AM-W |Academia

Research interests

Papers and Talks



Here, some information about my research interests, conference activities, publications and teaching.

Research interests:

My approach to literature and culture is broadly materialist, although I do not associate the term with a particular political affiliation. Looking back at the different stages of my career I realise that I have been attempting for a long time to extend the traditional (Marxist) understanding of materialism (as pointing to the outside conditions in which individuals exist) by addressing the relevance of the material reality of the body. Yes, 'Das Sein bestimmt das Bewußtsein' -- but not only because we are born into certain economic, political and social structures. More than anything, we are shaped by our bodies and their interaction with the world.

In the past, I have found aspects of Lacanian psychoanalysis, notably the concept of the Real, as a helpful means to conceptualise this physical reality and its often daunting implications. More recently, however, I have become increasingly interested in the question of how evolutionary psychology can contribute to our understanding of literature and culture. Needless to say, I have ceased to frown upon concepts such as 'reality' and 'identity' or 'the author' -- not least because I have come to acknowledge how paradoxical the 'radical' rejection of these concepts is for a teacher and academic, whose raison d’être it has been for over a decade to make herself heard. At the same time, I have abandoned the desire to transcend the material, whether from an idealist or postmodernist perspective. Even the most sublime of our ideas is made possible only by the humble (but intricately complex) physical processes of our brain.

For those who find anything untoward in this way of thinking about ourselves and the world, here are a few moving words from Steven Pinker:

'As every student in Philosophy 101 learns, nothing can force me to believe that anyone except me is conscious. This power to deny that other people have feelings is not just an academic exercise but an all-too-common vice, as we see in the long history of human cruelty. Yet once we realize that our own consciousness is a product of our brains and that other people have brains like ours, a denial of other people's sentience becomes ludicrous. "Hath not a Jew eyes?" asked Shylock. Today the question is more pointed: Hath not a Jew -- or an Arab, or an African, or a baby, or a dog -- a cerebral cortex and a thalamus? The undeniable fact that we are all made of the same neural flesh makes it impossible to deny our common capacity to suffer.'

I am currently co-editing a special journal issue that brings together recent work by humanities scholars informed by these ideas. Tentatively entitled Biological Constraints on the Literary Imagination, the volume is due to be published in late 2009/early 2010.

My research fields include:

  • early modern culture and literature (especially Jacobean drama)
  • late twentieth-century and contemporary Anglophone cultures and literatures (authors: J.G. Ballard, Angela Carter, Jim Crace, Kazuo Ishiguro, Doris Lessing, Ian McEwan; themes: unreliable narration, history and historiography, representations of violence, identity and self-deception)
  • literary and cultural theory
  • literature-linguistics interface (stylistics, narratology, rhetoric)


Papers and talks

  • June 2009 (Keynote): Angela Carter: A Critical Exploration (University of Northampton)
  • "Angela Carter, Naturalist"

  • March 2009: Ian McEwan: Art and Politics (in the Age of Terrorism) (Humboldt Universität Berlin)
  • "The Ethical Early McEwan"

  • Jan 2009 (auf Einladung): Seminar Shakespeare’s Comedies (Universität Paderborn)
  • "Zur Gewalt der Komödie in William Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing"

  • Nov 2008: Studium Generale, Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz: Biologisch Determiniert? Menschsein zwischen Autonomie und Zwang
  • "Biologische Grundlagen und Grenzen der Literatur"

  • April 2008: Vorlesungsreihe Die Macht des Erzählens (Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz)
  • "Zur Natur des Erzählens"

  • April 2008: "Hello, I Say, It’s Me": (Re)Constructions of Subjectivity in Contemporary Literature and Culture (Heinrich-Heine Universität Düsseldorf)
  • "Being ‘Me’ and Being Dead: The New Materialism in Contemporary British Fiction"

  • November 2007: Research seminar, Department of English and Linguistics (University of Westminster)
  • "The Nature of Intertextuality: Ian McEwan's Black Dogs"

  • July 2007: IPP Summer School: Traditions of Modernity (Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz)
  • "Early Modern Metadrama"

  • June 2007: Narratology in the Age of Interdisciplinary Narrative Research (Bergische Universität Wuppertal)
  • "Narrative from a Psychobiological Perspective"

