Professor Paul Cooke

Professor Paul Cooke


I am a Centenary Chair of World Cinemas at the University of Leeds. I began my academic career in German Studies, writing my PhD on the work of the GDR dissident writer Wolfgang Hilbig. I then worked for a year as a Lektor at the University of Leeds, before moving to Aberystwyth, where I spent three happy years as a German Lecturer. In 2002 I came to Leeds, starting out in German, exploring the phenomenon of Ostalgie, or nostalgia for the former GDR in post-unification Germany. My focus then moved to German Cinema. In 2012 I moved to the Centre for World Cinemas (later the Centre for World Cinemas and Digital Cultures), where my focus initially shifted to European people heritage cinema and then on to the politics of representation in World Cinema, the concept of Soft Power and film policy across the BRICS.

I have also had a number of management roles at Leeds, including Pro-Dean for Research and Innovation, Pro-Dean for Learning and Teaching and acting Dean of the Faculty of Arts (now the Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Cultures).

I am currently principal investigator on a number of Global Challenges Research Fund projects exploring the use of participatory arts for development. I am also a filmmaker and have produced a number of participatory documentaries with groups of young people in Germany, South Africa, the UK, Lebanon and Cambodia.


  • Director of the Centre for World Cinemas and Digital Cultures

Research interests

My main research project is Changing the Story: Building Civil Society with and for Young People in Post Conflict Settings. This is a four-year AHRC Network Plus project, that involves a range of universities, INGOs, artists, grassroots civil society organisations and young people across the world. The aim of this project is to  deliver the first large-scale comparative study of CSO practice across a range of post-conflict societies, confronting the challenge of building strong institutions for the delivery of social justice for young people. We began by undertaking a critical review of current work by CSOs across these countries, in order to highlight innovative practice, as well as areas that require further investigation. This has lead to 5 ‘proof of concept’ pilot projects, based on lessons learnt from this review. Our initial R&D phase will then lead to the commissioning of 2 rounds of projects, one aimed at ECRs, one at colleagues at all career stages.

I am running CARAN (Community solutions to Antibiotic Resistance, using Art in Nepal). This aim of this project is to develop, pilot test and evaluate a high-quality intervention aimed at preventing and controlling antibiotic resistance in Nepal. Community-led solutions to the growing problem of antibiotic resistance will be promoted through a participatory digital film-making intervention that will lead to a health-education campaign within communities, and to an advocacy campaign targeting policy makers. This will directly support the delivery of the UN's Sustainable Development Goals, in particular SDG 3: 'ensuring healthy lives and promoting well-being for all at all ages'.

I am  leading an AHRC-funded Open World Research Inititaive project Art, Language, Youth and the legacy of Conflict in Lebanon, in partnership with  British Council (BC)’s Global Research Team  , British Council Lebanon, its in-country networks and Issam Fares Institute for Public Policy and International Affairs. The project involves using participatory video to explore the legacy of Lebanon's past and its impact on young people today. How is the past filtered through the language that they speak and the art that they produce?



  • Contemporary German Cinema (Manchester: MUP, 2012), 286 pp. 
  • Representing East Germany: From Colonization to Nostalgia (Oxford: Berg, 2005), pp. 236..
  • The Pocket Essential to German Expressionist Film (London: Pocket Essential Press, 2002), 96 pp.
  • Speaking the Taboo: a study of the work of Wolfgang Hilbig, (Amsterdam/Atlanta: Rodopi, 2000), 247 pp. 

Edited Volumes

  • Participatory Arts in Participatory Development (London: Routledge, 2019), forthcoming.
  • with Rob Stone, Stephanie Dennison and Alex Marlow-Man, The Routledge Companion to World Cinema (London: Routledge, 2018), 522 pp.
  • Soft Power, Film Culture and the BRICSL Special Edition of New Cinemas, 14/1 (2017).
  • wth Rob Stone, Screening European Heritage (Basingstoke: Palgrave, 2016), 290 pp.
  • The Lives of Others and Contemporary German Cinema (Berlin: de Gruyter, 2013), 294 pp.
  • with  Chris Homewood, Recent Trends In German Cinema (London: I.B. Tauris, 2011), 256 pp.
  • with Marc Silberman, Screening War: Perspectives on German Suffering (Rochester: Camden House, 2010) 304 pp.
  • World Cinema’s Dialogues with Hollywood (Basingstoke: Palgrave, 2007), 266 pp.  
  • with Rob Stone, Screening Identities: Special edition of Journal of European Studies 15/1( 2007).   
  • with Danielle Hipkins, ECRF 2005: Special edition of Studies in European Cinema 3/3 (2006)  
  • with Jonathan Grix (eds.), East Germany - Continuity and Change: German Monitor, 46 (2000).  
  • with Rob Stone, Images of Europe in European Film: Special edition of New Cinemas 4/2 (2006)  
  • with Stuart Taberner (eds), German Culture, Politics, and Literature into the Twenty-First Century Beyond Normalization (Rochester: Camden House, 2006) 245 pp.   
  • with Rob Stone (eds.), Special Edition of Studies in European Cinema, 2/1 (2004)  
  • with Andrew Plowman (eds.), German Writers and the Politics of Culture: Dealing with the Stasi (Basingstoke: Palgrave, 2003), 261 pp.  
  • with Jonathan Grix (eds.), East German Distinctiveness in a unified Germany (Birmingham: University of Birmingham Press, 2002), 171 pp.


