Dr Katja Haustein

Lecturer in Comparative Literature
Admissions Officer


Before joining the University of Kent in 2012, Dr Katja Haustein studied Comparative Literature, German Literature, and History in Berlin, London, Paris, and Cambridge.

She was a British Academy Postdoctoral Research Fellow at Churchill College, Cambridge, and a Max Weber Fellow at the European University Institute in Florence. 

Research interests

Katja's primary research interests are in modern French and German autobiographical writing in relation to visual culture; memory and identity; literature and emotions; literature, gender, and medicine; and literature and ethics. She has written on conceptions of space in modern French literature, and on twentieth-century autobiography and visual culture, including Regarding Lost Time: Photography, Identity, and Affect in Proust, Benjamin, and Barthes (Oxford: Legenda, 2012). In her more recent work she looks at the intellectual history of empathy and pity, and at the cultural history of human milk. Katja is currently writing a literary history of tact in the twentieth century. 

Doctoral projects supervised by Katja include work on representations of the body in contemporary French literature and film, and on representations of maternity in nineteenth-century France. 

Katja welcomes applications from prospective research students in any of her areas of research expertise.


Katja teaches on a range of topics including gender conceptions in women’s writing, autobiography and visual culture, European Romanticism, Modernism, and literature and affect. 



  • Haustein, K. (2019). How to Be Alone with Others: Helmuth Plessner, Theodor W. Adorno and Roland Barthes on Tact. The Modern Language Review [Online] 114:1-21. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.5699/modelangrevi.114.1.0001.
    This article looks at three theories of tact that are rarely compared. Although developed during different periods of radical change in the twentieth century, they are based on the same diagnosis: the key problem of modern subjectivity is not the increased distance between individuals, but, on the contrary, its disappearance. This article explores how tact, understood as an ongoing negotiation between the demands of convention and the ‘unruly claims of the individual’ (Adorno), emerges as a figure of distance, and of deviation, a figure that does not only serve to describe the relations between individuals, or the individual within the group, but that also facilitates alternative forms of critical inquiry.
  • Haustein, K. (2015). “J’ai mal à l’autre”: Barthes on Pity. What’s So Great About Roland Barthes? L’Esprit créateur [Online] 55:131-147. Available at: https://espritcreateur.org/article/%E2%80%9Cj%E2%80%99ai-mal-%C3%A0-l%E2%80%99autre%E2%80%9D-barthes-pity.
    What is empathy and what is its point? What is the relation between empathy and the conception of the self? And what is the relation between empathy and textual form? In this article I grapple with these questions with the help of Roland Barthes. Tracing the transformations of the concept of empathy and its derivatives compassion and pity in Barthes’s writing from Michelet par lui-même (1954) to the posthumously published Journal de deuil (2009), I discuss their significance for current cross-disciplinary debates on empathy and for the even more widely visible ‘turn to affect’ within the context of which they evolve.
  • Baldwin, T., O'Meara, L. and Haustein, K. (2015). Introduction. Guest-edited special issue of L'Esprit Créateur [Online] 55:1-6. Available at: http://www.dx.doi.org/10.1353/esp.2015.0048.
  • Haustein, K. (2009). Proust’s Emotional Cavities: Vision and Affect in 'A la recherche du temps perdu'. French Studies [Online] 63:161-173. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/fs/knp043.
    Against the background of the 'waning of affect' in modern times(1) and the (post-) Freudian consignment of feelings to theories of drives, the ineluctable question emerges of where we can satisfactorily place emotionality at all nowadays. What role do feelings play in works of art? This article reflects on these questions by examining the relationship between vision (both bodily and photographic) and affect in Proust's A la recherche du temps perdu. Reading Proust's work as part of a growing tendency to hollow out the Romantic idea of emotion, the article explores the advancing displacement of 'holistic emotionality' by the rapid increase in 'emotional cavities'. These are zones devoid of any emotional contact or correspondence between the narrator and the world he perceives. In close readings of the scenes connected with the death of the grandmother and of Albertine sleeping, this article argues that Proust introduces a new understanding of affect that neither theorizes it as essential and all-pervading nor simply disqualifies it in a modernist gesture of denial. Instead, Proust's work proposes a conception of affect that eventually appears as privatized, contingent and in peril.
  • Haustein, K. (2004). The Photographic Subject: Picturing the Self and the Other in Proust's 'A la recherche du temps perdu'. Australian Journal of French Studies [Online] 41:48-61. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.3828/ajfs.41.3.48.


