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Faculty of Modern and Medieval Languages and Linguistics


Professor Sarah Colvin

Professor Sarah Colvin
Schröder Professor of German
German & Dutch
Faculty of Modern & Medieval Languages
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.

In 2020-21 she is a Senior Fellow at the Humboldt Centre, University of Bayreuth

Research interests: 

Her primary research and teaching interests are in the areas of narrative theory and practice, including narrative and ethical approaches to literature; anti-racism and critical race theory; prisoner narratives; gender and writing. She is a steering committee member for the National Criminal Justice Arts Alliance

Professor Colvin welcomes inquiries from potential MPhil and PhD students with research interests relevant to her interests.

Published works: 

Recent articles:

“‘The credibility of elves’: narrative exclusion and prison writing’, in Michelle Kelly and Claire Westall (eds.), Prison Writing and the Literary World: Imprisonment, Institutionality and Questions of Literary Practice. London: Routledge 2021, 21-37

‘Talking Back: Sharon Dodua Otoo’s Herr Gröttrup setzt sich hin and the Epistemology of Resistance”’. German Life and Letters 73 (2020), 659-79

‘“ISIS is not Islam”: Epistemic Injustice, Everyday Religion, and Young Muslims’ Narrative Resistance’. British Journal of Criminology, online 23 May 2020 (co-author S. Sandberg)

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

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

‘Leaning In: Why and How I Still Study The German’. German Life and Letters 69 (2016), 123-41

‘Why Should Criminology Care about Literary Fiction? Literature, Life Narratives and Telling Untellable Stories’. Punishment & Society 17/2 (2015), 211-29



Shadowland: The Story of Germany Told by its Prisoners. On submission

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:

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