  • May 2007: Comics as a Nexus of Culture (Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz)
  • (with Karin Dannecker) "Whatever Happened to All The Heroes? British Perspectives on American Superhero Comics"

  • March 2007: Northeast Modern Language Association (NEMLA) Annual Convention (Baltimore)
  • "The Disturbing Truths of Mimesis"

  • Jan 2007: Die Rückkehr des Autors an die Bühnen Europas (Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz)
  • "Mythos (in) Kane"

  • April 2006: Shakespeare-Tage (Weimar)
  • (with Stefani Brusberg-Kiermeier): "These violent delights have violent ends: Überlegungen zur Gewalt bei Shakespeare"

  • September 2005: Neue Perspektiven in der Theaterwissenschaft: Zwischen Visual Culture Studies und Bildtheorie (Mainz)
  • "Visusalisierte Gewalt im englischen Theater der frühen Neuzeit"

  • October 2004: Symposium Post-Postmoderne? Theorie und um die Jahrtausendwende (Trier)
  • "Post-Postmodern Narrative Ethics: Todd Solondz's Storytelling and Ian McEwan's Later Fiction"

  • May 2004: Teaching Contemporary British Fiction (London)
  • "For Brits Only?: Teaching Atonement in Germany"

  • April 2004: The Renaissance Society of America Annual Convention (New York)
  • "The Useful Violence of Jacobean Drama"

  • June 2003: The Poetics and Linguistics Association Annual Convention (Istanbul)
  • (with Andrea Gerbig) "In Defence of Boundaries, or: How to Discipline Interdisciplinarity"

  • April 2003: Renaissance Rhetoric, Gender and Politics (University of Strathclyde, Glasgow)
  • "Look Who's Taking (Plainly): Drama and Rhetoric in Cyril Tourneur's The Atheist's Tragedy"

  • 11 December 2002: Inaugural Lecture (Universität Trier)
  • "Vom Nutzen und Vorteil der Historie für das Leben: Fallbeispiele aus der englischen Gegenwartsliteratur"

  • September 2002: The European Society for the Study of English (ESSE) 6 (Strasbourg)
  • "Sylvia Plath: Poetic Ideology and the Real of Language"

  • 29 November 2001: Graduate Seminar Faszination des Bösen: Gewalt als Thema in Bild, Text, Inszenierung (Universität Trier)
  • "Gewalt im englischen Drama der frühen Neuzeit:(Selbst-) kritische Thesen zu einem Phänomen"

  • July 2001: Habilitationskolloquium (Universität Trier)
  • "Von Mansfield Park bis Scardale Manor: Geschlecht, Klasse und das country-house Motiv in der englischen Kultur und Literatur"

  • September 2000: Shakespeare: Authenticity and Adaptation (De Montfort University, Leicester)
  • (with Wanda G. Klee und Nele Abels-Ludwig). "'Das wollt Ihr, was? Das gefällt Euch, wie?' - Ralf König rewrites Shakespeare"

  • August 2000: The European Society for the Study of English (ESSE) 5 (Helsinki)
  • "Economic Anxiety in Early Modern Drama: Desire and Excess in Thomas Middleton's Women Beware Women"

  • December 1999: Representations of Emotional Excess (Humboldt-Universität Berlin)
  • "'Gods what a Sluice of Blood have I let open': The Anxious Excess of Jacobean Drama"

  • October 1999: Group for Early Modern Cultural Sudies Annual Conference (Miami State University, Coral Gables)
  • "Theatrical Violence, Critical Practice: Thomas Middleton and the Shaping of a Bourgeois Aesthetic"

  • September 1999: Anglistentag (Mainz)
  • "The Violent Negotiations of Jacobean Tragedy"

  • May 1999: Graduate Seminar Moraling (Universität des Saarlandes Saarbrücken)
  • "The Meaning of Violence: Angela Carter's Lizzie Borden Stories"

  • February 1999: Arizona Center for Medieval and Renaissance Society Annual Conference (Arizona State University, Tempe)
  • "'Frozen Desire': The Economics of Thomas Middleton's Women Beware Women"

  • October 1998: Workshop Vermittlung von arbeitsmarktrelevanten Schlüsselqualifikationen in der akademischen Lehre (Universität Trier)
  • "Entwicklung von Präsentationstechniken - Möglichkeiten und Probleme in der Praxis"

