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Durham University

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Staff Profile

Dr Simon Ward, MA, DPhil (Oxon)

Associate Professor in the School of Modern Languages and Cultures
Telephone: +44 (0) 191 33 43422
Room number: ER211, Elvet Riverside II

Contact Dr Simon Ward (email at

I came to Durham in January 2014 from Aberdeen, where I was Senior Lecturer in German and Film & Visual Culture, coordinating both undergraduate programmes during my time there. At Aberdeen, I taught on the German and Film undergraduate programmes, as well as on Aberdeen’s unique comparative literature programme, Literature in a World Context. I also taught on the Masters programmes in Visual Culture and Comparative literature. My teaching interests lie in European film, with particular focus on German cinema of the past 40 years, and German literature of the twentieth century, with particular emphasis on Thomas Mann, Franz Kafka and WG Sebald, as well as strategies of ‘fictionalization’ in the post-1945 period. 

My research interests have shifted over the years. I wrote my D Phil at Oxford on the modernist writing of Wolfgang Koeppen (published as a monograph in 2002). Koeppen’s engagement with ruins led me to work on the visual culture of ruins in the urban environment of Berlin over the past 50 years. Having published numerous articles in this area, my monograph on this topic, Asynchronous City: Visual Culture and the Past in Berlin 1957-2013 appeared with Amsterdam University Press in 2016. The book has been positively reviewed in Journal of European Studies, Literaturkritik and German Politics and Society.

A further research interest, developing out of Koeppen's travel writing, is with cultures of travel in Germany from the arrival of the railways onwards, and how questions of modernity, acceleration and experience have been taken up in travel writing / writing about travel. This is crystallizing in my next project which will investigate the utopian desire inherent in the untranslatable German concept of Fernweh,  and how it manifests itself from the era of Romantic wandering, to the apparently 'postmodern' condition of transit.

I have supervised PhDs on Austrian memory politics, surveillance and cinema, photography and environmental theory, and European film production around 1990. I would welcome the opportunity to supervise PhDs on topics of urbanism, film and visual culture as well as twentieth century German literature.


My extra-curricular activities are listed on my personal page:


Selected Publications

Authored book

Edited book

Chapter in book

Journal Article

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Selected Grants

  • 2009: AHRC Research Leave Scheme (September 2009 - January 2010)
  • 2009: Carnegie Research Grant - travel to Berlin
  • 2008: British Academy Overseas Conference Grant