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I took up my post as Senior Lecturer in Women’s Studies at the Centre for Women’s Studies in 2017, after seven years as Lecturer in German at the University of Hull. I gained my BA in Modern and Medieval Languages (German and French; University of Cambridge) in 2004, before going on to take an MA in Gender and Media Studies (University of Sussex), then a PhD in German Studies (University of Edinburgh), completed in 2009.
While my background is in the humanities, primarily in cultural and literary studies, my work is interdisciplinary, taking in approaches also from the social sciences. My research interests fall within the interdisciplinary fields of German Studies, Feminist Studies, Perpetrator Studies and Critical Terrorism Studies, with my research to date focussing on political violence and gender, especially in the German context and with a particular focus on issues of representation, subjectivity and narratives of the self. I’m also interested in the history of feminisms, especially German feminisms; queer studies and feminist queer theory.
In the academic year 2023-2024 I will hold a Leverhulme Research Fellowship to work on my book project on German post-terrorist autobiography, written by former militants of the leftist groups Red Army Faction and Movement Second of June.
I am on the editorial board of the Peter Lang series Women, Gender and Sexuality in German Literature and Culture, of the Journal of Perpetrator Studies, and of CWS’s postgraduate journal Cultivate.
Professional Memberships include Women in German Studies, UK; the Association for German Studies, UK; the German History Society, UK; the German Studies Association, USA.
My current monograph project, supported by a Leverhulme Research Fellowship, focuses on the post-terrorist autobiographies of German left-wing militants who were active in the Red Army Faction and Movement 2. June and have, since the 1970s, been publishing accounts of their lives. With a particular focus on issues of gender, as it intersects with race and class, I conduct a feminist literary-critical analysis of these texts, mobilising autobiographical theoretical and area studies approaches, as well as sociological and narrative criminological perspectives on violence, identity and meaning-making. Questions I ask include: What did it mean to be a left-wing militant and to function as part of a terrorist organisation in 1970s West Germany?; What are the attractions of joining a militant organisation and ‘doing’ terrorism in this particular time and place?; What gendered cultural modules/narrative resources do these authors mobilise to render intelligible their use of violence and political and historical agency? How do we account for the apparent will to write leftist post-terrorist autobiography and what does the writing of these texts ‘do’ for the post-terrorist author?; Finally, what are the generic features of post-terrorist autobiography and what are its German particularities?
My first monograph, Violent Women in Print: Representations in the West German Print Media of the 1960s and 1970s (2012), explored how the troubling figure of the violent woman was represented – in word and image – across the spectrum of West German print-media publications. It focussed on the representation not only of high-profile left-wing militant women, such as Ulrike Meinhof and Gudrun Ensslin, but also of women who committed acts of violence for ‘personal’ reasons, such as Vera Brühne and the lesbian couple Marion Ihns and Judy Andersen. The book developed out of my PhD, written in the context of the AHRC-funded project ‘Representations of Women and Death in German Literature, Art and Media after 1500’, out of which emerged three collected volumes of essays. The third of those volumes I edited together with Anna Richards (Birkbeck): Women and Death 3: Women’s Representations of Death in German Culture since 1500 (2010). In 2019, a second volume of essays (co-edited with Jeffrey Murer), with a focus on perpetration, was published: Perpetrating Selves: Doing Violence, Performing Identity.
From 2018-2021, I was Co-Principal Investigator (along with Mererid Puw Davies, UCL) of the research project ‘Violence Elsewhere: Imagining Violence outside Germany since 1945’, funded by the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD). Two volumes of essays (co-edited with Davies) have emerged from that project and will be published by Camden House in 2024.
I particularly welcome research students who take a feminist, humanities-grounded approach to the interdisciplinary fields of Perpetrator Studies, Critical Terrorism Studies, Violence Studies and German Studies. I’m an experienced PhD supervisor, supervising feminist projects across a range of areas. Topics I supervise/ have supervised include:
with Mererid Puw Davies, eds. Violence Elsewhere 2: Imagining Distant Violence in Germany since 2001. Rochester, N.Y: Camden House, forthcoming.
with Mererid Puw Davies, eds. Violence Elsewhere: Imagining Distant Violence in Germany 1945-2001. Rochester, N.Y: Camden House, forthcoming.
with Jeffrey Murer, eds. Perpetrating Selves: Doing Violence, Performing Identity. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2018.
