Deutsch Intern
    English and American Studies

    Forschung / research

    Research interests

    • Shakespearean drama
    • Literature and culture of the early modern period and the long eighteenth century
    • Memory studies and cultural forgetting
    • Gender studies
    • Ecocriticism, literary and cultural animal studies

    Current research projects

    Shakespeare – Now and Then

    The anniversary years 2014/2016 – marking the 450th birthday and the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death – have given rise to a new surge of interest in Shakespeare studies all around the world; my own research investigates the extent to which our world today is a legacy of Shakespeare’s work and in what ways Shakespeare might still be relevant for us today.


    Unendlicher Spaß am Spiel (Interview in einBlick 16/2014)

    One outcome of this research is a volume of essays, Cold War Shakespeare: Conflict, Commemoration, Celebration, co-edited with Erica Sheen (York University) that will be published by Palgrave this winter. This essay collection examines acts of commemorating and celebrating Shakespeare in Cold War Europe – Germany, France, UK, USSR, Poland, Spain and Hungary – from its beginnings in 1947/8 to the end of the 1970s. Written by international Shakespearians, scholars of the Cold War and historians of commemoration, the essays assembled here consider representative events as sites of memory, cultural politics and international diplomacy, and show how they inform our understanding of the political, economic, even military, dynamics of the post-war global order. The volume thus explores the political and cultural function of Shakespearian celebration in the European Cold War, as well as the impact of Cold War politics on the productions, criticism and scholarship associated with it. Drawing on new archival material, it offers historically and theoretically nuanced accounts of Shakespeare’s international significance in the divided world of Cold War Europe and today.

    An important project I have just completed is my monograph The Drama of Memory in Shakespeare’s History Plays (Cambridge University Press, 2015). Situating the history plays in relation to the extra-dramatic contexts of early modern print culture, the Reformation and an emergent sense of nationhood, the book examines the dramatic devices the theatre developed to engage with the memory crisis triggered by these historical developments. Against the established view that the theatre was a cultural site that served primarily to salvage memories threatened by traumatic ruptures it considers also the liberating uses and constitutive functions of forgetting in early modern culture and on the Shakespearean stage. Drawing on recent developments in memory studies, new formalism and performance studies, it develops a vocabulary for analysing Shakespeare’s mnemonic dramaturgy that results in innovative readings of the history plays. 

    Table of Contents (Download)

    The Drama of Memory in Shakespeare’s History Plays

    Religious Conflict and Literature in Early Modernity

    I am interested in the ways religious conflict can be understood not only in terms of crisis, violence and escalation but how it can also be seen as a force that productively forms and transforms culture. In the early modern period, conflicts between Reformed positions and the Catholic church as well as between Christianity and other religion played a central role in the formation of national identities, politics, and memory culture. Despite the centrality of confessional conflict, however, it did not always erupt into hostilities over how to symbolize and perform the sacred, nor did it lead to a paralysis of social agency. Rather, people had to arrange themselves somehow with divided loyalties – between the old faith and the new, between religious and secular interests, or between officially sanctioned and privately held beliefs. In particular, I am interested in the role that the representation of confessional conflict played in negotiating such divided loyalties. Can we conceive of these representations as possible sites of de-escalation? Do different discursive, aesthetic, or social contexts inflect or even deflect the demands of religious loyalties? Does dramatic practice in particular allow for a suspension of faith that may not have been possible in theological discourse? And how do textual or dramatic works both reflect on and perform such an erasure, suspension or displacement of confessional tensions? What literary forms were available for expressing and, often at the same time, erasing religious conflict? These questions are explored by the essays in a collection which I am currently co-editing with my colleague Jonathan Baldo (Rochester, NY), entitled Forms of Faith: Literary Form and Religious Conflict in Early Modern England, which will be published with Manchester University Press in 2016.

     A project to which I have returned quite recently (after having co-edited an essay collection on the topic in 2012) explores the ways in which confessional conflict intersected with the media culture and political culture of the early modern period across Europe. Under the working title Conciliation and Conflict, it focuses on the Thirty Years War (1618-1648) and its role in the process of early modern Europeanization. That military conflict over religion involved, to varying degrees, the entire continent from Spain to Sweden, from Britain to Bohemia. While its destructive and divisive force is undeniable, it nevertheless also gave rise to an emergent sense of interconnectedness across Europe. This was achieved through the coverage of events of the war in different media, ranging from oral to written media, from print to performance, from visual to material media. The project’s multi-media approach enables a comparison of the different kinds of media expressing different responses and points of view and catering to different interests and audiences. The perception of difference also fosters a sense of identity, however: the knowledge networks formed through complex transmission systems for political news, national identities and images of the religious other produced a sense of interconnectedness and attempts at conciliation that are the motor of the process of Europeanization still today.

    Gender Studies in a globalised world

    Gender Studies in a globalised world

    Having done both my MA thesis and my doctoral research in the field of gender studies – queer studies and masculinity studies respectively, to be precise – I have recently returned to questions of gender performativity. I am member of the thematic module “Performing Gender” that is part of the recently founded International Centre for Advanced Studies: Metamorphoses of the Political (ICAS-MP) . Together with colleagues from Literary Studies, Indology, History, Sociology and Political Studies both here in Würzburg and at Jawaharlal-Nehru-University Delhi we are working on new research agendas for gender studies in a globalised world.

    The chair for English Literature and Cultural Studies is also a member of the Würzburg Centre for Modern India.


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