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Professor Elisabeth Herrmann


Email: Elisabeth dot Herrmann at warwick dot ac dot uk

Advice & Feedback Hours: Wednesday 13-14 in person or online by appointment

Room FAB 4.55

Fourth Floor, Faculty of Arts Building, University of Warwick, Coventry, CV4 7AL


Elisabeth Herrmann is a Professor of German Studies specializing in literature and culture from the 18th to 21st centuries. Born and raised in the Black Forest, she started her academic education at the University of Freiburg where she received her Magister Artium in German and Scandinavian Studies. She completed her PhD in Modern (1700 - present) German literature with a thesis on the ‘The Motif of Death in Goethe’s novel Elective Affinities’ and wrote her habilitation and second book on literary and cultural Grenzgänger, border-crossers. She moved to Canada in 2006 when she was offered a Visiting Professorship at the University of Alberta, for which she received a six-year scholarship from the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) in order to promote German Studies in North America. In 2014 she accepted a position at Stockholm University as senior lecturer in German and was promoted to full Professor in 2015. The international aspect of Professor Herrmann’s academic career has had a strong impact both on her areas of specialization and on the methodological approach of her research, in which she engages in literary, cultural, transnational, comparative and interdisciplinary studies. She joined the School of Modern Languages and Cultures at Warwick as Chair of German Studies in January 2018.

Professor Herrmann is chair of the Tenure Board of the Humboldt University of Berlin and a faculty member of the international postgraduate programme The European PhDnet: Literary and Cultural Studies. Together with Carsten Gansel and Norman Ächtler she co-edits the Edition Gegenwart OKAPI Berlin. She is also an editorial board member of Stockholm German and Dutch Studies, Stockholm University Press. At Stockholm University she was an affiliated member of the Swedish National Research Programme World Literatures: Cosmopolitan and Vernacular Dynamics, 2017-2019. After leaving the University of Alberta in Canada in 2014 she remained an adjunct faculty member of the Department of Modern Languages and Cultural Studies until 2020.

Research Interests

  • From the Enlightenment to the age of Goethe and Weimar Classicism
  • Post-unification and contemporary German literature
  • Collective identities and cultural memory
  • Representations of the Holocaust in literature, image, and film
  • Discourses of tolerance and intolerance in German history, philosophy and culture
  • Interdependencies between European literatures
  • Cultural interaction and literary transfer
  • Transnationalism, cosmopolitanism and world literatures across centuries
  • Literature of crisis and pandemic literature
  • Future in literature, literature's role in shaping the future

Cosmopolitanism and world literatures are the themes which build the core of my current research. I am working on a monograph in literary theory which responds to the demand for a critical review of the idea of world literature in our time of globalisation. By defining world literature as a 'literature of dialogue, movement and world entanglement' the study develops a concept that gives space to the term’s specific feature of mobility, performativity and evolution while at the same time providing analytical tools for analysis of both historically traceable characteristics, such as universalism, as well as newly emerging indicators of cosmopolitanism and world literature.

Teaching (on study leave in term 1, 2022-23)

GE207 German Culture in the Age of Revolution, 1789-1848

GE214 The Strange World of Franz Kafka's Short Stories

GE339 Exploring Zeitgeist: Politics, Culture and Society in Germany Today

Supervision and Mentoring

I welcome proposals for research projects on aspects of literary transfer, regional, transnational, cosmopolitan, and world literatures in connection with any literary epoch from the 18th century to our contemporary time. I also encourage projects focusing on collective identities and memory, debates on literary canon, genre theory, cultural theories, comparative and interdisciplinary studies, as well as literary industry (e.g. the reception, dissemination, translation and marketing of literary texts as well as the role of literary prizes and institutions).

I am the Warwick coordinator of the European PhDNet Literary and Cultural Studies, an international network for postgraduate education and co-tutelle between Justus Liebig University Gießen and the partner universities of Bergamo, Graz, Helsinki, Stockholm, and the Catholic University of Lisbon.

If you are planning to apply for an Alexander von Humboldt Foundation research scholarship and would like to become a postdoctoral researcher in German literatures or cultural studies at the University of Warwick feel free to contact me in my role as Alexander von Humboldt Fellow and Feodor Lynen Mentor.

