The Department of German fosters world-leading research in the language, literature, history and culture of Germany and of German-speaking regions and countries, and in contemporary German, Austrian and Swiss culture and society. Academic colleagues publish their work in the most prominent journals and with highly respected publishing houses. Fields for current cutting-edge research include exile studies, European modernism, sociolinguistics, memory studies, comparative literature, poetry, film, language pedagogy, and translation.
The German Department has often been the proud host to externally funded post-doctoral researchers (Marie-Curie Fellowship, Humboldt Fellowship, Leverhulme EC Fellows) and we welcome inquiries about such positions. We have a thriving community of MPhil and PhD students, self-funded or in receipt of support from the SWW DTP, the AHRC and the Alumni Foundation. Together the postgraduate and postdoctoral communities create a lively intellectual atmosphere which takes the shape of regular workshops, conferences, and staff-student research seminars, as well as friendly social events. We are experienced in advising applicants on possible funding sources and work closely with them to maximize the potential of their bids.
Within the department there are particular specialisms in:
- comparative literature;
- German literature since the Goethezeit;
- memory studies;
- historical sociolinguistics;
- German exile literature;
- the history and memory of the GDR;
- translation studies.
Current and Recent Projects
- ‘Linguistics in Modern Foreign Languages’ Dr Havinga with Anglia Ruskin University and the Universities of Birmingham, Cambridge and Westminster, part-funded by the AHRC and ESRC (2020-).
- AHRC Collaborative Doctoral Awards, with the British Library: The Michael Hamburger Collection (Dr Davies and Dr Rebecca Kosick, 2020-2024), The Stefan Zweig Collection Literary Manuscripts (Dr Davies, Prof. Vilain, 2014-2019)
- 'A long history of German exile literature, 1790-1955’, Dr Davies, funded by a Leverhulme Trust Major Research Fellowship (2017-2019)
- 'A Digital Edition of the works by Arthur Schnitzler (1862-1931)' Prof. Vilain, with Andrew Webber (Cambridge) and Judith Beniston (UCL), funded by the AHRC.
- 'Children in German War (Con)Texts 1945-1949' Dr Pinfold with Ute Wölfel (Reading) and Beate Müller (Newcastle), funded by the British Academy (2014-15).
- 'Memories of Germany - Don’t (Just) Mention the War' Dr Pinfold with Sara Jones (Birmingham) and Anna Saunders (Bangor).
- 'Political and Cultural History of 1977 in the GDR' Dr Allinson.
- 'Transitory Monuments: The Literary Aesthetics of the Railway Station' Dr Margit Dirscherl, funded by the Leverhulme Trust.
- 'Language Variation in 19th century letters' Dr Markus Schiegg, funded by the Alexander von Humboldt-Foundation.
Collaborations and activities
Bristol’s Germanists are regularly involved national and international research projects in the areas of comparative literature, historical sociolinguistics, and social and cultural history. The department has hosted AHRC funded networks on the interdisciplinarity of linguistics and history and on the memory of the GDR.
Bristol colleagues are actively involved in national and international scholarly societies, with representation on the committees of the Association for German Studies in Great Britain and Ireland, the Internationale Alfred-Döblin-Gesellschaft, and the English Goethe Society. Professor Vilain is currently editor of Studies in Modern German and Austrian Literature (Oxford: Lang) and was previously Germanic Editor of the Modern Language Review and co-editor of Austrian Studies. Steffan Davies is one of the editors of German Life and Letters. These are amongst the most significant journals for German Studies in the UK.
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Research in the Faculty
Our research forms part of the overall research activities and strategies of the Faculty of Arts.