Department of Germanic Studies

Thorsten Ries

Assistant ProfessorPh.D., German Literature, Joint Ph.D., Hamburg University (Germany), Ghent University (Belgium).

Thorsten Ries



Digital Humanities; Digital Learning; German Literature from the 18th to the 21st Century; Theory, Methodology and Practice of Scholarly Editing, Genetic Criticism and Textual Criticism, Digital Literature, Digital History, Literary Theory, Methodology and Discipline History of the Germanistik.


Dr Ries joined the Department of Germanic Studies in 2021 as Assistant Professor with specialism in German literature from the 18th to the 21st century, digital learning and digital humanities. His primary research focus is the foreign language curriculum in the context of digital humanities, (digital) scholarly editing, born-digital archives and digital forensics.

Dr Ries is initiator and director of the Digital Humanities Lab at the Department of Germanic Studies at UT (DHLab@GS). DHLab@GS acts as a DH hub at Department of Germanic Studies, based on UT Austin‘s campus (BUR 326). DHLab@GS is also the platform on which Ries is organizing the DHLunch@GS online talk series.

Dr Ries has worked on a historical range of authors, including Friedrich Hölderlin, Gottfried Benn, Thomas Kling, Michael Speier, and others, and is specifically interested in writing processes, scholarly editing, born-digital archives, digital literature and the vast spectrum of digital humanities methods in general. He works on multimodal digital learning concepts focusing on remodeling the language and cultural studies curriculum with digital literacy, digital skills and a digital-first perspective in mind.

Dr Ries is also a Visiting Professor (5%, 06/2021-08/2024) at the Department of Literary Studies, Ghent University, Belgium. Before coming to Austin, he has been teaching at Regensburg University, Antwerp University, Ghent University, Hamburg University, and conducted research at projects at Ghent University and the University of Sussex, UK.

Selected Publications:

Thorsten Ries. “Digital History and Born-Digital Archives: Digital Forensic Dimensions.” In: Materialities of the Archive in a Digital Age. Ed. by Eirini Goudarouli and Andrew Prescott. Proceedings of the British Academy. London: The British Academy, 2021, ca. 25 pp., [in print].

Thorsten Ries. “Digitale Literatur als Gegenstand der Literaturwissenschaft. Ein multimodales Forschungsprogramm”. In: Text + Kritik, Sonderband Digitale Literatur II, eds. Hannes Bajohr, Annette Gilbert, 2021, [in print].

Thorsten Ries. “Digital Learning: Eine neue didaktische Normalität - Erfahrungen mit der digitalen Lehre unter Covid-19 Pandemie-Bedingungen.” In: Kai Bremer, Thomas Ernst, Andrea Geier, Jan Horstmann, Ariane Larrat, Thorsten Ries, Claudius Sittig (Ed.): Konferenz Digitale Lehre Germanistik. Fachinformationsdienst Germanistik. Germanistik-im-Netz. University Library Johann Christian Senckenberg. Published 02/22/2021, 2021. URN:, ISBN: 978-3-88131-101-4.

Chr. Annemieke Romein, Julie Birkholz, Max Kemmann, James Baker, Michel De Gruijter, Alfred Mereno Penuela, Thorsten Ries, and Stefania Scagliola. “State of the field: Digital History”. In: History: The Journal of the Historical Association 105.365 (April 2020), pp. 291-312, DOI:

Thorsten Ries. "Das digitale ‘dossier génétique’: Digitale Materialität, Textgenese und historisch-kritische Edition. In: Textgenese in der digitalen Edition. Hrsg. v. Anke Bosse und Walter Fanta. Beihefte zu Editio, 45. Berlin et al.: de Gruyter, 2019, pp. 91–116. DOI:

Mike Kestemont, Thorsten Ries, and Gunther Martens. “A computational approach to authorship verification of Johann Wolfgang Goethe’s contributions to the Frankfurter gelehrte Anzeigen 1772-1773”. In: Journal of European Periodical Studies (JEPS) 4.1 (Summer 2019), pp. 115–143. url:

Thorsten Ries and Gábor Palko, eds. Born-Digital Archives. Special issue of International Journal of Digital Humanities 1.1 (Mar. 2019). url:

Thorsten Ries. “The rationale of the born-digital dossier génétique: Digital forensics and the writing process: With examples from the Thomas Kling Archive.” In: Digital Scholarship in the Humanities (DSH) 33.2 (June 2018), pp. 391–424. url:

Thorsten Ries. “Philology and the digital writing process.” In: Cahier voor Literatuur­weten­schap 9 (2017), pp. 129–158.

Thorsten Ries. Verwandlung als anthropologisches Motiv in der Lyrik Gottfried Benns: Textgenetische Edition ausgewählter Gedichte aus den Jahren 1935 bis 1953. 2 vols. Exempla Critica 4. Berlin et al.: De Gruyter, 2014, 1039 pages.

