We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. You can change your cookie settings at any time. Otherwise, we'll assume you're OK to continue.

Durham University

School of Modern Languages and Cultures: German Studies

Staff in the Department of German

Go to the MLAC staff pages.

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 presence of Romanies in nineteenth-century German anthropology and literature. Presently I am writing a book on German literary Darwinisms 1859-2008 and editing a volume of Bölsche's writings on Darwinism for the new 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, served as External Examiner for undergraduate degrees at Aston, Nottingham and Trinity College Dublin, and most recently until 2015 at the University of Oxford.

I hope this year to complete my monograph Interrogations of Evolutionism in German Literature, 1859-2008, and was in Marbach working on Ernst Jünger this Easter to that end.

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

Indicators of Esteem

  • 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: Vize-Präsident, 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
  • 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 Publications

Authored book

Chapter in book

Edited book

Journal Article

Show all publications

Selected Grants

  • 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