French/Francophone | German | Italian | Spanish | Latin American Literature | Translation studies | Cultural studies | History of ideas | Comparative studies | Memory studies

The Institute provides first-class PhD supervision and guidance from academics who are leaders in their field, in collaboration with specialists at other institutions where appropriate. Distance-learning and part-time study options are available.

The Institute’s research strength lies in the combination of the study of several language fields: French, German, Italian, Spanish and Portuguese. Our academic staff specialise in literature, cultural studies, history of ideas and comparative studies: the city (especially Berlin, Trieste), borders, the body, psychoanalysis, gender and sexuality, feminism, women's writing, Jewish writing, exile writing, and children's literature.

Because of its function as a centre for academic events in European culture, the Institute has national and international contacts with researchers in its fields. The Institute is thus particularly well placed to offer supervision for projects that cross national and disciplinary boundaries.

Students have access to networks associated with the Centres for German and Austrian Exile Studies, Contemporary Women’s Writing, Cultural Memory, Quebec and French-Canadian Studies, Ernst Bloch, and Austrian Literature and Culture.

Research degrees can be completed on a full-time basis (up to four years) or on a part-time basis (up to seven years). The Institute can also offer students the opportunity to undertake their PhD by distance learning.

Recent projects undertaken by research students at the Institute include:

  • Reading Clarice Lispector through the work of Toni Morrison and Bessie Head (with the Department of English, Birkbeck, and the Department of Portuguese and Brazilian Studies, KCL)
  • The cultural re-cycling of Spanish historical women: Juana la Loca and Mariana Pineda
  • Memory and the city in the Chilean transition to democracy
  • The relationship between Richard Gerstl and Arnold Schönberg
  • Generational discourse in post-war journals of the young generation, 1945-1949
  • Discourses of democracy, consumption, youth and women in the Weimar Republic newspaper, Tempo, 1928-1933
  • Stefan Zweig and China
  • Lower Silesia in historiography, geography and literature
  • Hans Sachs and satire
  • Nostalgia, hope and longing in American culture: a Blochean perspective
  • Literature of the Kindertransport
  • The concept of englightened patriotism in Weimar Germany
  • Identity and belonging in German exile writing

Enquiries about research supervision should be addressed to the Director, Professor Charles Burdett, sending a cv and a research proposal (



Professor Charmian Brinson

Charmian Brinson

Charmian Brinson is Emeritus Professor of German at Imperial College London as well as a founder member of the Research Centre for German & Austrian Exile Studies at the IMLR. Her research interests include the society and culture of the Weimar Republic and of fin-de-siècle Austria, and in particular the history and culture of German and Austrian exiles from Nazism in Britain and further afield. Her current research projects include, with Professor Richard Dove, a study of the contribution made by German-speaking exiles to British wartime propaganda and, with Dr Jana Buresova, the work of the British-based Czech Refugee Trust Fund. She has published extensively on German and Austrian Exile in Britain, including, with Richard Dove, A Matter of Intelligence: MI5 and the Surveillance of Anti-Nazi Refugees 1933-45 (2014) and, co-edited with Andrea Hammel and Jana Buresova, a two-part study, Exile and Gender I: Literature and the Press (2016) and Exile and Gender II: Politics, Education and the Arts (2017). Professor Brinson has supervised numerous PhD theses on different aspects of German-speaking exile, including exiles from Czechoslovakia, as well as on Belgian refugees of the First World War and post-Second World War Austrian migrants.   

Professor Charles Burdett

Charmian Brinson

The principal areas of Professor Burdett’s research are literary culture under Fascism, travel writing, the Italian colonial presence in Africa and its legacy, theories of inter-cultural contact, the representation of the Islamic world in recent Italian culture. An important part of his work concerns the theoretical frame through which we consider transnational representations. This research interest lies at the heart of the AHRC beacon project of which he was Principal Investigator, Transnationalizing Modern Languages: Mobility, Identity and Translation in Modern Italian Cultures (2014-2017). The project explored a series of critical instances of linguistic and cultural translation embedded within the histories of Italian mobility. He is the co-editor of the volumes, Transnational Italian Studies (2020) and Transcultural Italies: Mobility, Memory and Translation (2020). His book, Italy, Islam and the Islamic World: Representations and Reflections from 9/11 to the Arab Uprisings (2016) examined some of the most significant voices in defining Italy’s relationship with Islam and the Islamic world over recent years. His monograph, Journeys through Fascism (2007, pbk 2010), drawing on a wide range of theoretical work on travel and cross-cultural exchange, examined representations by Italian writers of travel to Africa, the Middle East, Russia and the United States.

