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Current Research Students

Jessia Salmans (2017- , Oklahoma Programme) An exploration of the social and cultural contexts of theatrical performance in concentration camps and Jewish ghettos by the victims of the Holocaust

Visual and written works from the Nazi Holocaust camps have been the subject of considerable scholarly exploration and cataloguing. Less attention has been paid to theatrical performance in the camps and ghettos. This is not, perhaps, surprising. Unlike a drawing or a diary, a live performance does not have a physical presence. It cannot be filed away and kept until rediscovered by scholars. So, while museums, art collections and archives give public access to paintings and written records from the Holocaust, prospects for the performance researcher may be restricted to the possibility of finding photographs, journal entries describing rehearsals and performances, and perhaps the odd mention in a letter. The scale of this disparity of historical record is considerable. The art collection at Auschwitz-Birkenau contains over 2,000 works of portraiture, sketches, and other visual art created by victims in the camps and ghettos. The Ringelblum Milk Can Project, housed in multiple locations including the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and the Jewish Historical Institute, contains both art and written testimony. Numerous portraits, sketches, and paintings from many other camps and ghettos are all readily viewable either in person or online. Yet the history of performance within the camps remains at best opaque. From written records we do know that performances did take place in the camps and there are a few existing catalogued examples of these intangible performances. By looking at the social and cultural contexts as well as the physical and logistical conditions, my research aims to offer theoretical answers to the following questions: What kinds of stories were being told? What tangible proof remains? What do these works of live artistic performance teach us about the nature of victimhood during the Holocaust? Ultimately, my view is that storytelling and performance are crucial survival mechanisms as demonstrated by the exploration of the use of theatre by the victims in Concentration Camps and Ghettos.

 

Rhoslyn Beckwith (PhD, 2018- ) A “Stern in Wetterwolken for our Times? How Literary Interest in Queen Luise of Prussia since 1970 reflects Trends of Prussian nostalgia in Germany

This thesis examines how Queen Luise of Prussia (1776-1810) has been presented in biographical literature since 1970. During her lifetime Queen Luise was considered a “female celebrity” (Clark, 2007) and was renowned for pleading with Emperor Napoleon on behalf of Prussia, albeit unsuccessfully. The biographies published after her death idealised and mythologised the Queen’s life to such an extent that she became a role model for German women, the symbol of Prussia’s oppression under Napoleon and the justification for revenge against the French. While there has been some research into the way in which the Queen’s legend developed during the nineteenth and the early twentieth centuries, historians have claimed that after 1960 she fell from favour due to her association with the Nazi regime (she had been used as a form of propaganda) and her lack of relevance to modern women. I will challenge this claim and instead offer an analysis of the many Queen Luise books published from the 1970s onwards. I will argue that Queen Luise is enjoying a renaissance of interest and this can be seen as directly linked to the latest wave of nostalgia for Prussia currently occurring in Germany. In this way we can see that Queen Luise is still being used as a symbol and the justification for a more sympathetic approach to Germany’s controversial Prussian past.

Jeremy Points, MA by Research, part-time (2018-)
Günter Grass and Narrative 

I am interested in the way Günter Grass develops his fictional narratives.  All aspects of Grass’ narratives are distinctive - their narration, their structure as well as the narratives themselves.  His narratives are dominated by unabashed, direct and declamatory first-person narrators and narrative voices and, increasingly from Aus dem Tagebuch einer Schnecke onwards, they blend authorial, if not autobiographical, elements with fictionalised first-person narrators.  There is, in other words, a conscious avoidance of third-person narration with its implications of omniscience, realism and objectivity.  The perspectives both informing and conveyed by the narratives are thus relativised.

Paula Church (2019- )
Sadomasochism and Fantasy in the Life-Writing, Friendships, Sexual Alliances and Fictional Work of Iris Murdoch

I intend to relate Theodor Reik's theories of Masochism to the nuances of Iris Murdoch's life-writing, her fictional narratives and her life-long friendship with Elias Canetti, eExploring her own fundamental assumption that she is a 'male homosexual sado-masochist'. The non-demonstrative nature of Reik's theories fits with Murdoch's apparent assumption and an original annotated copy of Reik's work Masochism in Modern Man is held in the Iris Murdoch Archive at The University of Kingston Special Collections Department.

Bernice Juxon-Jones (2019- )
The Synthesis of Duality and the Transformation of the Hero in Wolfram von Eschenbach's Parzival

This study will examine the link between the structure and content of Wolfram’s Parzival. Consideration will be given to the question of whether Wolfram’s Parzival is a Doppelroman, a Bildungsroman or, perhaps, both. It will be shown how the form of the Medieval Romance Quest is well suited to the presentation of the subject matter, that of Parzival’s spiritual journey, the search for the Grail. The duality of the journey is portrayed in the two parallel journeys, the inner and the outer. The question of the necessity of Parzival’s journey is an important consideration in the work. Parzival is an enigmatic work which begs various questions, such as: How is the work constructed? How do the parallel journeys complement each other? Why is Parzival’s journey necessary? Who are Parzival’s alter egos? Important questions are: What is the relationship between grace and free will? Is Parzival guilty of the three sins of which he is accused? Is Parzival simply rewarded in a traditional way when he submits completely to the divine will? Does Parzival win the Grail in defiance of its conditions?