Professor Spotlight - Alice Kuzniar

Acclaimed author, academic and learner


Professor Kuzniar

Alice Kuzniar’s life seems to have been mainly influenced by two things: a passion for learning, and travel. Born in Hamilton but growing up in Mississauga, Professor Kuzniar received a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Toronto, before moving to the US where she earned a doctorate from Princeton University at the age of 27. Which is about 9 years before people usually receive their Ph.D.

Degrees in hand, Alice went on to teach at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, a Public Ivy League institution, as a professor of German Studies for 25 years. After which, feeling homesick, she returned to Canada and became a Professor at the University of Waterloo. Now, eleven years later, Professor Kuzniar is still as passionate about learning as she was when she first started off at the University of Toronto.

At Waterloo, Professor Kuzniar retains her role as a Professor of German, as well as being cross-appointed with English.

Professor Kuzniar teaches the following undergraduate courses at the University of Waterloo [1]:

  • Introduction to World Cinema
  • German Romantic Tales: Grim(m), Occult, Uncanny
  • Global Queer Cinema
  • German Film Classics
  • Lola, Lotte, and Lulu: Women in German Cinema

And the following Graduate courses:

  • Dark Romanticisms
  • Becoming Animal
  • From Freud to Lacan: Psychoanalysis in Literary and Visual Studies
  • German Romanticism
  • German Romantic Ecology
  • Deviant Desires in 19th-Century Short Prose Fiction

Current Research

Currently, Professor Kuzniar is researching Annette von Droste-Hülshoff, a German writer she describes as “the most famous female German poet of the 19th century.” Annette, it seems, enlisted the services of a homeopath for over 20 years. Homeopathy is a system of alternative medicine and another subject of interest to Professor Kuzniar. Annette would record her moods and feeling both in prose and poetry, in a way that was not dissimilar to how drugs were described in homeopathic texts of the time. And so, Professor Kuzniar believes there exists a connection between Annette’s poetry and the medical discourse of homeopathy. Homeopathy itself, is a subject that Professor Kuzniar has previously written about.


Professor Kuzniar is an avid reader and a prolific writer. Her works include:

  • The Birth of Homeopathy Out of the Spirit of Romanticism

Cover of The Birth of Homeopathy Out of the Spirit of Romanticism

This book looks at homeopathy through the lens of German Romanticism. Kuzniar traces the intellectual and medical history of this unusual system of medical practices back to its roots in the 1800s. Professor Kuzniar believes this book is important for people to read, especially if they practice or use homeopathy now. She says:

“It’s largely a product of its time. Homeopaths tested on themselves, because they felt to do so was more authentic. Also, by testing on a healthy person, they believed they could figure out the effects of various drugs in order to match these effects with the symptoms of illness.”

  • The Queer German Cinema

Cover of The Queer German Cinema

This book focuses on gay and lesbian cinema in Germany during the 20th century. Professor Kuzniar’s goal when writing this book was to take a less traditional look at the history of cinema, and focus on the contributions queer people have made to the art form. People such as Rainer Werner Fassbinder, an acclaimed West German filmmaker.

  • Melancholia's Dog: Reflections on Our Animal Kinship

 Reflections on Our Animal Kinship

This book touches upon another subject Professor Kuzniar is passionate about; dogs. In this engaging publication, Professor Kuzniar analyzes the close bonds we share with our animal companions. Supplementing Professor Kuzniar’s prose is some beautiful artwork created by the following artists:

  • David Hockney
  • Sally Mann
  • Kafka.
  • Sue Coe
  • William Wegman


Professor Kuzniar has accomplished much and is poised to accomplish even more. When asked what drives and inspires her to do all that she does, she gave a simple yet profound answer: love. Love of her own pet dogs, love of cinema, love of intellectual history, and a great unending love of learning. And through hard work and perseverance, Professor Kuzniar has turned her love into achievements that she can be proud of. Achievements like her books and scholarly accomplishments for which the University of Waterloo has honored her with the title “University Research Chair.” A designation given to Professors who show “exceptional achievement and pre-eminence in a particular field of knowledge.” [2]


To the students of the University of Waterloo, especially those with literary aspirations, the professor has a few words of wisdom.

“To write well, you need to be able to really focus your thoughts. Tune out a lot of the noise around you. I teach a large first year student group. I see that students are often very distracted, especially by cell phones. One needs to focus one's thoughts to properly complete one’s tasks. There’s so many different distractions available and it can get out of hand. For example, more and more students are unable to follow plotlines in my World Cinema course. Be able to dedicate yourself to what you’re doing at the moment.”

She also encourages every student to persevere in the face of hardship. “It was a lot of hard work,” she said, remembering the hurdles she had to overcome in her storied academic career. “But every moment of it was fulfilling.”


[1] Alice Kuzniar. (2019, March 1). Retrieved from

[2] University Research Chairs. (2019, July 2). Retrieved from