  • July 1998: Renaissance Law and Literature (Wolfson College, Oxford)
  • "The Trials of Authorship: Self, Secrecy and the Law in George Chapman's The Tragedy of Bussy D'Ambois"

  • September 1997: Gesellschaft für die Neueren Englischen Literaturen (Universität Hannover)
  • "Travels in No-Man's-Land: Closure and Transgression in Jeanette Turner Hospital's Oyster"

  • November 1996: Work in Progress, Frühe Neuzeit (Weimar)
  • Paper on post-doctoral project

  • October 1996: Engendering Postmodernism and Realism: Contemporary Women Writers in Britain (Universität Potsdam)
  • "Feminine Misogyny and Sisterly Undercurrents: Cases of Groundless Solidarity in Fay Weldon's Fiction (?)"



Monographs and Editions


  • "Shakespeare and the (Evolved) Pleasures of Revenge" (book article, forthcoming 2011/2012).

  • "Multicultural Haven or Polyphonic Dystopia? The Conflicted London of Andrea Levy's Small World." Beyond the City: The Return of the "Real London" in Contemporary British Fiction. Eds Nick Hubble, Philip Tew and Lynn Wells (book article, forthcoming London, 2011/2012).

  • "Angela Carter, Naturalist" (book article, forthcoming 2011/2012).

  • "Love out of the Shadow of the Other: Angela Carter’s The Magic Toyshop" (under review).

  • "The Fatal Effects of Phaedra's Love." Myth and Violence in the Contemporary Female Text. Eds Sanja Bahun-Radunovic and V.G. Julie Rajan (forthcoming Aldershot, 2011).

  • (with John Carter Wood) "How Is Culture Biological? Violence: Real and Imagined" Politics and Culture (2010, Issue 1, Bioculture: Evolutionary Cultural Studies).

  • "In Yer Face Theatre." Handbuch Englisches Theater der Gegenwart: Kategorien, Entwicklungen, Modellinterpretationen. Ed. Merle Tönnies. Trier, 2010, 205-19.

  • "Fire and Rage and Cruelty: J.G. Ballards faszinierter Blick auf die weibliche Gewalt." Gewalt, Geschlecht, Fiktion. Ed. Susanne Bach. Trier, 2010, 205-19.

  • (with Karin Kukkonen) "Whatever Happened to All The Heroes? British Perspectives on American Superhero Comics." Comics as a Nexus of Cultures: Essays on the Interplay of Media, Disciplines and International Perspectives. Eds Mark Berninger, Jochen Ecke and Gideon Haberkorn. Jefferson NC, 2010, 153-63.

  • "Being Me and Being Dead: Jim Crace's Embodied Materialism." "Hello, I say, It's Me": Contemporary Reconstructions of Self and Subjectivity. Eds Jan D. Kucharzewski, Stefanie Schäfer and Lutz Schowalter. Trier, 2010, 13-31.

  • "The Murderer as Moralist, or The Ethical Early McEwan." Ian McEwan: Art and Politics. Ed. Pascal Nicklas. Heidelberg, 2009, 39-56.

  • "'Revenge and Innovation': Thomas Nashe's Enduring Vision of Fundamentalism." Writing Fundamentalism. Eds Axel Stähler und Klaus Stiersdorfer. Newcastle, 2009, 155-76.

  • "Bildexzess und Bildermacht im englischen Theater der frühen Neuzeit." Theater und Bild: Inszenierungen des Sehens. Eds Kati Röttger and Alexander Jackob. Bielefeld, 2009, 287-300.

  • "Drama." Handbuch der literarischen Gattungen. Ed. Dieter Lamping. Stuttgart, 2009, 143-57.

  • "Mythos (in) Kane." Theater seit den 1990er Jahren: Der europäische Autorenboom im kulturpolitischen Kontext. Eds Friedemann Kreuder and Sabine Sörgel. Tübingen 2008, 37-50.

  • "Sounding the Depths of Early Modern Dramatic Epilogues." Texting Culture/Culturing Texts: Essays in Honour of Horst Breuer. Ed. Anja Müller-Wood. Trier, 2008, 93-108.