Research projects I have supervised or mentored include the following topics:

  • Arbeit am Zufall: Die Formierung des modernen deutschen Romans im 18. Jahrhundert

  • The EAST | WEST collaboration: Post-war rebuilding and transnational representations of memory, recovery, and reconciliation
  • Walter Rilla: Medien, Darstellende Künste, Exil und Startum am Beispiel seines frühen und mittleren Filmwerks im deutsch-britischen Kulturkontext 1921-1957
  • Narrating Future Scenarios – Exploring Present Concerns: Speculative Fictions as Laboratories of Cultural Self-Reflection
  • Der Nobelpreis und die deutschsprachige Literatur. Eine Studie über die Vergabekriterien des Literaturnobelpreises 1901-1969
  • Water Writing and Fluid Borderscapes in Contemporary German-Language Literature
  • Coming to Terms with the Present: Non-Realist Representations of War in Early Post-1945 German Literature
  • Nonsense as Resistance? Breaches of Rules and Expectations in 21st Century German-Language Literature
  • Fictions of Dementia – Narrative Modes for Presenting Dementia in Anglophone Novels (Christine de Pizan-Mentoring-Programme)

  • Side by Side. Reading Indigenous and Non-Indigenous Literature (WIRL CoFund postdoctoral research project)

Administrative Roles

  • Head of German Studies (2019-2023)
  • Director of Research for German Studies
  • Deputy Head of School (Research)

Selected Publications

  • Transnationalism in Contemporary German-Language Literature, edited with Carrie Smith-Prei and Stuart Taberner. Rochester: Camden House, 2015.
  • Entwicklungen in der deutschsprachigen Gegenwartsliteratur nach 1989, edited with Carsten Gansel. Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2013.
  • Embracing the Other: Conceptualizations, Representations, and Social Practices of [In]Tolerance in German Culture and Literature. Special Issue of Seminar. A Journal of Germanic Studies, edited with Florentine Strzelczyk. Volume 48, Number 3, September (2012).
  • Über Grenzen. Grenzgänge der Skandinavistik, edited with Wolfgang Behschnitt. Festschrift zum 65. Geburtstag von Heinrich Anz. Würzburg: Ergon, 2007.
  • Das Ich im Dialog mit dem Wir. Die Literarisierung kultureller Migration als kritische Auseinandersetzung mit der eigenen kollektiven Identität in Werken zeitgenössischer schwedischer Schriftstellerinnen und Schriftsteller. Würzburg: Ergon, 2006.
  • Die Todesproblematik in Goethes Roman Die Wahlverwandtschaften. Berlin: Erich Schmidt, 1998.
Journal articles and book chapters
  • In Zeiten der Pandemie: Was kann Literatur leisten und was kann sie nicht leisten? Krankheit und Gesundheit. Zur Darstellung von Zeitgeschichte in deutschsprachiger Gegenwartsliteratur. Eds. Linda Karlsson Hammarfelt, Edgar Platen, Petra Platen. Munich: Iudicium, 2022. 184-202.
  • Literatur nach der Dystopie: Ein Zukunftsbericht in Zeiten der COVID-19-Krise. Germanisch-Romanische Monatsschrift, Nr. 70, Vol. 3/4 (2020). 413-443.

  • Was bleibt von einer Literatur der 'Wende' 30 Jahre nach dem Fall der Mauer? Mauerfall und andere Grenzfälle. Zur Darstellung von Zeitgeschichte in deutschsprachiger Gegenwartsliteratur. Eds. Linda Karlsson Hammarfelt, Edgar Platen, Petra Platen. Munich: Iudicium, 2020. 75-94.

