Professor Julian Preece
Chair in German
Modern Languages
Telephone: (01792) 602949
Room: Office - 432
Fourth Floor
Keir Hardie Building
Singleton Campus

I began learning French at primary school at the age of seven as the UK prepared to join the European Economic Community (now called the EU). I started German when I was 12 and developed my fascination with both languages through school exchanges with Hamburg and family holidays in Normandy. In my teaching of German language and European literature and cinema at Swansea I try to convey my enthusiasms for communication and for finding out about how people have lived and thought in Germany and neighbouring European countries through the tumultuous and often painful period of the twentieth century. I am a traditionalist in my approach, believing that there is no substitute for close reading and philological study, but also (I hope) innovative in my willingness to embrace new ideas and to explore unusual material.

Areas of Expertise

  • Contemporary Germany
  • European Twentieth-Century Literature
  • the Canettis (Elias and Veza)
  • Günter Grass
  • Kafka
  • life-writing (especially letters)

Publications

  1. ‘Canaille, canaglia, Schweinhunderei’: Languages Personalities and Communication Failure in the Multilingual Fiction of Anthony Burgess. Polyphonie 6
  2. (in press). Günter Grass, Unkenrufe. Kommentar und Materialien. (Günter Grass, Unkenrufe. Kommentar und Materialien). Göttingen: Steidl
  3. & (Eds.). Andreas Dresen. Julian Preece & Nick Hodgin (Ed.), Oxford: Peter Lang.
  4. Anglo-German Dilemmas in The Good Soldier, or: Europe on the Brink in 1913. International Ford Madox Ford Studies 14(1), 223-240.
  5. The Literary Interventions of a Radical Writer Journalist, Maria Leitner (1892-1942). In Christa Spreizer (Ed.), Discovering Women's History: German-speaking Journalists 1900-1950, edited by Christa Spreizer. (pp. 245-266). New York: Lang.

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Teaching

  • HUP315 Philosophy and Film

    Films made across the globe have often explored ethical, metaphysical and existential questions which are central to the study of philosophy. Directors such as Jean-Luc Godard, Michelangelo Antonioni, Wim Wenders, Luis Buñuel, and Claire Denis have enhanced our understanding of such topics as the identity of self and other, the search for an absent God, the `banality of evil¿, alienation, consumption, and gender. Cinema, like literature, makes manifest such universal philosophical questions, but films also provoke thought and questions through innovative formal qualities probing genre expectations, `ways of seeing¿ and modes of perception, as well as human beings¿ place in time and space.

  • HUP316 Philosophy and Literature

    Much significant literature of the twentieth and twenty-first century dramatizes ethical and metaphysical questions that are central to the study of philosophy. Plays and novels by writers such as Bertolt Brecht, Jean-Paul Sartre, Samuel Beckett, Arthur Koestler, Milan Kundera and Jenny Erpenbeck enhance our understanding of ethical plights, moral choices, questions of loyalty, affiliation and commitment, the relationship between art, science, political power and freedom, and the relationship of the self and the other. Literature makes manifest universal philosophical questions. Nevertheless, these novels and plays are marked by the particular disfigurements of twentieth-century history, and our approach will be to reveal how these representations of historical trauma, political oppression and social alienation speak of the immediacy and relevance of both philosophical enquiry and literary interpretation.

  • ML-322 From Page to Screen: Adapting the European Classics

    From the beginning of film-making, directors have been inspired to adapt classic works of literature for the screen. There are a variety of reasons for this, ranging from the commercial to the provocative, the nationalistic to the exploitative. Good film adaptations, however, can enrich our understanding of well-known or canonical literary works in numerous ways. They are also works of art in their own right. This modules examines seven short works of literature (one French play, two Spanish novels, two German novellas, and two selections of Italian tales or short stories) and eight films (two each from French, German, Italian and Spanish). The books were written between the 1350s and 1970s, the films made between 1959 and 1995. All achieved renown in their day and continue to excite debate and stimulate new interpretations. The guiding themes are heritage, religion, prejudice, and passion. Students of Modern Languages are expected to use sources in the languages that they are studying. All texts are available in English translation and all films have English sub-titles.

