Dr Wesley Lim

PhD and MA in German Literature and Culture (Vanderbilt University); BBA and minor in Dance and Movement Studies (Emory University)
Lecturer in German Studies
ANU College of Arts and Social Sciences
T: +61 2 6125 2785

Research interests

  • 19th-21st-century Germanic Literature and Culture
  • Dance Studies
  • Performance Studies
  • Cinema and Media Studies (esp. Screendance)
  • Figure Skating Studies
  • Urban Studies


I received my PhD in German Literature and Culture from Vanderbilt University in 2012. My research focuses on depictions of and discourses on dance in German and Austrian Literature and Film. I am also interested in exploring screendance as well as figure skating studies (particularly in an East German context). I have previously taught at Miami University of Ohio and Colorado College. My articles have appeared or are forthcoming in publications in Germanic Studies (eg. German Politics and Society, German Studies Review, Feminist German Studies, Seminar: A Journal of Germanic Studies, the Journal of Austrian Studies), Dance Studies (eg. Dance Chronicle, Dance Research Journal), Screen Studies (eg. Studies in European Cinema, Canadian Journal of Film Studies) and Performance and Cultural Studies (eg. TDR: The Drama Review, Kulturpoetik).

Researcher's projects

Dancing with the Modernist City: Metropolitan Dance Texts around 1900 (Forthcoming with the University of Michigan Press in July 2024)

Cover of Dancing with the Modernist City - Metropolitan Dance Texts around 1900


My first book examines the work of German-speaking authors such as Harry Graf Kessler, Rainer Maria Rilke, August Endell, Alfred Döblin, and Else Lasker-Schüler who flocked to dynamic metropolises like Berlin and Paris to engage with other artists and intellectuals. In their writing from that period, they depicted the perpetual influx of stimuli caused by urban life—hordes of pedestrians, bustling traffic, bombarding advertisements, etc. These authors also partook in flânerie: they went on long, aimless walks through the city observing the everyday objects and events on the surface, paying attention not to their utility but to their fleeting aesthetic values. This way of viewing metropolitan movement repeatedly paralleled the writers’ experiences of watching early modern dance performances by Loïe Fuller, Ruth St. Denis, and Vaslav Nijinsky, whose experimental styles broke away from balletic form. The convergence these writers saw between the unexpected encounters during their urban strolls and experimental dance performances gave rise to forms of writing that interwove the two motifs.

Drawing from dance, performance, urban, and German cultural studies, this monograph analyzes an array of material from 1896-1914—essays, novels, short stories, poetry, newspaper articles, photographs, posters, and drawings. I argue that these writers and artists created a genre I am calling the metropolitan dance text, which depicts dancing figures not on a traditional stage, but essentially in and with the urban setting: the streets, advertising pillars, theaters, cafes, squares, and even hospitals. This genre of writing highlights the visual, the episodic unexpectedness of urban encounters, and kinesthetic empathy: by making the protagonist and the reader feel like they embody the dancer and the movement. Furthermore, these literary depictions question traditional conceptualizations of space and performance since the metropolitan environment begins dancing with the dancer. In some cases, the aesthetic realm of dance and the social space of the everyday city coalesce.

The Performance of Politics and Identity on Ice: East German Figure Skating Culture (tentatively titled)

My second book project will investigate the degree to which costuming, music choice, choreography, and public persona can reflect both socialist realist and capitalist representation in the performances of Olympic figure skating champions such as Gaby Seyfert, Jan Hoffmann, Anett Pötzsch, Christine Errath, and Katarina Witt from the former German Democratic Republic. Much like other popular team sports, figure skating can be symptomatic of societies’ larger issues in regard to politics, international relations, global feminism and masculinity.

Asian Masculinity in Figure Skating (co-authored with Michelle Ho (NUS) National University of Singapore)

This project addresses Asian masculinity in the performances and journalistic representation of elite male figure skaters from 2002 until 2022. Following the rise of champion Asian women skaters, the men continue this wave by building on Mary Louise Adam’s identification of an “artistic turn” in men’s skating separating itself from the former “macho” period. Our intervention is to trace the aesthetics and politics related to this prominent emergence in the historically white, European sport of figure skating. Comprised of case studies, we aim to focus on skaters such as Daisuke Takahashi, Patrick Chan, Nathan Chen, and Yuzuru Hanyu, who have opened doors for a more pluralist and inclusive masculinity.



Past Grants

DAAD Faculty Summer Seminar, 2017 - “Rethinking Performance in Theory and Practice - University of Chicago

Fulbright - DAAD Summer Academy in Leipzig, 2017

Berlin Program for Advanced German and European Studies Research Fellowship, Free University Berlin, 2009-2010

DAAD Graduate Research Scholarship, 2009-2010 (offer declined)

Stipendium von der Studienstiftung des Abgeordenetenhauses von Berlin, 2009-2010 (offer declined)


Current Grants

National Library of Australia Fellowship, 2023




Past student projects

PhB Advanced Studies Course project on Rainer Werner Fassbinder, 2020 (Martin Andersen)

Screen Studies Capstone project on Representation of Women in Contemporary Sci Fi Films, 2023 (Xinlei Qi)

Screen Studies Capstone project on Representation of Women of Color in Contemporary Horror Films, 2023 (Stephanie Vieceli)


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Updated:  25 July 2024 / Responsible Officer:  Director (Research Services Division) / Page Contact:  Researchers