  • "Modernism." Companion to Twentieth-Century British Poetry. Eds Rob Watson and Jim Persoon. New York, 2008.

  • (with J. Carter Wood). "Bringing the Past to Heel: History, Identity and Violence in Ian McEwan's Black Dogs" Literature and History 16.2 (2007): 43-56..

  • "Enabling Resistance: Reading Atonement in Germany. " Teaching Contemporary British Fiction. Anglistik & Englischunterricht. Eds Steven Barfield, Anja Müller-Wood, Leigh Wilson and Philip Tew. Heidelberg, 2006, 143-56.

  • (with Andrea Gerbig). "A Literary-Linguistic Reading of Graham Greene's Brighton Rock: Interdisciplinarity in Practice." In How Globalization Affects The Teaching of English: Studying Culture Through Texts. Eds Andrea Gerbig and Anja Müller-Wood. Lampeter and New York, 2006, 221-39.

  • "Creatures of Compromise: Neostoic Philosophy and Male Realignment in John Marston's Sophonisba." Realigning Renaissance Culture. Eds Stephan Laqué and Enno Ruge. Trier, 2004, 119-36.

  • (with Ulrike E. Tancke). "The Hidden Misogynies of Queering 'Light': The Case of The Hours" genderforum (2003).

  • "Disconcerting Mirrors: Angela Carter's Lizzie Borden Stories." LIT: Literature Interpretation Theory 15.3 (2004): 277-97.

  • (with Andrea Gerbig). "Trapped in Language: Aspects of Ambiguity and Intertextuality in Selected Poetry and Prose by Sylvia Plath." Style 36.1 (2002): 75-91.

  • "Feminine Misogyny and Sisterly Undercurrents: Cases of Groundless Solidarity in Fay Weldon's Remember Me." Engendering Realism and Postmodernism: Contemporary Women Writers in Britain. Ed. Beate Neumeier. Postmodern Studies 32. Amsterdam und New York, 2001, 147-57.

  • (with Wanda G. Klee and Nele Abels-Ludwig). "Das wollt Ihr, was? Das gefällt Euch, wie?" - Ralf König Rewrites Shakespeare." Jahrbuch der deutschen Shakespearegesellschaft 137 (2001) 74-85.

  • "Negotiations of Violence in Jacobean Drama." Proceedings of the Anglistentag 1999. Ed. Bernhard Reitz and Sigrid Rieuwerts. Trier, 2000, 147-60.

  • "'Gods, what a sluice of blood have I let open'": The Anxious Excess of Jacobean Drama." Representations of Emotional Excess. Ed. Jürgen Schlaeger. REAL: Yearbook of Research in English and American Literature 16. Tübingen, 2000, 87-104.

  • "Travels in No-Man's-Land: Closure and Transgression in Jeanette Turner Hospital's Oyster." Being/s in Transit: Travelling, Migration, Dislocation. Ed. Liselotte Glage. ASNEL Papers 5. Amsterdam and Atlanta, 2000, 141-53.

  • "Bussy D'Ambois, the Duel and the Dynamic of Performance." Renaissance Forum 3.2 (1999).

  • (with Kai-Eric Fitzner). "Rudy Wiebe in Conversation." Ahornblätter 12 (1999): 101-114.

  • "Sharon Pollock's Walsh: An Exercise in Historiographic Metafiction." Ahornblätter 11 (1998): 130-151.

Shorter articles and reviews

  • "A Chaste Maid in Cheapside", "Women Beware Women" (Thomas Middleton). The Literary Encyclopedia (in preparation).

  • "The Tragedy of Bussy D’Ambois" (George Chapman), "The Changeling" (Thomas Middleton), "Eastward Ho" (George Chapman, Ben Jonson, John Marston), "A Game at Chesse" (Thomas Middleton), "The Malcontent" (John Marston). In Kindler Lexikon der Weltliteratur (forthcoming 2009).

  • "Drama." Handbuch der literarischen Gattungen. Ed. Dieter Lamping.Stuttgart, 2009 (forthcoming).

  • "In Yer Face Theatre." Handbuch Englisches Theater der Gegenwart: Kategorien, Entwicklungen, Modellinterpretationen. Ed. Merle Tönnies. Trier, 2009 (forthcoming).

