Professor Axel Stähler joined the Department of Comparative Literature at Kent in 2007. He received his education in Germany where he completed his PhD in English and American culture and literature, German literature, and art history at the University of Bonn in 1999 and his post-doctoral degree (Habilitation) in 2007.
Axel taught at the universities of Bonn and Bamberg, for Loyola Marymount University, Los Angeles, and was co-ordinator of the international research project ‘Fundamentalism and Literature’ at the University of Münster. At the University of Bonn, he worked as a post-doctoral research fellow in a collaborative research project on Jewish-Christian interrelations.
Among Axel’s most recent publications are Zionism, the German Empire, and Africa (2018); The Edinburgh Companion to Modern Jewish Fiction (2015; co-edited with David Brauner), which was awarded the ‘Association of Jewish Libraries’ Judaica Reference Award’ (2016); Orientalism, Gender, and the Jews (2015; co-edited with Ulrike Brunotte and Anna-Dorothea Ludewig); Writing Jews and Jewishness in Contemporary Britain (2014; co-edited with Sue Vice); and edited collections of articles on Jewish Magic Realism (2013) and on Anglophone Jewish Literature (2007) as well as a monograph on literary constructions of Jewish postcoloniality in fiction on the British Mandate for Palestine, Literarische Konstruktionen jüdischer Postkolonialität (2009).
Funded by a Research Fellowship from the Leverhulme Trust, Axel is currently working on a new book project on ‘Jerusalem Destroyed: Literature, Art, and Music in Nineteenth-Century Europe’. The project proposes to interrogate representations of the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 CE in relation to negotiations of Jewishness in nineteenth-century European cultural production. It encompasses primary material as diverse as drama and historical fiction, paintings, oratorios, operas, and libretti from Germany, Britain, and Italy. Each country produced a specific response to the subject which became manifest in distinctive narrative emphases and in preferences for different media and genres. Situating these developments in their respective cultural-historical, social, and political contexts, the project investigates the individual trajectories of the engagement with the destruction of Jerusalem against cross-cultural and transnational influences and similarities.
Always looking to transcend the narrow boundaries of individual disciplines, the two most prominent and frequently interconnecting general threads informing Axel's research are his interest in intermediality and the formation of identities, especially with respect to Jewish culture and literature. He was awarded the Association of Jewish Libraries’ Judaica Reference Award in 2016.
He has published widely on Jewish writers from the Anglophone and German-speaking diasporas and from Israel as well as on fundamentalism and literature, the eighteenth-century novel and early modern festival culture.
Axel's main research interests include:
- Modern Jewish culture and Jewish writing in German and in English
- Zionism and literature
- Colonialism and postcolonial literature
- Representations of the Holocaust
- Fundamentalism and literature
- Crime fiction
- Eighteenth-century novel and book illustration
- Early modern European festival culture
Axel is a member of the following research networks:
Axel teaches a range of topics including representations of the Holocaust, literary awards and their politics, guilt and redemption in modern fiction, and crime fiction.
He also supervises final-year undergraduate dissertations and organises the undergraduate student conference, SWIPE.
Axel is a member of the AHRC Peer Review College.
Showing 50 of 82 total publications in the Kent Academic Repository. View all publications.
Staehler, A. (2019). Making Peace or Piecemeal? Arnold Wesker’s Screenplay and Wolfgang Storch’s TV Adaptation of Arthur Koestler’s Thieves in the Night. Jewish Film & New Media [Online] 6:28-66. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.13110/jewifilmnewmedi.6.1.0028.
From 1983 to 1985 the British Jewish playwright Arnold Wesker worked on a film script for a German-Israeli TV adaptation of Arthur Koestler’s propagandistic novel Thieves in the Night (1946) which chronicles a decisive phase in the triangular conflict between Arabs, Jews, and the British during the British Mandate for Palestine. Ultimately, Wesker’s script was rejected, but in 1986 the dramatist published an excerpt in the Jewish Chronicle. Drawing on Wesker’s original drafts and his correspondence relating to the project, this article contextualises the publication of the so-called “Peace Making Scene” with the playwright’s approach to his adaptation of the novel as a whole. It is argued that Wesker’s main objectives were to preserve the integrity of the novel and to produce a “script of substance” that was to offer a historical argument rather than the “cowboys and Indian version” expected of him. In a comparative analysis of Wesker’s successive script versions, Koestler’s novel, and the TV adaptation as it was eventually broadcast on German television in 1989, it is moreover suggested that the playwright sought to achieve a more sympathetic representation of the Palestinian Arabs that was reversed in the final script by the director of the mini-series, Wolfgang Storch. It is argued that the various stages of the international co-production and the clash of the frequently quite acerbic individual voices of those involved in it reveal competing motivations as well as conflicting and shifting strategies of representing the history of Israel and the Middle East conflict.
