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Durham University

School of Modern Languages and Cultures: German Studies

Staff in the Department of German

Go to the MLAC staff pages.

Professor Claudia Nitschke, MA, PhD, Habilitation Tübingen

Telephone: +44 (0) 191 33 43424
Room number: A17, Elvet Riverside I

Contact Professor Claudia Nitschke (email at


I am currently working on a book on recognition, contracts and morality in the age of Goethe which aims to offer a comprehensive analysis of literary reflections of public justice in eighteenth-century Germany. Discourses on justice (re-)emerge with particular prominence during transitional periods, as they are closely connected with a society’s endeavour to modify and create institutions and procedures that would facilitate justice and stability in the future. The territorially fragmented and conflict-ridden Germany of the long eighteenth century is a prime example of this: while a thriving theory of state prepared the ground for legal explorations of statehood, philosophical discourse flourished and was predominantly focussed on considerations of morality and individuality (Kant, Fichte and Hegel in particular). The literary works of this period engage with the same underlying topics, which surface as texts centred on crime and punishment, conspiracy, rebellion, revolution, and early forms of terrorism. My book focuses systematically on three main aspects in Goethe’s, Schiller’s, Lessing’s, Hebbel’s and E.T.A Hoffmann’s work: the central notion of contracts and their fundamental problematisation; the codification of the law and game theory; the modern multiplicity of conflicting, but equally pertinent values and early notions of cognitive/moral psychology.

Before coming to Durham, I was a Praelector (DAAD) at Lincoln College, Oxford and lecturer at the University of Tübingen, where I also completed my M.A., PhD, and Habilitation.

Research Interests

Utopian theory and fiction; National identity, nationalism; legitimacy, sovereignty and human rights; Film studies

Postgraduate Supervision

I would be happy to hear from students interested in pursuing research in any of these areas. 

Selected Publications

Authored book

Chapter in book

Edited book

Edited Journal

  • 2016 (co-authored with Sunderland, Luke) Dynamics of Exemption: 'Gang' Ethos in Literature and Film. Cultural Dynamics, 28 (1): Sage.

Journal Article

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