  • Dialog, Movement, and World Entanglement: Towards a Reconceptualization of World Literature. Vergleichende Weltliteraturen / Comparative World Literatures. Eds. Dieter Lamping and Galin Tihanov. Stuttgart: J.B. Metzler, 2019. 59-79.
  • Weltliteratur: Für oder wider ein Erzählen von Zeitgenossenschaft. Erzählen von Zeitgenossenschaft. Zur Darstellung von Zeitgeschichte in der deutschsprachigen Gegenwartsliteratur. Eds. Linda Karlsson Hammarfelt, Edgar Platen, Petra Platen. Munich: Iudicium, 2018. 213-228.
  • With Chantal Wright, Reconceptualizing ‘World Literature’: A Bilingual Platonic Dialogue Between Literary and Translation Studies. Translation and Translating in German Studies. A Festschrift for Raleigh Whitinger. Eds. John L. Plews and Diana Spokiene. Waterloo: Wilfrid Laurier Press. 2016. 27-44.
  • Weltbürgertum und nationale Verstrickung in Christa Wolfs 'Stadt der Engel oder The Overcoat of Dr. Freud'. Triangulum. Germanistisches Jahrbuch für Estland, Lettland und Litauen, Nr. 21 (2016). 459-468.
  • How Does Transnationalism Redefine Contemporary Literature? Transnationalism in Contemporary German-Language Literature. Eds. Elisabeth Herrmann, Carrie Smith-Prei, and Stuart Taberner. Rochester: Camden House, 2015. 32-68.
  • Norrland’s Regional Literature as World Literature: Per Olov Enquist’s Literary Work. Norrland-Authors Seen From Abroad. Special Issue of Journal of Northern Studies. Guest editor Annegret Heitmann. Umeå: University of Umeå Press. Vol. 8, Nr. 1 (2014): 145-167.
  • 'Gegenwart' bedeutet die Zeitspanne einer Generation Anmerkungen zum Versuch, Gegenwartsliteratur zu bestimmen, with Carsten Gansel. Entwicklungen in der deutschsprachigen Gegenwartsliteratur nach 1989. Eds. Carsten Gansel and Elisabeth Herrmann. Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2013. 7-22.
  • Das Kind(?) Oskar. Totale Verweigerung und anarchische Aufstörung in Günter Grass´s Die Blechtrommel. Perturbationen oder das Prinzip Störung’ in den Geistes- und Sozialwissenschaften: Hybridisierung, Grenzräume, Figurationen der Störung. Eds. Carsten Gansel and Norman Ächtler. Berlin, Boston: Walter de Gruyter, 2013. 147-163.
  • Individuelle Erinnerung als kollektive Identitätsstiftung nach dem Ende des Real-Sozialismus in Daniela Dahns Westwärts und nicht vergessen und Jana Hensels Zonenkinder. Rhetorik der Erinnerung. Gedächtnis und Literatur in den 'geschlossenen Gesellschaften' des Real-Sozialismus zwischen 1945 und 1989. Ed. Carsten Gansel. Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2009. 369-385.
  • Berlin, Paris und Nordeuropa als kulturelle Pole und Gegenpole zur Zeit der Jahrhundertwende. Berlin's Culturescape in the Twentieth Century. Eds. Thomas Bredohl and Michael Zimmermann. Regina: Canadian Plains Research Center, 2008. 1-32.

  • Nora geht. Nora bleibt. Die Konstruktion und Dekonstruktion von Geschlechtern in Ibsens Ein Puppenheim. Nora und Hedda Gabler von Henrik Ibsen. GeschlechterSzenen in Stephan Kimmigs Inszenierung am Thalia Theater Hamburg. Reihe: Theater und Universität im Gespräch. Ed. Ortrud Gutjahr. Würzburg: Königshausen & Neumann, 2005. 53-73.

Professional Associations and Fellowships

  • American Comparative Literature Association (ACLA)
  • Canadian Association of University Teachers of German (CAUTG)
  • German Studies Association (GSA)
  • Goethe-Gesellschaft Germany (GG)
  • Internationale Vereinigung für Germanistik (IVG)
  • Literarische Gesellschaft (Scheffelbund)
  • Verband Germanistischer Literaturwissenschaft in Schweden (GLS)
  • Women in German Studies (WIGS)
  • DAAD (German Academic Exchange Service) Alumni
  • Alexander von Humboldt Fellow and Feodor Lynen Mentor


  • MA 1992 (Freiburg)
  • PhD 1996 (Freiburg)
  • Habilitation and Venia Legendi 2004 (Freiburg)