Staehler, A. (2019). Screaming ’Black’ Murder: Crime Fiction and the Construction of Ethnic Identities. English Studies [Online] 100:43-62. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1080/0013838X.2018.1543754.
A significant segment of crime fiction is concerned with the representation of ethnic identities and may to some extent be considered paradigmatic of the participation of literary texts in discourses on race and minorities. This article explores constructions of ethnic identities in American, British, and South African crime fiction from the 1920s to the early twenty-first century. In particular, the focus will be on such texts in which the ethno-cultural identity of the detective gives special prominence not only to the ethnic particularity of the fictional character itself and of its environs but frequently also to that of its author. Main texts discussed are Rudolph Fisher’s The Conjure Man Dies (1932), Earl Derr Biggers’ The House Without a Key (1925) and The Black Camel (1929), Walter Mosley’s Devil in a Blue Dress (1990) and Little Scarlet (2004) as well as James McClure’s The Gooseberry Fool (1974) and Patrick Neate’s City of Tiny Lights (2005). It is argued that all of these texts have a distinct subversive potential of which the construction of ethnic identities becomes the main vehicle because these identities are the products and the catalysts of the conflicts negotiated in ethnic crime fiction and correlating to ‘reality’.
Stähler, A. (2019). "Historical Argument" or "Cowboys and Indian"? Arnold Wesker’s TV Screenplay of Arthur Koestler’s Thieves in the Night. Jewish Film & New Media 5:199-226.
In October 1989, a TV adaptation of Arthur Koestler’s novel Thieves in the Night (1946) was aired in three parts in Germany. The final script of the German-Israeli co-production was written by Wolfgang Storch who also directed the mini-series. An earlier version of the screenplay had been commissioned by the German TV and radio station NDR from the British Jewish playwright Arnold Wesker. Based on the copious archival material held by the Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas in Austin which includes the original drafts of the author’s scripts and his correspondence relating to the project, this article explores Wesker’s involvement in the production from 1983 to 1985 and the eventual publication of an extract from the dramatist’s third draft in the Jewish Chronicle in 1986. Wesker’s screenplay was ultimately rejected because his conception of a “historical argument” was not compatible with the “cowboys and Indian version” which, in the dramatist’s words, was expected of him. It is argued that the increasingly acrimonious relationship between the screenwriter, the originally retained director François Villiers, and various producers originated not only in conflicting approaches to the commercial and artistic dimensions of the project but also in divergent perceptions of the position of Israel and its history and that it reveals different strategies of instrumentalising the literary text and its TV adaptation for an understanding of the present.
Stähler, A. and Vice, S. (2014). Introduction: Writing Jews and Jewishness in Contemporary Britain. European Judaism [Online] 47:3-11. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.3167/ej.2014.47.02.02.
Stähler, A. (2014). Of Shadow-Play and Promised Lands: Between America and Israel - Interview with Clive Sinclair. European Judaism [Online] 47:77-83. Available at: https://doi.org/10.3167/ej.2014.47.02.10.
In 1983, Clive Sinclair (b. 1948) was named one of Granta's twenty 'Best of Young British Novelists'. He is the author of four collections of short stories: Hearts of Gold (1979), Bedbugs (1982) and The Lady with the Laptop and Other Stories (1996), which have won – or been short-listed for – literary prizes, including the Jewish Quarterly-Wingate Prize, the Somerset Maugham Award, the Dylan Thomas Award and the PEN Silver Pen. His latest collection, Death & Texas, was published by Peter Halban in February 2014 and long-listed for the Frank O'Connor International Short Story Award. As well as those books he has produced ten others, among them the novels Bibliosexuality (1973), Blood Libels (1985), Cosmetic Effects (1989), Augustus Rex (1992) and Meet the Wife (2002), as well as a biography of The Brothers Singer (1983) and a travel book, Diaspora Blues: A View of Israel (1987). Sinclair's idiosyncratic work largely defies easy categorization, yet it is suffused with Jewish concerns; it is arresting, provocative and unapologetic as well as tragically farcical. His is an important voice in British Jewish literature which has always resisted the lure of cheap conformity.
