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Research

Cultural Studies is a fairly recent academic discipline which arose in the 1960s from the necessity to extend the scope of English studies beyond traditional literary studies in the British university system. Three areas were considered to be of particular significance: the relation between culture and society, contemporary culture in all its guises and variations, as well as popular culture and the media. Since its inception, Cultural Studies has understood itself as an interdisciplinary area of research which makes use of a broad range of approaches: history, sociology, anthropology, literary studies, gender studies and postcolonial studies, to name but a few. In terms of its theoretical framework, Cultural Studies thus does not favour one single perspective. Rather, it equally draws from the mutual and reciprocal influence of paradigms as diverse as semiotics, structuralism, post-structuralism/deconstruction and cultural materialism.

In the broadest sense, culture can be defined as a "particular way of life" (Raymond Williams). Consequently, Cultural Studies does not restrict itself to the examination of 'high culture', such as canonical literature, music and the fine arts, but also takes into account and studies popular culture(s). This may include phenomena such as pop music, advertising, film and television as well as fashion. In Cultural Studies we analyse these phenomena's representations, their production, dissemination and consumption. Each cultural 'text' (be it a poem, a specific dance style, a fashion item or a piece of furniture) is considered to be meaningful only as part of a larger semiotic system (sign system), a 'language' that we use for representation and communication, and which can be 'decoded' in various ways.

Our main research areas are:

  • Prof. Dr. Gerold Sedlmayr: Romanticism, Fantasy, Literary and Cultural Theory, Body Studies, History of Psychiatry, British Television and Film, Irish Literature and Culture
  • Cyprian Piskurek: Popular Culture, Football Fan Culture, Empire, 20th- century novel (Graham Greene, Patrick Hamilton, Norman Mailer), Doctoral thesis: Representations of Football and its Fan Cultures
  • Dr. Christian Lenz: 21st-century British Fiction, Postmodernism, Depictions of Horror, City Novels and Films
  • Marie Hologa: Post-Colonialism, Globalisation & Nationalism, Postmodernism, Gender & Performativity, Contemporary Scottish Fiction
  • Julia Becker: Larp, Participatory Culture, Fantasy, Narratives and Storytelling, Game Studies, Literary and Cultural Theory, Victorian Literature and Culture, Steampunk, British and American Poetry
  • Dr. Mark Schmitt: Contemporary British literature (currently focussing on the novels of Irvine Welsh, Niall Griffiths, John King), Irish culture and literature, film studies (with a focus on horror films), cultural theory, Critical Whiteness Studies, comparative studies (especially transnational relations Britain-USA), figures of (social) abjection and representations of illness
  • Prof. Dr. Jürgen Kramer: British Cultural Studies, History of Britain and the British Empire, The Sea as a Cultural Space, Cultural Memory: Anti-Colonial Resistance, Robert Louis Stevenson, Joseph Conrad

 

DISSERTATION PROJECTS 

In Progress:

Julia Becker:

“Liminal Experiences: Live-Action Role-Play, a Postmodern Transgression”

Supervisor: Prof. Dr. Gerold Sedlmayr

 

Cyprian Piskurek:

“Slum Sport, Slum People? Fictional Representations of Football and Its Fanculture after the Taylor Report”

(supervisors: Prof. Dr. Jürgen Kramer, Prof. Dr. Gerold Sedlmayr; publication in progress)

 

Mark Schmitt: 

"Lost Futures? An Archaeology of Counter-Hegemonic Futures in Britain" (Postdoctoral research project / Habilitationsprojekt)

 

Completed:

Ellen Grünkemeier

“Breaking the Silence: South African Representations of HIV/AIDS”

Supervisors: Prof. Dr. Jana Gohrisch (University of Hannover), Prof. Dr. Jürgen Kramer

Published by James Currey in 2010

 

Marie Hologa:

“Scotland the Brave? The Deconstruction of Scottish Nationalism in Contemporary Scottish Fiction”

Supervisors: Prof. Dr. Jürgen Kramer, Prof. Dr. Gerold Sedlmayr

Published with WVT in 2016

 

Martina Krebs

“Hotel Stories: Representations of Escapes and Encounters in Fiction and Film”

Supervisors: Prof. Dr. Jürgen Kramer

Published with WVT in 2009

 

Christian Lenz:

“Geographies of Love. The Cultural Spaces of Chick- and Ladlit”

Supervisors: Prof. Dr. Jürgen Kramer, Prof. Dr. Gerold Sedlmayr

Published with Transcript in 2016

 

Mark Schmitt:

“British White Trash: Figurations of Tainted Whiteness in the Novels of Irvine Welsh, Niall Griffiths and John King”

Supervisors: Prof. Dr. Anette Pankratz (Ruhr-University Bochum), PD Dr. Sarah Heinz (University of Mannheim, FU Berlin)

Published with Transcript in 2018

 

Daniel Schulze:

“The Aesthetics of Authenticity in Contemporary British Drama: Truth, Lying and the Lure of the Real”

Supervisor: Prof. Dr. Gerold Sedlmayr, Prof. Dr. Anette Pankratz (Ruhr-University Bochum)

Defended in 2015