Department: Foreign Language

Areas of expertise:

  • German Literature and Culture
  • History of Emotions
  • Human/Animal Studies
  • Robots and AI in Fiction
  • Historical Semantics

Holly Yanacek is associate professor of German at JMU. Her research focuses on 19th- to 21st-century Germanophone literature and culture, emotion studies, narrative theory, gender studies, and posthumanism. Yanacek co-edited the interdisciplinary volume Animals, Machines, and AI: On Human and Non-Human Emotions in Modern German Cultural History (DeGruyter, 2021), which examines the affective relationships between humans and non-human animals, robots, and machines in modern German cultural history. She is a member of the Keywords Project ( and, together with Colin MacCabe, co-edited the collaborative book Keywords for Today: A 21st-Century Vocabulary published by Oxford University Press in 2018. 

Yanacek is currently finishing the manuscript for a monograph on the renegotiation of social and moral emotions in fin-de-siècle German literature. She is also working on an English translation of Ich bin dein Mensch (2019), a novella by award-winning contemporary German author Emma Braslavsky, whose work served as the inspiration for Maria Schrader’s 2021 prize-winning film Ich bin dein Mensch [I’m Your Man].

Yanacek earned her doctorate and master's in German studies at the University of Pittsburgh and her bachelor's in German at Heidelberg University. She also studied in Germany as a DAAD Undergraduate Scholar at Ruprecht-Karls-Universität Heidelberg and as a Fulbright Graduate Research Fellow at the Freie Universität Berlin.


Media contact: Eric Gorton,

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