Titel of dissertation: Arbeit am Zufall: Die Formierung des modernen deutschen Romans im 18. Jahrhundert

Language of the defence: German

Opponent: Associate professor Alexandra Strohmaier, University of Graz & University of Klagenfurt

Examining Committee: professor Thomas Möbius, University of Giessen; professor Anna Cullhed, Stockholm University; professor Thomas Karlsohn, Uppsala University; Dr Caroline Merkel, Stockholm University

Chairperson of the Public Defence: professor Charlotta Seiler Brylla, Stockholm University

Supervisors: professor Elisabeth Herrmann, University of Warwick; professor Elisabeth Wåghäll Nivre, Stockholm University; professor Uwe Wirth, University of Giessen

Digital Procedure

Due to the current covid-19 situation, the defence will take place via the digital meeting platform Zoom. The public will have the possibility to participate and ask questions, without physical presence.

Follow these steps

  1. Download the Zoom client (plugin) to your computer or the Zoom app to your smartphone.
  2. Register for the webinar via a link that will be posted here soon. 
  3. After you have registered, you will receive a confirmation e-mail with a link to the webinar.
  4. The defence opens to the public at 12.45 PM. As a member of the audience, you will see and hear the chair, the PhD candidate, the examiner and the examination committee. You will neither be seen nor heard.
  5. At the end of the defence you have the opportunity to pose questions to the PhD candidate. Choose either "Raise hand" or "Chat" at the bottom of the Zoom screen, and you will be put on queue.

Questions about Zoom can be e-mailed to Åke Zimmermann Bjersby.

Post-defence mingle

All attendees are very welcome to participate in the post-defence mingle, starting at 3.45 PM. The Zoom-link for the mingle will be posted here before the defence.


This dissertation deals with the relationship between chance and the form of the German novel during its modernization in the eighteenth century. In novels by Wieland, Moritz and Goethe, ‘chance’ poses a complex of problems that the novels process in the course of their narrations and that in turn also influences how the German novel itself, as a new genre in the late eighteenth century, began to gain definition. The overarching thesis is that neither chance as it appears in the novel nor the novel itself have a fixed form in modernity, but that both arise as part of the same dynamic and evolve in interaction with one another. In this context, the ‘work on chance’ describes the process whereby the novels under consideration seek to define their form by exploring different ways that chance can be given shape in the narrative. The work on chance is thus at the same time an examination of the possibilities of the form of the novel, which the narratives of Wieland, Moritz and Goethe undertake in three different ways. What ultimately unites them is the way that the form of the novel emerges as the protagonist of the story being told, thus making the novel itself the hero of the modern German novel.