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Durham University

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Staff Profile

Professor Nicholas Saul, BA, MA, PhD Cantab

Professor / Director, Arts & Humanities, Institute of Advanced Studies in the School of Modern Languages and Cultures
Telephone: +44 (0) 191 33 43457
Fax: +44 (0) 191 33 43421
Room number: A43, Elvet Riverside I
Director (Arts and Humanities) in the Institute of Advanced Study
Telephone: 44690 / 43457
Room number: CH007

Contact Professor Nicholas Saul (email at


I was Research Fellow at Cambridge (1981), then Lecturer, Fellow and Senior Lecturer at Trinity College Dubln (1982-1998), then Professor at Liverpool (1998-2003), then Professor at Durham (2003-).

My research ranges from the literature and culture of the eighteenth to that of the twenty-first century. It has always been based on the conviction that literary texts are embedded in intertextual and interdiscursive contexts, and has therefore always operated between the disciplines. Having worked for some time in problems of secularisation (generic contamination, discursive collisions), I then worked on the problems of metaphorical cognition in literary and philosophical discourse, on the body in literature, on the liminality of death, and on literary value. I recently completed a book on the productive reception of evolutionism in German literature 1859-2011, and will be editing a volume of Bölsche's biographical writings for the ongoing Wilhelm Bölsche collected works (Weidler Verlag). In this context, I am also an Affiliate of the Institute of Medical Humanities ( at Durham.

In the wider University context, I served until September 2017 as an Academic Member of the University Council (, as a member of the University Finance Committee, and many others. I worked until August 2015 as Co-Director of the Institute of Hazard, Risk and Resilience ( Since then I have been Director (Arts & Humanities) of the Institute of Advanced Study at the University of Durham (

I was a Fellow of the Alexander von Humboldt-Stiftung over 1986-1991, a British Academy Senior Research Fellow in 2004, a Christopherson-Knott Fellow at the Institute of Advanced Study, University of Durham, in 2015, and a Fellow of the Internationales Kolleg Morphomata, Universität zu Köln, in 2016. I served as External Examiner for undergraduate degrees at Aston, Nottingham and Trinity College Dublin, and most recently until 2015 at the University of Oxford.

Consulting Hours

Wednesday 11.00-13.00 A43 (term-time)

Research Supervision

I have successfully supervised research students at MA and PhD levels on themes ranging from faith and thought in Matthias Claudius and F.H. Jacobi, to the problem of subjectivity in E.T.A. Hoffmann, gender anthropology in Friedrich von Hardenberg (Novalis), the presentation of masculinity in Karoline von Günderrode, colonialism and identity in German travel writing of the late C19, and myth and technology in Theodor Storm.

I should be glad to supervise new students to MA or PhD level in any area and author of the literature and thought of the Romantic/Classical period, nineteenth-century realisms, and the Jahrhundertwende/Modernism. Themes of current particular interest include anthropology and literature, science and literature (especially literary Darwinisms), and secularisation (especially spiritualism).

Research Interests

  • Evolutionisms in Germanic culture
  • German Orientalism, especially German-Romany relations
  • Intertextuality and interdiscursivity
  • Literature and science, cognitive humanities, system theory
  • Modern German literature, especially Friedrich von Hardenberg (Novalis), Hugo von Hofmannsthal, Wilhelm Jensen, Carl Hauptmann and Wilhelm Bölsche
  • Representation of death in literature

Teaching Areas

  • Hackl: Abschied von Sidonie (MA Cultural Difference)

  • Sex and Identity in the Fin de Siècle (Year 2)

  • Heroes and Myths of German History (Year 2)
  • Love and Death in Modern German Literature (Year 4)

