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Personal profile

Biographical details

Catherine Smale studied German and French at the University of Cambridge, where she then completed an MPhil in European Literature and Culture and a PhD in German Literature, funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council. During her studies, she spent a year as a Language Assistant in Schleswig-Holstein, and carried out research at the Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel and the Freie Universität Berlin, supported by the Tiarks German Scholarship Fund. In January 2011, she returned to Berlin to carry out post-doctoral research at the Friedrich Schlegel Graduiertenschule für literaturwissenschaftliche Studien, where she was the holder of a Hanseatic Scholarship funded by the Alfred Toepfer Stiftung F.V.S. She joined King’s College London as a Teaching Fellow in September 2011, and was appointed Lecturer in German in 2012.

Research interests

Catherine Smale’s main research lies in the field of twentieth-century studies. One area of focus has been the legacy of German division and reunification in literature written since 1989. Her monograph, Phantom Images: The Figure of the Ghost in the Work of Christa Wolf and Irina Liebmann (Oxford: MHRA, 2013), examines the work of two major writers from the former GDR. Drawing on a wide range of theoretical reference, from psychoanalytic theories of the uncanny to the Derridean notion of the spectre, it shows how these writers adapt notions of haunting and spectrality in their engagement with the double legacy of the Third Reich and the GDR.

Catherine’s current research falls into two distinct areas. The first is the relationship between socio-political protest and aesthetic experimentation in the work of Expressionist women writers before, during and after the First World War. Catherine has published work on the Expressionist poet Frida Bettingen, as well as on the pacifist writers Claire Goll and Berta Lask, and she is currently working on a second monograph on the aesthetics of protest in women’s Expressionist poetry between 1910 and 1924.

The second area of Catherine’s research is the depiction of domestic space in contemporary German literature. Focusing on literary, political and architectural texts written after 1989, it investigates the ways in which conceptions of the home in this period relate to specific ideological and political concerns. The project builds on research which she began in Berlin as a post-doctoral researcher, and forms part of a broader research network on the history of everyday life which is being set up by the Department of German at King’s and researchers at the University of Warwick.

Research interests (short)

  • Contemporary and twentieth-century German literature
  • Gender theory and women’s writing
  • Literary articulations of anti-war protest
  • Gothic literature and theories of the uncanny
  • Literary representations of domestic space

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 5 - Gender Equality
  • SDG 16 - Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions

Education/Academic qualification

Doctor of Philosophy, Phantom Images: The Figure of the Ghost in the Literature of Christa Wolf and Irina Liebmann, University of Cambridge

Award Date: 1 Jan 2011

Master of Philosophy, 'Aus Blut und Schmerz geboren': The Poetry of Frida Bettingen, University of Cambridge

Award Date: 1 Jan 2007

Bachelor of Arts, University of Cambridge

Award Date: 1 Jan 2006


  • PT Germanic literature


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