Prof. Dr. Insa Härtel

Cultural Studies

IPU Berlin
Stromstr. 3b - Room 0.29
10555 Berlin
Tel.: +49 30 300 117-727
E-Mail: insa.haertel(at)

Teaching Focus

The IPU's cultural studies program focuses the interfaces and entanglements between culture and psychoanalysis. Cultural questions as part of psychoanalytical approaches, as they can already be found in Freud’s work, are a main topic here; also, psychoanalytical approaches as part of cultural studies. Such perspectives enable insights into cultural conflicts, to name but one example. Likewise, psychoanalytical assumptions (e.g. about sexual difference) can be examined by cultural studies. In the course of studies, discussions take place with regard to different subject areas: Cultural productions and transformations come into view as well as everyday practices, knowledge cultures, social relations....

Since I come from both the cultural studies and the psychoanalytical side, my approach is interdisciplinary in itself, which means it contains an encroachment/boundary crossing, too (Übergriff – an interesting German term that has occupied me for quite some time in its manifold connotations). In teaching, it is important for me to show how cultural and psychoanalytical theory can provide thinking spaces and thus make what is taken for granted, rotate. This happens again and again during studies, not only with the students. In this way, theoretical approaches in both psychoanalysis and culture can function as a relevant cultural "corrective" - and form their own practice.

I offer introductory and in-depth courses, combining different thematic approaches as well as detailed discussions of one concept. Often, texts are in use, thematically linked also films. From time to time, I invite guests or co-teach with lecturers from other universities, and sometimes we change the location for visits of art exhibitions or the like. All in all, I'm not only interested in conveying specialist content, but also in trying out forms of presentation with the students or reflecting on the teaching and learning situation itself.

Research Focus

My current research is dedicated to promises of salvation as they appear in various areas of western (everyday) culture. In light of their historical changeability such promises are understood as socially powerful productions. What is currently traded as a promise of salvation, which cultural dynamics are thereby effective? The focus is on the socially relevant hopes and fears being involved. What, for example, is regarded as threatening or disastrous in these contexts? Currently, I am working on two subprojects in which I will examine the following materials regarding the cultural ambivalences or conflicts being involved.

Ongoing Projects
"Messie" With Method: Domestic Waste in TV Format
Breast, Cancer, Section: Medial Staging of of Angelina Jolie’s Prophylactic Mastectomy

Completed Projects
Focused and Reversed. Gerhard Richter "Betty" (1977)
"Assaults" and "Objects": Images of and Discourse on Child-Adolescent Sexuality