Selected Publications

Authored book

Edited book

Chapter in book

  • Saul, N. (2016). »Vom alten Proteus«/»Der gute Tag«. In Raabe-Handbuch: Leben - Werk - Wirkung. Gröttsche, D., Krobb, F. & Parr, R. Stuttgart: J.B. Metzler. 172-175.
  • Saul, N. (2016). Fitness, Nerves, the Degenerate Body, and Identity: Radical Reality and Modernity in Max Nordaus Aesthetics and Fiction. In The Early History of Embodied Cognition 1740-1920 The Lebenskraft-Debate and Radical Reality in German Science, Music, and Literature. McCarthy, J.A., Hilger, S.M., Sullivan, H.I. & Saul, N. Leiden: Brill. 211-223.
  • Saul, N. (2016). Romantik. In Raabe-Handbuch: Leben - Werk - Wirkung. Gröttsche, D., Knobb, F. & Parr, R. Stuttgart: J.B. Metzler. 348-353.
  • Saul, Nicholas (2014). ‘Foundations and Oceans: Monistic Religion and Literature in Haeckel and Bölsche’. In Kafka, Religion and Modernity. Robertson, Ritchie & Engel, Manfred Königshausen & Neumann. 55-70.
  • Saul, Nicholas (2014). Darwin in German Literary Culture 1890-1914. In The Literary and Cultural Reception of Charles Darwin in Europe. Glick, Thomas F. & Shaffer, Elinor Bloomsbury. 1: 46-77.
  • Saul, Nicholas (2013). ‘Gib uns heute unsere tägliche Selbsttäuschung!’ Spiritualism and the Presence of Romantic Poetics in Raabe’s Vom alten Proteus (1875). In Realism and Romanticism in German Literature. Göttsche, Dirk & Saul, Nicholas Aisthesis. 297-314.
  • Saul, Nicholas (2013). “[…] an entirely new form of bacteria for them” Contagionism and its Consequences in Laßwitz and Wells. In Contagionism and Contagious Diseases in Medicine and Literature 1880-1933. King, Martina & Rütten, Thomas Berlin: De Gruyter. 131-145.
  • Göttsche, Dirk & Saul, Nicholas (2013). Introduction. In Realism and Romanticism in German Literatur. Göttsche, Dirk & Saul, Nicholas Aisthesis. 9-30.
  • Saul, Nicholas (2012). “[I]m dunkeln Drange immer auf ein Ziel los”. Wilhelm Bölsche als Darwin-Biograph. In “Was wir im Verstande ausjäten, kommt im Traume wieder”. Wilhelm Bölsche 1861-1939. Susen, Gerd-Hermann & Wack, Edith Königshausen & Neumann. 343-359.
  • Saul, Nicholas (2012). The Dark Side of Modernity: Wilhelm Bölsche, Darwinism, Evolutionary Aesthetics and Spiritualism. In Aesthetics and Modernity from Schiller to the Frankfurt School. Carroll,Jerome, Giles,Steve & Oergel, Maike Peter Lang. 233-253.
  • Saul, Nicholas (2012). Wilhelm Jensen and Wilhelm Raabe: Literary Value, Evolutionary Aesthetics and Competition in the Marketplace. In The Late Nineteenth-Century ‘Bestseller’. Schofield, Ben & Woodford, Charlotte Camden House. 58-76.
  • Saul, Nicholas (2011). “Once in Human Nature, a Thing Cannot be Driven Out” Evolutionary Aesthetics in Wilhelm Jensen’s The Legacy of Blood (1869). An Early Response to Darwin. In The Evolution of Literature. Legacies of Darwin in European Cultures. Saul, Nicholas & James, Simon J. 239-253.
  • Saul, Nicholas (2011). Die Halbschlafbilder als Öffnung zur terra incognita des Lebens bei Julius Hart: Media in vita. In Die Halbschlafbilder in der Literatur, den Künsten und den Wissenschaften. Pfotenhauer, Helmut & Paulin, Roger Könighausen & Neumann. 153-163.
  • Saul, Nicholas (2011). Ektoplasma, Kunst und Begehren. Der spiritistische Roman, der Körper und die moderne Befindlichkeit bei Carl du Prel, Wilhelm Bölsche und Artur Dinter. In Organismus und Gesellschaft. Der Körper in der deutschsprachigen Literatur des Realismus und Naturalismus (1830-1930). Arndt, Christiane & Brodersen, Silke transcript. 179-210.
  • Saul, Nicholas (2010). Introduction to German Romanticism: the National Context. In Reader in European Romanticism. Prickett, Stephen Budapest, Hong Kong: Continuum. 37-41.
  • Saul, Nicholas. (2009). Karl Gutzkow. Literatur zwischen Religion und Politik. Probleme der Säkularisation. In Literatur im Religionswandel der Moderne: Studien zur christlichen und jüdischen Literaturgeschichte. Bodenheimer, Alfred, Pfleiderer, Georg & von Jagow, Bettina Basel: Theologischer Verlag. 109-125.
