Researching the work of living writers and poets of German
The Centre for Contemporary German Culture (CCGC) produces world-class research on the literature and culture of twentieth- and twenty-first century Germany, Austria and German-speaking Switzerland. The Centre is unique to Wales and makes an important contribution to German Studies in Britain, Europe and North America. It aims to promote and stimulate further research on the work of contemporary German-language authors and film-makers in the English-speaking world.
The Centre hosts a writer-in-residence programme, research seminars and conferences, and has two dedicated publication series: 'Contemporary German Writers and Film-makers' and the ‘Leeds-Swansea Colloquia on Contemporary German Literature’. Its academic members have supervised several PhDs over the two and a half decades of the Centre’s existence, and have secured considerable research funding, particularly from the AHRC Research Leave scheme.
The CCGC is home to a number of projects, including work by Professor Julian Preece, Dr Cristian Cercel and the Steidl Verlag (Göttingen) on the volume Günter Grass, Unkenrufe. Kommentare und Materialien. Günter Grass by Julian Preece was published in 2018 by Reaction Books in their Citical Lives series.
We have recently supervised a PhD on Herta Müller and contributed to the supervision of two comparative projects with a strong contemporary German component, both of which are funded by the AHRC: European Extreme Cinema; and European Travellers to Wales.
The Centre welcomes PhD and MA by Research applications in all areas involving contemporary German culture, especially literature and film. Funding is available for well-qualified candidates.
The Centre for Contemporary German Literature was founded in 1993 under the directorship of Professor Rhys Williams and dedicated itself to researching the work of living writers and poets of German. Over the next fifteen years it hosted fifteen visiting writers, including the 2009 Nobel Laureate Herta Müller, whose work became the subject of specially produced volumes published by University of Wales Press. In 2008 the directorship passed to Professor Julian Preece and the designation changed to the Centre for Contemporary German Culture in order to encompass film as well as literature.
- Julian Preece, Günter Grass, Reaktion Books, forthcoming 12 February 2018.
- Katharina Hall (ed.), Crime Fiction in German: Der Krimi (Cardiff: University of Wales Press, 2016).
- Julian Preece and Nick Hodgin (eds.), Andreas Dresen (Lang, 2017), vol. 4 in the series Contemporary German Writers and Film-makers.
- Brigid Haines, 'Connecting with the Real: Death, Dying and Displacement in Andreas Dresen's Halt auf freier Strecke (2011) and Michael Haneke's Amour', in ibid., pp.169-92.
- Tom Cheesman (forthcoming), ‘“Die Zerreißprobe des Fremden“: Zafer Şenocaks Köşk - Der Pavillon - The Residence und Antoine Bermans Übersetzungskritik’, in: Ortrud Gutjahr (ed.), Wort.brüche: Fragmente einer Sprache des Vertrauens bei Zafer Şenocak (Darmstadt: Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft)
- Julian Preece (ed.), Re-forming the Nation in Literature and Film: The Patriotic Idea in Contemporary German-Language Culture (Lang, 2014), vol.3 in the Leeds-Swansea Series in Contemporary German Literature
- Brigid Haines and Lyn Marven (eds.), Herta Müller (Oxford University Press, 2013)
- Tom Cheesman (ed.), German Text Crimes: Writers Accused, from the 1950s to the 2000s (Rodopi, 2013) (reviewed by Houman Barekat in the Times Literary Supplement, 8 November 2013)
- Julian Preece (ed.), Ilija Trojanow (Contemporary German Writers and Film-makers series, Peter Lang 2013)
- Tom Cheesman (ed.), Feridun Zaimoglu (Contemporary German Writers and Film-makers series, Peter Lang 2012)
- Kat Hall and Kathryn N. Jones (eds.), Constructions of Conflict: Transmitting Memories of the Past in European Historiography, Culture and Media (Lang, 2011)
- Julian Preece, ‘Separate Bodies, or on Intercultural Failure in Ilija Trojanow’s Der Weltensammler’, Emerging German-Language Novelists of the Twenty-First Century, edited by Lyn Marven and Stuart Taberner (Rochester NY: Camden House, 2011), pp.119-32
- Julian Preece, ‘Christian Kracht’s Faserland (Frayed-Land)’, The Novel in German since 1990, edited by Stuart Taberner (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press 2011), pp.136-50
- Julian Preece, ‘Faking the Hadj in Ilija Trojanow’s Der Weltensammler’, Religion and Identity in Contemporary German Literature and Film: Seekers, Believers, Doubters, edited by Julian Preece, Frank Finlay and Sinead Crowe (Bern: Lang, 2010), pp.211-25
