Susanne Hartwig How is Disability Portrayed in Contemporary Culture?

Professor Susanne Hartwig holds the Chair of Romance Literatures and Cultures at the University of Passau, Germany. With expertise in French, Spanish and Portuguese literary and cultural studies, Professor Hartwig’s research interests also include disability studies, theories of cognition and communication and the links between her core discipline and mathematics. Between 2011 and 2015, she was deputy chairperson of the German Hispanic Studies Association and, in 2008, Susanne Hartwig (with mathematician Stefan Siegmund) was a prize winner in the Heads and Tails competition sponsored by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research.

Area of Research

Romance Cultural Studies and Literature (Spanish, Portuguese, French), Ethics and Literature, Disability Studies, 20th and 21st-century Theatre in France and Spain, The Novel of the 20th/21st Century (Latin America, France, Spain), Theories of Cognition and Communication, Systems Theory and Cybernetics, Mathematics and Literary Studies, The Psychology of Emotion and Literary Studies

since 2006

Chair of Romance Literatures and Cultures

University of Passau (Universität Passau) (more details)


Visiting professor (C4)

University of Erfurt (Universität Erfurt)


Visiting professor (C4)

University of Potsdam (Universität Potsdam)


Lecturer in the Department of Romance Studies

University of Münster (Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster)

Department of Romance Studies


Post-Doctoral Lecture Qualification (Venia Legend/Habilitation)

Justus Liebig University Giessen (Justus-Liebig-Universität Gießen)


Ph.D. Doctorate (Dr. phil.) in Romance Literatures

University of Münster (Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster)


Teacher's certification (Staatsexamen; French and Latin)

University of Münster (Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster)

- Deputy Chairperson of the Hispanic Studies Association of Germany (DHV) (2011-2015)


- Feodor Lynen Fellowship from the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation in Madrid, Spain (Universidad Autónoma / Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas) (2000-2002)

- Doctoral Fellowship from the German National Academic Foundation (1995 – 1998)

- Emmy Noether Programme, German Research Foundation (DFG), Department of Romance Studies (Spanish), Giessen University (2002-2004)

© Universität Passau

University of Passau (Universität Passau)

Passau, Germany

An excellent research and study environment in the heart of Europe: Owing to its excellent research output, an outstanding study environment and a tight-knit international network of partners, the University of Passau is a highly visible and highly respected academic and research institution in the heart of Europe. Internationally successful high-technology companies and a vibrant start-up scene, coupled with a rich culture and Lower Bavarian traditions make Passau a city with a high quality of life. About 13,000 students hailing from more than 100 countries and some 1,100 staff in primary employment in the academic units and academic support divisions are engaged in research, teaching and higher education support functions on our University campus, situated a stone’s throw from the Old Town of Passau. This campus is not only well-equipped in terms of technical infrastructure, it has also received numerous architecture prizes.


International networks: Internationalism has always been a hallmark for the University, as well as an important strategic aim. Our international connections are underpinned by the vibrant partnerships we maintain on a global scale, particularly the cross-border co-operative and research partnerships of our academics. Our students and alumni, too, are engaged in networks that reach far beyond the city limits of Passau. Many of our degree programmes offer students the chance to earn international double degrees, and all our students have access to a large range of language courses and student exchange programmes. Our subject-specific language programmes in Law, Business, Economics, Cultural Studies, International Relations, Teacher Education, Computer Science and Mathematics ideally complement our students’ degree studies and give them an edge on the international labour markets.


An excellent learning environment: The University of Passau is among the leading 20% of universities worldwide. And closer to home, the University regularly attains top positions in academic rankings in Bavaria and the German-speaking world, e.g. in law, business and economics, computer science, communication studies, political science and cultural studies. Representative surveys, such as the Study Quality Monitor, regularly attest to the high level of student satisfaction at the University. Our graduates are highly sought after by employers, as they are not only equipped with technical knowledge needed to embark on their careers; they are also highly motivated individuals who demonstrate great initiative by seeking additional qualifications outside their degree programmes and practical skills, and through their commitment to causes outside the university. Many are active members of the University's various student clubs and societies, which provide a valuable contribution to campus life as well as the international and cross-disciplinary profile of the University.



Unlike in Sociology, extensive research on disability has not been conducted in Cultural Studies. In this video, SUSANNE HARTWIG analyzes the ways in which disability has been portrayed in aesthetic texts and how this has developed over time. While stereotypical and reassuring representations of disability remain the norm, Hartwig observes that more unsettling depictions (which lead readers/spectators to question their assumptions) have become more prominent in recent years. With demographic change and aging populations shifting this subject center stage, Hartwig’s research promises to shed light on cultural representations of disability so that we might better understand how our real-world attitudes can evolve in positive directions.

LT Video Publication DOI:

¿Discapacidad? Literatura, Teatro y Cine Hispánicos Vistos Desde los Disability Studies

  • Images of Disability. Literature, Scenic, Visual, and Virtual Arts/Imágenes de la Diversidad Funcional. Literatura, Artes Escénicas, Visuales y Virtuales
  • Published in 2018
Susanne Hartwig and Julio Checa (Eds.). ¿Discapacidad? Literatura, Teatro y Cine Hispánicos Vistos Desde los Disability Studies. Frankfurt a.M. et al.: Peter Lang Verlag, 2018.

Espacio(s) Teatrale(s) y Diversidad Funcional

  • Susanne Hartwig
  • Revista de Literatura
  • In Press
Susanne Hartwig. "Espacio(s) Teatrale(s) y Diversidad Funcional." Revista de Literatura (In Press).

La Discapacidad en Escena. Una Búsqueda a Escala Europea

  • Susanne Hartwig
  • ALEC
  • Published in 2019
Susanne Hartwig. "La Discapacidad en Escena. Una Búsqueda a Escala Europea." ALEC 44 (2019).