Holly Liu

Holly Liu, Professor of World Languages and Cultures (German and Chinese), taught at colleges and universities around the world before coming to Alma College in 2006. As an Alma faculty member, she says her students continue to motivate her to be the best professor she can be. 

“I appreciate that the students at Alma are so enthusiastic about learning,” she says. “It is the most rewarding moment to me to see a student who has no previous knowledge of German, but takes my course and starts speaking and writing German.” 

Liu’s own education has an international theme. She earned a bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Peking University in Beijing, as well as a master’s degree from Texas Tech University and a doctorate from Vanderbilt University. She also studied for two years at the Free University of Berlin. 

Berlin by night

“Berlin is amazing!” she says. “That is the kind of city one would die for. Its history and diversity not only opened my eyes, but also it changed me in many positive ways. I would have never become who I am if I had not studied and lived there.” In May 2014, Dr. Liu successfully taught her Spring Term course Holocaust and the Cold War in Europe while she lead 21 students to Berlin, Auschwitz and Krakow.    

A recent recipient of a Fulbright summer grant, Liu went back to Germany to attend an academic seminar for American professors and learned more about the European testing/grading system under Bologna Declaration, and how the German language is taught to international students at German universities. The experience was helpful, she says. 

“I am always curious to learn from other colleagues in the field, for example, how to work with media (such as a video clip) in a foreign language so that students can benefit the most from learning both the language and the content at the same time. The Fulbright Seminar offered many opportunities to discuss these issues and to exchange information. I want to adopt these new ideas in my film and culture courses whenever possible,” she says. “I also found some great programs that will allow Alma students to study abroad more cost-effectively. Thanks to my extensive travels to places like France, Poland, Greece, Turkey and the Czech Republic, I know how important it is to obtain firsthand cultural information.” “There is no doubt to say that to study a foreign language will eventually help us to understand our own language and culture better,” she adds. 

A frequent presenter at international conferences, Liu’s research and publications include postwar and contemporary German literature (East and West) and German films since the 1990s. Through her efforts and collaborations with Goethe-Institutes across the United States, she has brought prominent German writers, journalists, historians and film directors to American campuses. 

“As a Chinese-Germanist in the United States, I have decided to dedicate my multicultural education to understanding different cultures and the academic achievements between continents,” she says. This is one of the reasons she accepted the offer from Fischer Verlag to translate Animal triste by Monika Maron from German into Chinese. The book was published by Yilin (译林出版社) in September 2014 and by Lijiang (漓江出版社)in 2019.

Liu also enjoys working with a wide variety of colleagues across the disciplines.

In addition, in her spare time, she enjoys watching German films, surfing the web, baking, jogging, cycling, listening to classical and pop music, and dancing – in Berlin, of course!


Professor of German


World Languages and Cultures Department - German and Chinese

Educational Background

  • Ph.D., German Language and Literature, Vanderbilt University
  • M.A., German Language and Literature, Texas Tech University; Peking University
  • B.A., German Language and Literature, Peking University

I am...

passionate about teaching and promoting German and Chinese language and culture, eager to share my experiences in Germany and China with my students. I enjoy working with students and seeing the progress students made in learning. I hope that you study German and Chinese at Alma College AND join the German and Chinese Clubs for our fun and enriching activities!


Full Professor

My career at Alma began in


I'm an expert in

the twentieth century with focus on the Holocaust and Postwar (East and West), Postwall and the contemporary German literature and culture;Memory and Narrative Theory;East German Cinema (DEFA); Turn of the Century and Contemporary Vienna;

My expertise:

My research focuses on German Postwar literature including the GDR/East German literature, the contemporary German literature and film since 1990. I also taught courses on Holocaust, Chinese contemporary literature and film. Translation of literary works of German authors into Chinese;  Chinese culture through language, literature and film

Signature course(s):

GRM 350: Postwar Short Stories; HUM 180/GRM380: Holocaust and the Cold War in Berlin (Spring Term); HUM180/GRM380: German Culture through Film; Censorship in Germany; Chinese Language courses

Recent publications:


  • Animal triste 《忧伤动物》by Monika Maron. Translated into Chinese by Holly Liu (刘宏). Guilin: Lijiang Publishing House (漓江出版社). 2019.
  • Animal triste 《忧伤动物》by Monika Maron. Translated into Chinese by Holly Liu. Nanjing: Yilin, September 2014.