Professor Catherine Davies

Professor Davies has published widely on 19th- and 20th-century Spanish and Spanish American literature, history and culture. She specializes in the following fields: women's writing; historical fiction; intellectual history; gender studies; the political essay, and poetry. She is particularly interested in the cultures, histories and literatures of Spain, Galicia, Cuba, Argentina and Colombia. Professor Davies has successfully supervised a large number of PhD theses on, for example: Rosa Chacel, Diamela Eltit, Silvia Galvis, Spanish Romantic literature, Galician women's writing, Cuban crime fiction, African-Cuban poetry, Colombian literature, Women novelists in 20th-century Spain, and Latin American women's Testimonio. She has also examined many PhD theses in the UK and internationally. Her recent co-authored book, South American Independence: Gender, Politics, Text (2006)  is on the literature and culture of the Independence period in early 19th-century Spanish America and Spain explored from a gender inflected perspective.  

Dr Joseph Ford

Joseph Ford

Dr Ford specialises in 20th- and 21st-century Francophone Literature and Culture, with specific interests in Algeria and what has become known as the Algerian Civil War or 'Black Decade' of the 1990s. His wider research interests are in postcolonial studies, the theory and practice of world literature and literary translation, and French and Francophone intellectual culture of the 20th and 21st centuries. His first book, Writing the Black Decade: Conflict and Criticism in Francophone Algerian Literature (forthcoming in January 2021 with Lexington Books), studies how literature – and the way we read, classify and critique literature – impacts our understanding of the world at a time of conflict. He has published articles on Mustapha Benfodil, Maïssa Bey, Salim Bachi and Kamel Daoud, translated a book-length collection of poems by Mustapha Benfodil (Hesterglock Press, 2018) and is completing an article on the theory and practice of 'world literature' in the work of the Algerian writer Kaouther Adimi. Dr Ford is Director of the Centre for the Study of Cultural Memory (CCM), co-General Editor (with Catherine Davies) of the Journal of Romance Studies and convenor of the Convocation Seminars in World Literature and Translation (co-convened with LINKS).

Dr Andrea Hammel

Andrea Hammel

Andrea Hammel's research interests include exile literature, especially by German-Jewish women writers; the social and cultural history of refugees from National Socialism, especially the Kindertransport; autobiography; the translation of Holocaust writing and comparative studies of refugee groups. She is a member of the editorial board of the Yearbook of the Research Centre for German and Austrian Exile Studies and co-edited two volumes on Gender and Exile in 2016 and 2017. Her exploration of second generation trauma and of identity and belonging among Kindertransportees have been published in German Life and Letters and Shofar. An Interdisciplinary Journal of Jewish Studies. Reaching audiences beyond the academic is important to Andrea Hammel: in 2018 she contributed to an open-air exhibition on the Kindertransport in Berlin and she is also involved in an exhibition on the subject in 2021 in Frankfurt/Main,Germany. 

Dr Ainhoa Montoya

Ainhoa Montoya

Dr Ainhoa Montoya’s research focuses on the uses of law in violent environmental conflicts in Central America, and the ontologies and moralities these uses incorporate. Her previous project addressed post-conflict violence in El Salvador, exploring ethnographically how Salvadorans conceive of democracy and participate in the country’s political life in the context of a violent peace. Ainhoa welcomes PhD students with an interest in bringing an anthropological perspective to the study of violence and conflict, democracy and state transformation, the law, the environment and natural resources, social movements, or human rights.                 

Professor Linda Newson

Linda Newson

Professor Linda Newson has conducted extensive archival research in Latin America and is the author of seven monographs and two edited books.  Her first five monographs examined the demographic and cultural impact of Spanish colonial rule in Trinidad, Honduras, Nicaragua, Ecuador, and the Philippines. More recently, she examined the African slave trade in Peru in the 16th and early 17th centuries. She is currently researching the history of medicine in Peru in the early colonial period.  She has received awards for distinguished scholarship from the Conference of Latin Americanist Geographers (USA) and the Royal Geographic Society. She is a Fellow of the British Academy and chairs its Latin American and Caribbean Panel. In 2015, Professor Newson received the Order of the British Empire (OBE) for services to Latin American Studies.