  • Haustein, K. (2012). Regarding Lost Time: Photography, Identity, and Affect in Proust, Benjamin, and Barthes. [Online]. Oxford: Legenda. Available at: http://www.legendabooks.com/titles/isbn/9781907747915.html.
  • Gilby, E. and Haustein, K. (2005). Space: New Dimensions in French Studies. Oxford; New York: Peter Lang Pub Inc.
    This book, which is the fruit of papers presented at the seventh Cambridge French Graduate Conference, offers innovative analyses of how space can provide metaphors for human thoughts, utterances and experiences. The authors cross-fertilise different approaches to the significance of space as a thematic and structuring principle in French and Francophone poetry, prose, philosophy and film. They are interested in three broad areas of enquiry: how spaces can be suffused with explorations of identity; how the dividing work done by maps marks and makes spaces; and how particular questions are thrown up by urban spaces. Throughout, the book examines the symbiotic relationship between internal and external, between delimitation and difference.

Book section

  • Haustein, K. (2016). The "Breastfeeding Crisis": Parenting, Welfare Policies, and Ideology in Imperial Germany, 1871-1914. in: Barron, H. and Siebrecht, C. eds. Raising the Nation: Parenting and the State in Britain and Europe, c 1870-1950. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 47-70. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-34084-5.
    Towards the second half of the nineteenth century public health officials and government representatives became increasingly concerned about the high rate of infant mortality in Germany accompanied by a sharp drop in the birth rate. Consequently, an unprecedented campaign for maternal breastfeeding became a key element of the German maternal welfare movement. On the basis of source material that ranges from treatises written by physicians in state employment to statements by mothers and their family members, this chapter discusses the role of maternal breastfeeding at the interface between ideology, control, disciplining and protection on the one hand, and everyday parenting practices on the other. By exploring this as yet little-studied aspect of maternal history this chapter sheds new light on the relationship between parenting and the state.
  • Haustein, K. (2012). Contagious Photographs: Emotive Self-Encounters in Benjamin’s Autobiographical Work. in: Duttlinger, C., Morgan, B. and Phelan, A. eds. Walter Benjamins anthropologisches Denken. Berlin, Vienna: Rombach Verlag, pp. 199-214. Available at: http://www.rombach-verlag.de/neu_buch.php?id=719.
    Die Frage ›Was ist der Mensch?‹ verbindet und konstituiert Walter Benjamins diverse Projekte. Allerdings bilden seine verstreuten und oftmals elliptischen Bemerkungen zur Anthropologie keinen zusammenhängenden Kommentar, keine in sich geschlossene Theorie oder Methode. Sie stehen vielmehr fast immer im Zeichen eines konkreten Untersuchungsgegenstandes. Als Sammler und Historiker, Kritiker und Rezensent stellt Benjamin – fast beiläufig – weitreichende und radikale Überlegungen zur menschlichen Natur an. Diese anthropologische Dimension des Benjaminschen Denkens erstmals systematisch zu rekonstruieren und im Kontext seiner Zeit zu verorten, ist das Ziel des vorliegenden Bandes.
  • Haustein, K. (2009). 'La vie comme oeuvre’: Barthes with Proust. in: Collier, P., Elsner, A. M. and Smith, O. eds. Anamnesia: Private and Public Memory in Modern French Culture. Oxford: Peter Lang, pp. 175-192.
  • Gilby, E. and Haustein, K. (2005). Introduction. in: Gilby, E. and Haustein, K. eds. Space: New Dimensions in French Studies. Oxford; New York: Peter Lang Pub Inc, pp. 11-20.

Edited journal

  • Baldwin, T., O'Meara, L. and Haustein, K. eds. (2015). What’s So Great About Roland Barthes? Guest-edited special issue of L’Esprit créateur [Online] 55:1-6. Available at: https://espritcreateur.org/issue/what%E2%80%99s-so-great-about-roland-barthes.
    One hundred years after his birth, the work of Roland Barthes (1915–1980) remains compelling in a wide variety of fields and disciplines. The great power of his work resides, perhaps, in its radical plurality. Nevertheless, beneath such variation we find enduring purpose: Barthes is a consistent advocate of the critique of ideology; of the refusal of middlebrow generalization; of the productivity of text; of attention to the critical response of the individual. The overall aim of this issue is to show how we can continue to work with Barthes today.
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