Research interests and current research

Prof. Dr. Mark Stein
PD Dr. phil. habil. Markus Schmitz
Felipe Espinoza
Deborah Nyangulu
Julian Wacker

Dr. Marga Munkelt
Dr. Silke Stroh


Research network "PIN - Postcolonial Intellectuals and their European Publics"
Research group "Afroeuropeans"
Encyclopedia Afro-European studies
Research group "Transmigration"
"Network Postcolonial Germany and Britain"


 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".


PD Dr. phil. habil. Markus Schmitz

His current research project "Escape to Europe: Comparative Refugee Imaginaries" starts from the (generic, tropological, and ethical) limits of telling refugee stories according to the dominant European emplotment of the so-called refugee crisis. As a critical counterpoint it explores the transformation of Middle Eastern and African imaginaries of refugee-migration to Europe since approx. 1948 across various genres (including literature, music, film, performance art, or the vlogo- and blogosphere). Questioning our conventional notion of refugee-ism the project suggests new ways of understanding the historical and political presence of refugee migration. By doing so it at the same time stresses the role of comparative literary and cultural studies within the multidisciplinary field of forced and clandestine migration studies.


Felipe Espinoza

In his PhD thesis he analysed how recent cinematic representations of Great Britain are connected to the long-term effects of Margaret Thatcher’s premiership (“Post-Thatcherism in British Cinema since 1990”). His most recent project looks at rediscovered, popular Victorian women writers and connections to Empire in their texts. 

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.


Julian Wacker

Julian's PhD research focuses on representations of space, masculinity, and the male black body in British grime culture. His thesis analyzes how contemporary black British audiovisual art creates alternative imaginaries of council housing estates and responds to the racializing narratives that impact dominant portrayals of the council estate. He also works on framing a wider understanding of grime culture that encompasses film, literature, and poetry. Julian is also a member of the NWO-funded research network PIN - Postcolonial Intellectuals and their European Publics.

Other research areas include: black and Asian British writing, film, and TV; neo-Victorian studies; diasporic literatures; Chinese-Jamaican literature and culture.


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

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.
Her other research interests include postcolonial theory; nationalism and transnationalism; Scottish Studies; Black/Asian British as well as African literature and culture; film and TV.
She is also a member and main coordinator of the international Young Scholars' Network "Black Diaspora and Germany", funded by the German Research Foundation (Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft / DFG) from 2010 to 2018.


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.