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Damien Schlarb, Ph.D.

wiss. Assistent, Abteilung Scheiding

I am a scholar of American literature and culture. My literary research focuses on the American Renaissance, the long eighteenth century, and representations of religion and the Bible. I am currently preparing for publication a book manuscript on Herman Melville and the wisdom books of the Old Testament. Melville continuously references the wisdom books of Old Testament (Job, Proverbs, and Ecclesiastes), a genre of ancient advice literature that directly confronts religious skepticism and engenders a stance of intellectual integrity and free inquiry. Through his interaction with the wisdom books, Melville develops a response to the spiritual and representational crises of modernity. He stakes out a second naiveté, a stance that acknowledges skepticism but seeks to move beyond it to a position of open-ended contemplation.

My most recent research project (Habilitation) centers on digital game and media studies. Here I am interested in the various forms of work that is being performed in, through, and around video games. Part of this research occurs in the context of the interdisciplinary work group “immersive spaces” (Immersive Räume), which is hosted through the Research Center for Social and Cultural Studies Mainz (SoCuM) of which I am a member. I also participate in the international research initiative “Playing the Field,” which considers video games from an American Studies angle.

Research Areas

  • Nineteenth-Century American Literature
  • American Renaissance
  • Theology and Literature
  • Postsecularism
  • Digital Game Studies
  • Media Studies


I teach courses in American literature and culture at Johannes Gutenberg-University Mainz, where I am assistant professor (non-tenure). I have also taught American literature and composition at Georgia State University (Atlanta, GA), where I lived and taught for six years while earning my Ph.D. at the Department of English. My pedagogy is process-oriented and conversational. I engage with students in a semester-long dialog about their thinking and writing in order to help them achieve a sense of ownership of their research.

  • Early American Literature
  • Critical Theory
  • Nineteenth-Century American Literature
  • The American Short Story
  • American Literature Survey (ENG 2130)
  • Composition
  • Culture Studies (Historical Survey)


My academic service experience includes serving as layout editor for the South Atlantic Review (the journal of the South Atlantic Modern Language Association) and as managing editor Amerikastudien / American Studies (the journal of the German Association for American Studies). I have held various positions in both U.S. and German universities. These experiences inform both my teaching and my approach to academic collaboration.

Recent Publications

“Narrative Glitches: Action Adventure Games and Metaleptic Convergence.” In Playing the Field: Video Games and American Studies. Ed. Sascha Pöhlman. De Gruyter, 2019.

“Sentimental Contracts: The Affective Narrative Structure of Puritan Covenant Theology in Jonathan Winthrop’s A Model of Christian Charity.” Doing Cultural History. Eds.Judith Mengler and Kristina Müller-Bongard. Transcript, 2018.

The Whale’s Three Jobs: Postsecularist Literary Studies and the Old Testament Hermeneutics of Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick.” Amerikastudien/American Studies 62.1 (2017). 87-107. Print.


Damien Schlarb, Ph.D.
Philosophicum II
Jakob-Welder-Weg 20
Room 02.229

Phone: +49-6131-39-20296

Office hours:
face-to-face office hours are canceled until further notice due to the social-distancing measures necessary to combat the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Please contact me via email



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