Dr Helen Finch

Dr Helen Finch

Profile

My main areas of research are in the representation of the Holocaust in German-language literature, queer identity and memory in German culture, and curriculum design. Linking all three is a concern with marginalised voices, poetics of resistance and diversification, concerns which I also bring to my teaching and curriculum design.

I direct the Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Cultures’ Centre for Pedagogic Research in the Arts (PRIA), and I am a member of the University’s Centre for Jewish Studies and the Centre for World Literatures.

I have worked at the University of Leeds since 2009, where I have held various teaching, leadership and research roles including Director of Student Education for the School of Languages, Cultures and Societies (2014–2017). I am also active as a member of the LCS Equality and Inclusion committee and in the University LGBT+ staff network. 

Responsibilities

  • Subject Leader for German
  • Director of PRIA (Pedagogical Research in the Arts)
  • Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Cultures Student Education Lead for Portfolio

Research interests

I am currently working on literature and memoirs written by surviors of the Shoah in German. My monograph, entitled German-Jewish Life Writing in the Aftermath of the Shoah: Beyond Testimony, will appear with Camden House in 2023. This monograph focusses on the literary aftermath of witnessing in the wake of the Holocaust. It examines the transnational literary careers of four German-Jewish literary witnesses to the Holocaust, H. G. Adler, Fred Wander, Edgar Hilsenrath and Ruth Klüger, looking at the way that emotion, exclusion from the canon, and a lifetime of witnessing are reflected in their later literary work. I also have a longstanding interest in queer identities, gender and utopias in German literature and culture.

My first monograph on queer masculine identities in the works of W. G. Sebald, Sebald's Bachelors: Queer Resistance and the Unconforming Life, appeared with Legenda in 2013. I have published widely on German-Jewish literature and the Holocaust, memory in German literature, and on diversifying the German curriculum, including articles on H. G. Adler, Jurek Becker, Günter Grass, Peter Handke, Edgar Hilsenrath, Elfriede Jelinek, Ruth Klüger, Antje Ravik Strubel and W. G. Sebald.

I am starting a new project on queer memory and memoir in German culture, and I am also currently writing an article about queer Holocaust memory.

Recent postgraduate projects supervised include:

  • Andy Hills, ‘TERF Ideology, Transphobia and Bodily Autonomy in Transnational Exchange’ (MAR 2022-present)
  • Victoria Suvoroff, “Contemporary Queer Russian Visual Art - Artistic Expression Before and After the Propaganda Law” (PhD 2021–present)
  • Min Zou, “Flying off Over the Combat Zone: Queer Aesthetic in David Henry Hwang’s Plays and its Medium Performance” (PhD 2020–present)
  • Corey Hartley, “Dismantling the Binary: Exploring the interplay between Literature and the social positioning of gender in postmodern society” (PhD 2020–present)
  • Hannie Phillips, “The poetics of post-Holocaust memorial” (PhD 2018–2022)
  • Pete Freeth, “Look who's back in the frame: The translator's visibility in the digital paratextual framings of translated literary texts” (PhD 2018–2022)
  • Ian Ellison, “Melancholy cosmopolitan novels. Late European fiction at the turn of the twenty-first century” (PhD 2015–2019)
  • Dominic O'Key: "Creaturely Forms: Encounters with Animality in W. G. Sebald, J. M. Coetzee, and Mahasweta Devi" (PhD 2016–2019)
  • Alexandru Bar: "The double identity of Tristan Tzara and Marcel Janco - the archives of an identity issue" (Performing the Jewish Archive Project PhD 2015–2018)
  • John March: "German Exile Photographers in Britain 1933-45" (MAR 2014–2017)

I welcome approaches from students interested in researching the following areas:

  • Comparative literature
  • German literature
  • The representation of the Holocaust
  • Queer identities and poetics
  • Queer memoir
  • Gender and politics in German literature
  • The works of W. G. Sebald, H. G. Adler, Ruth Klüger, Edgar Hilsenrath, Antje Rávik Strubel

Publications

Books

Articles and Chapters

<h4>Research projects</h4> <p>Any research projects I'm currently working on will be listed below. Our list of all <a href="https://ahc.leeds.ac.uk/dir/research-projects">research projects</a> allows you to view and search the full list of projects in the faculty.</p>

Qualifications

  • Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (2014)
  • PhD in German literature (Trinity College Dublin)
  • M. Phil in Modern German Thought (University of Glasgow)
  • B. A. in German and Russian (Trinity College Dublin)

Professional memberships

  • Women in German Studies
  • Association of German Studies in Britain and Ireland
  • German Studies Association of America

Student education

I teach German cultural studies at all levels, and contribute to cross-School and cross-Faculty modules on intercultural studies, world literature, the representation of the Shoah, translation, and visual culture. I direct the Centre for Pedagogic Research in the Arts (PRiA), and support Faculty work on Portfolio (module and programme approvals, design and strategy).

I have authored an article about the critical pedagogy of Peter Handke: Finch, H. On teaching Handke: Canon and curriculum in the wake of the Nobel Prize. Collateral 2021, 31.

With two students, I have co-authored an article about curriculum diversification and decolonisation in German at Leeds: Helen Finch, with Chloé Elliott and Poppy McDonnell, ‘ Diversifying the German Curriculum through Student Research’, in Simone Pfleger, Carrie Smith (eds): Transverse Disciplines: Working across and beyond Academic Communities (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2022).

Research groups and institutes

  • German
  • Centre for World Literatures
  • Centre for Jewish Studies
  • Gender
  • Literary studies
  • Memory, Trauma and Violence
  • Conflict

Current postgraduate researchers

<h4>Postgraduate research opportunities</h4> <p>We welcome enquiries from motivated and qualified applicants from all around the world who are interested in PhD study. Our <a href="https://phd.leeds.ac.uk">research opportunities</a> allow you to search for projects and scholarships.</p>