Professor Karla Pollmann


Karla Pollmann joined the University of Bristol in September 2018 to become the Dean of Arts. She is an Honorary Professor at the Universities of Aarhus (Demark), of Stellenbosch (South Africa), and of British Columbia (Vancouver, Green College), and a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.

She is a member of both the Department of Classics and Ancient History and the Department of Religion and Theology which reflects her interdisciplinary research and teaching activities. As Dean she is working on further developing Bristol’s exciting opportunities in innovative interdisciplinary research and teaching.

The Faculty of Arts hosts the Centre of Innovation and Enterprise, and collaborates with all University Research Institutes at Bristol, i.e. the Jean Golding Institute (specialised in data science), the Brigstow Institute (concentrating on interdisciplinary methodology), the Elizabeth Blackwell Institute (medical humanities), and the Cabot Institute (environmental humanities).

Academic career

Karla Pollmann studied Greek, Latin, Theology and Education at the Universities of Tübingen, Munich, Cambridge (UK), and Bochum, where she also completed her PhD on early Christian poetry (1990). She has taught at universities in Europe, the US, Canada, and South Africa, and has held academic positions at the universities of Bielefeld, Konstanz, St Andrews (Scotland), Kent (Canterbury) and Reading.

As a researcher she is best-known for her interdisciplinary work, combining Classics, Theology, Philosophy, Cultural History, Literature, and Reception Studies. She is a leading authority on the work of Augustine and world-leader in the study of his enormous influence across the ages, as established by her directing a large interdisciplinary project financed by the Leverhulme Trust, involving around 400 international collaborators and resulting in the three-volume, 2 mio word Oxford Guide to the Historical Reception of Augustine (OUP 2013). This project has taught her to interact confidently with a broad range of disciplines (not only) in the Humanities and identify their specific characteristics and potential, also in relation to each other. Her current interdisciplinary EU-sponsored project on “The History of Human Freedom and Dignity in Western Civilization” has brought her in closer contact with the Social Sciences and the project’s nine non-academic partners. She is keen to use the experience gathered here to inform wider University policy regarding a renewed understanding of the importance of the Arts and Humanities (see

She is regularly invited to deliver keynote speeches internationally, and has been a Visiting Professor at the universities of Vienna, Boulder (Colorado, US), British Columbia (Green College, Vancouver), and Tübingen. She was a member of the Princeton Institute for Advanced Study, and of the Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study (once as an individual member and once as leader of an interdisciplinary research group), and has received research funding from the Thyssen Foundation, the Alexander-von-Humboldt Foundation, the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft, the British Academy, the St Andrews Russell Trust, the Leverhulme Trust, and the European Research Council.

Karla Pollmann is keen to explore innovative ways of interdisciplinary teaching on the graduate level. In 2012/13 she was awarded by the Higher Education Academy a Sir Ron Cooke International Scholarship, in order to investigate in Canada and the Netherlands the project “Beyond Traditional Boundaries: Designing an innovative Interdisciplinary Graduate Programme”. As a result she founded and directed (2014-16) at Kent the Centre for Early Christian Studies and Its Reception. She has served as panel member of various research councils nationally and internationally, advises regularly on major research enterprises internationally, and is co-editor of various academic monograph series and journals.

 Relevant publications

 K. Pollmann, Entre la ciencia y la salvacion. La interpretacion del Genesis en San Augustin (Madrid 2013)

K. Pollmann, «Introduction», in ead., The Oxford Guide to the Historical Reception of Augustine, vol. 1 (Oxford 2013), 1-13

K. Pollmann, Philologia Perennis: Ever-green and Ever-pruning, Frons. Blad voor Leidse Classici 30 (2010) 90-98

Professor Karla Pollmann's research overview

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