Laura Bradley

Personal Chair of German and Theatre, Head of German

  • German Section
  • Department of European Languages and Cultures
  • School of Literatures, Languages and Cultures

Contact details



Room 3.34
50 George Square

Post code


  • My office hours in semester 2 are:

    Monday, 2.30 - 3.30 (except week 11)
    Thursday, 3.30-4.30

    These times apply during teaching weeks only. At other times, please email me to arrange an appointment.


After studying for an MA in German and History at the University of Oxford (St Edmund Hall), Prof. Laura Bradley completed an MSt in European Literature and a DPhil in German, also at Oxford. She held a Junior Research Fellowship at Merton College, Oxford, for two years before coming to Edinburgh in 2005.


MA (Hons), MSt, DPhil (Oxon)

Undergraduate teaching

Prof. Laura Bradley teaches German language and literature to undergraduates at all levels. Her specialisms include an Honours Option on Bertolt Brecht, plus German film, Christoph Hein, and poetry written by Brecht, Wolf Biermann and Heiner Müller.

Postgraduate teaching

At MSc level, Laura regularly teaches on the MSc in Theatre and Performance, and she supervises dissertations for students on the MSc in Comparative Literature, MSc in Theatre and Performance, and MSc in Translation Studies.

Open to PhD supervision enquiries?


Areas of interest for supervision

Laura would be interested in supervising PhDs on Bertolt Brecht, German or Austrian theatre and performance, censorship, spectatorship, representations of crime, or the GDR. Prospective students are very welcome to contact her via email.

Current PhD students supervised

Katie Hawthorne: Theatre and Digital Culture. Funded by the Wolfson Foundation.

Past PhD students supervised

Lizzie Stewart: 'Turkish-German Scripts of Postmigration: Mimesis and Mimeticism in the Plays of Emine Sevgi Özdamar and Feridun Zaimoglu/Günter Senkel'. Funded by the AHRC. Monograph accepted for publication by Palgrave Macmillan. Lizzie now has a permanent lectureship at King's College London.

Michael Wood: ‘Making the Audience Work: Textual Politics and Performance Strategies for a "Democratic" Theatre in the Works of Heiner Müller. Funded by the AHRC. Monograph published by Camden House. Michael is now a British Academy Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Edinburgh.

Patrick Harkin: 'On the Horns of a Dilemma: Clarity and Ambivalence in Oppositional Writing in the Wake of the Uprising of 17 June 1953 in the German Democratic Republic'. Funded by the AHRC. Patrick published his research on Brecht in volume 5 of the Edinburgh German Yearbook.

Research summary

Prof. Laura Bradley’s 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 in theatre, film, television and literature. She has carried out major research projects on Brecht and on GDR theatre censorship, has published representations of crime in GDR film and television, and is currently writing a book about Brecht and spectatorship. Her research has a strong historical focus, and she has worked extensively in a wide range of archives in the former GDR.

Knowledge exchange

Laura was Principal Investigator on the AHRC-funded project 'Who's Watching Who? Theatre Censorship in East Germany and Beyond', which was conducted in partnership with the Playwrights' Studio Scotland. For this theatre and film project, the award-winning playwright Peter Arnott wrote a play about East German theatre censorship, using Laura's research. The ex-BBC producer Susan Kemp made a documentary film about the process of developing the play and taking it to an audience at a series of rehearsed readings and events in 2014-15. The project culminated in a showcase event and debate on theatre censorship at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, and the film was premiered at the Glasgow Film Theatre in 2016 and was screened at the Edinburgh Filmhouse in 2017. It was followed by a symposium 'Creating Impact: Theatres and Universities', which Laura organized with the Playwrights' Studio Scotland in 2017 in order to bring together playwrights and academics. For more information, see

This project followed on from ‘The Stasi Are Among Us’, a two-day event at the 2011 Glasgow Film Festival, which Laura collaborated on with Susan Kemp, Fiona Rintoul and Jane Sillars. 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.

Laura has also worked with a number of theatres. In 2014, she was invited by the Unicorn Theatre in London to speak about Brecht on two YouTube videos made to support the company's production of The Caucasian Chalk Circle. In 2011, she 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, and the director Silvia Rieger used Laura's research on Brecht's The Mother when preparing her production of the play at the Berlin Volksbühne. In 2011, Laura also 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.'

Laura contributed to a BBC Radio Scotland feature on politics and cabaret (2007), and has worked with the RSC (2006) and Visiting Moon Theatre Company (2001).

Laura is happy for theatres and other organizations interested in her work or potential collaborations to contact her.

Project activity

Laura Bradley's first monograph was published by Oxford University Press in 2006, under the title Brecht and Political Theatre: 'The Mother' on Stage. It traces 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 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. Laura has maintained her research interest in Brecht and is now working on a monograph called Brecht and Audience: The Art of Spectatorship. She is a member of the Editorial Board of the Brecht Yearbook, and she co-edited 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.

Laura’s 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. The 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. Laura has published a series of related articles on theatre censorship in peer-reviewed journals and edited books, and she has also published on contemporary German theatre, the representation of crime and detection in GDR film and television, the Turkish-German writer Emine Sevgi Özdamar, and the poet Kito Lorenc.

Past project grants

AHRC Follow-On Funding for Impact and Engagement (2014-15)
Carnegie Trust Awards (2012, 2009. 2006)
DEFA-Stiftung Grant (2010-11)
AHRC Research Leave Award (2009)
British Academy Small Research Grant (2006-8)
DAAD Award (2004)
AHRC Studentships (2000-2003, 1999-2000)

View all 40 publications on Research Explorer