Stähler, A. (2013). Constructions of Jewish Identity and the Spectre of Colonialism: Of White Skin and Black Masks in Early Zionist Discourse. German Life and Letters [Online] 66:254-276. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/glal.12015.
Early Zionist discourse proliferated with constructions of a new Jewish identity. Discussing responses to the so-called Uganda plan of 1903–5 and notions of Jewish colonisation in Africa and elsewhere, the article investigates demarcations of Jewishness from, and identifications with, ‘blackness’ in the early twentieth-century German Zionist press and literature and their impact on the Zionist imaginary vis-à-vis the colonial paradigm. Particular attention is given to Max Jungmann’s ‘Briefe aus Neu-Neuland’, published in the satiric journal Schlemiel between 1903–7. It is argued that with his fictitious account of the Zionist settlement of East Africa (which historically never happened) and with the creation of the black African Mbwapwa Jumbo and his conversion to Judaism Jungmann articulates an intricate and critical response to colonial aspirations, Jewish or otherwise, and formulates a scathing and highly perceptive commentary on the convergence of Zionist, racial, and colonial discourses.
Stähler, A. (2013). Anti-Semitism and Israel in British Jewish Fiction: Perspectives on Clive Sinclair’s ’Blood Libels’ (1985) and Howard Jacobson’s ’The Finkler Question’ (2010). Jewish Culture and History [Online] 14:112-125. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/1462169X.2013.805899.
Recently Howard Jacobson’s Booker Prize winning novel The Finkler Question (2010) and Peter Kosminsky’s controversial TV mini-series The Promise (2011) have forcefully re-introduced the issue of Israel to British Jewish cultural creativity. Both need to be understood not only in the context of contemporary British Jewish cultural creativity but also of the earlier literary engagement with Israel in British Jewish fiction. Focusing in particular on Clive Sinclair’s Blood Libels (1985) and Jacobson’s novel, this article traces notions of Israel in British Jewish fiction since its establishment in 1948 to the present day.
Stähler, A. and Vice, S. (2013). Writing Jews in Contemporary Britain. Jewish Quarterly [Online] 60:117-118. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1080/0449010X.2013.855458.
Stähler, A. (2012). Apocalyptic Visions and Utopian Spaces in Late Victorian and Edwardian Prophecy Fiction. Utopian Studies [Online] 23:162-211. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1353/utp.2012.0005.
Stähler, A. (2011). Fighting the Fever: Archives of Atrocity in Alain Resnais’ ’Nuit et Brouillard’ and David Grossman’s ’See Under: Love’. Comparative Critical Studies [Online] 8:207-220. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.3366/ccs.2011.0019.
Stähler, A. (2010). The Holocaust in the Nursery: Anita Desai’s ’Baumgartner’s Bombay’. Journal of Postcolonial Writing [Online] 46:76-88. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/17449850903478197.
With particular attention to Anita Desai’s use of German nursery rhymes and children’s songs, this article offers a reading of the Holocaust narrative in her novel Baumgartner’s Bombay in relation to interpretive expectations informed by discourses of the Holocaust and postcolonialism and to the appropriation of the novel to one or the other of these paradigms. It suggests that the novel transcends such interpretive patterns by structurally engaging the reader’s participation in the creation of meaning.
Stähler, A. (2009). Orientalist Strategies of Dissociation in a German "Jewish" Novel: ’Das neue Jerusalem’ (1905) and its Context. Forum for Modern Language Studies [Online] 45:51-89. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/fmls/cqn060.
