Mayer, Sigrid 1933-

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MAYER, Sigrid 1933-

PERSONAL: Born October 4, 1933, in Göttingen, Germany; immigrated to United States, 1957, naturalized citizen, 1965; daughter of Karl (a pastor) and Luise (a homemaker; maiden name, Riemenschneider) Bender; married Jörg Mayer-Kalkschmidt, June, 1955 (divorced November, 1963); children: Fred, Hans, Nick. Ethnicity: "Caucasian." Education: University of New Mexico, B.A., 1968; University of Utah, M.A., 1969, Ph.D., 1973. Politics: Democrat. Religion: Protestant.

ADDRESSES: Home—1367 North 17th, Laramie, WY82072. Office—c/o Department of Modern and Classical Languages, University of Wyoming, Hoyt Hall, Laramie, WY 82071. E-mail—[email protected].

CAREER: University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, instructor in German, 1964-68; University of Wyoming, Laramie, assistant professor, 1973-79, associate professor, 1979-84, professor of German, 1985-97, professor emeritus, 1997—.

MEMBER: Internationale Ernst Cassirer-Gesellschaft.

AWARDS, HONORS: Prize for criticism from Deutschlandfunk, 1977; grant from German Academic Exchange Service for Bonn, Germany, 1980; President's Faculty Achievement award, University of Wyoming, 1992.


Golem. Die literarische Rezeption eines Stoffes (title means "Golem: The Literary Reception of a Theme"), Herbert Lang (Bern Switzerland), 1975.

Friedrich Dürrenmatt: Der Besuch der alten Dame (title means "Friedrich Duerrenmatt: The Visit of the Old Lady"), Moritz Diesterweg (Frankfurt, Germany), 1981, 6th edition, 1992.

(Compiler and author of afterword) Günter Grass: Zeichnungen und Texte 1954-1977, Luchterhand (Darmstadt, Germany), 1982, translation published as Günter Grass: Drawings and Words, 1954-1977, Harcourt Brace Jovanovich (San Diego, CA), 1983.

(Compiler and author of afterword) Günter Grass: Radierungen und Texts, 1972-1982, Luchterhand (Darmstadt, Germany), 1984, translation published as Günter Grass: Etchings and Words, 1972-1982, Harcourt Brace Jovanovich (San Diego, CA), 1985.

(With Walter Eggers) Ernst Cassirer: An Annotated Bibliography, Garland Publishing (New York, NY), 1988.

(With Martha Hanscom) Critical Reception of the Short Fiction by Joyce Carol Oates and Gabriele Wohmann, Camden House (Columbia, SC), 1998.

(Editor) Ernst Cassirer: Schillers philosophische Weltansicht, Felix Meiner (Hamburg, Germany), in press.

Contributor to books, including Adventures of a Flounder: Critical Essays on Günter Grass's "Der Butt," edited by Gertrud Bauer Pickar, Wilhelm Funk (Munich, Germany), 1982; "The Fisherman and His Wife": Günter Grass's "The Flounder" in Critical Perspective, edited by Siegfried Mews, AMS Press (New York, NY), 1983; The Routledge Encyclopedia of Narrative Theory, Routledge (London, England), 2003; Yearbook of Comparative and General Literature, and Encyklopaedie des Marchens. Contributor of articles and reviews to language and literature journals.

SIDELIGHTS: Sigrid Mayer once told CA: "In my profession as a teacher of foreign languages and literatures, and in my research on German and comparative literature, I see myself in the role of mediator between different cultures. The exchange of objective information in the areas of literature and the arts is all too often obstructed by language and cultural borders. Living in two worlds and mediating between them is very rewarding in terms of literary research.

"In my research, for example, on the American perspective in three major works by Max Frisch, I was trying to explain to German readers that Frisch's depiction of the American West is by no means a totally fictionalized world—that his 'homo faber' is by no means a sheer product of American lifestyles and so forth. In my articles 'The American Reception of the Works by Hermann Hesse' and 'The American Reception of the Works of Günter Grass,' I was trying to get across to German readers what American readers of various age groups like about the literary works of Hesse or Grass. Similarly, with my lecture on philologist Wilhelm von Humboldt's philosophy of language in the works of philosopher Ernst Cassirer, I felt I had found a topic on which both Eastern and Western perspectives on language and history of ideas could meet.

"My specific interest in the graphic art of author-artist Günter Grass was prompted by an exhibit of some thirty of his etchings, here at the University of Wyoming, in connection with the English translation of Grass's From the Diary of a Snail. I hypothesized about a necessary stylistic relationship between his expression in the arts and in language, finding that nothing had been done along these lines at the time. My subsequent meetings with Grass confirmed my view of him as one of the most talented and energetic artists and one of the most concerned human beings alive today. Firmly committed to furthering the causes of peace and humanity in this world, he is courageous and outspoken in all matters concerning underprivileged peoples and individuals. I found that his graphic and literary expression tend to fuse in his poetry. Furthermore, Grass's novels exhibit a visionary quality—both with respect to the past and the future."

More recently Mayer added: "When Günter Grass received the Nobel Prize for literature at long last in 1999, his American and European readers were celebrating. I felt honored by the request to write the tribute essay on this occasion for the Dictionary of Literary Biography Yearbook of 1999. It was a pleasure to lay the ground for and introduce his acceptance speech to the Swedish Academy. He has since fulfilled the promise implied by the title of his speech: 'To Be Continued …' with an epoch-making novella about the sinking of the Wilhelm Gustloff in 1945. It seems that, as long as Günter Grass continues his 'Drawing and Writing,' I will have to write about it.

"Retirement is a non-subject with regard to literary research. For two years after retirement I worked on the comparative study of the Critical Reception of the Short Fiction by Joyce Carol Oates and Gabriele Wohmann. These incessantly productive women authors in the United States and Germany have never met except in this book. When I handed Wohmann a copy on her sixty-sixth birthday in 1998, she asked why Oates was so well known in Germany, while she was hardly translated in the United States. I hope she found the answer in the book.

"The edition of the philosopher Ernst Cassirer's unpublished lectures on Friedrich Schiller is still out there, 'in press,' and it is still close to my heart. I hope to live to see it in print."