Melissa Kagen graduated with a PhD in German Studies from Stanford University in June 2016. Her dissertation focused on the German/Jewish wanderer in modernist opera, looking specifically at how the separate myths of the Wandering Jew and the German Wanderer in the 19th-century grow uncomfortably enmeshed in the early 20th century. The Wanderer in these operas ranges from an empowered female streetwalker to Moses poetically founding the state of Israel through displaced movement.
Melissa has written and presented on the Wanderer figure in several genres besides opera, including wandering as military occupation in Robert Walser's short stories and the gendered implications of the rise of"walking simulator" video games. As a digital humanist, she founded and directs the Stanford Code Poetry Slam and has published on an interactive musical map she created of songs performed in Auschwitz. She also directs opera, and her most recent production was a site-specific, pedestrian performance of Mozart's Don Giovanni, which took place at the Stanford mausoleum in May 2016.
"Wandering in Video Games," forthcoming in Nerds, Wonks, and Neo-cons from the Years Work series at Indiana University Press, ed. Jonathan P. Eburne and Benjamin Schreier, December 2015
"The Wanderer as Soldier: Robert Walser's 'Der Spaziergang,' World War I in Switzerland, and the Use of Covering Space," accepted with revisions at German Quarterly
"Zombie Parsifal: Undead Walkers and Postapocalyptic Stagings," under consideration at Opera Quarterly
"Controlling Sound: Musical Torture from the Shoah to Guantanamo," The Appendix, quarterly Journal of Experimental and Narrative History, July 2013, "Out Loud"
Ph.D, German Studies, Stanford University, 2011-2016 (unofficial transcript)
M.A., Humanities, University of Chicago, 2009-2010 (unofficial transcript)
B.A. magna cum laude in Literary Arts, Brown University, 2005-2009 (unofficial transcript)