This article traces notions of Jewish Orientalism current in German-speaking countries around the turn of the nineteenth to the twentieth century. Expounding the cultural context of its production, it focuses in particular on an anonymously published novel which provoked a short but heated debate among German-Jewish critics. Purporting to be the work of a Jewish author, but in fact written by a non-Jewish anti-Semite, Das neue Jerusalem appears to be situated quite deliberately at the interface between anti-Semitic and Zionist discourses and to be the vehicle of subversive strategies of dissociation: it presumes not only to speak to its Jewish readers but, from an (allegedly) inside perspective, to speak for them. Thus, in effect, it attempts to insinuate Orientalist stereotypes to its Jewish readers with the aim of relegating them quite literally to "their" place in the Orient (Palestine). But it is obviously also intended to intervene in the contemporary debate about the "authenticity" of Jewish cultural production and ventures to set prescriptive standards to proper Jewishness, especially in the field of literary production. For its gentile reader, the supposedly Jewish provenance of the novel confirms Jewish otherness, lends credibility to its allegations, and seemingly takes the edge off its anti-Semitism: Jewish dissociation appears to be justified and, indeed, mutually desirable.
Stähler, A. (2009). Embryonic Creatures and Wonders of Psychology (II): Samuel Richardson, Laurence Sterne and the Problems of Iconarratology. Anglistik 20:139-161.
Stähler, A. (2009). Metonymies of Jewish Postcoloniality: The British Mandate for Palestine and Israel in Contemporary British Jewish Fiction. Journal for the Study of British Cultures [Online] 16:27-40. Available at: http://www.jsbc.de/09-back-numbers.htm#Vol.16,1/2009.
Jewish and British histories were never more fatefully intertwined than during the
1930s and 40s, but the period of the British Mandate in Palestine receives relatively
little attention outside specialist circles and does not feature centrally in the many
debates about Empire, decolonisation and diaspora. This is not necessarily (just) a
result of non-Jewish amnesia, but also relates to the fact that for many British Jews
the anti-colonial struggle of the Zionists in Palestine were (and perhaps still are) as
acute an embarrassment as the contentious politics of the state of Israel. Since the
late 1980s, however, contemporary British Jewish writers have repeatedly made this
period and relationship the focus of their narratives. The article argues that British
Jewish fictions of the historical colonial encounter of the Jews with the British during
the Palestine Mandate bring about the convergence not only of English (or British)
and Jewish identification patterns, but also of English and Jewish constructions of the
past. The contribution discusses works by Linda Grant, Bernice Rubens and Jonathan
Stähler, A. (2018). Zionism, the German Empire, and Africa: Jewish Metamorphoses and the Colors of Difference. [Online]. De Gruyter. Available at: https://www.degruyter.com/view/product/498872?lang=en.
Zionism, the German Empire, and Africa explores the impact on the self-perception and culture of early Zionism of contemporary constructions of racial difference and of the experience of colonialism in imperial Germany. More specifically, interrogating in a comparative analysis material ranging from mainstream satirical magazines and cartoons to literary, aesthetic, and journalistic texts, advertisements, postcards and photographs, monuments and campaign medals, ethnographic exhibitions and publications, popular entertainment, political speeches, and parliamentary reports, the book situates the short-lived but influential Zionist satirical magazine Schlemiel (1903–07) in an extensive network of nodal clusters of varying and shifting significance and with differently developed strains of cohesion or juncture that roughly encompasses the three decades from 1890 to 1920.
Stähler, A. (2009). Literarische Konstruktionen jüdischer Postkolonialität: Das Britische Palästinamandat in Der Anglophonen jüdischen Literatur. Vol. 402. Heidelberg: Universitätsverlag Winter.
Stähler, A. (2017). The Author’s derrière and the Ludic Impulse: Oskar Panizza’s “The Operated Jew” (1893) and Amy Levy’s “Cohen of Trinity” (1889). In: Brunotte, U., Mohn, J. and Späti, C. eds. Internal Outsiders - Imagined Orientals? Antisemitism, Colonialism and Modern Constructions of Jewish Identity. Würzburg: Ergon, pp. 111 -128.
Stähler, A. (2017). Anglophone Literature. In: Hart, M. B. and Michels, T. eds. The Cambridge History of Judaism. Cambridge University Press, pp. 699-726.
Stähler, A. (2016). Stories of Jewish Identity: Survivors, Exiles and Cosmopolitans. In: Head, D. ed. The Cambridge History of the English Short Story. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 323 -340.