  • ML-M00 Fiction and Power: The European Political Novel from Kafka to Kundera

    The period from 1914 to 1989, sometimes known as `the short twentieth century¿, was characterised in Europe by mass conflict, revolution, ideological division, and, for many of the Continent¿s inhabitants, political repression. The ultimate victory of democratic pluralism and the free market was not anticipated with confidence for much of this time. Writers, who in the main had witnessed or experienced the events and regimes at firsthand, responded in numerous ways, producing classic works which fall into a fascinating array of genres (reportage, travelogue, memoir, essay, and novel). They explore how the imagination can challenge power as wielded and embodied by the state and how the lure of ideology proved fatal for intellectuals.

  • ML-M02 Fascism and Culture

    The module examines and compares ideological and cultural manifestations in European fascist regimes and their employment in the attempted creation of national communities and totalitarian orders. This is based on an analysis of a variety of primary sources, including literary and political texts, film and other visual materials. All works studied are in English translation, but comparison with the originals is encouraged where students have the appropriate foreign language expertise.

  • ML-M25 Gender in Modern European Culture

    This module provides an introduction to the representation of gender in contemporary European culture through in-depth analysis of groundbreaking, sometimes controversial, novels, plays and films. It pays close attention to the nexus of gender and sexuality, ethnicity, work, the media, history, scandal, desire and politics. All texts will be read in translation.

  • MLE100 Modern European Fiction: Texts and Contexts

    This module introduces students to a selection of short narrative works by some of the major figures from European twentieth-century literature. The short stories, novellas, and short novels are from different literary traditions (Argentinian, Austrian, French, German, Italian, Spanish) and are studied because of their influence beyond the borders of the countries where they were produced. They treat themes of alienation and murder, passion, sexual awakening, and the triumph of the imagination over adversity. Love and politics are central each time. You will gain an understanding of a variety of historical and theoretical contexts, such as Jewish Central Europe, feminism, 'narrative from below', the avantgarde and modernist experimentalism. Each author uses narrative form in a new and challenging way. You will be reading works by: Franz Kafka, Italo Calvino, Thomas Mann, Manuela Fingueret, Annie Ernaux, Guenter Grass and Juan Goytisolo.

  • MLG100B Introduction to German Culture (B) - Since 1945

    This module provides all students of German with an insight into the main historical and cultural developments in Germany from the end of the Second World War to the present. It also examines examples of German literature and film against the historical background in which they were produced. The module provides students with the skills and foundation knowledge which they need to pursue other academic modules in German in more detail.

  • MLG202 Vienna Underground: Subterranean Views of a Twentieth-Century City

    In 1900 Vienna was the capital of a multi-ethnic Central European Empire, which crumbled with devastating effects at the end of the First World War. Today the city presents itself as a museum, but behind the façade tensions and resentments shape day-to-day life. We study a selection of plays, short novels, and films made by or about outsiders to the city whose experiences illuminate its character from `below¿: illicit sex, working-class resistance, everyday cruelty and the persecution of minorities are recurrent themes.

  • MLG302 Vienna Underground: Subterranean Views of a Twentieth-Century City

    In 1900 Vienna was the capital of a multi-ethnic Central European Empire, which crumbled with devastating effects at the end of the First World War. Today the city presents itself as a museum, but behind the façade tensions and resentments shape day-to-day life. We study a selection of plays, short novels, and films made by or about outsiders to the city whose experiences illuminate its character from `below¿: illicit sex, working-class resistance, everyday cruelty and the persecution of minorities are recurrent themes.

  • MLG344 German Cinema in the New Millennium

    Since the turn of the millenium, German film has been enjoying a renaissance. Films such as Goodbye, Lenin (dir. Wolfgang Becker, 2003), Downfall (dir. Oliver Hirschbiegel, 2004), and The Lives of Others (dir. Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck , 2006) have attracted worldwide audiences. Viewers have been drawn to the sometimes sensitive, sometimes sensationalist depictions of Germans attempting to come to terms with the double calamities of fascism and communism. The new movement in German film production is explored in this module through other key films by both young and established filmmakers. The chosen films examine the lasting effects of traumatic moments in twentieth-century German history: pre-First World War, the Third Reich, 1968 protest, the GDR and its disappearance. But they also contribute to debates in the twenty-first century, post-unification Berlin Republic on transnationalism, city life versus 'Heimat', the 'normalisation' of Germany as a nation, and the troubling persistence of neo-Nazism; furthermore, they offer new perspectives on universal themes such as conflict, violence and friendship, youth, age and gender. You will examine the cultural, political and economic contexts of contemporary German film production and analyse in detail the aesthetic strategies employed in the selected films.