Thorsten Ries. “‘die geräte klüger als ihre besitzer’: Philologische Durchblicke hinter die Schreibszene des Graphical User Interface: Überlegungen zur digitalen Quellen­philo­lo­gie, mit einer textgenetischen Studie zu Michael Speiers ‘ausfahrt st. nazaire.’” In: Editio: Internationales Jahrbuch für Editionswissenschaft 24.1 (December 2010), pp. 149–199.


GER 373 • Forces Nature Hist Germ Lit

37920 • Fall 2022
Meets MWF 11:00AM-12:00PM CMA 5.190


„The citizen's hat flies off his pointed head, / All skies echo like clamor […] And on the coasts–one reads–sea levels are rising […] The trains fall off the bridges.“ The eerie topical semblance of Jacob van Hoddis’ expressionist poem Weltende (End of the World, 1911) with present-day debates about anthropogenic climate change and environmental impact is the starting point for this course that traces the literary interrelation of catastrophic natural events and concepts of forces of nature, intellectual history and the history of human violence in German literature from the 18th century to contemporary lite­ra­tu­re. This literary history of forces of nature / history will cover aspects of literary theory and current approaches to the anthro­po­scene debate.

The course will start with reflections of the Lisbon earthquake of Nov 1, 1755, in Heinrich von Kleist’s Erdbeben in Chili (Earthquake in Chile), and Immanuel Kant’s Kritik der Urteilskraft (Cri­ti­que of Judgment), his idea of the sublime in nature and art, and proceed to Ewald von Kleist’s poetic land­scape descriptions of the battlefield. We will discuss Johann Wolfgang Goethe’s Sturm und Drang and scientific natural disaster prose and Friedrich Hölderlin’s poetological re­flec­tion of language and inspiration as a force of na­tu­re. Also in the 19th century, Clara Viebig’s Na­tur­ge­wal­ten (Forces of Nature) will give us opportunity to discuss gender and imaginations of forces of nature. From the 20th century, next to van Hoddis, we will read Ernst Jünger’s WW I novel In Stahlgewittern (Storms of Steel), and Gottfried Benn’s poetic-scientific vision of radioactivity as new natural force (Physik 1943, Verlorenes Ich). Marcel Beyer’s novel Kaltenburg offers an animal and ornithology perspective on German history, and we will talk about his reflection of the Elbe flooding disaster. We are entering the anthroposcene with historical garbage disposal issues in Christoph Ransmayr’s Morbus Kitahara. Nobel prize winner Elfriede Jelinek’s Kein Licht and Alexander Kluge’s Die Pranke der Natur (und wir Menschen) shed light on the anthropological and intellectual history dimension of the nuclear incident at Fukushima Daaichi, Japan. In the literary reception of the 09/11 attacks, the events were often compared to natural disaster and the Lisbon earthquake, which we will trace in newspapers, Thomas Kling’s Manhttan Mundraum and Katrin Röggla’s Really Ground Zero. Michael Stavarič’s novel Magma rereads history as a demonic history of natural disasters. W.G. Sebald’s Die Ringe des Saturn and Reinhard Jirgl’s Nichts von euch auf Erden take a planetary view on the anthroposcene, fundamentally changing the narrative mode. Anja Utler’s poetry kommen sehen: Lobgesang will lead us into a climate change future of ‚three years summer‘. With Juli Zeh (Über Menschen) and Marlene Streeruwitz (So ist die Welt geworden), we will take a look at the covid19 crisis as a literary event, natural and social disaster.

The course will introduce theoretical perspectives on forces of nature / history in German literature in a contrastive manner, from close reading to poststructuralist approaches, as well as the theoretical context of anthroposcene, ecostudies, dark green and biodiversity concepts.

The course will be conducted face-to-face. Instruction will combine direct instruction, in-class discussion and group work (flipped classroom) with out-of-class collaborative group projects, and individual assignments in writing and as class presentations.

Main readings are German, research literature is in German or English. Throughout the course, we will work with relatively short exemplary chapters or excerpts. Project groups will work with the full text.

Other requirements: aside from Canvas, this class will use digital tooly relevant to these materials, including, Etherpad, and others. These are all open-source, cross-platform, and free. The instructor will support deploying and experimenting with digital humanities approaches to all projects, but they are not required.

Link to full course description.

GSD 351D • Identity/Codes/Culture

38055 • Fall 2022
Meets MWF 9:00AM-10:00AM CMA 5.190
GCQR (also listed as C L 323, REE 325)


“What if I could read patterns out of hundreds of texts, and gain new perspectives, create new knowledge about them using digital tools?” This course explores how to read identities as statistical patterns in literary texts, linguistic, cultural and historical corpora with digital methods, and how we can come to a deeper understanding of individual texts and textual phenomena. This course introduces digital research methods, tools and use cases. Students will work hands-on with literary, linguistic, cultural and historical sources – without requiring any previous programming knowledge.

