Frank Trommler

University of Pennsylvania

Frank Trommler is Professor Emeritus of German at the University of Pennsylvania, where he has been a member of the Department of Germanic Languages and Literatures since 1970. He has taught courses in German language, literature and culture in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries and, since 1985, also in Comparative Literature. He chaired the Department in 1980-86 and several times since 1994 as acting chair. In 1996-2000 he also served as acting chair of Penn’s Department of Slavic Languages.

A Guggenheim Fellow in 1984/85, Trommler was President of the AATG chapter Philadelphia in 1986-1990, President of the German Studies Association in 1991/92, and Director of the Humanities Program at the American-German Institute in Washington, DC, from 1995-2003. In 1994 he was awarded the Bundesverdienstkreuz by the President of the Federal Republic for his work in the field of American-German relations.

His publications include Roman und Wirklichkeit (1965), Sozialistische Literatur in Deutschland (1976), Die Kultur der Weimarer Republik (1978, with Jost Hermand, several reprints), America and the Germans (1985, also in German), Germanistik in den USA (1989), Thematics Reconsidered (1995), The Cultural Legitimacy of the Federal Republic (1999), Berlin: The new Capital in the East (2000), The German-American Encounter (2001, also in German), Weimars transatlantischer Mäzen: Die Lincoln-Stiftung 1927-1934 (2008). In 1995-2003 he edited fourteen volumes of the AGI Humanities Series on Contemporary German Studies. A Festschrift in his honor appeared in 2004 under the title, The Many Faces of Germany, edited by John McCarthy, Walter Grünzweig, and Thomas Koebner.

Emeritus professor since 2007, Trommler published the first comprehensive study of German cultural diplomacy with France, Britain, United States, Russia, Poland, and Italy in 2014 under the title, Kulturmacht ohne Kompass: Deutsche auswärtige Kulturbeziehungen im 20. Jahrhundert (Cologne: Böhlau).

In 2014 he received the honorary degree of Doctor of Modern Languages at Middlebury College, Vermont, at the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the Middlebury Language School which was founded by the German professor Lilian Stroebe in 1915. The event united over a hundred MA and PhD graduates of the summer immersion programs in ten languages.

Recent Content


Episode 80: 40 Years of AGI—A Conversation with Frank Trommler

On this episode of The Zeitgeist, AGI looks back on the 40 years of the Institute’s work on strengthening the American-German relationship through academic research, policy dialogue, and exchanges. AGI …

Soft Power: Its Use in German and American Cultural Diplomacy

At an AGI workshop about Germany’s cultural policies in 1998, Harvard historian Charles Maier summarized his critical observations in one sentence: “Germany is a country that wants to run without …

Post-Unification German Studies: Momentum Gained or Lost?

Carl Bildt, until recently Sweden’s foreign minister, told Thomas Friedman of the New York Times in 2003: “For a generation Americans and Europeans shared the same date: 1945. A whole …

German Bashing and a French-German Art Controversy

German bashing is in. Commentators in Germany insist that it is used throughout Europe, especially in southern European countries, to divert attention from homegrown financial blunders. In fact, Germany is …

Kulturpolitik versus Aussenpolitik in the Past Sixty Years

Senior Non-resident Fellow Dr. Frank Trommler, Professor Emeritus at the University of Pennsylvania, examines the history of the Federal Republic’s foreign cultural policy and how it has expanded and changed since after World War II. Dr. Trommler writes that the decentralization of foreign cultural policy in the Federal Republic has opened a more creative and attractive exchange with other countries, something that has led to the betterment of all parties involved.