  • Saul, Nicholas. (2009). Love, Liebestod, and Death in German Romanticism. In The Cambridge Companion to German Romanticism. Saul, Nicholas Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 163-174.
  • Saul, Nicholas. (2008). 'Landplage'. Draculas Zigeuner und die Anthropologie des Zigeuners im 19. Jahrhundert. In Dracula unbound: Kulturwissenschaftliche Lektüren des Vampirs. Begemann, Christian, Herrmann, Britta & Neumeyer Harald (Hg.) Freiburg i. Br.: Rombach. 123-137.
  • Nicholas Saul (2008). “.ohne Mischung kein Fortgang”. Repräsentation der Zigeuner bei Carl Hauptmann zwischen Anthropologie, Rassenhygiene und Kunst. In Repräsentation – Inklusion – Exklusion. Zur Semantisierung der ‘Zigeuner’. Uerlings, Herbert & Patrut, Iulia-Karin Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang. 231-246.
  • Saul, Nicholas. (2008). Das Unbewußte und die Bildbeschreibung bei Wilhelm Jensen. In Die Dinge und die Zeichen. Dimensionen des 'Realistischen' in der Erzähliteratur des 19. Jahrhunderts. Schneider, Sabine Würzburg: Königshausen & Neumann. 333-346.
  • Nicholas Saul (2006). “. die schönste Menschengestalt” The Nature, Culture and Ethnography of Stifter’s Gypsies. In History, Text, Value. Essays on Adalbert Stifter. Londoner Symposium 2003. Jahrbuch des Adalbert-Stifter-Institutes des Landes Oberösterreich. Minden, Michael, Swales, Martin & Weiss-Sussex, Godela Linz: Land Oberösterreich. 129-140.
  • Nicholas Saul (2006). Fragmentästhetik, Freitod und Individualität in der deutschen Romantik. Zu den Morbiditätsvorwürfen. In Romantik und Aufklärung. Neue Perspektiven der Forschung. Festschrift zu Ehren Roger Paulins zum 65. Geburtstag. Feilchenfeldt, Konrad, Hudson-Wiedenmann, Ursula Mix, York-Gothardt & Saul, Nicholas Würzburg: Königshausen & Neumann. 232-251.
  • Saul, Nicholas (2004). 'Poëtisirung d[es] Körpers'. Der Poesiebegriff Friedrich von Hardenbergs (Novalis) und die anthropologische Tradition. In Novalis - Poesie und Poetik 3. Fachtagung der Internationalen Novalis-Gesellschaft. Uerlings, Herbert Tübingen: Niemeyer. 151-169.
  • Saul, Nicholas. (2004). Half a Gypsy: The Case of Ezra Jennings in Wilkie Collins's The Moonstone (1868). In The Role of the Romanies. Images and Self-Images of 'Gypsies'/Romanies in European Cultures. Saul, Nicholas & Tebbutt, Susan Liverpool: Liverpool University Press. 119-130.
  • Saul, Nicholas & Tebbutt, Susan (2004). Introduction: The Role of the Romanies in European Cultures. In The Role of the Romanies: Images and Counter-Images of 'Gypsies'/ Romanies in European Cultures. Saul, Nicholas & Tebbutt, Susan Liverpool: Liverpool University Press. 1-11.
  • Saul, Nicholas. (2004). The Reception of German Romanticism in the Twentieth Century. In The Literature of German Romanticism. Mahoney, Dennis F. New York: Camden House. 327-359.
  • Saul, Nicholas (2004). Zum Zusammenhang von Hebbels früher Erzähl- und Reiseprosa: Kunst, Leben und Tod im Übergang zur Moderne. In Hebbel-Jahrbuch. 72-89.
  • Saul, Nicholas (2003). Keller, Romeo und Julia auf dem Dorfe. In Landmarks in German Short Prose. Hutchinson, Peter Oxford, New York: Peter Lang. 33: 125-140.
  • Saul, Nicholas (2002). Goethe and Colonialism: The Wanderjahre and Cooper. In Goethe and the English-speaking World. Essays from the Cambridge Symposium for his 250th Birthday. Boyle, N & Guthrie, J Columbia, SC: Camden House. 85-98.
  • Saul, Nicholas (2002). Goethe the Writer and Literary History. In The Cambridge Companion to Goethe. Sharpe, L Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 23-41.
  • Saul, Nicholas (2002). Introduction. German Literature and Philosophy. In German Philosophy and Literature 1700-1990. Saul, Nicholas Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1-12.
  • Saul, Nicholas. (2002). The Pursuit of the Subject: Literature as Critic and Perfecter of Philosophy, 1790-1830. In Philosophy and German Literature, 1700-1990. Saul, Nicholas. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 57-101.