Stähler, A. (2015). ’Almost too good to be true’: Israel in British Jewish Fiction, Pre-Lebanon. In: Brauner, D. and Stähler, A. eds. The Edinburgh Companion to Modern Jewish Fiction. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, pp. 237-252. Available at: http://www.euppublishing.com/book/9780748646159.
Stähler, A. (2015). The Writing on the Wall: Israel in British Jewish Fiction, Post-Lebanon. In: Brauner, D. and Stähler, A. eds. The Edinburgh Companion to Modern Jewish Fiction. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, pp. 253-266. Available at: http://www.euppublishing.com/book/9780748646159.
Stähler, A. (2015). Zionism, Colonialism, and the German Empire: Herzl’s Gloves and Mbwapwa’s Umbrella. In: Brunotte, U., Ludewig, A.-D. and Stähler, A. eds. Orientalism, Gender, and the Jews: Literary and Artistic Transformations of European National Discourses. Berlin and Boston: de Gruyter, pp. 98-123.
Brauner, D. and Stähler, A. (2015). Introduction: Modern Jewish Fiction. In: Brauner, D. and Stähler, A. eds. The Edinburgh Companion to Modern Jewish Fiction. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, pp. 1-15.
Stähler, A. (2013). Introduction: A Jewish Magic Realism?. In: Ahrens, R. and Stierstorfer, K. eds. Jewish Magic Realism. Berlin and Boston: de Gruyter, pp. 3-17.
Stähler, A. (2013). The Search for M…: Magic Realism in Doron Rabinovici and Benjamin Stein. In: Symbolism. Berlin and Boston: de Gruyter, pp. 122-150.
Magic realism has recently been recognized for its potential of facilitating instances of traumatic representation which would otherwise remain impossible. As such it has proved to be particularly productive in representations of the Holocaust. Although not Holocaust novels in the more narrowly defined sense, Doron Rabinovici’s The Search for M (1997) and Benjamin Stein’s The Canvas (2010) are discussed in this article as examples of Jewish writing in which this pattern is continued to subtly different effect. It is argued that within the larger context of coming to terms with the past, magic realism provides a vehicle for both less to articulate trauma but rather to engage with its (trans-)generational impact and to explore its nature. The magic realist inflection of The Search for M, and in particular its central phantom character of Mullemann, is read in relation to the trans-generational transmission of trauma and phantom theory, the concept of the carnivalesque, and the superhero comic. More specifically, it is argued that the Levinasian concepts of the other and the trace are useful for an understanding of Mullemann as well as the use of the magic realist mode in The Search for M. An important intertext for both Rabinovici’s and Stein’s novels is Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray (1891) which appears to have been read by both authors as a text suggesting the use of the magic realist mode. Stein’s novel, arguably inspired by Rabinovici’s, is moreover analyzed in particular in relation to Binjamin Wilkomirski’s controversial Fragments (1995). It is suggested that The Canvas offers a re-appraisal of the allegedly testimonial text, which has frequently been maligned after its authenticity – and that of its author – was challenged in 1998. It subverts the photographic hyper-realism of the earlier novel through what is, in effect, a transposition into the magic realist mode in order to admit alternative truths into the discourse on trauma. At the same time, Stein’s novel investigates the notion of a reality in which magic intervenes through the “poetic hand” of God. Exploring notions of guilt, memory, and identity both novels utilize magic realism in order to enquire into the nature of trauma in relation to which they gain a therapeutic dimension.
Stähler, A. (2012). Fantastic Fundamentalism: All Gods Great and Small. Fundamentalism, the Discworld and the Moon Kahani. In: Burning Books: Interaction and Negotiations of Fundamentalism and Literature. New York: AMS Press, pp. 57-90.
Although habitually ignored by ‘serious’ scholars, Terry Pratchett’s enormously successful novels centred on the discworld floating on the back of a giant turtle through the multiverse do provide serious comment on a variety of aspects of past and contemporary culture and mediate, often satirically but thoughtfully, between concepts of high and popular culture. In several of his novels Pratchett engages explicitly with the phenomenon of fundamentalism, dissecting and explaining it and suggesting ways of confronting it – most directly in Small Gods (1992) which, it is suggested, is an early literary response to the so-called Rushdie affair (1989). This article analyses and discusse Pratchett’s literary negotiations of fundamentalism and their impact on popular culture. In addition, it explores the intrinsic challenge to any kind of fundamentalism inherent in the very conception of Pratchett’s multi(!)-verse and its un-Newtonian physics which, paradoxically, is based on popular notions of ‘the’ medieval world view and a number of creation myths as well as the literal interpretation of language and the world(s) created through language. It is argued that the tension between these frequently mutually exclusive elements, expanded through a host of intertextual and intermedial references, is not only a literary expression of cultural relativism but an imaginative and systematic attempt at writing back at fundamentalism.
