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The author

Literature, for me, is experience transformed into aesthetic play. It is able to connect imaginative invention with real life, and my academic engagement with it has involved both cognition and emotional response in equal measure.

Long before I found the courage to do so, I had the urge to write. But my teaching and research left me little time for literary activity, and it is only since retiring that I have been able to concentrate on my own writing.

An academic training in literary studies can be a hindrance as well as a help. It can induce one to elucidate and clarify, which is so detrimental to literary expression. But it also makes one both more self-critical and more sensitively attuned to the subtleties of language.

The scholar

From the outset my main teaching and research interest was always the art of the narrative, especially in the novel as well as in the folk ballad. After that I came to focus on character and psychology, spatial perception, and the literature of travel.

Since the 1970s it has been women’s and gender studies in particular that have informed my literary and cultural interests. I also loved teaching: the exchange of ideas with students always stimulated me, giving new impetus to my work.

For almost thirty years I was chairperson of the advisory committee of the Studio Theatre of the University of Cologne, during which time I very much enjoyed learning about the practical and artistic aspects of theatrical work.

In my capacity as member of the International Ballad Commission I gave lectures in the UK and the US, thereby coming into direct contact with the cultures I was studying.

Curriculum Vitae

  • 1933
    born in Munich
  • 1954
    university entrance qualification
  • 1954 - 1960
    she studied English and German literature, philosophy and history at the universities of Munich, Freiburg and Edinburgh.
  • 1960
    Teacher’s qualification
  • 1964
  • 1965 - 1975
    Research assistant and lecturer in the English Department at Munich University.
  • 1975
    qualification for professorship
  • 1975 - 1999
    Professor of English Literature at the University of Cologne.
  • 1987
    founder of a data-basis on women’s and gender studies
  • 1999
  • 2000 - 2003
    director of a research project on “marginality and limited experience” in English Modernism” sponsered by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft.
  • since 2003
    mainly working on literary texts.

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