- Julian Preece, Frank Finlay and Sinead Crowe (eds.) Religion and Identity in Germany: Doubters, Believers, Seekers in Literature and Film (Peter Lang 2010)
- Brigid Haines, Stephen Parker and Colin Riordan (eds), Aesthetics and Politics in Modern German Culture: Festschrift in Honour of Rhys W. Williams (Peter Lang 2010)
- Julian Preece and Rob Stone (eds.), From the Weathermen to the Red Brigades: Post-’68 Left Wing Political Violence in European and American Film and Fiction, special issue of Journal of European Studies40: 3 (2010)
- Katharina Hall, Günter Grass’s Danzig Quintet: Explorations in the Memory and History of the Nazi Era from Die Blechtrommel to Im Krebsgang (Peter Lang 2007)
- Tom Cheesman, Novels of Turkish German Settlement: Cosmopolite Fictions (Camden House 2007)
- Brigid Haines and Margaret Littler, Contemporary German Women’s Writing: Changing the Subject (OUP 2004)
- Brigid Haines and Lyn Marven (eds), Libuše Moníková in memoriam (Rodopi 2005)
Jeremy Points, MA by Research, part-time (2018-)
Günter Grass and Narrative
I am interested in the way Günter Grass develops his fictional narratives. All aspects of Grass’ narratives are distinctive - their narration, their structure as well as the narratives themselves. His narratives are dominated by unabashed, direct and declamatory first-person narrators and narrative voices and, increasingly from Aus dem Tagebuch einer Schnecke onwards, they blend authorial, if not autobiographical, elements with fictionalised first-person narrators. There is, in other words, a conscious avoidance of third-person narration with its implications of omniscience, realism and objectivity. The perspectives both informing and conveyed by the narratives are thus relativised.
Stephen Murphy, MA by Research (2016- )
Title: An Aesthetic for its Time? Currency and Anachronism in Heinrich Böll’s ‘Aesthetik des Humanen’
This project seeks to distil how Böll meant his aesthetic to be understood and practised, and then to trace the personal and socio-political factors that led him to its formation, drawing on Böll’s private and public writings, from the letters he sent home during the war, via the short stories and Erzählungen of the postwar decade, all the way through to the substantial novels of his later career. In the letters, I investigate the man himself, gaining an insight into his motivations and beliefs at this formative stage of his life. In the earlier published works, I tease out elements of plot, motif, style, form, language and characterisation that represent the outline of a coherent purpose in his writing. The focus of research on the later novels – those brought out after the lectures – will necessarily concern questions of his fidelity to his aesthetic. For each stage of his writing career my inquiry will range across a wide sampling of his output, though for organisational purposes we will select from each decade a representative work for closer scrutiny. These works are: Briefe aus dem Krieg 1939-1945 (2001); Doktor Murkes gesammeltes Schweigen (1955); Ansichten eines Clowns (1962) and Gruppenbild mit Dame(1971).
Katie Jones PhD (2014- )
Title: Confessional Subjects: Shame, Masochism, Authority
This comparative project considers confession as a trope in contemporary English- and German-language women’s life writing, in particular works that blur generic distinctions between novel and autobiography. The authors confirmed for the study are: Virginia Woolf, Jean Rhys, Ingeborg Bachmann, Sylvia Plath, Elfriede Jelinek and Charlotte Roche. By tracing confession across English- and German-language works that span nearly an entire century, I am able to consider how the utilisation of this protean trope varies over time, as well as differing cultural contexts. For example, German-language authors operate in the original language of psychoanalysis and therefore may be more likely to appropriate confession in a Foucaultian sense, i.e. medicalised / psychoanalytic confession. Moreover, the German-language authors demonstrate distinct awareness that theirs is the language shared with National Socialism, as such they combine the stigma of female embodiment with a disgraced national identity. However, this point is also used to explore a subjectivity suspended between victim and perpertrator as, controversially, these writers often identify with the plight of Nazism's Jewish victims. In contrast, Jean Rhys, who feels no strong attachment to a specific nationality, conveys a sense of alienation and outlawed femininity with a pseudo-Judicial interrogation sequence in the notes accompanying Smile Please: An Unfinished Autobiography. By employing feminist, psychoanalytic and post-structural readings, the aim is to find what separates and unites these writers by focusing on the unifying theme of confession.