Stähler, A. (2011). The Re-Conceptualization of Space in Edwardian Prophecy Fiction: Heterotopia, Utopia, and the Apocalypse. In: Gregory, R. and Kohlmann, B. eds. Utopian Spaces of Modernism: British Literature and Culture, 1885–1945. Houndmills, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 159-176. Available at: http://www.palgrave.com/products/title.aspx?pid=521172.
Stähler, A. (2009). From the Belly of the Fish: Jewish Writers in English in Israel: Transcultural Perspectives. In: Schulze-Engler, F. and Helff, S. eds. Transcultural English Studies: Theories, Fictions, Realities. Amsterdam and New York: Rodopi, pp. 151-167.
Stähler, A. (2009). Fundamentalist Fiction: Mazeway Resynthesis and the Writers of the Apocalypse. In: Stähler, A. and Stierstorfer, K. eds. Writing Fundamentalism. Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, pp. 195-246.
Stähler, A. and Stierstorfer, K. (2009). Introduction. In: Stähler, A. and Stierstorfer, K. eds. Writing Fundamentalism. Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, p. vii-xvii.
Stähler, A. and Kern-Stähler, A. (2009). The Translation of Testimony and the Transmission of Trauma: Jonathan Safran Foer’s ’Everything is Illuminated’ and Liev Schreiber’s Film Adaptation. In: Guignery, V. ed. Voices and Silence in the Contemporary English Novel. Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, pp. 160-184.
Stähler, A., Helff, S. and Sandten, C. (2009). Section III: Travelling Literatures. In: Eckstein, L. and Reinfandt, C. eds. Anglistentag 2008 Tübingen: Proceedings. Trier: WVT, pp. 205-290.
Stähler, A., Helff, S. and Sandten, C. (2009). Travelling Literatures: Introduction. In: Eckstein, L. and Reinfandt, C. eds. Anglistentag 2008 Tübingen: Proceedings. Trier: WVT, pp. 207-212.
Staehler, A. (2015). The Edinburgh Companion to Modern Jewish Fiction. Brauner, D. and Stähler, A. eds. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.
This collection of essays represents a new departure for, and a potentially (re)defining moment in, literary Jewish Studies. It is the first volume to bring together 28 chapters covering a wide range of American, British, South African, Canadian and Australian Jewish fiction.
The volume is divided into 3 parts - American Jewish Fiction; British Jewish Fiction; and International and Transnational Anglophone Jewish Fiction - but many of the essays cross over these boundaries and speak to each other implicitly, as well as, on occasion, explicitly. Extending and redefining the canon of modern Jewish fiction, the volume juxtaposes major authors with more marginal figures, revising and recuperating individual reputations, rediscovering forgotten and discovering new work, and in the process remapping the whole terrain. This volume opens windows onto vistas that previously had been obscured and opens doors for the next generation of studies that could not proceed without a wide-ranging, visionary empiricism grounding their work.
Staehler, A. (2015). Orientalism, Gender, and the Jews: Literary and Artistic Transformations of European National Discourses. Brunotte, U., Ludewig, A.-D. and Stähler, A. eds. Berlin and Boston: de Gruyter.
Staehler, A. (2009). Writing Fundamentalism. Stähler, A. and Stierstorfer, K. eds. Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Publishing.
Given its discursive amplification and its very real impact on contemporary societies, fundamentalism has become the focus of much scholarly attention. This work explores literary representations of fundamentalisms and the function of literature in fundamentalism
Stähler, A. and Vice, S. eds. (2014). Writing Jews in Contemporary Britain. European Judaism [Online] 47. Available at: https://doi.org/10.3167/ej.2014.47.02.01.
