-Institut are included in all her German courses. For her GER 402: Translation in Theory and Practice, her students cooperated with the German-American Heritage Museum in DC, preparing texts for an exhibition in spring 2011. She maintains very close relationships with the German cultural institutions. Several of her German students completed internships at the German-American Heritage museum and others have found part-time employment at the Goethe-Institut. During spring break 2012, she took a group of 8 students to Vienna.

Courses Taught (Selection)

GER 220 Vienna in Literature and the Arts
GER 320 Contemporary German Literature by Migrant Authors
GER 330 German Theater: Text and Performance
GER 342 Das Nibelungenlied: Myth and Ideology
GER 351 Intro to German Literature
GER 352 The Quest for Identity: Romanticism to Modernity
GER 402 Translation in Theory and Practice
GER 450 Special Topics: Murder and Mystery
MDST 201 Medieval Pathways: Viking Literature and Culture (4-week module)
HSHU 102 From Charlemagne to Chaucer (Honors Program course)
EURO 201 European Culture: Multiculturalism and National Identity (coordinator, module on Germany)



Dr. Bornholdt’s research focuses on medieval German and Scandinavian as well as French and Latin literature. She is particularly interested in the early days of vernacular writing and the transfer of literary texts, motifs, patterns, and genres across languages and cultural boundaries.
She has published two monographs, many articles, and she has presented her research at more than 25 conferences and symposia that range from medieval literature to language pedagogy. She has also published many book reviews for journals such as JEGP, Speculum, German Quarterly, Colloquia Germanica, and Medium Aevum.

Publications (Selection)

Saintly Spouses: Chaste Marriage in Secular and Sacred Narratives From Medieval Germany (12th and 13th Century). Medieval and Renaissance Texts and Studies. Tempe, Arizona: Arizona Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies. University of Arizona Press, 2012. Pp. 239.

 Engaging Moments: The Origins of Medieval Bridal-Quest Narrative. Ergänzungsbände zum Reallexikon der germanischen Altertumskunde. Vol. 46. Berlin, New York: Walter de Gruyter, 2005. Pp. 236.

“’Everyone thought it very strange how the man had been shaped:’ The Hero and His Physical Traits in the Riddarasögur.” Arthuriana 22 (2012): 18-38.

“The Old-Norse Icelandic Transmission of Chrétien de Troyes’s: Ívens saga, Erex saga, Parcevals saga with Valvens þáttr.” In The Arthur of the North. The Arthurian Legend in the North and Rus’ Realms. Ed. Marianne Kalinke. Cardiff: University of Wales Press, 2011. Pp. 98-122.

“What Makes a Marriage: Consent or Consummation in Twelfth-Century German Literature.” In Chastity: A Study in Perception, Ideals, Opposition. Ed. Nancy van Deusen. Presenting the Past. Central Issues in Medieval and Early Modern Studies Across the Disciplines. Leiden, Boston: Brill, 2008. Pp. 127-149.

“Tricked into the Tower: The ‘Crescentia’ Tower Episode in the Kaiserchronik as Proto-Märe.” JEGP 99 (2000): 395-411.

Work in Progress

Teaching Europe: Strategies and Best Practices from Both Sides of the Atlantic. Co-edited with Olivier Mentz, Freiburg. To appear in Europa lernen: Perspektiven für eine Didaktik europäischer Kulturstudien. LIT Publisher, Munich.

“The Impact of Charlemagne on the Native Literary Tradition in the North.” In Charlemagne in Celtic and Scandinavian Worlds. Ed. Helen Fulton and Sif Rikhardsdottir. To be published by Boydell & Brewer.



Dr. Bornholdt serves as Chair of the Department of Modern Languages and Literatures, as Director of the Certificate Program in European Studies, as the academic adviser for the German majors and minors, and as adviser for the Interdisciplinary Minor with a focus in Asian Studies. She serves on the Academic Senate, the Academic Council, and the Global Education Committee.

Since July 2011, she serves as President of the Maryland, DC, and Northern Virginia chapter of the AATG (American Association of Teachers of German). In January 2011, she hosted a one-day summit on the “Future of the German in the US” at CUA and she organized a follow-up event that was held at the Goethe-Institut in DC in December 2011. That event, entitled “German means Business,” brought together German instructors and representatives of the German business community to discuss ways for future cooperation.

Dr. Bornholdt serves as book-review editor for medieval Dutch, German, and Scandinavian literature at Speculum (Medieval Academy of America). She is a member on the Scientific and Editorial Board of the book series Europa lernen: Perspektiven für eine Didaktik europäischer Kulturstudien.