  • Erinnerung als Erzählstrategie: DDR-Vergangenheitsbewältigung seit der Wende bei Monika Maron, Helga Schütz und Brigitte  Burmeister. Germanistische Texte und Studien. Hildesheim: Georg Olms Verlag.  (forthcoming).

  • Wir gehen ins Theater. Co-translator and Primary editor (from German to Chinese). Hildesheim: Georg Olms Verlag, 2010.

  • Wir gehen ins Museum. Co-translator and Primary editor (from German to Chinese). Hildesheim: Georg Olms Verlag, 2010.

  • Literatur im Jahrhundert des Totalitarismus. Festschrift für Dieter Sevin. Co-editor (with Elke Gilson and Barbara Hahn). Germanistische Texte und Studien 80. Hildesheim: Georg Olms Verlag, 2008. 

  • „Die Wahrheit des Augenblicks“: Zu Helga Schütz’ Erinnerungstrategie in Jette in Dresden und Knietief im Paradies. In: Begegnung ist alles wirkliche Leben. Literatur-, Kultur- und Sprachwissehschaftliche Beiträge II: Festschrift für Professor Dr. habil. Klaus Hammer zum 85. Geburtstag. Hamburg: Dr. Kovacs. August 2020. 31-44.
  • “The Voices of Love (爱的心语): Afterword for the Chinese Translation of Animal triste.” Nanjing: Yilin, September 2014.

  • “Liberating Voices from East Germany and China - A Personal Perspective.”Belmont Humanities Symposium Journal 2 (2011). September, 2012.89-97.

  • „,Was nicht zum Leben taugt, das taugt zum Schreiben‘– Monika Marons neuer Versuch mit der Glückssuche.“ In gebrochener Synthese-Beiträge zur Literatur, Kultur und Sprache:Festschrift für Prof. Dr. habil. Klaus Hammer. Bd. 1. Słupsk: Wydawnictwo Naukowe Akademii Pomorskiej. Oktober 2009. 214-22.

  • “Aber Heidschi Bumbeidschi.”TRANS-LIT2. Vol. XV/No.1. April 2009. 82-83.

  • “Unter dem Namen Norma=Unter dem Namen Roman? Über die Nichtübereinstimmung von Erinnerung und Erzählen in der Romanstruktur von Brigitte Burmeisters Unter dem Namen Norma (1994).” Akten des XI. Internationalen Germanistenkongresses Paris 2005. Bd. 10. Bern: Peter Lang AG, 2007. 421-30. 

  • „‚Kindliches Denken poetisch einzufangen‘: Zur Erinnerungsstrategie von Helga Schütz in Jette in Dresden und Grenze zum gestrigen Tag.“ Kopf-Kino: Gegenwartsliteratur und Medien: Festschrift für Volker Wehdeking. Trier: Wissenschaftlicher Verlag, 2006. 71-79.

  • “‘Auf den richtigen Blickwinkel kommt es an’ – Über die Nichtübereinstimmung von Realität und Erzählung in Brigitte Burmeisters Roman Anders oder Vom Aufenthalt in der Fremde.” Trans: Internet-Zeitschrift für Kulturwissenschaften. 16 (2006).  ( .

  • “Erich Maria Remarque.” Lebensbeschreibung und Werkinterpretation der Dichter der Weltliteratur.  Fünfter Band. Hrsg. Prof. Fuheng Wu. ShangDong, China: Shan Dong-Erziehungsverlag, 1990. 85-106.


  • Pollok und die Attentäterin – Brigitte Burmeisters Roman über die

    fundamentale und unweigerliche Nichtübereinstimmung von Realität und Erzählung.” The German Quarterly 73.3 (2000): 287-93.

  • “Erinnern und Vergessen: Ein aktuelles Thema in der deutschen Gegenwartsliteratur. Im Gespräch mit Monika Maron.” Berliner LeseZeichen. May 2000. 26-31.

  • “‘In einem gewissen Sinne hat der Osten uns lebenstüchtiger gemacht…’ Im Gespräch mit Helga Schütz.”Berliner LeseZeichen. April 2000. 17-31.

  • “‘Ich wehre mich …’ Ein Interview mit Brigitte Burmeister.” GDR Bulletin 26 (1999): 31-37.


  • Pawels Briefe. Eine Familiengeschichte by Monika Maron. GDR Bulletin 26 (1999): 66-67.

  • “Familiengeschichte ohne Idylle: Rezension über Monika Marons neuestes Buch Pawels Briefe.Märkische Oderzeitung (Frankfurt/Oder) 1. März 1999.


