North American Literature and Culture

Our North American Literature section seeks to do justice to the cultural and ethnic diversity of the United States and Canada and invites students to study classical texts such as Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter alongside works written by authors from a wide variety of backgrounds: from the Yugoslavian-born poet Charles Simic or the Native American novelist Leslie Marmon Silko to transcultural American writers like Teju Cole and Canadian authors such as Margaret Atwood and Sheila Heti. Texts as diverse Anne Bradstreet’s elegies, Frederick Douglass’s slave narrative or Isabella Bird’s letters are part of our courses. At our department, we pay close attention to the richness and the intricacies of individual literary texts but also ask ourselves how these texts relate to visual culture (e.g. TV, photography, cinema) and how they are embedded in larger social, cultural and economic contexts. We encourage students to develop awareness of the interesting transatlantic connections between North American literature and other Anglophone literatures. Our teaching covers a wide historical range, reaching from Puritanism to Post-Postmodernism, and reflects our staff members’ research interests and activities.

We congratulate PD Dr Julia Straub, who has left our team at the end of July 2020 to become full Prof. and Chair of Modern English Literature at the University of Fribourg.


Former Members of Staff

Student Assistants

Michael Boog (

Jonathan Sampson Sarfin (

Phone: +41 031 631 37 63

Our staff members (depending on their academic degrees) teach both at BA and MA level and those with a ‘Habilitation’ are responsible for the supervision of PhD projects. Their teaching is closely connected to their research activities. In our lectures, seminars and workshops we cover a wide range of topics and approaches, genres and media. We stress the importance of theory and methodology and encourage students to become actively involved in research. Where possible, we co-teach with colleagues from other disciplines and invite guest speakers into our seminars and lectures.

The North American literature section has a multi-facetted and strong research profile. Staff members are actively involved in international research networks (see below), participate in conferences in and outside of Switzerland and host research events in Bern. Publication activities include editorial work on a handbook series and Anglia: Journal of English Philology.


Journal, Book and Handbook Series


Swiss Association of North American Studies SANAS