Dr Helen Finch

Dr Helen Finch


I am currently working on literature and memoirs written by surviors of the Shoah in German. I also have a longstanding interest in queer masculinities and utopias in German literature and culture. My 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 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 was educated at the Universities of Dublin and Glasgow, and taught at the Universities of Dublin, Ulster and Liverpool. I have been teaching 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.


  • Programme Manager for Joint Honours programmes inĀ Languages and Cultures & Arts.
  • 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 a second monograph, entitled German-Jewish Life Writing in the Aftermath of the Shoah: Beyond Testimony. This monograph focusses on the literary aftermath of witnessing in the wake of the Holocaust. It examines the transnational literary careers of five German-Jewish literary witnesses to the Holocaust, looking at the way that canonisation, exclusion from the canon, and a lifetime of witnessing are reflected in their later literary work. I am also currently writing an article about queer Holocaust memory.

Recent postgraduate projects supervised include:

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-present)

Pete Freeth, “Look who's back in the frame: The translator's visibility in the digital paratextual framings of translated literary texts” (PhD 2018-present)

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
  • Gender and politics in German literature
  • The works of W. G. Sebald and H. G. Adler
<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>


  • 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.

I have co-authored a forthcoming article about curriculum diversification and decolonisation in German at Leeds: Helen Finch, Chloé Elliott, Poppy McDonnell, ‘Trying to Be A Bit Radical: Decolonizing the German Curriculum and Empowering Students in German Studies at Leeds’, in Simone Pfleger, Carrie Smith (eds): Transverse Disciplines: Working across and beyond Academic Communities (Toronto: University of Toronto Press).

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>