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Faculty of Modern and Medieval Languages and Linguistics


Professor Sarah Colvin

Sarah Colvin
Schröder Professor of German
Director of German Section (intermitting Michaelmas 2022)
University Gender Equality Champion
Faculty of Modern & Medieval Languages & Linguistics
Contact details: 
Telephone number: 
+44 (0)1223 764 881

Jesus College
United Kingdom


Sarah Colvin studied German language and literature at the Universities of Oxford and Hamburg. She was a Junior Research Fellow at St John’s College, Oxford, a Lecturer and Reader at the University of Edinburgh, a Humboldt Fellow at Potsdam University, and held chairs at the universities of Edinburgh, Birmingham, and Warwick before becoming Schröder Professor of German at Cambridge in 2014. Sarah currently leads the research group Cultural Production and Social Justice with Dr Stephanie Galasso and Dr Tara Talwar Windsor, and co-convenes the related projects “Fictions of the Rechtsstaat”, a collaboration with the LMU Munich, and “Towards a Politics of Fiction” with the University of Bayreuth (Dr Kyung-Ho Cha). She is an Advisory Group member for the National Criminal Justice Arts Alliance.

Her primary research and teaching interests are in the areas of cultural production and social justice; literary aesthetics; epistemic injustice; the political novel; critical race theory; narrative theory and narrative ethics; narrative criminology; prisoner writing and arts in prisons.

She welcomes inquiries from potential MPhil and PhD students.

Published works: 

Recent articles:

Colvin, S. (2023) ‘Narrative Pilgrimage and Chiastic Justice in Olivia Wenzel’s 1000 Serpentinen Angst and Sharon Dodua Otoo’s Adas Raum’, in Sarah Colvin and Stephanie Galasso (eds), Epistemic Injustice and Creative Agency. Global Perspectives on Literature and Film. New York: Routledge 2023, 176-97

Colvin, S. (2021) ‘Doing drag in blackface: hermeneutical challenges and infelicitous subjectivity in Courasche, or is Grimmelshausen still worth reading?’ Daphnis, 1-27

Colvin, S. (2022) ‘May Ayim and Subversive Laughter: The Aesthetics of Epistemic Change’. German Studies Review 45/1 (2022), 81-103

Colvin, S. (2022) ‘Freedom time: Temporal Insurrections in Olivia Wenzel’s 1000 Serpentinen Angst and Sharon Dodua Otoo’s Adas Raum. German Life and Letters 75, 138-65

Colvin, S. (2021) ‘Words that might save necks: Philipp Khabo Koepsell, epistemic murder and poetic justice’. German Life and Letters 74, 511-56

Colvin, S. (2020) ‘Talking Back: Sharon Dodua Otoo’s Herr Gröttrup setzt sich hin and the Epistemology of Resistance’. German Life and Letters.

Colvin, S. (2020) ‘"The credibility of elves": narrative exclusion and prison writing’, in Kelly, M. and Westall, C. (eds), Prison Writing and the Literary World. London: Routledge, 21-38.

Colvin, S. and Sandberg, S. (2020) ‘“ISIS is not Islam”: Epistemic Injustice, Everyday Religion, and Young Muslims’ Narrative Resistance’. British Journal of Criminology.

Colvin, S. and Pisoiu, D. (2020) ‘When Being Bad is Good? Bringing Neutralization Theory to Subcultural Narratives of Right-Wing Violence’. Studies in Conflict & Terrorism 43, 493-508.

Colvin, S. (2017) ‘Unerhört? Prisoner Narratives as Unlistened-to Stories and Some Reflections on the Picaresque’. Modern Language Review 112, 442-60

Colvin, S. (2016) Leaning In: Why and How I Still Study The GermanGerman Life and Letters 69, 123-41. 

Colvin, S. (2015) Why should criminology care about literary fiction? Literature, life narratives and telling untellable stories. Punishment & Society 17(2), 211-229. 



Shadowland: The Story of Germany Told by its Prisoners. London: Reaktion Books 2022 (Podcast:

Ulrike Meinhof and West German Terrorism: Language, Violence and Identity. Rochester, NY: Camden House, 2009

Women and German Drama: Playwrights and their Texts. Rochester, NY: Camden House 2003

The Rhetorical Feminine: Gender and Orient on the German Stage. Oxford: Clarenden 1999

Edited books:

The Literary and Essayistic Writing of Sharon Dodua Otoo. German Life and Letters special issue (2024) (ed. with Tara Talwar Windsor)

Epistemic Injustice and Creative Agency. Perspectives on Global Literature and Film, ed. with Stephanie Galasso. London: Routledge 2023

Women, Global Protest Movements and Political Agency: Rethinking the Legacy of 1968 [Vol 1], ed. with Katharina Karcher. London: Routledge 2019

Gender, Emancipation, and Political Violence: Rethinking the Legacy of 1968 [Vol 2], ed. with Katharina Karcher. London: Routledge 2019

The Routledge Handbook of German Politics and Culture. London 2015

Narratives and Identities in the Berlin Republic, ed. with Isabelle Hertner, and Joanne Sayner. German Politics and Society Special Issue, Spring/Summer 2015

The Feminine in German Culture, ed. with Charlotte Woodford. German Life and Letters Special Issue, October 2014

Women and Death: Warlike Women in the German Literary and Cultural Imagination, ed. with Helen Watanabe-O’Kelly. Rochester, NY: Camden House 2009

Masculinities in German Culture, ed. with Peter Davies. Edinburgh German Yearbook 2008

Myths and Mythmaking, ed. with Laura Martin, Alison Phipps, Christl Reissenberger. German Life and Letters Special Issue 2004