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Research in German studies – University of Reading

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  • Political discourse

    Investigating silence and concealment in political discourse
    Project lead: Dr Melani Schroeter

Research in German studies

The main strands of research in German Studies within the Department of Languages and Cultures cover German film, East German Studies, Translation Studies, travel writing, Critical Discourse Analysis and German political and media discourse, including silence and absence in discourses.

Research centres

German Studies is host to the East German Studies Archive,  which has acted as a centre of excellence for the study and research into the politics and culture of the former GDR and post-unification East Germany for several decades. Staff actively collaborate with the University's Special Collections as well as with the Centre for Literacy and Multilingualism (CeLM) and with the Departments of English Language and Applied Linguistics, Film, Theatre and Television, and English Literature.

Staff research interests

The main areas of staff research activity in German Studies are given below. These are the main areas in which we provide postgraduate research supervision, but do get in touch if you are interested in a related topic, as supervision can be arranged jointly with other departments or one of our partners.


Dr Ellen Pilsworth

  • Eighteenth-century literature 
  • Enlightenment Philosophy
  • Political poetry and drama
  • Gendered representations and writing strategies
  • Literary representations of war, conflict and revolution
  • Nationalism
  • Literature and culture of ‘1968’ + anti-authoritarian protest movement
  • Death and dying in literature and philosophy


Dr Melani Schroeter

  • Critical Discourse Analysis
  • Political Discourse
  • Media Discourse
  • Silence and Absence in Discourse and Communication
  • Counter Discourses
  • Comparative Approaches to Discourse
  • Corpus-Assisted Discourse Studies.


Dr Ute Wolfel

  • History of German Film
  • Representations of War and Conflict
  • East German Cinema
  • Screen representations of children and childhood
  • GDR Literature and Culture

 Staff research activities and collaborations


Dr Melani Schroeter

Dr Melani Schröeter is the author of Silence and Concealment in Political Discourse (John Benjamins, 2013) and co-editor, with Charlotte Taylor, of Exploring Silence and Absence in Discourse: Empirical Approaches (Palgrave, 2017). She publishes about comparative approaches to keywords in public discourse, partly following her AHRC-funded project Researching and Documenting Key Words in European Migration Discourses (2012) and partly looking at the use of German Nazi vocabulary in other languages. Her publications also deal with German political discourse more widely, and also focussing on German anti-political correctness discourse. Dr Schröeter is also a member of the Centre of Multilingualism and Literacy (CeLM). Dr Schröeter's research contributes to the activities of the 'Corpora, Manuscripts, and Archives' and 'Identity, Migration, and Conflict' research clusters.


Dr Ute Wolfel

Dr Ute Wölfel is the author of Rede-Welten: zur Erzählung von Geschlecht und Sozialismus in der Prosa Irmtraud Morgners (2007) and editor of Literarisches Feld DDR: Bedingungen und Formen Literarischer Produktion in der DDR (2005). She co-edited Remembering the German Democratic Republic: Divided Memory in a United Germany (2011) as well as Krieg und Nachkrieg: Konfigurationen der deutschsprachigen Literatur (1940-65) (2004). She publishes on German and European cinema and has a particular focus on war films. Based on the project Children in German War (Con)Texts (1945-1949) funded by the British Academy, she has published extensively on childhood and war and co-edited special issue on The War Child in the Occupation Period (2016). She has also co-edited a special issue on Childhood in German Film after 1989 (2015). Besides the figure of the war child, Dr Wölfel’s research focuses on figures of transgression such as traitors and deserters in war cinema, exploring their potential for cultural regeneration. Dr Wölfel is head of the East German Studies Archive,  which hosts an extensive collection of materials and publications from and about the GDR.


Past and present research projects

Mediated representations of contemporary feminism in Germany and the UK (ongoing)

  • Sophie Payne (SWW DTP)
  • Supervisor: Dr Melani Schroeter and Dr Virpi Ilänne (Cardiff)

The Works of Christa Wolf (Ongoing)

  • Caroline Rowan-Olive
  • Supervisors: Dr Ute Wölfel and Prof Dennis Tate (Bath)

The Misogyny of the Trümmerfilm: space and gender in post-war German film (2017)

  • Richard McKenzie
  • Supervisor: Dr Ute Wölfel


Recent and on-going PhDs in German Studies span a broad range of periods and topics, and we welcome enquiries and proposals relating both to discrete specialisms and to interdisciplinary and cross-disciplinary work.


PhD opportunities


As a PhD student in the Modern Languages and European Studies Department, you will be provided with a desk in a shared office.

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