  • Saul, Nicholas. (2001). '…des irdischen Leibes / Hohen Sinn': Modernity, Corporeality and the Trace of Transcendence in Novalis (Friedrich von Hardenberg). In Traces of Transcendency = Spuren des Transzendenten Religious Motifs in German Literature and Thought = Spuren des Transzendenten. Görner, R. Munich London: Iudicium. 7: 109-122.
  • Saul, Nicholas & Tebbutt, Susan (2001). Gypsies, Utopias and Counter-Cultures in Modern German Culture. In Counter-Cultures in Germany and Central Europe. From Sturm und Drang to Baader-Meinhof. Giles, Steve & Oergel, Maike Bern: Peter Lang. 43-60.
  • Saul, Nicholas (1999). Body, Language, and Body Language: Thresholds in Heinrich von Kleist. In Schwellen: Germanistische Erkundungen einer Metapher. Saul, Nicholas, Steuer, Daniel & Möbus, Frank Würzburg: Königshausen & Neumann. 315-332.
  • Saul, Nicholas & Möbus, Frank (1999). Zur Einführung: Schwelle. Metapher und Begriff. In Schwellen. Germanistische Erkundungen einer Metapher. Saul, Nicholas, Steuer, Daniel & Möbus, Frank Würzburg: Königshausen & Neumann. 1-7.
  • Saul, Nicholas (1998). Experimentelle Selbsterfahrung und Selbstdestruktion: Anatomie des Ichs in der literarischen Moderne. In Ästhetische Moderne in Europa. Grundzüge und Problemzusammenhänge seit der Romantik. Vietta, Silvio & Kemper, Dirk Munich: Fink. 321-342.
  • Saul, Nicholas. (1998). Leiche und Humor. Clemens Brentanos Schauspielfragment Zigeunerin und der Patriotismus um 1813. In Jahrbuch des Freien Deutschen Hochstifts. Saul, Nicholas. Frankfurt am Main: Gebr. Knauer. 111-137.
  • Saul, Nicholas (1997). Aesthetic Humanism. German Literature 1790-1830. In The Cambridge History of German Literature. Watanabe-O'Kelly, Helen Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 202-272; 548-555.
  • Saul, Nicholas (1995). Das Zweifelhafte menschlicher Verdienste: Arnims Faust-Gestalten. In Faust Annäherung an Einen Mythos. Möbus, Frank, Schmidt-Möbus, Friederike & Unverfehrt, Gert Göttingen: Wallstein Verlag. 109-112.
  • Saul, Nicholas (1995). The Romantic Era. In The Year's Work in Modern Language Studies. Wells, David, Price, Glanville, Parkinson, Stephen, Lindon, John & Mayo, Peter Leeds: Modern Humanities Research Association. 55: 823-878.
  • Saul, Nicholas (1994). The Romantic Era. In The Year's Work in Modern Language Studies. Wells, David, Price, Glanville, Parkinson, Stephen, Lindon, John & Mayo, Peter Leeds: Modern Humanities Research Association. 54: 776-824.
  • Saul, Nicholas (1993). Helios und Augustinus. Zacharias Werners späte Goethe-Kritik. In Connections. Essays in Honour of Eda Sagarra on the Occasion of her 60th Birthday. Skrine, Peter, Turner, Rosemary & West, Jonathan Stuttgart: Verlag Hans-Dieter Heinz, Akademischer Verlag Stuttgart. 281: 239-252.
  • Saul, Nicholas (1993). The Romantic Era. In The Year's Work in Modern Language Studies. Wells, David, Price, Glanville, Parkinson, Stephen, Lindon, John & Mayo, Peter Leeds: Modern Humanities Research Association. 53: 735-773.
  • Saul, Nicholas (1991). Nachwort. In Die Deutsche Literarische Romantik Und Die Wissenschaften. Institute of Grmanic Studies. 306-318.
  • Saul, Nicholas (1991). Predigt und predigende Rede bei Clemens Brentano. In Die deutsche literarische Romantik und die Wissenschaften. Institute of Germanic Studies. 125-155.
  • Nicholas Saul (1990). Novalis. In Literaturlexikon. Autoren und Werke deutscher Sprache. Killy, Walter Gütersloh, Munich: Bertelsmann. 471-476.
  • Nicholas Saul (1986). Friedrich II und die religiösen Strömungen seiner Zeit. In Panorama der Fridericianischen Zeit. Friedrich der Große und seine Epoche. Ein Handbuch. Ziechmann, J. Bremen: 62-67.
  • Nicholas Saul (1985). Hofmannsthal and Novalis. In Fin de Siècle Vienna proceedings of the Second Irish Symposium in Austrian Studies held at Trinity College, Dublin 28 February-2 March 1985. Carr, Gilbert J. & Sagarra, Eda Dublin: Trinity College. 26-62.

