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. (in press). Günter Grass, Unkenrufe. Kommentar und Materialien. (Günter Grass, Unkenrufe. Kommentar und Materialien). Göttingen: Steidl
  2. & (Eds.). Andreas Dresen. Julian Preece & Nick Hodgin (Ed.), Oxford: Peter Lang.
  3. Anglo-German Dilemmas in The Good Soldier, or: Europe on the Brink in 1913. International Ford Madox Ford Studies 14(1), 223-240.
  4. 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.
  5. Sex , Geschenke und Verwirrung in der Gattungsfrage: Fabian als Roman eines sanften Revolutionärs, in Silke Becker and Sven Hanuschek (eds.), Erich Kaestner und die Moderne. In Sven Hanuschek (Ed.), Erich Kästner und die Moderne. (pp. 117-136). Marburg: Tectum.

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Teaching

  • ML-320 Modern Languages Dissertation Preparation

    This module introduces you to the practice of research and dissertation writing in the field of Modern Languages and will guide you in the first part of your dissertation preparation. Areas covered include: selecting a relevant topic, asking relevant research questions, preparing and writing up a literature review, preparing and writing up a research proposal, research methods and library research tools, making use of foreign-language sources, structuring your dissertation, analysis and argumentation, compiling a bibliography. In addition to lectures and seminars, you will have three meetings with your supervisor. By the end of the module you will have developed your dissertation topic, know what methodology you will use and have acquired knowledge of how to organise and lay out your dissertation. Assessment for the module consists of a literature review, a research proposal and a presentation.

  • ML-321 Modern Languages Dissertation

    This module provides students with the opportunity to research one aspect of French, German, Italian or Hispanic culture in detail, and to present the findings of their research in a dissertation of 8000 words. The module will be taught by means of four practical seminars on research and writing skills, and through three formal supervision sessions with a dissertation supervisor. Your supervisor will help you to find a topic, suggest research strategies, agree a suitable title, discuss the structure of your dissertation, and will read closely and comment on one draft chapter. The topic may relate to a module you are doing at Level 3, provided that this does not involve a duplication of material and is agreed with the module coordinator in advance. The dissertations may be written in English, in your target language, or in Welsh (where Welsh-medium provision is available).

  • 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 Contemporary 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.

  • MLG200 Twentieth-Century Berlin: Myth and Reality

    Berlin has been called `the capital of the twentieth century¿ (Webber, 2008) and was the site of both insurrection and imperial ostentation, siege and invasion, partition, persecution, ideological polarisation, and, finally, the return of democratic normality in the short twentieth century (1914-1989). It was a German capital for nearly ninety years between 1900 and 2000 and for much of that time a magnet for writers and artists and consequently a centre of cultural activity. Iconic images of Berlin were produced especially in film (Ruttmann) but all material studied in the module contributed to constructions of the city¿s identity and character. The key events and themes selected for study in this module are: subservience to authority and mass psychology (Zuckmayer, Lang); the Spartacist Uprising (Brecht); `new woman¿ in the `golden twenties¿ (Keun); unemployment (Dudow); war-time destruction and survival (Anon.); protest in East and West (Heym, Delius, Schnitzler); and division and the walled city (von Trotta). The Expressionist, Neue Sachlichkeit, documentary, neo-realist and noir styles inflected a number of texts and films and will thus be recurrent reference points.

  • MLG300 Twentieth-Century Berlin: Myth and Reality

    Berlin has been called `the capital of the twentieth century¿ (Webber, 2008) and was the site of both insurrection and imperial ostentation, siege and invasion, partition, persecution, ideological polarisation, and, finally, the return of democratic normality in the short twentieth century (1914-1989). It was a German capital for nearly ninety years between 1900 and 2000 and for much of that time a magnet for writers and artists and consequently a centre of cultural activity. Iconic images of Berlin were produced especially in film (Ruttmann) but all material studied in the module contributed to constructions of the city¿s identity and character. The key events and themes selected for study in this module are: subservience to authority and mass psychology (Zuckmayer, Lang); the Spartacist Uprising (Brecht); `new woman¿ in the `golden twenties¿ (Keun); unemployment (Dudow); war-time destruction and survival (Anon.); protest in East and West (Heym, Delius, Schnitzler); and division and the walled city (von Trotta). The Expressionist, Neue Sachlichkeit, documentary, neo-realist and noir styles inflected a number of texts and films and will thus be recurrent reference points.

  • 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

  • Untitled (current)

    Student name:
    MA
    Other supervisor: Dr Brigid Haines
  • Gunter Grass and Narrative: Aus dem Tagebuch einer Schnecke, Der Butt, Unkenrufe and Ein Weites Feld (current)

    Student name:
    MA
    Other supervisor: Prof Tom Cheesman
  • An Aesthetic for its Time? Currency and Anachronism in Heinrich Böll’s ‘Aesthetik des Humanen’ (current)

    Student name:
    MA
    Other supervisor: Dr Brigid Haines
  • Podcasting: A Comprehensive Study of the Medium’s Impact on the broadcast industry and its long term ramifications (current)

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

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

    Student name:
    PhD
    Other supervisor: Dr Marie-Luise Kohlke
  • Ring Composition and Literary Alchemy: The Form and Function of J. K. Rowling’s Fiction (current)

    Student name:
    PhD
    Other supervisor: Prof John Goodby
  • Raymond Williams and European Thought (current)

    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.