Research interests and current research

Prof. Dr. Mark Stein
Dr. Marga Munkelt
Dr. Silke Stroh
PD Dr. phil. habil. Markus Schmitz
Caroline Kögler
Felipe Espinoza
Deborah Nyangulu

Jessica Voges, M.A.

Research group "Afroeuropeans"
Encyclopedia Afro-European studies
Research group "Transmigration"
"Network Postcolonial Germany and Britain"
Research group "Open Cities"


 Prof. Dr. Mark Stein

English literature;  Postcolonial and Transcultural Studies, as well as African, Black British, Caribbean and South Asian literature and culture. Member of research groups "Afroeuropeans", "Encyclopedia Afro-European studies", "Transmigration""Network Postcolonial Germany and Britain" and "Open Cities".


Dr. Marga Munkelt

Shakespeare Studies; Chicano Studies; minority cultures; editorial theory and textual criticism; performance theory and criticism. Member of research group "Transmigration".


Dr. Silke Stroh

General research interests include postcolonial theory; diaspora studies; African, Black & Asian British, Canadian, Australian and New Zealand literature and culture; Scottish Studies; images of Celticity; Film Studies; and strategies for teaching transcultural competence in EFL (English as a foreign language) courses.

Her current main project is a post-doctoral thesis ("Habilitationsschrift") / monograph entitled "Narratives of transmigration: Multiple movement and cultures of memory in the British colonial diaspora," with a focus on Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

She is also a member and main coordinator of the international Young Scholars' Network "Black Diaspora and Germany", which is funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG).

Further research groups are "Postcolonial Germany and Britain" and "Transmigration".


PD Dr. phil. habil. Markus Schmitz

Research interests include Contemporary (Anglophone) Arab Representations, Global Comparativism and Critical Cosmopolitanism, Relational Diasporic Studies, Cultural Imaginaries of Refuge, (Trans-)Migrancy and the Blogosphere, Literature and Visual Culture (Intermediality), Concept and Performance Art, Artistic Research, (Post-)Orientalism/(Post-)Occidentalism, Cultural Resistance and Counter-Journalism.

Member of research groups "Open Cities" and "Transmigration".

Current research projects include a comparative study on “Middle Eastern and African Refugee Imaginaries.”


Caroline Kögler

Research interests include crossovers between gender studies, queer studies, postcolonial studies, and postmodernism; nature and post-humanism; the body; as well as crossovers between literature, reading, and marketing/branding.


Felipe Espinoza

In his thesis he analyses how recent cinematic representations of Great Britain are connected to the long-term effects of Margaret Thatcher’s premiership (working title: “Formations of Post-Thatcherism: British Cinema since 1990”).

Research interests include:

  • Film and media studies
  • British cinema
  • Genre theory
  • Contemporary British Literature


Deborah Nyangulu


General research interests include literary and cultural theory/criticism and African literatures. Her current main project is a PhD thesis entitled "Big-man Aesthetics: Reading Character and Power in Contemporary African novels". The project analyses literary representations of the character of the big-man in selected novels by authors from Sub-Saharan Africa.

Using methods of literary criticism and drawing on works such as Achille Mbembe’s Aesthetics of Vulgarity and on Marshall D. Sahlins big-man research, the main objective of the project is to elucidate the portrayal of big-man power including how this power is performed, affirmed, negotiated and resisted.


Jessica Voges, M.A.

Working title: Performing laughter. Function and Effects of Laughter in Black British Literature

The project will be concerned with the function of laughter in contemporary black British literature. It will be argued that laughter can have identity-constituting effects and thus can be seen as an important criterion of analysis for black British literature alongside with gender, ethnicity and class.

For the analyses, the performative aspect of laughter in the process of communication will be considered. Therefore, it will be examined what kind of laughter is applied in the texts in order to identify its various functions. Acting on the assumption that laughter is a response to a certain stimulus, it is not only the latter that is of significance in this context. As laughter is highly subjective and depends on social upbringing as well as cultural background, the focus has also to be put on the reasons for laughter, which could be, for example, desire for social integration, avoidance of conflict, or the crossing of cultural boundaries. Furthermore, laughter about oneself or the community one belongs to will be of interest as, by making fun of what influences an individual’s identity, a superior position can be taken that seems to, on the one hand, neglect social or cultural influences but could also stylize and acuminate them. In this context, humour becomes a context-depending code, to which laughter refers. By ‘performing’ laughter, the individual acts according to certain codes, which do not necessarily correspond to his or her own ideas.  Thereby not only the multiplicity but also the fluidity of identities is underlined, as the peformative character of laughter indicates an iterative aspect. By aligning one’s laughter to others, the individual adjusts to certain conventions and norms and thus performs social laughter.

In black British literature the concept of performative laughter is especially significant in the context of hybrid identities and, closely connected, questions of belonging. For the analyses works by Zadie Smith, Meera Syal and Andrea Levy will be included, in which the focus is not only put on immigrant characters, but also on second-generation characters and their individual struggle of constructing an identity. Therefore theories on black Britishness will be included as well as theories on laughter and performance, including, among others, works by Kadija Sesay, C.L. Innes and James Procter on the one hand, and texts on laughter by John Clement Ball, Max Eastman and Stefanie Köhler on the other.