Professor Helen Finch
- Position: Professor of German Literature
- Areas of expertise: German Literature; Literature and the Holocaust; cultural trauma; gender in German culture; queer studies; queer memory; cultural memory; diversifying German studies
- Email: H.C.Finch@leeds.ac.uk
- Phone: +44(0)113 343 3510
- Location: 2.16 Michael Sadler Building
- Website: Twitter | Googlescholar | ORCID
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 am Director of German at Leeds, I also 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.
- Subject Leader for German
- Director of PRIA (Pedagogical Research in the Arts)
- Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Cultures Student Education Lead for Portfolio
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, appeared 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.
Together with Prof. Anja Tippner (Hamburg), I am organising a project entitled ‘Working in the Holocaust Translation Zone: Ethics and Poetics of Literature’, including a workshop to be held at the Warburg-Haus, University of Hamburg, in September 2023.
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 in survivor memoirs.
I am co-editor of the Peter Lang Women, Gender and Sexuality in German Culture book series, and will soon serve as a member of the MLA Forum Executive Committee, LLC 20th- and 21st-Century German.
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, Fred Wander
- Finch, HC, German-Jewish Life Writing in the Aftermath of the Holocaust: Beyond Testimony (Camden House, 2023)
- Finch HC, Wolff LL, Witnessing, Memory, Poetics. H. G. Adler and W. G. Sebald (Camden House, 2014).
- Finch HC, Sebald's Bachelors: Queer Resistance and the Unconforming Life (Oxford: Legenda, 2013).
Articles and Chapters
- In preparation, Finch HC, 8,000-word contribution to A Cambridge History of Holocaust Literature on ‘Queer Holocaust Literature’ (eds Erin McGlothlin, Stuart Taberner)
- Finch HC, "A Wende in representing the Holocaust in German literature? From Jurek Becker to W. G. Sebald", forthcoming in German Quarterly 96.3 (Summer 2023)
- Finch HC, “What remains of Peter Handke?”, The Austrian Riveter 2023, 197-199
- Finch HC, with Elliott C, McDonnell P ‘Diversifying the German Curriculum through Student Research’, in Transverse Disciplines: Working across and beyond Academic Communities Edited by: Simone Pfleger and Carrie Smith. U of Toronto Press, 2022
- Finch, HC, On teaching Handke: Canon and curriculum in the wake of the Nobel Prize. Collateral 2021, 31
- Finch HC, ‘Writing the Displaced Person: H. G. Adler’s Poetics of Exile’, Humanities, 8.3 (2019)
- Finch HC, 'Reconciliation, Revenge, Restitution. Edgar Hilsenrath’s and Ruth Klüger’s Late Writings as Holocaust Metatestimony', in German Jewish Literature After 1990, ed.Katja Garloff, Agnes Mueller (Camden House, 2018)
- Finch HC, ‘Ressentiment beyond Nietzsche and Amery; H. G. Adler between Literary Ressentiment and Divine Grace’ in Re-thinking Ressentiment. On the Limits of Criticism and the Limits of its Critics, ed. Jeanne Riou, Mary Gallagher (Bielefeld: Transcript, 2016), pp. 71–86
- Finch HC, ‘Prague Circles: H. G. Adler’s Kafkaesque Hope’ in H. G. Adler. Life, Literature, Legacy, ed. Julia Creet, Sara R. Horowitz and Amira Bojadzija-Dan (Evanston: Northwestern UP, 2016), pp. 251–272
- Finch HC, ‘Holocaust Translation, Communication And Witness In The Work Of H. G. Adler’, German Life and Letters, 68.3 (2015), 427–443
- Finch HC and Wolff LL, 'Introduction: The Adler-Sebald Intertextual Relationship as Paradigm for Intergenerational Literary Testimony', in Witnessing, Memory, Poetics: H. G. Adler and W. G. Sebald (Rochester: Camden House, 2014), pp. 1–24
- Finch HC, 'Generational Conflicts, Generational Affinities: Broch, Adorno, Adler, Sebald' in Witnessing, Memory, Poetics: H. G. Adler and W. G. Sebald (Rochester: Camden House, 2014), pp. 232–253
- Finch HC, '"Like refugees who have come through dreadful ordeals": The Theme of the Anglo-Irish in The Rings of Saturn', in A Literature of Restitution: Critical Essays on W. G. Sebald, eds Jeannette Baxter, Ben Hutchinson, Valerie Henitiuk, (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2013), pp. 158–183
- Finch HC, 'Gender, Identity, and Memory in the Novels of Antje Rávic Strubel', in Women in German Yearbook 28 (2012), 81–97
- Finch HC, 'Elfriede Jelinek, Gier', in The Novel in German since 1990, ed. Stuart Taberner, (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2011), pp. 151–164
- Finch HC, 'Recalling the goddess Pandora: From Utopia to Resignation, from Goethe to Peter Hacks in Irmtraud Morgner's Amanda', in Edinburgh German Yearbook vol. 3 (2009): Contested Legacies - Constructions of Cultural Heritage in the GDR, pp. 218–232
- Finch HC, 'Günter Grass and Gender', in The Cambridge Companion to Günter Grass, ed. Stuart Taberner (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009), pp. 81–95
- Finch HC, 'Günter Grass's account of German Wartime Suffering in Beim Häuten der Zwiebel: Mind in Mourning or Boy Adventurer?', in 'Germans as Victims' in The Literary Fiction of the Berlin Republic, eds Karina Berger, Stuart Taberner, (Rochester: Camden House, 2009), pp. 170–191
- Finch HC, '"Die irdische Erfüllung": Peter Handke's Poetic Landscapes and W. G. Sebald's Metaphysics of History', in W. G. Sebald and the Writing of History, eds Anne Fuchs, Jonathan Long (Würzburg: Königshausen & Neumann, 2007), pp. 179–197
- 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)
- Women in German Studies
- Association of German Studies in Britain and Ireland
- German Studies Association of America
- Modern Language Association of America
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, queer cultures, 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 regularly given invited talks on pedagogies, including recently contributing to a roundtable on ‘Best Practices for Transnationalising the Classroom’ (UCD, March 2023), now available as a podcast.
Research groups and institutes
- Centre for World Literatures
- Centre for Jewish Studies
- Literary studies
- Memory, Trauma and Violence