French/Francophone | German | Italian | Spanish | Latin American Literature | Translation studies | Cultural studies | History of ideas | Comparative studies | Memory studies

The Institute provides first-class PhD supervision and guidance from academics who are leaders in their field, in collaboration with specialists at other institutions where appropriate. Distance-learning and part-time study options are available.

The Institute’s research strength lies in the combination of the study of several language fields: French, German, Italian, Spanish and Portuguese. Our academic staff specialise in literature, cultural studies, history of ideas and comparative studies: the city (especially Berlin, Trieste), borders, the body, psychoanalysis, gender and sexuality, feminism, women's writing, Jewish writing, exile writing, and children's literature.

Because of its function as a centre for academic events in European culture, the Institute has national and international contacts with researchers in its fields. The Institute is thus particularly well placed to offer supervision for projects that cross national and disciplinary boundaries.

Students have access to networks associated with the Centres for German and Austrian Exile Studies, Contemporary Women’s Writing, Cultural Memory, Quebec and French-Canadian Studies, Ernst Bloch, and Austrian Literature and Culture. Supervision is available in Francophone/North African Studies through the Centre for Postcolonial Studies.

Research degrees can be completed on a full-time basis (up to four years) or on a part-time basis (up to seven years). The Institute can also offer students the opportunity to undertake their PhD by distance learning.

Projects undertaken by research students at the Institute include:

  • Reading Clarice Lispector through the work of Toni Morrison and Bessie Head (with the Department of English, Birkbeck, and the Department of Portuguese and Brazilian Studies, KCL)
  • The cultural re-cycling of Spanish historical women: Juana la Loca and Mariana Pineda
  • Memory and the city in the Chilean transition to democracy
  • The role of the mid-18th-century German court in the development of the 'ballet d'action'
  • The polarization of surface and depth in Heinrich Heine's Buch der Lieder
  • Martin Heidegger as a reader of Rilke
  • Hölderlin's and Celan's schizopoetics
  • The relationship between Richard Gerstl and Arnold Schönberg
  • Generational discourse in post-war journals of the young generation, 1945-1949
  • Discourses of democracy, consumption, youth and women in the Weimar Republic newspaper, Tempo, 1928-1933
  • Stefan Zweig and China
  • Lower Silesia in historiography, geography and literature
  • Hans Sachs and satire
  • Nostalgia, hope and longing in American culture: a Blochean perspective
  • Literature of the Kindertransport

Enquiries about research supervision should be addressed to the Director, Professor Catherine Davies, sending a cv and a research proposal (



Professor Catherine Davies

Professor Davies has published widely on 19th- and 20th-century Spanish and Spanish American literature, history and culture. She specializes in the following fields: women's writing; historical fiction; intellectual history; gender studies; the political essay, and poetry. She is particularly interested in the cultures, histories and literatures of Spain, Galicia, Cuba, Argentina and Colombia. Professor Davies has successfully supervised a large number of PhD theses on, for example: Rosa Chacel, Diamela Eltit, Silvia Galvis, Spanish Romantic literature, Galician women's writing, Cuban crime fiction,  African-Cuban poetry, Colombian literature, Women novelists in 20th-century Spain, and Latin American women's Testimonio. She has also examined many PhD theses in the UK and internationally. Her recent co-authored book, South American Independence: Gender, Politics, Text (2006)  is on the literature and culture of the Independence period in early 19th-century Spanish America and Spain explored from a gender inflected perspective.  


Professor Charmian Brinson

Charmian Brinson

Charmian Brinson is Emeritus Professor of German at Imperial College London as well as a founder member of the Research Centre for German & Austrian Exile Studies at the IMLR. Her research interests include the society and culture of the Weimar Republic and of fin-de-siècle Austria, and in particular the history and culture of German and Austrian exiles from Nazism in Britain and further afield. Her current research projects include, with Professor Richard Dove, a study of the contribution made by German-speaking exiles to British wartime propaganda and, with Dr Jana Buresova, the work of the British-based Czech Refugee Trust Fund. She has published extensively on German and Austrian Exile in Britain, including, with Richard Dove, A Matter of Intelligence: MI5 and the Surveillance of Anti-Nazi Refugees 1933-45 (2014) and, co-edited with Andrea Hammel and Jana Buresova, a two-part study, Exile and Gender I: Literature and the Press (2016) and Exile and Gender II: Politics, Education and the Arts (2017). Professor Brinson has supervised numerous PhD theses on different aspects of German-speaking exile, including exiles from Czechoslovakia, as well as on Belgian refugees of the First World War and post-Second World War Austrian migrants.   