Book Chapters

  •  with Rob Stone, Stephanie Dennison and Alex Marlow-Mann, ‘Introduction: The Longitude and Latitude of World Cinema’ in The Routledge Companion to World Cinemas, ed. by Rob Stone, Paul Cooke,  Stephanie Dennison and Alex Marlow-Man (London: Routledge, 2018),  pp. 14-34.
  • ‘“Soft Power” and Shifting Patterns of Influence in Global Film Culture’, in The Routledge Companion to World Cinemas, ed. by Rob Stone, Paul Cooke, Stephanie Dennison and Alex Marlow-Man (London: Routledge, 2018),  pp. 342-53.
  •  ‘Deconstructing and Reconstructing World Cinema at the Ends of Empires’, Oxford Companion to the End of Empire, ed. by Martin Thomas and Andrew Thompson (Oxford: OUP, 2016), DOI: 10.1093/oxfordhb/9780198713197.013.37
  • With Rob Stone and Axel Bangert, ‘Introduction: Screening European Heritage’ in Screening European Heritage, ed. by Paul Cooke and Rob Stone (Basingstoke: Palgrave, 2016), pp. xvii-xxxv.
  • ‘From Auschwitzland to Banglatown: Heritage Conflicts, Cinema and the Politics of Place’, in Screening European Heritage, ed. by Paul Cooke and Rob Stone, (Basingstoke: Palgrave, 2016), pp.235-55.
  • with Axel Bangert and Rob Stone, ‘Screening European Heritage: Negotiating Europe’s Past via ‘Heritage’, in Film and Public Memory, ed. by Fearghal McGarry (Basingstoke: Palgrave, 2015), pp.32-47.
  • ‘The German Flavour of Europudding: the Place of Europe in Contemporary German Film’, in The Routledge Handbook for German Politics and Society, ed. by Sarah Colvin (London: Routledge, 2014), pp. 256-76.
  • with Rob Stone, ‘Crystalising the Past: Slow Heritage Cinema’, in Slow Cinema, ed. by Nuno Barradas Jorge and Tiago de Luca (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2015), pp. 127-43.
  • ‘Boredom’, in Berlin School Glossary: An ABC of the New Wave in German Cinema, ed. by R. F. Cook, L. Koepnick, K. Kopp, B. Prager (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2013), pp. 67-74.
  • with Rob Stone,  ‘Transatlantic Drift: Hobos, Slackers, Flâneurs, Idiots and Edukators’, in Impure Cinema: Intermedial and Intercultural Approaches to Film,  ed. by Lucia Nagib and Anne Jerslev (London: IB Tauris, 2013), pp. 215-26.
  • ‘Von Donnersmarck’s Dialogue with Hollywood: from The Lives of Others to The Tourist (2010)’, in The Lives of Others and Contemporary German Cinema, ed. by Paul Cooke (Berlin: de Gruyter, 2013), pp. 221-40.
  • 'Watching the Stasi: authenticity, Ostalgie and history in Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck's The Lives of Others (2006)’, in New Directions in German Cinema, ed. by Paul Cooke and Chris Homewood (London: I.B. Tauris, 2011), pp. 111-127. 
  • with Chris Homewood, ‘Beyond the Cinema of Consensus? New Directions in German Cinema since 2000’, in New Directions in German Cinema, ed. by Paul Cooke and Chris Homewood (London: I.B. Tauris, 2011), pp. 1-20. 
  • with  Marc Silberman, ‘German Suffering?’, in Screening War: Perspectives on German Suffering, ed. By Paul Cooke and Marc Silberman (Rochester: Camden House, 2010), pp. 1-16.  
  • ‘The Limits of Consensual Filmmaking? Representing National Socialism on the Screen and German “Normalisation”’, in Aesthetics and Politics in Modern German Culture, ed. By Brigid Haines, Stephen Parker and Colin Riordan (London: Peter Lang, 2010), pp. 65-77.  
  • ‘“GDR Literature” in the Berlin Republic’, in Contemporary German Fiction: Writing in the Berlin Republic, ed. by Stuart Taberner (Cambridge: CUP, 2007), pp. 56-71. 
  • ‘From Dr Seltsam to Lieutenant Surf: The Berlin “Vorlesebuhnen” and Contemporary German Literature’, in New German Literature: Life-Writing and Dialogue within the Arts, vol 1, ed. by Julian Preece, Frank Finlay and Ruth J. Owen (Bern: Peter Lang, 2007), pp. 161-81. 
  • ‘Introduction: World Cinema's “Dialogues” with Hollywood’, in World Cinema’s Dialogues with Hollywood, ed.  by Paul Cooke (Basingstoke: Palgrave, 2007), pp. 1-16.
  • ‘From Caligari to Edward Scissorhands: the continuing metacinematic journey of German Expressionism’, in World Cinema’s Dialogues with Hollywood, ed.  by Paul Cooke (Basingstoke: Palgrave, 2007), pp. 17-34.
  • with Stuart Taberner, ‘Introduction’, in German Culture, Politics, and Literature into the Twenty-First Century, pp. 1-17.
  • ‘Abnormal Consensus The New Internationalism of German Cinema’, in German Culture, Politics, and Literature into the Twenty-First Century, pp. 223-237. 
  • ‘German Neo-noir Film’, in European Film Noir, ed. by Andrew Spicer, (Manchester: MUP, 2006), pp. 164-184.
  • ‘The Continually Suffering Nation? Cinematic Representations of German Victimhood’, in Germans as Victims: Remembering the Past in Contemporary Germany, ed. by Bill Niven (Basingstoke: Palgrave, 2006), pp. 76-92.
  • with Christopher Young, ‘Selling Sex or Dealing with History? German football in literature and film and the quest to normalize the nation’, in German Football: History, Culture, Society, ed. by Alan Tomlinson, Christopher Young (London: Routledge, 2005), pp. 181-203.
  • ‘East German Writing in the Age of Globalisation’, in Literature and Globalisation, ed. by Stuart Taberner (Birmingham: University of Birmingham Press, 2004), pp. 25-46.

