Comparative Literature

profile image for Dr Anna Katharina Schaffner

Dr Anna Katharina Schaffner

Reader in Comparative Literature and Medical Humanities


  • +44(0)1227 824065

Office: Cornwallis West G30A


Before taking up a post in the Department of Comparative Literature at Kent in 2007, I studied General and Comparative Literature and English and American Studies in Berlin, and then completed both my MSc and my PhD at the University of Edinburgh.

I have published a monograph on language dissection in avant-garde, concrete, and digital poetry, as well as a monograph entitled Modernism and Perversion: Sexual Deviance in Sexology and Literature, 1850-1930 (Palgrave, 2012). This study charts the construction of the sexual perversions in nineteenth- and early twentieth-century medical, psychiatric, and psychological discourse. It argues that the sexologists’ preoccupation with the perversions is a response to specifically modern concerns, and illuminates the role played by literary texts in the formation of sexological knowledge. I have also published articles on David Lynch, Franz Kafka, Frank Schulz, Richard von Krafft-Ebing, Thomas Mann, and nineteenth-century sexology.

My current research interests are situated in the fields of the medical humanities, cultural history, the history of psychiatry and psychoanalysis, and mind-body theory. My third monograph, Exhaustion: A History (Columbia University Press in 2016) charts the forgotten history of exhaustion from classical antiquity to the present day, examining the role of exhaustion symptoms in syndromes including melancholia, acedia, nervousness, neurasthenia, depression, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, and burnout.

My first novel, The Truth about Julia, was published by Allen & Unwin in March 2016.


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Also view these in the Kent Academic Repository

Schaffner, A. (2014). Exhaustion and the Pathologization of Modernity. Journal of Medical Humanities [Online] tbc. Available at:
Schaffner, A. et al. (2012). Reading Space in Visual Poetry: New Cognitive Perspectives. Writing Technologies [Online] 4:75-106. Available at:
Schaffner, A. (2012). Visions of Sadistic Women: Sade, Sacher-Masoch, Kafka . German Life and Letters [Online] 65:181-205. Available at:
Schaffner, A. (2011). Fiction as Evidence: On the Uses of Literature in Nineteenth-Century Sexological Discourse. Comparative Literature Studies 48:165-199.
Schaffner, A. (2011). Richard von Krafft-Ebing's Psychopathia Sexualis and Thomas Mann's Buddenbrooks: Exchanges between Scientific and Imaginary Accounts of Sexual Deviance. Modern Language Review [Online] 106:477-94. Available at:
Schaffner, A. (2010). "Wenn es Heimat gibt, dann liegt sie in der Sprache": Frank Schulz’s Hagener Trilogie (1991–2006). Modern Language Review [Online] 105:777-794. Available at:
Schaffner, A. (2010). Kafka and the Hermeneutics of Sadomasochism. Forum for Modern Language Studies [Online] 46:334-350. Available at:
Schaffner, A. (2009). Fantasmatic Splittings and Destructive Desires: Lynch's Lost Highway, Mulholland Drive and Inland Empire. Forum for Modern Language Studies [Online] 45:270-291. Available at:
Schaffner, A. (2008). Brasilianischer Konkretismus in Wort und Bild: Noigandres und Grupo Ruptura. Lusorama. Zeitschrift fuer Lusitanistik 75:97-116.
Schaffner, A. (2007). Linguistic Lunacy as Transgressive Practice. Nordlit [Online] 21:103-114. Available at:
Schaffner, A. and Roberts, A. (2006). Rhetorics of Surface and Depth in Digital Poetry. RiLUnE [Online] 5:37-48. Available at:
Book section
Schaffner, A. (2013). Heimat und Sprache. in: Taeube, D. ed. macht heimat! Mettingen: Draiflessen Collection, pp. 142-148. Available at:
Schaffner, A. (2012). 'Seasick in the Land of Sexuality': Kafka's Eroticisms. in: Schaffner, A. K. and Weller, S. eds. Modernist Eroticisms: European Literature After Sexology. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 80-104.
Weller, S. and Schaffner, A. (2012). Introduction. in: Schaffner, A. K. and Weller, S. eds. Modernist Eroticisms: European Literature after Sexology. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 1-22. Available at:
Schaffner, A. (2011). Dissecting the Order of Signs: On the Textual Politics of Dada Poetics. in: Adamowicz, E. and Robertson, E. eds. Dada and Beyond : Dada Discourses. Amsterdam and Atlanta: Rodopi, pp. 37-50.
Schaffner, A. (2010). From Concrete to Digital: The Reconceptualisation of Poetic Space. in: Beyond the Screen: Transformations of Literary Structures, Interfaces and Genres. Bielefeld: Transcript, pp. 179-97. Available at: .
Schaffner, A. (2009). Situationistische Internationale. in: van den Berg, H. and Fahnders, W. eds. Metzler Lexikon Avantgarde. Stuttgart: Metzler Verlag, pp. 303-305.
Schaffner, A. (2006). Inheriting the Avant-Garde: On the Reconciliation of Tradition and Invention in Concrete Poetry. in: Hopkins, D. and Schaffner, A. K. eds. Neo-Avant-Garde. Amsterdam; Atlanta: Rodopi, pp. 97-117. Available at:
Schaffner, A. (2006). Dadaist Codebreaking: The Assault on the Order of Signs . in: Jones, D. ed. Dada Culture:Critical Texts on the Avant-Garde . Amsterdam; Atlanta: Editions Rodopi, B.V., pp. 117-133. Available at:
Schaffner, A. (2005). How the Letters Learnt to Dance: On Language Dissection in Dadaist, Concrete and Digital Poetry. in: Scheunemann, D. ed. Avant-Garde/Neo-Avant-Garde. Amsterdam; Atlanta: Editions Rodopi , pp. 149 -172. Available at:
Schaffner, A. (2016). Exhaustion: A History. New York: Columbia University Press.
Schaffner, A. (2012). Modernism and Perversion: Sexual Deviance in Sexology and Literature, 1850-1930. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.
Schaffner, A. (2007). Sprachzerlegung in historischer Avantgardelyrik und konkreter Poesie . Krueger, R. ed. Berlin: ECA.
Edited book
Schaffner, A.K. and Weller, S. eds. (2012). Modernist Eroticisms: European Literature after Sexology. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.
Hopkins, D. and Schaffner, A.K. eds. (2006). Neo-Avant-Garde. [Online]. Amsterdam; Atlanta: Rodopi. Available at:
Schaffner, A. (2015). The Twee Tribe. Times Literary Supplement [Online]:13-13. Available at:
Schaffner, A. (2015). Look Who's Back. Times Literary Supplement [Online]:1-3. Available at:
Schaffner, A. (2015). Our Sweet Teeth. Times Literary Supplement [Online]:1-4. Available at:
Schaffner, A. (2014). German burnout. Times Literary Supplement [Online]:1-2. Available at:
Total publications in KAR: 29 [See all in KAR]
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I teach modules on European modernism, and on vampires in literature and film.

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Comparative Literature, School of European Culture and Languages, University of Kent, Canterbury, Kent, CT2 7NF

Enquiries: +44 (0)1227 827159 or email the department

Last Updated: 04/08/2016