  • MLGM72 Reading Academic German

    This module is aimed at postgraduate students (taught MA or research) in the College of Arts and Humanities for whom a reading knowledge of academic German is useful or essential to operate in their discipline. Students will learn techniques to help them to read and understand complex academic German. The module will intorduce them to authentic material from various Humanities disciplines (e.g. History, Ancient History, Classics, Egyptology). Each two-hour class will focus on a specific grammar topic and students will do a range of exercises, based on texts from their discipline, designed to develop their reading comprehension skills. The module will be assessed by a three-hour, end-of-semester examination. Previous knowledge of German (e.g. GCSE/A Level or LFA) would be helpful but is not essential.

Supervision

  • Psychological projection in Guenter Grass' major fiction of the 1970s and 80s: Aus dem Tagebuch einer Schnecke (1972), Der Butt (1977) and Die Raettin (1986).«br /»«br /»«br /» «br /»«br /»«br /»«br /» (current)

    Student name:
    MA
    Other supervisor: Prof Tom Cheesman
  • Representations of the Humane in Selected Works of Fiction by Heinrich Boll. (current)

    Student name:
    MA
    Other supervisor: Dr Brigid Haines
  • Remembering the “Queens of Hearts:” A Comparative Study of the Cultural Afterlives of Queen Luise of Prussia and Empress Elisabeth of Austria (current)

    Student name:
    PhD
    Other supervisor: Dr Kathryn Jones
  • An exploration of the social and cultural contexts of theatrical performance in concentration camps and Jewish ghettos by the victims of the Holocaust (current)

    Student name:
    PhD
    Other supervisor: Prof David Britton
  • Reading Rowling in Light of Her Influences and Genres: A Formalist and Romantic Approach (current)

    Student name:
    PhD
    Other supervisor: Prof John Goodby
  • Podcasting: A Comprehensive Study of the Medium’s Impact on journalism and its long term ramifications (current)

    Student name:
    PhD
    Other supervisor: Prof David Britton
  • HYBRIDITY AND CULTURAL CRISIS IN THE INDIAN QUINTET OF MERCHANT IVORY (current)

    Student name:
    PhD
    Other supervisor: Prof Tom Cheesman
  • Angela Carter in Japan: A study of Angela Carter's work written during her time in Japan from 1969 to 1972. (awarded 2019)

    Student name:
    PhD
    Other supervisor: Dr Richard Robinson
  • Feminine Subjects and the Gendered Imagination: Confession in Twentieth-Centuary English and German Language Literature. (awarded 2019)

    Student name:
    PhD
    Other supervisor: Dr Marie-Luise Kohlke
  • Raymond Williams and European Marxism: Lukacs, Sartre, Gramsci (awarded 2018)

    Student name:
    PhD
    Other supervisor: Prof Daniel Williams
  • 'Watching the Unwatchable: Contemporary Extreme Cinema and its Pleasures' (awarded 2017)

    Student name:
    PhD
    Other supervisor: Dr Joanna Rydzewska

Administrative Responsibilities

  • Head of Department of Modern Languages - Translation and Interpreting

    2016 - Present

Career History

Start Date End Date Position Held Location
1996 2007 Lecturer, Senior Lecturer, Reader University of Kent
1992 1996 Lecturer in German Huddersfield University
1991 1992 Tutorial Assistant Queen Mary and Westfield College, University of London
1989 1991 Laming Junior Fellow Queen’s College, Oxford

External Responsibilities

  • Member of the Wissenschaftlicher Beirat des Medienarchivs, Günter Grass Stiftung Bremen

    2004 - Present

  • Vice-Chair (Research), University Council for Modern Languages

    2016 - Present

  • Director, Think German Wales

    2014 - Present

Key Grants and Projects

  • Günter Grass, Unkenrufe: Kommentar und Materialienband 2013

    I was supported to produce this volume for the Göttinger Ausgabe of Günter Grass’s works by research associate Dr Cristian Cercel through a grant from the Modern Humanities Research Association in 2013. The book is scheduled for publication in 2018., Modern Humanities Research Association (£18,000)

  • Günter Grass und seine Weltliteratur / Günter Grass and World Literature 2017

    The Arts and Humanities Research Council joined forces with Literature Wales to fund an international conference on this topic which took place in Swansea in September 2017. A special issue of Oxford German Studies is in preparation.