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The Speaker Series Presents, Dr. Rüdiger Singer

Date & Time:
September 29, 2017 | 3:00 pm
CHD 412
Dr. Rüdiger Singer, Visiting Associate Professor, University of Minnesota, Twin Cities 

Private Eye Nick Knatterton; or, How the German Learned to Love the Speech Bubble

The funny adventures of Nick Knatterton, a bold and bald private detective with a strong resemblance to Sherlock Holmes, were the first internationally successful German comic strip (1950–1959). Oddly enough, its creator Manfred Schmidt claims that his sole intention had been to parody American comic strips, “this most primitive of all narrative forms so thoroughly that people would lose interest in what was essentially mindless literature designed for illiterates.” However, seduced by Nick Knatterton, “the Germans really began to develop an appetite for comic strips larded with balloons and devoured more and more of the stuff.”

A good story –but maybe too good to be true? In my presentation, I will discuss why the Germans were so opposed to the comic strip genre and especially to the speech bubble (or speech balloon), that curious hybrid between word and image. I will also show how shrewdly Manfred Schmidt played with genre conventions and combined verbal and visual puns. Thanks to Schmidt’s conception of Knatterton as parody, it was possible to enjoy it while simultaneously rejecting American comic strips across the board as cultural barbarism.











Associate Professor Rüdiger Singer (University of Minnesota-Twin Cities)

Professor Singer received his PhD in 2004 from the Technical University of Berlin with a dissertation on Johann Gottfried Herder’s concept of the relation between modern and oral poetry. Between 2006 and 2009; he held an Assistant Professorship in the German Department at Göttingen University. Between 2009 and 2011, thanks to a grant by the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, Dr. Singer served as a Post-doctoral Research Fellow at the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s German Department. He did research for his habilitation thesis and conducted a course on German comic strips. Returning to Göttingen University, he worked as an Associate Professor and Substitute on the chair for Modern German Literature held by Professor Ruth Florack. In 2014, he handed in his habilitation thesis on vivid descriptions of the art of acting (forthcoming), gaining a venia legenda for Modern German and Comparative Literature. Since September 2015, he has been a DAAD (German Academic Exchange Service) Visiting Professor in the Department of German, Scandinavian and Dutch at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities. Dr. Singer's research interests include literature and poetics from the early 18th to the early 20th century, translation studies, European drama and theater, word and image relations (esp. ekphrasis, graphic novels, and caricature), and literary humor.