Dr Ian Ellison

Dr Ian Ellison


In the autumn of 2019 I successfully defended my doctoral dissertation in Comparative Literature and since then I have worked as a postdoctoral research fellow funded by the ZEIT-Stiftung at the Deutsches Literaturarchiv (German Literature Archive) in Marbach am Neckar.

My PhD project, which was funded by the Leverhulme Trust, charted the emergence around the turn of the millennium of a particular strain of European fiction by examining aesthetics of lateness and melancholy as a form of literary cosmopolitanism in novels by Patrick Modiano, W. G. Sebald, and Antonio Muñoz Molina. My PhD was affiliated with Professor Stuart Taberner’s major research project on ‘Traumatic Pasts, Comsopolitanism, and Nation-Building in Contemporary World Literature’ and was supervised by Dr Helen Finch and Professor Duncan Wheeler.

I hold an MPhil in European Literature from the University of Bristol, as well as a BA in Modern European Languages with distinction in French, German, and Spanish from the University of Liverpool. During my undergraduate degree, I spent a year studying as an Erasmus student at the Université de Bourgogne in Dijon and worked as a British Council Language Assistant in Bilbao. Following this, I completed a PGCE at Liverpool Hope University and taught Modern Languages at secondary school level for several years, before returning to academia. During my time at Leeds I taught undergraduate modules on German culture and comparative literature.

I am currently a postgraduate representative on the executive committee of the British Comparative Literature Association and an international fellow of the Frankfurt Memory Studies Platform. From 2015 until 2017, I served as a member of the organisational committee for the National Postgraduate Colloquium in German Studies and in 2018 I was also a member of the organizational committee for the annual conference of the Association of Hispanists of Great Britain and Ireland (AHGBI). At the University of Leeds I co-organized the international conference ‘Archives of Resistance: Cosmopolitanism, Memory, World Literature’ (June 2018), as well as the WRoCAH-funded event ‘World Against Globe: Reconceptualizing World Literature Today’ (April 2016), plus two interdisciplinary postgraduate workshops: ‘Futures of Memory’ (February 2017) and ‘Beyond Sebald: New Trajectories in Sebald Studies’ (May 2017).

Awards and Funding

In autumn 2019 I was the recipient of a Gerd Bucerius Scholarship from the research foundation ZEIT-Stiftung Ebelin und Gerd Bucerius.

From 2017 to 2018 I was a DAAD-funded visiting scholar at the Goethe Univeristät in Frankfurt working with Professor Astrid Erll.

In 2018 I was also funded to participate in the International Summer School at the DLA in Marbach entitled ‘A New Republic of Letters? Intellectual Communities, Global Knowledge Transfer’, as well as the inaugural CHASE (Consortium for the Humanities and the Arts in South England) Summer School in ‘Comparative Literature: Principles, Practices, Perspectives’ at the Unversity of Kent.

In 2016 the European Co-operation in Science and Technology (COST) awarded me a Postgraduate Grant to attend the ‘In Search of Transcultural Memory in Europe’ (ISTME) Graduate Training School and Conference at University College Dublin.

Research interests

My research interests encompass modern European literature, in particular French, German, and Spanish novels from the twentieth and the twenty-first centuries.


Journal Articles 

‘“eine Märchenerzählung, die […] älter geworden ist mit der verflossenen Zeit”: W. G. Sebald’s Austerlitz as a melancholy Kunstmärchen’, in Oxford German Studies, 49:1 (forthcoming 2020)

‘Borgesian and Shakespearean Allusions in Die Ringe des Saturn by W. G. Sebald’, in Literatur für Leser, 4:14 (2015), pp. 235–245

Book Reviews 

‘Anne Fuchs, Precarious Times: Temporality and History in Modern German Culture’, in Journal of Contemporary European Studies (in preparation)

‘Thomas Baldwin, Roland Barthes: The Proust Variations’, in Modern Language Review (in preparation)

‘Sandra Richter, Eine Weltgeschichte der deutschsprachigen Literatur’, in Comparative Critical Studies (forthcoming 2020)