Recent presentations:

  • “Zum ,Geheimnis der Begegnung‘: Das zeitlose Erinnern in Helga Schütz’ Erinnerungswerk.“ XIV. Kongress der Internationalen Vereinigung für Germanistik (IVG). Palermo, Italy. July 26-August 2, 2021 (Presented online).
  • “Thirty Years After Germany’s Reunification: What is at Stake?” Invited talk at the Coffee House Conference. Alma, MI. October 24, 2019.
  • Moderator for Session 043. Asian-German Connections in the Global Age (2). Aesthetics, Asian German Studies and Historical Reflections. Forty-Third German Studies Association Annual Conference. Portland, OR. October 3-6, 2019
  • Moderator for Session 197. Reimagining Queer German Histories. Forty-Second German Studies Association Annual Conference. Pittsburgh, PA, CA. September 27-30, 2018.
  • Participated in the ACTFL-Workshop on Can-do Statements and Proficiency Assessment (April 2018).
  • Invited lecture: “History and Reality – Liberating Voices from East Germany and China.” Department of Languages and Intercultural Studies, Costal Carolina University, SC. January 23, 2018.
  • Invited teaching demonstration: “Chinese Phonetics.” Department of Languages and Intercultural Studies, Costal Carolina University, SC. January 23, 2018.
  • Presenter and participant in the GSA Seminar on “Strategies for Strengthening Small Undergraduate German Programs.” Forty-First German Studies Association Annual Conference. Atlanta, GA. October 5-8, 2017.
  • Invited lecture: “Remembrance as Narrative Strategy in Brigitte Burmeister’s Novel Unter dem Namen Norma.” Department of Languages and Intercultural Studies, Costal Carolina University, SC. February 24, 2017.
  • Moderator for Session 46: German Film Import/Export, Exchange, and Collaborations during the Cold War (1945-1990) (1). Fortieth German Studies Association Annual Conference. San Diego, CA.  September 29-October 2, 2016.

  • Invited as “Silent Auditor” to participate in the seminar on “GDR Historiography:What’s Next?”and in the seminaron “East German Cinema and TV in a Global Context before and after 1990.” The Thirty-Ninth German Studies Association Annual Conference. Washington, D.C. October 2015.

  • Moderator of the forum discussion on Monika Maron’s works Flugasche (1981), Animal triste (1996), Geburtsort Berlin (2003), Bitterfelder Bogen (2009) with the author’s presence in Shanghai, Nanjing and Wuhan. Invited by Goethe Institut-China. September 2014.

  • „Germanistik in den USA - Studium und Forschung.“ Peking University, Beijing, China. February 25, 2013.
  • “Liberating Voices From East-Germany and China – A Personal Note.” Liberating Voices: The 10th Annual Humanities Symposium. Belmont University, Nashville, TN. September 2011.
  • „Wendeliteratur und Monika Maron.“ Zentrum für Deutschlandstudien, Peking University, Beijing, China. December 17th, 2009.
  • “‘Was nicht zum Leben taugt, das taugt zum Schreiben” – Monika Marons neuer Versuch mit der Glückssuche.” Michigan Academy of Science, Arts, and Letters Annual Conference. Wayne State University, Detroit. March 2009. (due to illness, paper was read in absentia).
  • “Im Labyrinth der Möglichkeiten: Monika Marons Ach Glück (2007).” Thirty-second German Studies Association Annual Conference. St. Paul, MN. October 2008.
  • „‚Vom Glanz der Elbe‘: Helga Schütz und Dresden.” Wissen, Kreativität und Transformationen von Gesellschaften (KCTOS). Vienna.  December 2007.
  • “Wieso kann man sich nicht tot lachen über den DDR-Alltag? Zum Kinoerfolg der Ostalgiekomödie seit den neunziger Jahren.” Michigan Academy of Science, Arts, and Letters Annual Conference. Ferris State University, Big Rapids. March 2007.

  • “Aus Kindheitstraumata wird ‘Idylle’: Von Helga Schütz’ Vorwende-Roman Jette in Dresden zu ihrem neuesten Werk Knietief im Paradies.” Thirtieth German Studies Association Annual Conference.  Pittsburgh, PA. September 2006.