‘The Stasi as Panopticon: Wolfgang Hilbig’s »Ich«’, in German Writers and the Politics of Culture: Dealing with the Stasi, ed. by Paul Cooke and Andrew Plowman (Basingstoke: Palgrave, 2003), pp. 139-153.

  • 'German Cultural Studies', in Approaches to the Study of Contemporary Germany, ed. by Jonathan Grix (Birmingham: University of Birmingham Press, 2002), pp. 78-112. 
  • ‘Literature and the Question of East German Cultural Identity since the Wende’, in East German Distinctiveness in a unified Germany, ed. by Paul Cooke and Jonathan Grix (Birmingham: University of Birmingham Press, 2002), pp. 151-167.
  • ‘From Opfer to Täter? Identity and the Stasi in Post-Wende East German Literature’, in Legacies and identity: East and West German literary responses to unification, ed. by Martin Kane (Oxford, Peter Lang, 2002), pp. 51-66. 
  • ‘Countering “Realitätsverlust”: Wolfgang Hilbig and the Postmodern Condition', The Writers’ Morality: Festschrift for Michael Butler, ed. by Ronald Speirs (Oxford: Peter Lang, 2000), pp. 121-142. 
  • ‘Aufarbeitung oder Ästhetisierung? Die Stasi-Vergangenheit in der Literatur: Wolfgang Hilbigs »Ich«’, in Die DDR- Politik und Ideologie als Instrument, ed. by Heiner Timmermann (Berlin: Dunker & Humblot, 1999), pp. 859-871.  