‘Walter Cohen, A History of European Literature: The West and the World from Antiquity to the Present’, in Modern Language Review, 114:4 (2019), pp. 848–849

‘B. Venkat Mani, Recoding World Literature: Libraries, Print Culture, and Germany's Pact with Books’, in Comparative Critical Studies, 16:1 (2019), pp. 132–136

‘Samuel O’Donoghue, Rewriting Franco’s Spain: Marcel Proust and the Dissident Writers of Memory’, in Modern Language Review, 114:1 (2019), pp. 104–106

Invited Talks

‘Auf der Suche nach verlorener Übersetzung: Tracing Proust in German Translation’, Übersetzernachlässe in Globalen Archiven Conference, Deutsches Literaturarchiv Marbach, 25–27 November 2019

‘Melancholischer Kosmopolitismus als Genre in der europäischen Literatur’, Kollokvier (tyska och nederländska), Stockholms Universitet, 28 March 2017

‘Melancholy Cosmopolitanism – A Genre of European Memory Fiction?’, Centre for Modern European Literature, University of Kent, 9 March 2017

Selected Conference Papers

‘Una estética de la tardanza en Sefarad de Antonio Muñoz Molina: tensiones melancólicas entre tradiciones literarias en Europa y España’, Memory Studies Association Annual Conference, Universidad Complutense de Madrid, (27 June 2019)

‘Spuren der Spätzeitlichkeit und des melancholischen Kosmopolitismus in der Privatbibliothek W. G. Sebalds’, A (New) Republic of Letters: Intellectual Communities, Global Knowledge Transfer – International Sommerschule im Forschungsverbund Marbach Weimar Wolfenbüttel, Deutsches Literaturarchiv Marbach, 29 July–10 August 2018

‘A Late Genre? European World Literature at the Turn of the Millennium’, Archives of Resistance: Cosmopolitanism, Memory and World Literature International Conference, University of Leeds, 20–22 June 2018

‘Genre, Memory, and World Literature: Melancholy Cosmopolitan Novels’, Panel 42: ‘Worlds of Memory: Reading World Literature With and Against Global Memory Culture(s)’, Memory Studies Association Annual Conference, Københavns Universitet, 15 December 2017

‘Melancholy Beginnings in Dora BruderAusterlitz, and Sefarad: Framing the Performance of Cosmopolitanism’, American Comparative Literature Association (ACLA), Universiteit Utrecht, 6 July 2017

‘Rethinking Cosmopolitanism in European Literature: W. G. Sebald’s Austerlitz as a Performance of Memory Through Melancholy’, Confronting Difficult Pasts Conference, Holocaust and Genocide Centre, Johannesburg, 8 September 2016

‘A Melancholy of Their Own? Locating the Transnational in Contemporary European Fiction’, Locating and Dis-Locating Memory: In Search of Transcultural Memory in Europe Conference and Doctoral Training School, University College Dublin, 30 August 2016

‘Transnational Melancholy: European Memory Work?’, The Creaturely, the Human, and the Global Workshop, Stockholms Universitet, 1 June 2016

‘Through a Nietzschean Glass, Darkly: The Melancholy Cosmopolitanism of W. G. Sebald and Javier Marías’, 59th National Postgraduate Colloquium in German Studies, IMLR London, 7 April 2016

‘The Dark Back of Literature: Shakespearean Allusions in Contemporary European Fiction’, Imagined Spaces Conference, University of Bristol, 29 April 2015

Impact, Outreach and Engagement

From 2015 to 2016 I held an internship in Arts Educational Engagement at the University of Leeds to design resources for teaching literature and film for Modern Foreign Languages A Level. You can view these resources here.

In 2015 I was a mentor and discussion monitor for the University of Bristol's online course in Cultural Studies and Modern Languages.


  • PhD in Comparative Literature (University of Leeds, 2019)
  • MPhil in European Literature (University of Bristol, 2015)
  • PGCE Modern Languages - Distinction (Liverpool Hope University, 2012)
  • BA Modern European Languages (French, German, Spanish) - First Class (University of Liverpool, 2011)