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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
Fax: +44 (0) 191 33 44699
Room number: D007

Contact Professor Nicholas Saul (email at


My research ranges from the literature and culture of the eighteenth to that of the twentieth 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 Centre for Medical Humanities ( at Durham.

In the wider University context, I serve as an Academic Member of the University Council ( and as a member of the University Finance and General Purposes Committee. I was until August 2015 Co-Director of the Institute of Hazard, Risk and Resilience (, when I took up a three-year post as 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, was External Examiner for undergraduate degrees at Aston and Nottingham Universities and Trinity College Dublin, and served most recently until 2015 as External at the University of Oxford.

From April-September 2016 I will hold a Fellowship at the Internationales Kolleg Morphomata of the Universität zu Köln, where I hope to complete my monograph Interrogations of Evolutionism in German Literature, 1859-2008.

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

  • 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

Selected Publications

Authored book

Chapter in book

Edited book

Journal Article

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Selected Grants

  • 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