  • Review of Dietmar Tatzl, "Secret, Black, and Midnight Hags": The Conception, Presentation and Functions of Witches in English Renaissance Drama (Wien, 2005). Anglistik (forthcoming 2008).

  • "Thomas Middleton." The Literary Encyclopedia. 11 Apr. 2007. The Literary Dictionary Company. 12 April 2007.

  • "The Changeling." The Literary Encyclopedia. 9 Mar. 2007. The Literary Dictionary Company. 12 April 2007.

  • "Deconstruction", "Modernism", "Poststructuralism", Companion to Twentieth-Century British Poetry. Eds Rob Watson and Jim Persoon. New York, 2008.

  • Review of Stefan Horlacher, Masculinites: Konzeptionen von Männlichkeit im Werk von Thomas Hardy und D.H. Lawrence (Tübingen, 2006). Anglia125 (2007): 141-44.

  • (with Steven Barfield, Leigh Wilson and Philip Tew). "Introduction." Teaching Contemporary British Fiction. Anglistik & Englischunterricht. Heidelberg, 2006, 7-14.

  • (with Stefani Brusberg-Kiermeier). "Introduction." Section "The Sensual Renaissance." Anglistentag Bamberg 2005 - Proceedings. Trier, 2006.

  • (with Andrea Gerbig). "Introduction." In How Globalization Affects the Teaching of English: Studying Culture Through Texts. Eds Andrea Gerbig und Anja Müller-Wood. Lampeter and New York, 2006, 1-12.

  • (with Andrea Gerbig). "Introduction to Focus Section." Conjoining Literature and Linguistics. Focus Section of College Literature 33.2 (2006), 85-90.

  • Review of R.A. Foakes, Shakespeare and Violence (Cambridge, 2003) and Pascale Aebischer, Shakespeare's Violated Bodies: Stage and Screen Performance (Cambridge, 2004). Shakespeare Jahrbuch 142 (2006): 33-35.

  • Review of Nina Taunton, 1590s Drama and Militarism: Portrayals of War in Marlowe, Chapman and Shakespeare's Henry V (Aldershot, 2001). Shakespeare Jahrbuch 139 (2003): 308-09.

  • Review of Peter Lehman, ed. Masculinity (London and New York, 2001). genderforum 4 (2003).

  • Contributions on plays by Thomas Dekker, John Fletcher, John Marston und Thomas Middleton for The Compendium of Renaissance Drama, CD-Rom, Ed. Brian Jay Corrigan (2003).

  • Entries on George Chapman, John Marston, Thomas Middleton and Sarah Kane for Metzler Lexikon der englischsprachigen Autoren, Ed. Eberhard Kreutzer and Ansgar Nünning. Stuttgart, 2002.

  • Review of Ingrid Hotz-Davies and Anton Kirchhofer, eds. Psychoalalytic-ism: Uses of Psychoanalysis in Novels, Poems, Plays and Films (Trier, 2000). ZAA: Zeitschrift für Anglistik und Amerikanistik 50.4 (2002): 439-40.

  • Review of Philippa Berry, Shakespeare's Feminine Endings: Disfiguiring Death in the Tragedies (London and New York, 1999) and Heather Dubrow, Shakespeare and Domestic Loss: Forms of Deprivation, Mourning and Recuperation (Cambridge, 1999). Shakespeare Jahrbuch 138 (2002): 29-30.

  • Review of Erica Fudge, Ruth Gilbert und Susan Wiseman, eds. At the Borders of the Human: Beasts, Bodies and Natural Philosophy in the Early Modern Period. Houndmills, 1999. EESE: Erfurt Electronic Studies in English, 2000.



I have been a university teacher since 1996. Apart from offering survey and introductory courses for undergraduates (e.g. "Studying the Novel", "Studying Poetry", "Studying Anglophone Short Stories", "Studying Renaissance Drama") I have also taught thematic seminars related to my research fields: Early Modern Culture and Literature, Late Twentieth-Century and Contemporary Anglophone Fiction, Literary and Cultural Theory and Literary Linguistics. Since working at Mainz, I have also regularly offered courses on teaching literature in secondary schools, usually in cooperation with educators in the secondary sector.

Click here for my current course programme.