Sarah Varela
Associate Professor of German

Phone (434) 395-2712
Department English and Modern Languages
Office Grainger 318

PhD, Germanic Languages and Literatures, Washington University in St. Louis (2014)
MA, German Studies, University of Nevada, Reno (2008)
BA, Creative Writing and German Studies, University of Nevada, Reno (2005)

Research Interests
Cultural and literary animal studies
European scientific and ethical history
The European Vivisektionsfrage
Folk and fairy tales in adaptation
German crime and detective narratives
Translation studies
Media and popular culture

Longwood has been Dr. V.'s home since 2015. She teaches all levels of language and culture in the German concentration as well as MLAN courses for Civitae. Her favorite part of teaching is collaborating with students to develop and offer courses on exciting topics that integrate their personal and professional goals and curiosity. Dr. V. also has the privilege of advising student-driven independent research and Honors projects, many of which result in her mentees presenting their work at state and national academic conferences in a variety of fields as well as receiving accolades such as the Longwood Excellence in Research and Inquiry Award.

Dr. V. also advises several student organizations, including LEGO Club, German Club, Alpha Beta Psi Sorority, and Delta Phi Alpha, the National German Honor Society. She has been recognized with the Citizen Leader Award for Outstanding Student Organization Advisor (2020) and the Advisor of the Year Award from Longwood Student Clubs & Organizations (2019).

Dr. V. enjoys research on a variety of topics. She has recently published on activism in Bob Dylan's novel Tarantula against the social and political backdrop of its time; the sympathetic magical transference of punitive animality in the early modern Volksbuch; the emotional and psychological bonds between humans and animals in German and Austrian realist literature; and representations of companion animals in late nineteenth-century European novels of adultery. She has completed the manuscript for a monograph on animal advocacy by European writers of the late nineteenth century. She is also hard at work on new translations of Rainer Maria Rilke’s poetry and investigations of the influence of the "animal watcher" on human behavior in the contemporary German Tierkrimi. 

Outside the classroom, Dr. V. has played viola (die Bratsche) and violin (die Geige) in Longwood University's String Ensemble, performed with Farmville's Waterworks Players Community Theater, and is a member of the Washington Metro Area LEGO Users Group. In her Freizeit, she enjoys knitting, writing old-fashioned letters, making awful puns, collecting garden gnomes, and visiting her beloved German Zuhause Saarbrücken. You can also catch her spoiling her feisty felines, Charley-Travis and Vash, and sharing memories of her beloved boys Joe Dirt (2006-2021) and Gray Furbuster (2000-2021). 

Dr. V. is an LGBTQ+ ally, her office and classrooms are safe zones, and her door is open for any and every student in search of resources or conversation that will support the cultivation of inclusive learning and social spaces.

Current Courses
MLAN 360: Exploring Human-Animal Bonds
GERM 110: Beginning Language and Culture: The German Letter-Writing Tradition
GERM 111: Intensive Beginning Language and Culture: Finding Friends-- die deutsche Kontaktanzeige!

Recent Courses
GERM 212: Short Films, Great Divides

GERM 211: German Language through Graphic Narrative
GERM 330: Civilization & Culture: Entdeckungsreise durch Deutschland, Österreich & die Schweiz 

GERM 341: A Real Soap Opera: German Literature & Culture from the Middle Ages to Romanticism
GERM 342: Empathy & Perspective in German Culture from Realism to the Present
GERM 401: Advanced Grammar & Composition: Writing for All Realities
GERM 402: German Language and Social Media in A Forced Digital Age
GERM 411: Words, Sounds and Images in the German Crime Narrative
GERM 461: Senior Seminar: Entscheide du selbst!  
GERM 495: German Visual Narratives
GERM 495: The Marvelous, Moldable Märchen: Fairy Tales and Their Adaptation

Current and Previous Service to the University
Faculty Senator, Department of English & Modern Languages (2020-2022)
Committee on Academic Program Assessment and Review (2020-2022)
Committee on Promotion and Tenure Policies and Procedures (2020-2023)
Committee on Faculty-Led Short-Term Study Abroad Programs (2020-2023)
Recruitment Committee, Department of English & Modern Languages (2019-2023)