Leanne Dawson

Senior Lecturer


Dr. Leanne Dawson is Lecturer in German and Film Studies and the Chair of the Scottish Queer International Film Festival.

Her research focuses on LGBTQ representation in literature, theatre, performance art, archives and, predominantly, film. Her publications include books: Queering German Culture(2018), Queer European Cinema (2017) and From Girls in Uniform to Men in Drag: Gender, Sexuality and Ethnicity on the German Screen (in preparation); edited special journal issues, Queering European Film Festivals (2018), Queer European Cinema: Queering Cinematic Time and Space (2015), The Other: Gender, Sexuality and Ethnicity in European Cinema and Beyond (2014); and articles and chapters on a range of LGBTQ subjects, such as the lesbian vampire in German and Austrian literature and theatre, lesbian archives in the USA and Germany, femme performance art, trans identities onscreen, and same-sex female desire in US, European and Asian cinema.

Dr. Dawson continually makes use of her academic research to create, promote, and support queer culture beyond the academy: she has provided academic consultancy to a range of artists; she is currently making her own documentary, Femmes on Film, about the representation and reality of queer femininities; she curates and presents film seasons for independent cinemas; and has appeared on the BBC and other media speaking about LGBTQI+ culture. 

She completed all three of her degrees (AHRC fully-funded PhD in German Studies, 2009; AHRB fully-funded MA with Distinction in European Cultures, 2005; BA Hons First Class with Distinction in French and German Studies, 2004) at the University of Manchester and also has a teaching qualification: University of Edinburgh’s Postgraduate Certificate in Academic Practice. She is a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy and  is frequently nominated for EUSA Teaching Awards. 


Responsibilities & affiliations

Dr. Dawson is Chair of the Exam Board for the German Studies section.

She also conceived of and is the organiser of School-wide programme, Learners without Limits.

She is an elected member of University Senate and a member of the internal REF 2021 reading and assessment panel. 

She is course organiser for: final-year German Studies research-led option, From Girls in Uniform to men in Drag: Gender, Sexuality, and Ethnicity on the German Screen and co-organiser for MSc Film Exhibition and Curation option, Film and Gender. 

Her previous administrative roles include:

She has been Course Organiser for:

  • German 1B
  • Introduction to European Cinema (DELC)
  • German 4


  • Editorial Assistant, Studies in European Cinema, Taylor&Francis.

Selected Professional Service and Esteem

  • Association for German Studies, ordinary member.
  • Edinburgh German Yearbook, peer reviewer.
  • European Cinema Research Forum, board member.
  • Forum for Modern Language Studies, German literature reviewer.
  • Gender History Network, University of Edinburgh, ordinary member.
  • Journal of Contemporary European Studies, German, Film, and Gender Studies literature reviewer.
  • Journal of European Popular Culture, peer reviewer
  • REF2021 Reading Panel (internal, University of Edinburgh)
  • Scottish Queer International Film Festival (SQIFF), Chair
  • Women in German Studies, ordinary member.






Undergraduate teaching

Dr. Leanne Dawson teaches across LLC, Edinburgh College of Art, and the Medical School.

2018-19 undergraduate teaching:

Anatomy: Sex Determination (final year, Medical School)

From Girls in Uniform to Men in Drag: Gender, Sexuality, and Ethnicity on the German Screen (final year, German Studies)

German 1B: Grammar (first year)

German 2 Grammar (second year)

German Literature (first year)

German Literature (second year)

German Translation and Text Production (second year)

Introduction to European Cinema (second-year, DELC)

Introduction to Queer Studies (first-year Edinburgh College of Art)

Previous undergraduate teaching:

Film  Criticism and Analysis (final year, LLC)

German 1: Translation and Text Production (first year)

German Language Paper 1 (final year)

Postgraduate teaching

2018-19 postgraduate teaching:

Film Adaptation (MSc Film Studies)

Film and Gender (MSc Film Exhibition and Curation)

Previous postgraduate teaching:

Cinema Auteurs (MSc Film Studies)

Film and the Other Arts (MSc Film Studies)

Film Theory (MSc Film Studies)

Research Methods (MSc Film Studies)

Film Theory

Translation Studies: German Portfolio (MSC Translation Studies)

Dr Dawson is a supervisor on the MSC by Research in Gender and Culture and supervises and marks PG dissertations across several areas: Comparative Literature; Film Studies;Translation Studies; Theatre and Performance.

