Hans J. Rindisbacher

Professor of German and Russian; Coordinator of the German Section
  • Expertise


    Hans Rindisbacher’s principal field of scholarship is German Studies, but his research interests have also drawn him to the topic of perception, particularly olfactory perception. His 1992 book, The Smell of Books: A Cultural-Historical Study of Olfactory Perception in Literature, examines the role that the sense of smell has played throughout the history of European literature.

    The book was the winner of the Modern Language Association’s 1992 Independent Scholar Prize. In a review, the Sewanee Review said: “Rindisbacher's undertaking is timely—in the age of pheromones, when film makers experiment with techniques to infuse appropriately stimulating aromas into theaters and when you cannot open a magazine without being assaulted by the latest fragrances. …”

    Research Interests

    • Literary, cultural, historical and social aspects of the German-speaking world, specifically the emergence of a new Europe
    • German-Russian relations
    • Swiss literature, culture and politics
    • The intersection of linguistic representation and neuroscience
    • Perception
    • Olfactory perception
    • History of perfumery
    • Style and fashion

    Areas of Expertise


    • German Language
    • German Literature
    • German Culture
    • Cultural Studies
    • Interdisciplinary Studies


    • Olfactory Perception


    • Environmental Issues
  • Work


    The Smell of Books: A Cultural-Historical Study of Olfactory Perception in Literature (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1992).

    Writing Switzerland: Culture, History, and Politics in the Work of Peter von Matt, edited by Peter C. Meilaender and Hans J. Rindisbacher (Oxford, Bern, Berlin, Bruxelles, New York, Vienna: Peter Lang, 2019).

    “Smells of Switzerland” in: From Multiculturalism to Cultural Hybridity: New Approaches to Teaching Modern Switzerland, ed. Margrit Zinggeler and Karin Baumgartner (Newcastle, UK: Cambridge Scholar Publishing, 2010), p. 229-252.

    “Hermann Burgers Die künstliche Mutter und der thermo-emotionale Zustand schweizerischer Männlichkeit” in: Nach Feierabend. Zürcher Jahrbuch für Wissensgeschichte (2017). Der kalte Krieg. Kältegrade eines globalen Konflikts. Hrsg. Silvia Berger Ziauddin, David Eugster, Christa Wirth (October 2017), S. 175-197.

    “The End of Dressing? Huysmans’s A Rebours and Houellebecq’s Submission (“Закат эры ‘одеяния’? Наоборот Ж.-К. Гюисманса и Покорность М. Уэльбека”). Теория Моды, 14:1. Spring 2018.

    Review Essay: “Modest Dress. Contemporary Muslim Fashions. Exhibition Catalog of the eponymous exhibition, September 22, 2018 – January 6, 2019, de Young Museum, San Francisco, curated by Jill d’Alessandro, Reina Lewis, and Laura L. Camerlengo, (Munich, DelMonico Books, Prestel, 2018). 

    Review Essay. “What Remains: Traces of the Soviet Past.” Karl Schlögel, Das sowjetische Jahrhundert: Archäologie einer untergegangenen Welt (München: C.H. Beck, 2017), The European Legacy, 25:3, 354-359, June 3, 2019.

    Book review: Allan McRobie. The Seduction of Curves: The Lines of Beauty that Connect Mathematics, Art, and the Nude (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2017). Journal of Humanistic Mathematics, 2:22, August 2019.

    Book review: Transnationalization of Public Spheres; Hartmut Wessler, Bernhard Peters, Michael Brüggemann, Katharina Kleinen-von Königslöw, and Stefanie Sifft (Basingstoke, UK, and New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2008)

  • Education


    Stanford University

    Master of Arts
    University of Bern, Switzerland

    Recent Courses Taught

    Comprehensive Examinations in German

    Directed Studies in German

    Elementary German

    Modern German Poetry

    Culture of Nature: German Roots of Green

    German Culture Through Film

    Critical Inquiry Seminar

  • Awards & Honors

    Awards & Honors

    DAAD (German Academic Exchange Service) Research Visit grant to Germany, summer 2011.

    Hirsch Research Initiation Grant, Pomona College, 2010

    Pomona College, Yale Griffith Faculty Grant, 1998

    Harvey Mudd College, Mellon Grant for Technology Development, 1996

    National Endowment for the Humanities, Summer Seminar, University of Washington, 1992

    MLA Book Prize for Independent Scholar, 1992