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Dr Simon Ward

Associate Professor / Director of Studies in Visual Arts and Film

MA, DPhil (Oxon)

AffiliationRoom numberTelephone
Associate Professor / Director of Studies in Visual Arts and Film in the School of Modern Languages and CulturesER211, Elvet Riverside II+44 (0) 191 33 43422
Member of the Centre for Visual Arts and Culture  


I came to Durham in January 2014 from Aberdeen, where I was Senior Lecturer in German and Film & Visual Culture, having coordinated both undergraduate programmes during my time there. At Aberdeen, I taught on the German and Film undergraduate programmes, as well as on Aberdeen’s unique comparative literature programme, Literature in a World Context. I also taught on the Masters programmes in Visual Culture and Comparative Literature.

As of September 2021, I am the Programme Director of the BA in Visual Arts and Film here at Durham. My role here has allowed to expand my teaching interests. These lie primarily in European film, with particular focus on German cinema of the past 50 years, and German literature of the twentieth century, with particular emphasis on Thomas Mann, Franz Kafka and WG Sebald, as well as strategies of ‘fictionalization’ in the post-1945 period.

My research interests have shifted over the years. I wrote my D Phil at Oxford on the modernist writing of Wolfgang Koeppen (published as a monograph in 2002). Koeppen’s engagement with ruins led me to work on the visual culture of ruins in the urban environment of Berlin over the past 50 years. Having published numerous articles in this area, my monograph on this topic, Asynchronous City: Visual Culture and the Past in Berlin 1957-2013 appeared with Amsterdam University Press in 2016. The book has been positively reviewed in Journal of European Studies, Literaturkritik and German Politics and Society.

A further research interest, developing out of Koeppen's travel writing, is with cultures of travel in Germany from the arrival of the railways onwards, and how questions of modernity, acceleration and experience have been taken up in travel writing / writing about travel. This has crystallized in my current project which investigates how the Romantic figure of the wanderer returns in film, photography and prose since the 1970s in Germany, and how the utopian desire inherent in the untranslatable German concept of Fernweh is adapted to the contemporary condition of transit.
I have supervised PhDs on Austrian memory politics, surveillance and cinema, photography and environmental theory, and European film production around 1990. I would welcome the opportunity to supervise PhDs on topics of urbanism, film and visual culture as well as twentieth century German literature.



Authored book

  • Ward, S. (2016). Urban Memory and Visual Culture in Berlin: Framing the Asynchronous City 1957-2012. Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press.
  • Ward, Simon (2001). Negotiating Positions: Literature, Identity and Social Critique in the Works of Wolfgang Koeppen. Rodopi.

Chapter in book

Edited book

  • Stewart, Janet C. & Ward, Simon (2005). Blueprints for No-Man's Land: Connections in Contemporary Austrian Culture. Britische und Irische Studien zur deutschen Sprache und Literatur / British and Irish Studies in German Language and Literature. Oxford, Bern, Berlin, Bruxelles, Frankfurt am Main, New York, Wien: Peter Lang.

Journal Article