We will start the course with an overview to concepts of “identity”, “patterns” and “models” in literature, culture, and humanities research. Our discussion will show how digital methods and tools transform the way literary, linguistic and culture studies research conceptualize identity, culture, as well as textual phenomena since the 20th century as data patterns and models. This course will consider digital research methods from the perspective of concepts of “identity” and “identities” as intersectional compounds of gender identity, sexual orientation, ethnicity, nationality, culture, religion, social and historical background, variation of physical and mental abilities, etc. - Quantitative-reasoning based digital methods and digital models offer the opportunity to analyse these components as more general patterns at scale, while preserving the complexity of their interconnection. At the same time, digital technology and digital research methods deserve our critical attention as well: do these methods contribute to equality, equity, or may their application introduce biases?

After the introduction, we will first move on to an introduction to basic concepts of statistics that will help us to understand the data and then to the hands-on work extracting and "distant reading" literary, cultural and linguistic patterns from textual sources, social science and online discourse datasets with digital methods and tools. In hands-on group projects (e.g. newspaper and online sources, literary texts, or sources in the language of your discipline, e.g. the Texas German project), you will learn how to think your own research digitally, ask new questions, extract, analyze and “read” literature and culture as data patterns: next to useful digital skills for your everyday work (e.g. corpus management, webscraping) you will learn hands-on to leverage text statistics, and methods like named entity recognition, co-occurence and collocation analysis, sentiment analysis, and topic modeling to identify patterns and networks of identity features in literary texts, linguistic and historical cultural corpora as well as digital culture corpora – or the identity of a text’s author by its linguistic style features (stylometry). We will also learn digital social network analysis (SNA) skills and reflect on the methodology on the background of ANT (actor network theory).

Your practical experience with these digital methods and the results of your research will be the basis of our (critical) discussion of these methods in comparison to the way you “read” literature, linguistic sources and culture before. These group projects – like the entire course - do NOT require any previous programming knowledge. Everything you need you will learn during this class (e.g. essential Python skills, ability to use different digital tools). All you need is willingness to hands-on explore digital methods and tools in class and in group projects.

A large portion of this course will be student-centered: throughout the semester, you will conduct three self-guided DH group projects of your own design and in your own interest area, which will help you learn to plan, manage and implement your project, and collaborate effectively. These projects will be supported by a combination of in-class instruction with available supervision and support, as well as student peer-review. The final section of the course will be dedicated to finishing these projects, documenting and reflecting on your results, in-class presentation.

This course is approved for credit in the Undergraduate Digital Humanities Undergraduate Certificate (

Please note

  • No background in programming is required, only the willingness to explore digital tools. 

  • This course will be taught in English. Main readings will be available in English (or in other languages if projects require it, if applicable for chosen projects).

  • All software will be open source and cross-platform (no special costs beyond having device access in class).

  • This course is approved for credit in the Digital Humanities Undergraduate Certificate ( Please contact certificate director after completion of the course.

Class format/ method of instruction:

  • Class will be conducted in an in-person format. Hybrid options are available for students with specific needs. The in-class, hands-on format is complemented with flipped classroom, group project formats.

  • Digital learning / teaching with Canvas, potentially Zoom,, other.

  • Python IDE’s suitable for beginners (PyCharm, Google Colab), other (Voyant Tools, AntConc, etc).


The main objectives of the course are to

  • offer an overview of and practical knowledge of DH methods and methodology, as well as the ability to critically evaluate methods and datasets.

  • acquire essential digital skills they can build on and extend in future courses and their own projects.

  • develop digital humanities research questions, project plans, implementation and evaluation.

  • engage with existing DH research in a critical way.


By the end of the course, students will be able to

  • apply a basic set of DH methods and critically evaluate methods, application and datasets;

  • integrate literary and culture theory, text analysis with concepts of DH methods and theory;

  • analyze cultural texts in a historical context with digital methods;

  • work collaboratively in an interdisciplinary and comparative fashion.

Link to full course description.



GER 373 • Writing Media History

37430 • Spring 2022
Meets TTH 9:30AM-11:00AM PMA 7.124

This course will focus on how literary drafts as traces of the literary writing process illuminate the final version of a work of literature, as well as how they are readable as case studies for a media history of writing: from the literary manuscript to digital literature, and the media evolution of literary culture. Case studies of short literary texts and exemplary draft excerpts we will “read” are: 1. draft manuscripts, handwritten or typed in the 20th century, e.g. notebooks and draft manuscripts by important authors like Gottfried Benn, Bertolt Brecht, Georg Trakl, Georg Heym, Franz Kafka, and others, e.g. some of Nietzsche's typescripts, 2. hand-written manuscripts from important authors of earlier centuries (Johann Wolfgang Goethe, Friedrich Hölderlin, Friedrich Gottlieb Klopstock, and Georg Büchner, 3. "born-digital" literary autographs from the 21st century by Michael Speier and Thomas Kling, as well as the source code of Theo Lutz’ and Jörg Piringer’s digital poetry.

