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Claudia Bornholdt

Walburg Chair of German Language and Literature
Department Chair

208 McMahon Hall

German at CUA 


Dr. Bornholdt holds the endowed Walburg Chair of German Language and Literature at CUA. She is the Chair of the Department of Modern Languages and Literatures and an honorary member of Phi Beta Kappa.

After passing her Zwischenprüfung (intermediary examination) in Older German Literature and Language, History, and Art History at Christian-Albrechts Universität in Kiel, Germany, Dr. 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 is the recipient of the 2010 Teaching Excellence in Early Career Award from CUA. In the Department of MLL, she 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. In 2012, she taught an honors program course in Vienna during spring break and in spring 2017, she will take a group of students to Berlin to explore the German capital’s architecture, art, and rich history.

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 forty 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.

Selected Publications
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.

“Northern Romance: The Heroic Ideal in Post-Heroic Age Scandinavian Literature.” In Epic and Romance: A Guide to Medieval European Literature. Ed. Leonard Neidorf. Forthcoming 2018.

“The Impact of Charlemagne on the Native Literary Tradition in the North.” With Jon Paul Heyne. In Charlemagne in Celtic and Scandinavian Worlds. Eds. Helen Fulton and Sif Rikhardsdottir. Boydell & Brewer. Forhcoming 2017.

 “Integrating Language and Culture Studies within a Multidisciplinary Framework of European Studies.” With Amanda Sheffer. NECTFL Review 79 (2017): 13-34

“’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. 

From 2014-2016, Dr. Bornholdt served as Acting Dean of the School of Arts and Sciences at CUA. From 2012-2014, she served as Chair of the Department of Modern Languages and Literatures. She was the founding Director of the Certificate Program in European Studies, and she has served as the academic adviser for the German majors and minors, for the Interdisciplinary Minor in Asian Studies, and for the Certificate in Islamic World Studies. She has served on the Academic Senate, the President’s Executive Advisory Committee as well as the University’s Retention and CommUnity Committee.

From 2011-2014, Dr. Bornholdt was President of the Maryland, DC, and Northern Virginia chapter of the AATG (American Association of Teachers of German). In that capacity, she hosted a one-day summit on the “Future of German in the US” at CUA. She also 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 on the Advisory Board of JEGP: Journal of English and Germanic Philology (University of Illinois Press) and on the Scientific and Editorial Board of the book series Europa lernen: Perspektiven für eine Didaktik europäischer Kulturstudien. From 2011-2015, she was a member of the SAT German High School Exam Committee and since 2016, she is the chair of the College-Level Examination Program (CLEP) German Language Test Development Committee at The College Board.