 Journal Articles

  • with Stephanie Dennison and Will Gould, ‘Participatory Video in Development: the Voicing Hidden Histories Project, Soft Power, Community Advocacy and Film Language’, Journal of Media Practice, 2018, forthcoming.
  • ‘Packing the Affective Moment’, Short Film Studies, 7/2 (2017): 211-4.
  • ‘Soft Power, Film Culture and the BRICS’, New Cinemas, 14/1 (2016): 3-15.
  • ‘Soft power and South African film: Negotiating mutually incompatible agendas?’ New Cinemas, 14/1 (2016): 93-109.
  • With Laura King and James Stark, ‘Experiencing the Digital World: The Cultural Value of Digital Engagement with Heritage’, 9/1 (2016): 76-101.
  •  ‘Reconfiguring the National Community Transnationally: teamWorx, Television and the “Eventization” of German History’, Modern Languages Review, 108 (2013): 597-617.
  • 'The Long Shadow of the New German Cinema: Deutschland 09 (2009), Deutschland im Herbst (1978) and National Film Culture', Screen,  52/3 (2011): 327-341. 
  • ‘Recent Trends in German Film Studies’, Monateshefte, 102 (2010): 384-399.
  • Dresden (2006), TeamWorx and Titanic (1997): German Wartime Suffering as Hollywood Disaster Movie’, in German Life and Letters, 61 (2008): 279-294.
  • ‘Supporting Contemporary German Film: How Triumphant is the Free Market?’, Journal of Contemporary European Studies 15:1 (2007): 35-46.
  • ‘Oliver Hirschbiegel’s Der Untergang (2004): an image of German Wartime Suffering too far?’, German Monitor, 67 (2007): 247-261.
  • Ostalgie's Not What It Used to Be: The German Television GDR Craze of 2003’, German Politics & Society, 22/4 (2004): 134-150.
  • ‘Surfing for Eastern Difference: Ostalgie, Identity and Cyberspace’, Seminar, 40 (2004): 207-220.
  • ‘Whatever happened to Veronica Voss? Rehabilitating the "68ers" and the problem of Westalgie in Oskar Roehler's Die Unberührbare (2000)’, German Studies Review, 27 (2004): 33-44.
  • ‘Ostdeutsche kulturelle Identität und der Cyberspace’, Berliner Debatte Initial, 1 (2003): 15-26.
  • ‘Escaping the burden of the past: Questions of East German Identity in the Work of Ingo Schramm’, Seminar, 27 (2003): 33-44.
  • ‘Beyond a Trotzidentität? Storytelling and the Postcolonial Voice in Ingo Schulze's Simple Storys’, Forum for Modern Language Studies, 39 (2003): 290-305.
  • ‘Performing Ostalgie: Leander Haußmann's Sonnenallee’, German Life and Letters, 56 (2003): 156-167.
  • ‘The Krimi and the Criminal State: Wolfgang Hilbig’s Eine Übertragung’, Modern Languages Review, 96 (2001): 1029-1041.
  • ‘“Das schreiende Amt": the “Bourgeois” Tradition and the Problem of “Objectivity” in Wolfgang Hilbig's abwesenheit’, German Life and Letters, 53 (2000): 261-278.
  • ‘Continuity and Taboo: Sexual Repression and Vergangenheitsbewältigung in Wolfgang Hilbig's Die Weiber’, East Germany - Continuity and Change: German Monitor, 46 (2000): 1-14.
  • with Nicholas Hubble, 'Die volkseigene Opposition? The State, the Stasi and the Alternative Culture in the GDR', German Politics, 6/2 (1997): 117-138.

Selected Film Projects

  • ‘Phendulani’, 22 mins,, funded through AHRC ACRF project, coproduced with Themba Interactive, South African Based NGO, 2018
  • ‘Caran’, 6 mins,, funded through AHRC/MRC project, coproduced with HERD International, Nepali-based public health NGO, 2018.
  • ‘Voicing Hidden Histories’, 14 mins,, co-produced in India, Brazil and South Africa, funded through AHRC GCRF project.
  • ‘Welcome’ in Utopia, 3 mins,, co-produced with the Leeds Refugee Education Training Advice Service (RETAS) and the TLANG project, funded through the AHRC's Translating Cultures theme, 2016.
  • ‘Reflections on a Building: The Johannesburg Holocaust and Genocide Centre’, 9 mins,, co-produced with volunteers and survivor group at JHGC, 2016.
  • Ukuhamba Ukubona - To Walk Is To See, 16 mins,; Tit for Tat, 6 mins,, co-produced with peer educators from Tshepo Hope ‘Safe Park’, Tsakane Township, 2016. · Bautzen, 22 mins,; Witness, 9 mins,; Memorial, 9 mins,; City, 9 mins,; Freedom, 14 mins;, co-produced with Gedenkstätte Bautzen, Landesverband Kinder- und Jugendfilm Berlin e.V. and the British Film Institute Film Academy, 2015.
  • Germany’s Confrontation with the Holocaust in a Global Context, 5 mins,, co-produced with the South African Holocaust and Genocide Foundation and students of Sans Souci High School, Cape Town, 2014.
<h4>Research projects</h4> <p>Any research projects I'm currently working on will be listed below. Our list of all <a href="">research projects</a> allows you to view and search the full list of projects in the faculty.</p>


  • BA English and German, University of Birmingham
  • MA in German Studies, University of Nottingham
  • MA in Digital Filmmaking, University of Bradford
  • PhD in German Studies, University of Birmingham

Research groups and institutes

  • Centre for World Cinemas and Digital Cultures
  • Cinema and Television
  • Digital cultures
  • Development studies
  • Participatory research
  • Cultural studies
  • German

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="">research opportunities</a> allow you to search for projects and scholarships.</p>