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MA (Hons), MSc, DPhil (Oxon)
After studying for an MA in German and History at St Edmund Hall, Oxford, I completed an MSc in European Literature and a DPhil in German, also at Oxford. I held a Junior Research Fellowship at Merton College, Oxford, for two years before coming to Edinburgh in 2005. I am currently Deputy Postgraduate Director of the School of Literatures, Languages and Cultures.
My research focuses on the relationship between culture and politics, including factors such as state policy and censorship, the politics and identity of institutions, and the negotiation of space for artistic experimentation. I have worked extensively on Brecht and on GDR theatre censorship, and I have recently begun a project on representations of crime in GDR film and television.
My first monograph was published by Oxford University Press in 2006, under the title Brecht and Political Theatre: 'The Mother' on Stage. It traced the performance history of Brecht’s play Die Mutter from its origins in the Weimar Republic, through Brecht’s exile and the division of Germany, to the new Berlin Republic. As Die Mutter is the only text that Brecht staged in the Weimar Republic, in exile and the GDR, it is uniquely placed to offer insights into his development as a theatre director. His three contrasting productions show how he became more sensitive to cultural difference and more pragmatic about making concessions for particular audiences, in order to increase their receptivity towards his work. In turn, post-Brechtian directors have used Die Mutter to promote their own political and theatrical concerns, from anti-authoritarian theatre to reflections on the legacies of state Socialism.
My second monograph was published by Oxford University Press in 2010, under the title Cooperation and Conflict: GDR Theatre Censorship, 1961-1989. The key questions concern how theatre censorship worked, in contrast to censorship of the book; how theatre censorship developed between 1961 and 1989; and how (far) it varied from one theatre and region to the next. My material includes state and Party papers from regional and federal archives; the Stasi files; and material from theatre archives, such as prompt books, rehearsal notes, set designs, photographs and correspondence. This research was generously supported by the AHRC, British Academy, Carnegie Trust and DAAD.
I have published a series of articles on theatre censorship in peer-reviewed journals and edited books, and I have also published on contemporary German theatre, the Turkish-German writer Emine Sevgi Özdamar, and the poet Kito Lorenc. I recently co-edited a volume entitled Brecht and the GDR: Politics, Culture, Posterity, with Karen Leeder (University of Oxford). It was published in 2011 as volume 5 of the Edinburgh German Yearbook.
I am currently developing a monograph project provisionally entitled Crime under Communism: Representations of Criminality, Detection and Surveillance in GDR Film.
I would be interested in supervising PhDs on Bertolt Brecht, twentieth-century German or Austrian theatre, censorship, representations of crime, or the GDR.
I am currently co-supervising Lizzie Stewart’s PhD on Turkish-German theatre and Michael Wood's PhD on Heiner Müller, and I co-supervised Patrick Harkin’s PhD on literary responses to 17 June 1953.
In February 2011, I collaborated with Susan Kemp, Fiona Rintoul and Jane Sillars on a two-day special event at the Glasgow Film Festival, called 'The Stasi Are Among Us'. The event featured 6 film screenings, introduced by the directors Thomas Heise, Claus Löser, Hannes Schönemann, and Rainer Simon. It also included roundtable discussions with the directors and readings of underground literature by the writers Johannes Jansen and Gabriele Stötzer.
In 2011, I worked with the Glasgow-based company Theatre Found on two events on censorship. The first was held at the Tron Theatre, Glasgow, during Scottish Refugee Week and featured the Artistic Director of the Belarus Free Theatre. The second was a three-day event at the Forest Fringe, entitled 'Censored. Banned. This Land.'
In 2011, I also provided academic support for productions of Brecht's Arturo Ui at the Liverpool Everyman/Playhouse and of The Threepenny Opera by Fourth Monkey Theatre in Camden.
During the 20th anniversary celebrations of the fall of the Berlin Wall, I gave a public talk on GDR theatre at the University's Informatics Forum. I contributed to a BBC Radio Scotland feature on politics and cabaret (2007), and I have worked with the RSC (2006) and Visiting Moon Theatre Company (2001).
External Research Grants
This article was published on Oct 30, 2012