Literature, for me, is experience transformed into aesthetic play. It is able to connect imaginative invention with real life, and my academic engagement with it has involved both cognition and emotional response in equal measure.
Long before I found the courage to do so, I had the urge to write. But my teaching and research left me little time for literary activity, and it is only since retiring that I have been able to concentrate on my own writing.
An academic training in literary studies can be a hindrance as well as a help. It can induce one to elucidate and clarify, which is so detrimental to literary expression. But it also makes one both more self-critical and more sensitively attuned to the subtleties of language.
From the outset my main teaching and research interest was always the art of the narrative, especially in the novel as well as in the folk ballad. After that I came to focus on character and psychology, spatial perception, and the literature of travel.
Since the 1970s it has been women’s and gender studies in particular that have informed my literary and cultural interests. I also loved teaching: the exchange of ideas with students always stimulated me, giving new impetus to my work.
For almost thirty years I was chairperson of the advisory committee of the Studio Theatre of the University of Cologne, during which time I very much enjoyed learning about the practical and artistic aspects of theatrical work.
In my capacity as member of the International Ballad Commission I gave lectures in the UK and the US, thereby coming into direct contact with the cultures I was studying.
born in Munich
university entrance qualification
1954 - 1960
she studied English and German literature, philosophy and history at the universities of Munich, Freiburg and Edinburgh.
1965 - 1975
Research assistant and lecturer in the English Department at Munich University.
qualification for professorship
1975 - 1999
Professor of English Literature at the University of Cologne.
founder of a data-basis on women’s and gender studies
2000 - 2003
director of a research project on “marginality and limited experience” in English Modernism” sponsered by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft.
mainly working on literary texts.