Journal Article

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Indicators of Esteem

  • 2020: Stellvertretender Präsident, ING: Acting President, Internationale Novalis-Gesellschaft
  • 2017: Netflix Talking Head: Netflix documentary series talking head
  • 2016: PEGS Best Essay Prize:

    My essay '‘Vorgänger Darwins’ or ‘Nachfolger Goethes’? Wilhelm Bölsche on Evolutionism in Goethe and Novalis or, Literature and the Two Cultures Then and Now', Publications of the English Goethe Society 84 (2015), pp. 76-91 has just been awarded the prize for best essay in this academic journal over 2015-2016

  • 2016: Vizepräsident, ING:

    Election as Vice-President of the Internationale Novalis-Gesellschaft

  • 2013: External Assessor: Review of Department of Languages and Cultures, University of Otago
  • 2011: Präsidium, Internationale Novalis-Gesellschaft: Member, Council of the International Novalis Society; Co-Editor, Jahrbuch der Internationalen Novalis-Gesellschaft
  • 2011: Research Excellence Framework (REF) of Hefce: Member of REF Sub-Panel D28 Modern Languages /German, 2011-2014
  • 2010: External Assessor: Wissenschaftsrat, Bewertungsgruppe, Schiller-Nationalmuseum und Deutsches Literaturarchiv, Marbach
  • 2009: Editorial Board, PEGS: Member, Editorial Board, Publications of the English Goethe Society
  • 2009: External Periodic Reviewer: School of Languages, Literatures and Cultures, Royal Holloway College, University of London
  • 2008: Member, University Council:
  • 2007: External Assessor: Wissenschaftsrat, Bewertungsgruppe, Schiller-Nationalmuseum und Deutsches Literaturarchiv, Marbach
  • 2007: External Subject Reviewer: External Subject Reviewer (German): School of Languages, Literatures and Cultural Studies, Trinity College Dublin
  • 2007: Member: AHRC Peer Review College
  • 2006: External Teaching Quality Reviewer: for German Department, Birkbeck College
  • 2003: Member, Council: of the English Goethe Society

Selected Grants

  • 2020: C.H. Beck Stipendium Deutsches Literaturarchiv Marbach a.N.
  • 2018: C.H. Beck Stipendium Deutsches Literaturarchiv Marbach a.N.
  • 2016: Fellow, Internationales Kolleg Morphomata, University of Cologne
  • 2015: Christopherson-Knott Fellowship, Institute of Advanced Study, University of Durham
  • 2011: British Academy Overseas Conference Grant
  • 2011: MHRA Conference Grant (shared)
  • 2009: British Academy Small Research Grant
  • 2008: British Academy Conference Grant
  • 2007: Institute for Germanic and Romance Studies, Book Grant, Gypsies and Orientalism
  • 2004: British Academy Conference Grant [shared]
  • 2004: British Academy Overseas Conference Grant
  • 2004: British Academy Senior Research Fellowship
  • 2004: Goethe-Institut Inter Nationes Award
  • 2003: British Academy Overseas Conference Grant
  • 2002: British Academy Small Research Grant