  • “‘Auf den richtigen Blickwinkel kommt es an’– über die Nichtübereinstimmung von Realität und Erzählung als Modell der romantechnischen Komposition in Brigitte Burmeisters Anders oder Vom Aufenthalt in der Fremde.” Innovationen und Reproduktionen in Kulturen und Gesellschaften (IRICS). Vienna. December 2005.

  • “Unter dem Namen Norma=Unter dem Namen Roman? Über die Nichtübereinstimmung von Erinnerung und Erzählen in der Romanstruktur von Brigitte Burmeisters Unter dem Namen Norma (1994).” 11. Internationaler Germanistenkongress (IVG). Paris. August 2005.

  • “‘Kindliches Denken poetisch einzufangen’: Helga Schütz’ Jette in Dresden (1977) und Grenze zum gestrigen Tag (2000).” The Annual SEMLA Conference. Baltimore. November 2002.

  • “Wühlen in Erinnerung zwischen Städten: Die ‘Stadt als mnemotechnischer Behelf’ in Helga Schütz’ Vom Glanz der Elbe.”The Annual SEMLA Conference. Atlanta. November 2001.

  • “Monika Maron und die Postmoderne: Animal Triste – Eine romantische Elegie auf das große verschüttete Gefühl.” International Symposium: “Monika Maron: Im Dialog.” Universiteit Gent. Belgium. March 2001.

  • “‘In der DDR konnte man doch nur das Falsche tun!?’: ‘Sicherungsbereich Literatur’ und der Fall Monika Maron.” Berlin-Conference “East Germany Revisited: Research Perspectives Ten Years After.” Freie Universität Berlin, Germany. October 2000.

  • “Erinnern und Vergessen: Eine unentbehrliche Erzählstrategie in Monika Marons Jahrhundertwenderoman Animal Triste.” Kentucky Foreign Language Conference. University of Kentucky, Lexington. April 2000.

  • “Zwischen Utopie und Dystopie? – Das Lebens- und Kunstexperiment Christa Wolfs in Kein Ort. Nirgends.” The 14th International Conference on Utopia and Dystopia in Literature and the Visual Arts Including Cinema. State University of West Georgia, Atlanta. November 1999.

  • Krankheitsbedingtes Außenseitertum in der Vergangenheitsbewältigung bei Böll, Walser and Lenz.” Kentucky Foreign Language Conference. University of Kentucky, Lexington. April 1999.

  • “Die Kraft der Erinnerung: Brigitte Burmeisters Nachwenderoman Unter dem Namen Norma.” German Studies Colloquium. Emory University, Atlanta. March 1999.

  • Die Krise des bürgerlichen Intellektuellen Lenz: Ein vergeblicher Kampf gegen die Autorität. The Sixth Annual Graduate Student Conference. University of Virginia, Charlottesville. March 1999.

  • “Dualismus und die Struktur desGlasperlenspiels.” The Third Annual Graduate Student Colloquium. University of Kansas, Lawrence. February 1999.

Recent grants:

  • Recipient of an NEH Award to participate in the Summer Institute on “Culture in
  • the Cold War: East German Art, Music and Film.” UMASS, Amherst, MA, June 17-July 14, 2018

  • Recipient of a Fulbright Award to participate in Baden-Württemberg Seminar for American Faculty in German and German Studies (June 20-July 2, 2011) at the University of Tübingen, Germany 
  • Recipient of a NEH Summer Institute Award (July 9-August 5 2006) in Vienna, Austria: “Melting Pot Vienna: Then and Now”
  • Recipient of Summer Research Grant from DAAD (German Academic Exchange Service). March 2009; residency at Washington University Max Kade Center for Contemporary German Literature, May-June 2009
  • Winner of a Vanderbilt University Dissertation Enhancement Grant, Summer 1999 for research in Berlin
  • Winner of a German DAAD Fellowship in national competition, 1997-1998
  • Award recipient for Excellence as German Assistant for the Graduate Program in the Summer Institute of German Language and Culture at the University of California, Santa Barbara, Summer 1997
  • Winner of the Vanderbilt Graduate Student Exchange Scholarship with Freie Universität Berlin, 1995-1996
  • Recipient of the International Education Scholarship at Texas Tech University; traveled to Austria, Germany, and Switzerland in summer 1992
  • Recipient of the Qualia Scholarship for Academic and Teaching Excellence at Texas Tech University, 1991 

Other recent accomplishments:

  • Recipient of the 2020 Andison Faculty Excellence in Teaching Award at Alma College
  • Recipient of the 2009 Outstanding Junior Faculty Excellence in Teaching Award at Alma College