GER 389K • Think Dig Lit/Lang/Culture

37450 • Spring 2022
Meets TTH 12:30PM-2:00PM ECJ 1.304

‘What if I could create new knowledge using digital tools and methods, and make my research project

stand out with innovation?’ This course delivers the affirmative answer by introducing “digital

humanities” research methods, tools and use cases, and lets graduate students work hands-on with

literary and linguistic sources. This course will support and inspire graduate research projects and PhD

projects to go digital, ask new research questions, find new answers, and come up with new results –

without requiring any previous programming knowledge. For humanities majors and minors, this

digital humanities course offers the opportunity to acquire digital skillsets that tie their degrees into the

requirements of their future jobs and graduate studies in literature, linguistics and culture studies.

Digital methods are widespread in the humanities: from seemingly simple everyday tasks such as

bibliographic research in databases and OCR’ing texts to computational text-, corpus- and networkanalyses,

data mining, creation of scholarly editions and studying the source code of digital culture.

Students will learn essential digital skills, research methods and tools in group projects on literary texts

and original linguistic sources (e.g. extracting text from audio, typescripts, handwritten sources from

the Texas German research project, or sources in the language of your project). Next to training in

digital humanities skills, this course will lay a foundation in developing new humanities research

questions based on digital methods (‘create new knowledge’), critical methodological evaluation of

research data and digital methods, and reflected embedding of digital approaches in the humanities as

well as digital culture literacy.

GER 328 • Advanced German Grammar

38410 • Fall 2021
Meets MWF 1:00PM-2:00PM CMA 3.114

Course Description:

German 328 provides students with the opportunity to develop their understanding of and ability to use German grammar. The course reviews basic grammatical structures in German that students likely encountered in earlier coursework (e.g., past tense forms, adjective endings), as well as introduces them to new grammatical concepts (e.g., extended attributes, nominalizations).

The course uses a content-based instructional approach to language learning. Through engaging with content material in German, students will be able to observe language in use and, importantly, have opportunities to practice grammatical structures in real, meaningful contexts. Three interconnected topics related to contemporary youth in German society (e.g., protest culture, military and civil service, and changes in the university structure) serve as the backdrop for class discussions and writing assignments. Additionally, students will have the chance to explore aspects of German grammar specific to their own individual interests and needs through a semester-long learning portfolio. 

The course prepares students for advanced coursework in German literature and culture, as well as study in a German-speaking country. With this goal in mind, students are expected to take greater initiative in actively participating in class discussions than at the beginning or intermediate levels of language instruction.

Prerequisites: Students must have completed second-year German at UT (GER 612) or have earned credit for second-year German through a placement exam, AP exam, or transfer credit in order to enroll in German 328.



Rankins & Wells, Handbuch zur deutschen Grammatik. Wiederholen und Anwenden, 6th edition (2016), available at the campus bookstore. Additional texts and handouts will be distributed in class or posted on the course management site.


Requirements & Assessment:

Class Participation (10%)              

Exploratory Practice Project (20%)

Daily Homework (20%)                

3 Writing Tasks (20%)

3 Tests (30%)

GER 382N • Digtl Map Of Cultr Networks

38090 • Spring 2021
Meets MW 4:00PM-5:30PM GEA 114

The course offers an introduction to cultural and literary networks in northern Europe from a digital perspective. It will cover digital humanities methodology to map historical cultural, literary networks as well as inter- and intratextual networks, and networks of digital culture. On the other hand, the course will deal with digital networked art and literature, their code, and the history of digital culture networks (web history) as well as tech culture history.


Coming from a data perspective, the course will move from mapping women editor’s networks of the 18th century, letter exchange networks of literary exiles and scholars, and inter- and intratextual literary networks of texts and periodicals up to the 20th century in the Germanic language communities and England. Students will also have the opportunity to engage with digital art and literature, its source code and will learn to scrape, analyse, study web (literary) history from the mid-1990s until today and web culture phenomena such as fan fiction networks and the mechanisms of digitally spread disinformation.


The course will include a practical, hands-on introduction to digital humanities methods as well as to critical reflection on DH methodology and appraisal of DH research results.     


Please note: This course will be taught in English, with all main readings available in a native language (e.g. German or Dutch) and English translation. As the Electronic Literature Organization is strong in Spanish digital literature, student presentations in this area are welcome, but they would have to provide translations.

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