Portrait of Dr Katja Haustein

Dr Katja Haustein

Lecturer in Comparative Literature


Katja Haustein specialises in modern European Literature and the history of ideas, visual culture, literature and the emotions, sex, gender, and the medical humanities.

Before joining the University of Kent in 2012, Katja studied Comparative Literature, German Literature, and History in Berlin, London, Paris, and Cambridge. She was a British Academy Postdoctoral Research Fellow at Cambridge, and a Max Weber Fellow at the European University Institute in Florence.

Katja is Co-Director of the Centre for Modern European Literature and Culture.  

Research interests

Katja has written on conceptions of space and the theory of myths in modern French literature; on twentieth-century autobiography and visual culture, including Regarding Lost Time: Photography, Identity, and Affect in Proust, Benjamin, and Barthes (Oxford, Legenda: 2012/2020); on the conceptual history of empathy and pity; and on the cultural history of breastfeeding. Her most recent book project, which was awarded a Leverhulme Trust Research Fellowship in 2019/20, is called Alone With Others: An Essay On Tact in Five Encounters. The book defines tact as an intuitive and creative mode of negotiating the appropriate distance between people. It shows how tact becomes significant in times of crisis, when established codes of sociability disintegrate, and new modes of communication have to be found. The book reconstructs the conceptual history of tact from the late eighteenth century to the present, to then focus on the First World War, the Second World War, and 1968 as three different periods of social and political upheaval that marked the twentieth century. In a series of reading encounters with key authors such as Proust, Plessner, Adorno, Truffaut, and Barthes, the book reconsiders our ways of engaging with other people, images, and texts, and gauges the significance of tact today. Alone With Others is forthcoming from Cambridge University Press.


Katja teaches on a range of topics including autobiographical writing and visual culture, European Romanticism, transatlantic Modernism, sex and gender, testimony, exile, displacement and migration, and literature and the emotions.


Katja has supervised doctoral work in modern and contemporary French, German, English and Italian literature, film, and the medical humanities. She welcomes applications from prospective research students in her areas of expertise.

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