Dr Katia Pizzi

On leave of absence 
Dr Pizzi specializes in modern Italian studies, with particular interest in the literature of the inter-war years, memory studies, Futurism and technology. Her books A City in Search of An Author: The Cultural Identity of Trieste (2001), Trieste: triestinita`, italianita` e male di frontiera (2007) and Cold War Cities: History, Culture and Memory (2016) explore the cultural identity of key cities and regions during the Cold War and beyond, especially Trieste and the north-eastern borders of Italy. Pizzi's recent research interests lie in Modernism, the European Futurist avantgarde, industrial cultures and technology, and she is writing the monograph Italian Futurism and the Machine. Pizzi has further published several chapters and articles on children’s literature and nationalism, the interface between text and illustration, Antonio Rubino and comics. Her volume Pinocchio Puppets and Modernity: The Mechanical Body (2012) was awarded with the prestigious Best Edited Book Prize by the Children's Literature Association. Pizzi has supervised doctoral theses on modern and contemporary Italian writers, women writers, Holocaust memory, writing and migration and Pinocchio.

Dr Johan Siebers 

Dr Johan Siebers (Associate Fellow, IMLR/Associate Professor of Philosophy and Religion, Middlesex University) is available for dissertation and thesis supervision in the area of post-Kantian German philosophy. His own work investigates the possibilities of metaphysical thinking today and he is committed to the idea that the purpose of philosophy is the liberation of the mind. His research interests include critical theory; German idealism; metaphysics; being and speculative philosophy; aesthetics; philosophy of language, dialogue and communication; religious experience; temporality and futurity; existentialism and psychoanalysis. He is also interested in the relations between German and classical American thought (Transcendentalism, Emerson, pragmatism, Whitehead and process philosophy). He has a special, but not exclusive, interest in the philosophy of Ernst Bloch and leads the Ernst Bloch Centre at the IMLR.

Dr Anne Simon 

Dr Simon specialises in German Studies in the mediaeval and Early Modern periods, with particular reference to the impact of these periods on subsequent eras. Her main interest is the city of Nuremberg from the Middle Ages to the present. Her book The Cult of Saint Katherine of Alexandria in Nuremberg: Saint and a City draws on a wide variety of textual and visual sources to explore the shaping of urban space through this cult; the saint’s role in moulding and advertising patrician identity and alliances through cultural patronage; and the use of Katherine to showcase the city's political, economic, cultural and religious importance at the heart of the Holy Roman Empire. Dr Simon’s research and publications also encompass pilgrimage and travel literature; nuns’ letters (Pepper for Prayer: The Correspondence of the Birgittine Nun Katerina Lemmel, 1516‒1525, edited by Volker Schier, Corine Schleif and Anne Simon); the history of the book; didactic literature for women; and the relationship between text and image. Dr Simon has supervised work on a wide range of topics from the Middle Ages to the present, including artistic and cultural patronage; the Reformation; Hans Sachs; travel literature; publishing history; marginal groups; the National Socialist use of the Middle Ages; and Nuremberg’s contemporary self-marketing.

Dr Godela Weiss-Sussex

Dr Weiss-Sussex's research interests lie in the culture and literature of the 20th and 21st centuries in the following areas: women’s writing, the works of German-Jewish writers produced in Germany and in exile, issues of identity and belonging in contemporary literature, multi- and translingual writing, and the city in literature and the visual arts. Her main current research projects focus on multilingualism and alternative concepts of belonging in contemporary German-Jewish women’s writing, and on minor and minority literatures in Europe. Her recent publications include the monograph Jüdin und Moderne. Literarisierungen der Lebenswelt deutsch-jüdischer Autorinnen in Berlin, 1900-1918 (2016), and (co-edited with Caroline Bland and Catherine Smale): Women Writing Heimat in Imperial and Weimar Germany, Special Issue of German Life and Letters (72.1, 2019). Dr Weiss-Sussex has successfully supervised PhD dissertations on German post-war literary journals, on the culture and society of Weimar Germany, on female authors’ writing in British exile, and on Kindertransport literature.

Dr Naomi Wells

Naomi Wells

Dr Wells specialises in the area of multilingualism and migration in Spanish- and Italian-speaking contexts, with her current research focusing on digital spaces of communication and representation. She has conducted fieldwork in Spain, Italy, Chile, and the UK, and her research incorporates transdisciplinary methods and approaches drawn primarily from applied and sociolinguistics, translation and cultural studies, migration studies, and digital humanities and digital culture studies. She has recently published articles in the journals Modern Italy, Modern Languages Open and Language Policy, and has contributed to Liverpool University Press’s forthcoming Transnational Modern Languages book series. She is also joint Section Editor of the Digital Modern Languages Section on Modern Languages Open, and provides postgraduate research training on qualitative and online research methods. Dr Wells is able to supervise research in the areas of: Hispanic and Italian Studies, multilingualism, cultures of migration and diaspora studies, minority and regional languages, social media and internet research, (digital) discourse analysis and (digital) ethnography.