Several of the articles gathered in this special issue are based on papers presented at the symposium on ‘Writing Jews in Contemporary Britain’ held at and generously funded by the Pears Institute for the Study of Antisemitism on 11 September 2013, and co-convened by the editors together with the Institute’s director, David Feldman. Others have been especially commissioned for the issue. Thanks are also due to Jan Davison, Jonathan Magonet and Jenny Pizer.
Stähler, A. (2013). Jewish Magic Realism Stähler, A. ed. Symbolism 12/13.
Magic realism has become a significant mode of expression in Jewish cultural production. This special focus of Symbolism for the first time explores in a comparative and transnational approach the magic realist engagement of Jewish writers, artists, and filmmakers from the Diaspora and from Israel with issues of identity, oppression and persecution as well as the Holocaust.
Staehler, A. (2019). Book review. Comparative Literature Studies [Online] 56:222-225. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.5325/complitstudies.56.1.0222.
Stähler, A. (2017). Book review. Anglistik [Online] 28:179-181. Available at: https://angl.winter-verlag.de/.
Stähler, A. (2015). Civil Antisemitism, Modernism, and British Culture, 1902–1939 by Lara Trubowitz. Modern Fiction Studies 61:565-567.
Stähler, A. (2013). Review of Alexander Pettit (ed): ’Samuel Richardson: Early Works. ‘Aesop’s Fables’, ‘Letters Written to and for Particular Friends’ and ’Other Works’ Pettit, A. ed. Editionen in der Kritik VI. Berliner Beiträge zur Editionswissenschaft 13:61-69.
Ed. Alexander Pettit (The Cambridge Edition of the Works of Samuel Richardson) Cambridge: Cambridge University Press 2011. civ, 742 pp.
Stähler, A. (2012). Review of J. Hillis Miller, ’The Conflagration of Community: Fiction before and after Auschwitz’. Modern Language Review [Online] 107:909-910. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.5699/modelangrevi.107.3.0909.
Chicago: University of Chicago Press. 2011. xx+310 pp. $29; £18.50. ISBN 978–0–226–52722–2.
Stähler, A. (2009). Unsettling Questions: Palestine, Israel, the Holy Land and Zion. Wasafiri 24:75-79.
Stähler, A. (2009). Review of Astrid Erll, ’Prämediation – Remediation: Repräsentation des indischen Aufstands in imperialen und post-kolonialen Medienkulturen (von 1857 bis zur Gegenwart)’. Studies in English Literary and Cultural History, 23. Zeitschrift für Anglistik und Amerikanistik 57:205-208.
Bartlett, C. (2017). Representations of the Character of the Jew in the Nineteenth-Century French, German and English Novel, and the Jewish Response.
This thesis examines the relations between literature and the Bible through the myth of three characters, who construct the collective of 'the Jew' as a dangerous and fascinating Other in the nineteenth-century European mind. It examines the evolution of the representations of these characters, and their convergences and divergences in French, English and German nineteenth-century novels. The mythocritique method, taking into account the collective unconscious, reveals that the chosen characters re-enact three major myths, which demonstrate their vitality, not only in literature and theology, but also in art. A response can be found in comparative Jewish literature to these myths, completing the study and revealing a constructive dialogue and self-examination.
Siddiqui, M. (2016). No Rest for the Wicked? Exploring Sleep in Nineteenth-Century Gothic Literature.
Sleep has long been overlooked in critical literature. It is often viewed as a state of passivity and so, an invalid area of research. However, this thesis argues that the depiction of sleep and sleepers in nineteenth-century gothic literature is reflective of historically-specific anxieties regarding sexuality and gender roles, such as those related to the New Woman, prostitution, and homosexuality. Similarly, concerns regarding urbanisation and scientific progress, particularly in relation to the latter's perceived displacement of religion, are shown to be apparent in the enactment of sleep in gothic narratives.
Theories of sleep and dreaming are examined from a number of perspectives, illustrating the uncertainty which categorises the state. Ahistorical 'social facts' about sleep (predominantly founded in the relatively recent sociological interest in the subject) are shown to be related to nineteenth-century ideas of the state, and how best to enact it. This discussion of sleep chiefly draws on socio-historical readings. However, psychoanalytical ideas are also relevant, particularly in the discussion of dreams, and in relation to the sleeping enactment of repressed desires. In applying multiple critical approaches there is an attempt to develop existing analysis of gothic literature, as well as to contribute an original perspective on the seminal texts studied.