Open to PhD supervision enquiries?


Areas of interest for supervision

Dr. Dawson is open to supervise students working on identity (gender, sexuality, ethnicity, class etc) on screen, stage, or page.

She is dedicated to working with PG students to improve both the student experience and employablity:

  • creating school-wide project, Learners without Limits
  • employment/employability talks for PhD students
  • mentoring PhD students for the 2013 Forum Conference
  • invited peer reviewer for Dissertation Reviews
  • invited judge for LLC Blethers event
  • PG mentoring via the Edge of Words

Past PhD students supervised

Eva Spisikova,  Shakespeare's Young Man behind the Iron Curtain: Censorship of Same-sex Affection in Czech and Slovak Sonnet Translations (joint supervisor, submitted in 2.5 years). Eva is now completing a postdoc at the University of Liverpool.

Research summary

Dr. Dawson’s interdisciplinary research has three primary strands:

  • LGBTQ+ representation: particularly queer femininities, the ‘passing’ lesbian and trans subject in German-language literature, theatre, and film, as well as French, North American, Turkish, and transnational cinema;
  • LBGTQ+ remembrance and queer(ing) memory, including the site/sight of the lesbian archive;
  • high/low culture and minority identities: the ethics of LGBTQ, working-class, and ethnic minority representation onscreen and inclusion offscreen; the relationship between LGBTQ cultural events (especially film screenings and festivals), education, and well-being.

Knowledge exchange

Outward facing by inclination, Dr. Dawson's research-informed work outside of the academy includes:

  • Chair and event organiser/host, Scottish Queer International Queer Film Festival (2014-present)
  • curating ‘Introduction to European Cinema’, two seasons (21 weeks) of film per year for Filmhouse, Edinburgh;
  • disseminating research via talks and workshop facilitation for LGBTQI+ and women’s groups;
  • working with working-class LGBTQ+ people on representation and inclusion;
  • academic consultancy work for both the arts (theatre productions, artists, radio shows) and the media (advertising agencies in Manchester and London)
  • appearing on BBC and other media
  • Documentary filmmaking, Femmes on Film; Queer Wellbeing

She has also organised and led a variety of events to promote German language, literature, and film to school pupils and students (Routes into Languages, Widening Participation) and the wider community.

Dr. Dawson was the 2016-17 Impact Fellow for the School of Literattures, Languages and Cultures. 

She has also organised and led a variety of events to promote German language, literature, and film to school pupils and students (Routes into Languages, Widening Participation) and the wider community.

Past project grants

External funding (selected)

British Council Funded research trip to beyond the Digital (Brazil), April 2014, £4000
DAAD Funded research trip to Berlin, £1750
Arts Council England Funding for impact project (An Odd Conversation with performance artist Jenny Wilson), £14,500
HEIF V Impact and Innovation Funding: Queer Identities, February 2012, £2500
Arts and Humanities Research Council Funded research visit (Berlin), July - November 2008 £4000
Women in German Studies Funded conference visit to the University of Sussex, October 2007, £160
AHRC Funded conference visit to San Francisco, August 2006, £700
AHRC Funded conference visit to Royal Holloway, 2006, £200
AHRC Full award (fees and maintenance) for PhD programme, October 2005 - September 2008, £50 000
AHRB Full award (fees and maintenance) for MA programme, 2004 - 2005, £17 000
Swiss Consulate Book Prize: Highest Achieving Student in French, German and/or Italian Studies at the University of Manchester, July 2004, £100