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Faculty of Modern and Medieval Languages and Linguistics


Ms Denise Henschel

Photo of Denise Henschel

College: Jesus College


Supervisor: Dr Leila Mukhida

Research Topic: New Forms of Kinship in Contemporary German Literature and Film



Denise Henschel received an MA in German literature and language from the Freie Universität Berlin. Before coming to Cambridge for her PhD, Denise taught German language at undergraduate degree level at Cardiff University and at The University of Warwick.



Denise’s research is concerned with questions of the relation between the individual subject and the collective initiated by global changes in the contemporary now. The project focuses on the emergence of new forms of kinship and the ways in which contemporary cultural texts produce an ‘ästhetisches Eigenwissen’, or specific aesthetic knowledge, that contributes to the critical questioning of the politics of subjectivity in Germany. By situating these questions in a German context, the project aims to analyse the complex intertwining between kinship and the dominant discourse of ‘Germanness’.



Cambridge Trust Scholarship for PhD, 2019-2023



Lecturing and supervisions for ‘Gender and Writing’ within the module GE10: German literature, thought and history since 1910


Conference papers

‘Keynote by Olga Grjasnowa in Discussion with Denise Henschel.’ Identities on the Move: Exile, Migration, Diaspora, and Representation, July 2021, University of Central Lancashire, UK [online].

‘Queer(ing) the In/Human.’ Queer Cultures Graduate Symposium, June 2021, University of Cambridge, UK [online].

‘Antigone’s Place: Queer Diasporic Epistemologies of Kinship in Contemporary German Culture.’ Queer Epistemicides: Languages, Knowledges, Sexualities, IMLR Regional Conference, April 2021, University of St Andrews, UK [online].

‘Queering the Story: Diasporic Forms of Kinship in Contemporary German Culture.’ The American Comparative Literature Association’s Annual Meeting 2020 (ACLA), April 2021, USA [online].

‘Queering the Family: Performative Aesthetics and Kinship in Contemporary German Literature and Film.’ 44th Annual Conference of the German Studies Association (GSA), October 2020, Washington DC, USA [online].

‘Neue Formen der Beziehung: Reproduktion, Sexualität und Fürsorge in zeitgenössischer Kulturproduktion.’ Interdisciplinary Junior Research Network PRiNa (Politiken der Reproduktion), November 2019, Justus-Liebig-Universität Gießen, Germany.

‘Performative Aesthetics and New Forms of Kinship in Contemporary German Culture.’ 66th National Postgraduate Colloquium in German Studies, November 2019, Durham University, UK.

‘Performative Writing as a Subversive Act: Hybrid Identities in Olga Grajsnowa’s Texts.’ 7th Euroacademia International Conference, Identities and Identification. Politicized uses of collective Identities, June 2018, Lucca, Italy.

er nicht als er oder Her Not All Her? Fragen nach weiblicher Auto(r)fiktionalität.‘ Symposium Jelinek autofiktional – Sprechen, Schreiben, Zitieren, June 2015, Freie Universität Berlin, Germany.

‘Auf den Spuren Robert Walsers: Eine poetologische Auseinandersetzung mit der Position des Dichters in er nicht als er (zu, mit Robert Walser).‘ Conference Faites ce que vous voulez! Faire, défaire, contrefaire l’autorité. Regards croisés sur Elfriede Jelinek, March 2014, Lyon/St. Etienne, France.



Denise Henschel, ‘Valences of the Biopolitical: Grief and Queer Utopia in Olga Grjasnowa’s Der Russe ist einer, der Birken liebt and Olivia Wenzel’s 1000 Serpentinen Angst’, Seminar: A Journal of Germanic Studies [forthcoming 2022].


Other activities and roles

Co-convenor, German Graduate Research Seminar, 2021-22


Public engagement

Denise actively engages with the public and has previously organised a series of cultural events, including a DAAD Writer-in-Residence programme with celebrated novelist Olga Grjasnowa.

Denise Henschel, ‘Was ist Heimat – und für wen? Ein literaturgeschichtlicher Blick auf ein imaginiertes Konzept’, Goethe-Institut Istanbul <>

Denise Henschel, ‘Deutschland 2021: Race, Identität und Gender. Eine Rezension zu Mithu Sanyal’s Identitti’, Goethe-Institut Istanbul <>