Sleepers in the gothic are considered in terms of their physical appearance, where they sleep, and who they sleep with, and each aspect is shown to embody nineteenth-century attitudes regarding morality and sexuality. Portrayals of sleepers are further analysed in relation to their role in the narratives, and shown to be distinctly gendered, thus offering further understanding of gender roles (and responsibilities) in the gothic. Far from being innocent in their passivity, sleepers are shown to contravene a multitude of social and moral laws without waking, and thus, to contribute to the gothic genre's reputation as a transgressive literature.
Pettitt, J. (2016). "What Kind of Animal Is the Nazi Beast?": Representations of Perpetrators in Narratives of the Holocaust.
This project seeks to explore representations of Holocaust perpetrators in literature. Such texts, often rather controversially, seek to undo the myth of “pure evil” that surrounds the Holocaust and to reconstruct the perpetrator in more “human” terms. Accordingly, significant questions of “how” and “why” are centralised and explored, providing fertile ground for examinations of the intersections between ethics, literature and history, and enabling ongoing discussions about the characteristics and obligations of perpetrator literature as a whole.
Of central concern, these humanising discourses place emphasis on the contextual or situational factors that led up to the genocide. Following these issues through to their logical conclusion, this project takes the question of determinism seriously. This is not to suggest that it disavows individual responsibility, merely that it engages fully with the philosophical problems that are invoked through allusions to external influences, especially as they relate to ideas of contingency.
A significant consequence of these discussions is the impact that they have on the reader. That is because, since situational aspects are featured so heavily in these narratives, questions are raised about his or her own capacity for wrongdoing. Consequently, the reader is drawn into the narrative as a potential perpetrator. The tensions that this creates constitutes the second major focus of this work. Ultimately, I hope to expose the challenges that face the reader when they encounter perpetrator narratives, and the ways in which these tensions impact upon our understandings of these figures, and of the Holocaust more generally.
In order to provide a more comprehensive overview this project makes use of a large number (in excess of sixty) primary sources, examining both fictional and non-fictional accounts. My aim is not to offer close literary analyses of each of the texts under consideration but, rather, to trace paradigms across the full spectrum of perpetrator literature. In this way, I hope to contribute to the growing body of literature that engages with this topic.
Sharoni, J. (2015). Vampires and Ape Men : A Lacanian Reading of British Fantasy Fiction, 1886-1914.
This thesis offers a close reading from the perspective of Lacanian psychoanalysis of a selection of literary texts published in Britain in the thirty years leading to the outbreak of the First World War in 1914. These works, belonging to different genres – science fiction, gothic and the adventure or quest – are loosely categorized as ‘fantasy’ literature as opposed to the realistic novel or short story. My contention is that it is only in conjunction with a consideration of Jacques Lacan’s ‘return to Freud’, that is, his re-examination of the texts of Sigmund Freud, and the work of contemporary theorists writing in Lacan’s wake, such as Slavoj Žižek and Mladen Dolar, that the significance of the fanciful plots and devices appearing in the texts emerges.
My starting point is the resemblance which the plot of each of these works bears to that of Freud’s Totem and Taboo, published in 1913, which tells of the killing of a primal father. What might be labelled as the return of the primal father, a violent and obscene figure who must be killed again (whereas for Freud this was a unique event which occurred at the beginning of human time), appears in a period when ‘modern’ Britain is coming into a being, that is, an industrialized, urbanized, literate democracy. It can be seen that the re-appearance of this evil primal father figure follows the demise of traditional forms of authority of the agrarian society, that of the ‘everyday’ father, the aristocracy and the church, and concurrently, the increasing dominance of scientific discourse and technology. In this and in further ways which will be discussed in the thesis, the texts bring to light the function of apparently obsolete symbolic frameworks and the corresponding deficiency in modern paradigms of knowledge, in particular, the blind spots of science. This reading thereby diverges sharply from those typical of existing literary criticism in that as opposed to being read in terms of and pertaining to the reconstructed context of a past era, the texts are seen as unfolding common concerns in regard to the modernisation of Britain, thus rendering them still relevant today.
Staehler, A. (2018). Book review. Central European History.