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Professor Nicholas Saul


I was Research Fellow at Cambridge (1981), then Lecturer, Fellow and Senior Lecturer at Trinity College Dubln (1982-1998), then Professor at Liverpool (1998-2003), then Professor at Durham (2003-).

My research ranges from the literature and culture of the eighteenth to that of the twenty-first century. It has always been based on the conviction that literary texts are embedded in intertextual and interdiscursive contexts, and has therefore always operated between the disciplines. Having worked for some time in problems of secularisation (generic contamination, discursive collisions), I then worked on the problems of metaphorical cognition in literary and philosophical discourse, on the body in literature, on the liminality of death, and on literary value. I recently completed a book on the productive reception of evolutionism in German literature 1859-2011, and will be editing a volume of Bölsche's biographical writings for the ongoing Wilhelm Bölsche collected works (Weidler Verlag). In this context, I am also an Affiliate of the Institute of Medical Humanities ( at Durham.

In the wider University context, I served until September 2017 as an Academic Member of the University Council (, as a member of the University Finance Committee, and many others. I worked until August 2015 as Co-Director of the Institute of Hazard, Risk and Resilience ( From 2015-2021 I served as Director (Arts & Humanities) of the Institute of Advanced Study at the University of Durham (

I was a Fellow of the Alexander von Humboldt-Stiftung over 1986-1991, a British Academy Senior Research Fellow in 2004, a Christopherson-Knott Fellow at the Institute of Advanced Study, University of Durham, in 2015, and a Fellow of the Internationales Kolleg Morphomata, Universität zu Köln, in 2016. I served as External Examiner for undergraduate degrees at Aston, Nottingham and Trinity College Dublin, and most recently until 2015 at the University of Oxford.

Consulting Hours

Wednesday 11.00-13.00 A43 (term-time)

Research Supervision

I have successfully supervised research students at MA and PhD levels on themes ranging from faith and thought in Matthias Claudius and F.H. Jacobi, to the problem of subjectivity in E.T.A. Hoffmann, gender anthropology in Friedrich von Hardenberg (Novalis), the presentation of masculinity in Karoline von Günderrode, colonialism and identity in German travel writing of the late C19, and myth and technology in Theodor Storm.

I should be glad to supervise new students to MA or PhD level in any area and author of the literature and thought of the Romantic/Classical period, nineteenth-century realisms, and the Jahrhundertwende/Modernism. Themes of current particular interest include anthropology and literature, science and literature (especially literary Darwinisms), and secularisation (especially spiritualism).

Research interests

  • Evolutionisms in Germanic culture
  • German Orientalism, especially German-Romany relations
  • Intertextuality and interdiscursivity
  • Literature and science, cognitive humanities, system theory
  • Modern German literature, especially Friedrich von Hardenberg (Novalis), Hugo von Hofmannsthal, Wilhelm Jensen, Carl Hauptmann and Wilhelm Bölsche
  • Representation of death in literature

Esteem Indicators


Authored book

Chapter in book

Edited book

Journal Article