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Dr Birgit Breidenbach

I completed my PhD at Warwick in 2017 and was subsequently an Early Career Fellow at the Institute of Advanced Study and an associate tutor in the Department of English and Comparative Literary Studies and in the Institute for Advanced Teaching and Learning at Warwick. Between September 2017 and August 2018, I was a Teaching Fellow in Comparative Literature and Culture at Queen Mary, University of London. Since September 2018, I've been a Lecturer in Literature and Philosophy in the School of Literature, Drama and Creative Writing at the University of East Anglia.

My research focuses on literary and cultural theory, aesthetic forms of affect, the study of modernity and the interplay of literature and philosophy. More specifically, I am interested in mood and other collective and communal forms of affect and their role in aesthetic experience as well as their political and wider cultural significance.

My PhD project, which was supervised by Prof Thomas Docherty, addressed the different forms in which 19th- and 20th-century literature negotiates mood or Stimmung as a central element of experience in the context of what Charles Baudelaire coined as the age of modernité. Mood permeates the literature of modernity, a historical period marked by a particular concern with the existential and subjective experience produced by the rapidly evolving social, technical and political circumstances of the post-Enlightenment age. Discussing the ways in which selected literary texts of the modern period, especially the works of Fyodor Dostoevsky, Samuel Beckett and Thomas Bernhard, engage with mood and the existential forms of attunement that were outlined by Martin Heidegger, I showed that the concept of Stimmung deeply informs the reading experience, the aesthetic philosophy of modern literature and the discourse on modernity. Ultimately, I demonstrated that Stimmung is a constitutive element of modernity, both as a fundamental process in the experience of the literary text and as a pivotal philosophical concern.

I am currently co-editing on a research monograph on interdisciplinary perspectives on mood, based on the 2016 interdisciplinary conference Mood – Aesthetic, Psychological and Philosophical Perspectives, which I co-organised.

Academic history

  • PhD in English and Comparative Literary Studies, University of Warwick (2017)
  • MA in English and Comparative Literary Studies, University of Warwick (2013)
  • BA in English, German and Slavonic Studies, Justus Liebig University Gießen, Germany (2012)


  • [forthcoming 2018] With Thomas Docherty (eds.), Mood: Aesthetics, Psychology, Philosophy, Routledge.
  • “Hybridisation and Globalisation as Catalysts of Generic Change: David Mitchell’s Cloud Atlas (2004) and The Bone Clocks (2014)” (2017), in: Vera Nünning & Ansgar Nünning (eds.), The English Novel in the 21st Century: Cultural Concerns – Literary Developments – Model Interpretations, Trier: WVT.
  • "Grasping the Ineffable: Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Mood" (2017). Exchanges, Vol. 4, No. 2. 309-15.
  • “'What's in a Rose?' A Critical Study of English Language Translations of Rainer Maria Rilke's 'Die Rosenschale'” (2015). eTransfers 3: Anglo-German Cultural Relations.
  • “Intermedialität und Prä-/Remediation in Text und Kontext: Strukturelle, kognitive und kulturhistorische Medialisierungstendenzen in den Romanen David Mitchells” (2011). In Ansgar Nünning & Jan Rupp, eds.: Medialisierung des Erzählens im englischsprachigen Roman der Gegenwart: Theoretischer Bezugsrahmen, Genres und Modellinterpretationen. Trier: WVT. 183-202.

Conference papers

  • “‘Odd Affinities’: Compassion as Affective Knowledge in Virginia Woolf” – Forms of Knowledge, University of Edinburgh, November 2017
  • "‘Into Murphy’s heart it would not enter’: Ontological and Aesthetic Attunement in Heidegger and Beckett" - 21st-Century Theories of Literature: Ethics, Tropes, Attunement, University of Warwick, April 2017
  • "Reading Mood: Spatiality, Presence and Affect" - Shifting Grounds: Literature, Culture and Spatial Phenomenologies, University of Zurich, November 2016
  • “The Case for Pathetic Fallacy, or What Is It Like to Be Thomas Bernhard’s Wingchair?” - 12th Warwick English Postgraduate Symposium, University of Warwick, May 2016
  • "Modernism and Mood: Heideggerian Stimmung in Beckett’s Narrative Fiction" - Beckett and Modernism, 2nd Conference of the Samuel Beckett Society, University of Antwerp, April 2016
  • "‘I will show you fear in a handful of dust' – The Mood of Modernism" - New Work in Modernist Studies, British Association for Modernist Studies, University of Exeter, December 2015
  • "Stimmung: Conceptualising Attunement in Music, Philosophy and Literature" - Music and Literature: Critical Polyphonies, Durham University, July 2015
  • "From Atmosphere to Affect: The Theory of Mood in Narrative Fiction" - Forms of Feeling: Reading for Affect and Emotion, UCLA, June 2015
  • Stimmung - Conceptualising the Contemporary through Attunement” - In Our Time, University of Malta, March 2015
  • “'The Story is in the Soil, Keep Your Ear to the Ground' - Narrative in Contemporary Popular Music” - Narrative 2013, International Society for the Study of Narrative, Manchester Metropolitan University, June 2013

Conferences organised

Funding and Awards

  • 2017-18: IAS Early Career Fellowship - University of Warwick
  • 2016: Nominated for the Warwick Awards for Teaching Excellence for Postgraduates who Teach (WATE PGR)
  • 2014-2017: Chancellor's Scholarship for PhD research - University of Warwick
  • 2012-2014: Scholarship holder of the Studienstiftung des deutschen Volkes (German National Academic Foundation)


I am an Associate Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (HEA).

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Birgit Breidenbach

B dot Breidenbach at uea dot ac dot uk