Violent Women in Print: Representations in the West German Print Media of the 1960s and 1970s. Rochester, New York: Camden House, 2012.
with Anna Richards, eds. Women and Death 3: Women’s Representations of Death in German Culture since 1500. Rochester, New York: Camden House, 2010.
“Narrating Violent Agency Elsewhere in Inge Viett’s Nie war ich furchtloser (Never was I more Fearless)”, in Violence Elsewhere: Imagining Distant Violence in Germany 1945-2001, ed. by Bielby and Mererid Puw Davies. Rochester, N.Y.: Camden House, forthcoming.
“Gendering the Perpetrator – Gendering Perpetrator Studies”, in The Routledge International Handbook of Perpetrator Studies, ed. by Susanne Knittel and Zachary Goldberg. London: Routledge, 2019, pp. 155-168.
“Scripting the Perpetrating Self: Masculinity, Class and Violence in German Post-terrorist Autobiography”, in Perpetrating Selves: Doing Violence, Performing Identity, ed. by Bielby and Jeffrey Murer. Basingstoke, Hampshire: Palgrave Macmillan, 2018, pp. 85-111.
“Murder is a (lesbian) feminist issue: the Ihns/Andersen case and its impact on the New Women’s Movement”, in Women, Global Protest Movements, and Political Agency: Rethinking the Legacy of 1968, ed. by Sarah Colvin and Katharina Karcher. London: Routledge, 2018, pp. 98-114.
“‘An jeder Straßenecke könnte praktisch ein Mannweib mit Schlagring, Lederkleidung und rauher Stimme auf ihn warten’: Gewalt, Weiblichkeit und Sexualität in der Bundesrepublik der 1970er Jahre”, in Jahrbuch Sexualitäten, ed. by Initiative Queer Nations. Göttingen: Wallstein Verlag, 2017, pp. 94-113.
“West Germany’s neue Frauenbewegung and the productive potential of feminist (Gegen)gewalt”, in Forum for Modern Language Studies, 53:4 (2017): 379-404.
with Frauke Matthes. “Gender and Sexuality”, in Routledge Handbook of German Politics & Culture, ed. by Sarah Colvin. London: Routledge, 2015, pp. 250-267.
“Narrating the Revolutionary Self in German Post-Terrorist Life Writing: Gender, Identity and Historical Agency”, in German Life and Letters 76:2 (2014): 219-241.
“Bewaffnete Terroristinnen: Linksterrorismus, Gender und die Waffe in der Bundesrepublik Deutschland von den 1970er Jahren bis heute”, in WerkstattGeschichte 64, special issue ed. by Dagmar Ellerbrock and Ulrike Weckel (2014): 77-101.
“‘Nestbeschmutzerinnen’? Women Terrorists in the West German Print Media of the 1970s”, in Der Linksterrorismus der 1970er-Jahre und die Ordnung der Geschlechter, ed. by Irene Bandhauer-Schöffmann and Dirk van Laak. Trier: Wissenschaftlicher Verlag Trier, 2013, pp. 121-137.
“The Hard Body of the Violent Terrorist Woman in the West German Print Media of the 1970s”, in Hard Bodies, ed. by Ralph J. Poole et al. Zurich: LIT-Verlag, 2011, pp. 176-196.
“Remembering the Red Army Faction”, Memory Studies 3: 2 (2010): 137-150.
“Print Media Representations of Vera Brühne as Femme Fatale”, in Women and Death: Representations of Women Victims and Perpetrators in German Culture (1500-2000), ed. by Helen Fronius and Anna Linton. Rochester, New York: Camden House, 2008, pp. 188-204.
“Revolutionary Men and the Feminine Grotesque in the German Media of the 1960s and 1970s”, in Masculinities in German Culture (Edinburgh German Yearbook 2), ed. by Sarah Colvin and Peter Davies. Rochester, New York: Camden House, 2008, pp. 213-228.
“Abject (M)others: Representations of Female Terrorists in 1970s German Media”, in Mothering the Nation, ed. by Lisa Bernstein. Newcastle: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2008, pp. 173-188.
“Attacking the Body Politic: the Terroristin in 1970s German Media”, Reconstruction 7: 1 (2007).
“‘Bonnie und Kleid’: Female Terrorists and the Hysterical Feminine”, Forum 2 (spring 2006).
I teach and convene the MA modules 'Gender and Violence' and 'Women, Citizenship and Conflict'.
I also contribute to the following team-taught core modules:
'Approaching Women’s Studies'
'Feminist Histories – Feminist Historiographies'
'Feminist Research Methodologies'
'Ways of (Feminist) Knowing'