Dr Joseph Ford

Joseph Ford

Dr Ford specialises in 20th and 21st Francophone literature and culture, with specific interests in North African literature, publishing and cultural production during and since the Algerian civil war of the 1990s. His first book, Writing the Black Decade: Francophone Algerian Literature’s Contestatory Forms (under contract with Lexington Books) focuses on literary production during the Algerian civil war and is interested in how writers adopt an increasingly self-conscious or ‘knowing’ aesthetic as they navigate and anticipate the mainstream and academic reception of their literary works. He has published peer-reviewed articles on Mustapha Benfodil, Maïssa Bey, Salim Bachi and Kamel Daoud and recently translated a book-length collection of poems by Mustapha Benfodil, which appeared with Hesterglock Press in March 2018. Dr Ford has also published on memory and trauma studies and is currently preparing a special issue on the aesthetics of the grotesque in Francophone literature, as well as an article on the theory and practice of world literature(s) in the work of the Algerian writer Kaouther Adimi.


Dr Katia Pizzi

Dr Pizzi specializes in modern Italian studies, with particular interest in the literature of the inter-war years, memory studies, Futurism and technology. Her books A City in Search of An Author: The Cultural Identity of Trieste (2001), Trieste: triestinita`, italianita` e male di frontiera (2007) and Cold War Cities: History, Culture and Memory (2016) explore the cultural identity of key cities and regions during the Cold War and beyond, especially Trieste and the north-eastern borders of Italy. Pizzi's recent research interests lie in Modernism, the European Futurist avantgarde, industrial cultures and technology, and she is writing the monograph Italian Futurism and the Machine. Pizzi has further published several chapters and articles on children’s literature and nationalism, the interface between text and illustration, Antonio Rubino and comics. Her volume Pinocchio Puppets and Modernity: The Mechanical Body (2012) was awarded with the prestigious Best Edited Book Prize by the Children's Literature Association. Pizzi has supervised doctoral theses on modern and contemporary Italian writers, women writers, Holocaust memory, writing and migration and Pinocchio.

Dr Johan Siebers 

Dr Johan Siebers (Associate Fellow, IMLR/Associate Professor of Philosophy and Religion, Middlesex University) is available for dissertation and thesis supervision in the area of post-Kantian German philosophy. His own work investigates the possibilities of metaphysical thinking today and he is committed to the idea that the purpose of philosophy is the liberation of the mind. His research interests include critical theory; German idealism; metaphysics; being and speculative philosophy; aesthetics; philosophy of language, dialogue and communication; religious experience; temporality and futurity; existentialism and psychoanalysis. He is also interested in the relations between German and classical American thought (Transcendentalism, Emerson, pragmatism, Whitehead and process philosophy). He has a special, but not exclusive, interest in the philosophy of Ernst Bloch and leads the Ernst Bloch Centre at the IMLR.

Dr Anne Simon 

Dr Simon specializes in German Studies in the mediaeval and early modern periods, with particular reference to the impact of these periods on subsequent eras. Her book The Cult of Saint Katherine of Alexandria in Nuremberg: Saint and a City draws on a wide variety of textual and visual sources to explore interrelated themes: the shaping of urban space through the cult of Saint Katherine, her role in the moulding and advertising patrician identity and alliances through cultural patronage; and patrician use of the saint to showcase the city's political, economic, cultural and religious importance at the heart of the Holy Roman Empire. Her research and publications also encompasses travel literature from all periods; Early Modern women’s letters; the history of the book; didactic literature for women; and the relationship between text and image. Dr Simon has supervised work on a wide range of topics from the Middle Ages to the present, including artistic and cultural patronage; the Reformation; Hans Sachs; travel literature; publishing history; marginal groups; the National Socialist use of the Middle Ages; and Nuremberg’s contemporary self-marketing.

Dr Godela Weiss-Sussex

Dr Weiss-Sussex's research interests lie in the culture and literature of the 20th and 21st centuries in the following areas: women’s writing, the works of German-Jewish writers produced in Germany and in exile, metropolitan consumer culture and the literary imagination, and the city in literature and the visual arts. Her main current research projects focus on German-Jewish women’s writing in the 20th and 21st centuries as ‘minor literature’, transcultural and translingual writing, and minority literatures in Europe. Her recent publications include the monograph Jüdin und Moderne. Literarisierungen der Lebenswelt deutsch-jüdischer Autorinnen in Berlin, 1900-1918 (2016), and (co-edited with Ulrike Zitzlsperger): Tales of Commerce and Imagination: Literary and Cinematic Contributions to the Department Store Debate in the Early 20th Century (2015). Dr Weiss-Sussex has successfully supervised PhD dissertations on German post-war literary journals, on the culture and society of Weimar Germany, on female authors’ writing in British exile, and on Kindertransport literature.