Department of English

Doctoral Candidates and Associated Researchers

Prof. Dr. Annette Kern-Stähler

Full Professor and Chair of Medieval English Studies, Director, Department of English

Medieval English Studies

+41 31 631 82 47
B 269
Postal Address
English Department Länggassstrasse 49
CH-3012 Bern
Consultation Hour
By arrangement

I hold the Chair of Medieval English Studies at the University of Bern and I am Honorary Professor of the School of English at the University of Kent at Canterbury. Before taking up my post in Bern in March 2010 I was Chair of English Literary and Cultural Studies at the University of Duisburg-Essen, Germany (2008-2010) and assistant professor at the Universities of Düsseldorf (2001-2005) and Münster (2005-2008) where  I completed my Habilitation in May 2007. I studied English and biology (first state exam 1996) as well as art history at the Universities of Bonn, York and Oxford. I hold an MA in Medieval Studies from the University of York (1996) and a PhD in English Philology from the University of Bonn (2000). I have been awarded several grants and stipendiary fellowships, among them a doctoral fellowship (DFG) in the coordinated research training group "Schriftlichkeit und Gesellschaft im Mittelalter (Interdisziplinäre Mediävistik)" at the University of Münster (1996-2000), a DAAD fellowship to complete my  doctoral training at the University of Oxford (1998-99), a stipendiary Andrew Mellon Fellowship at the University of Texas at Austin (2006) and a Christopher Isherwood Foundation Fellowship at the Huntington Library  in San Marino, Los Angeles (2014). I was “professeur invitée” at the École Normale Supérieure de Lyon in  autumn 2010.


Doctoral and post-doctoral students

Dr. Nicole Nyffenegger-Staub: Postdoctoral project (Habilitation)

Ricarda Wagner: Holy Matters: Human-Object Relations in Medieval Hagiography (Postdoctoral project)

Dr. Kathrin Scheuchzer: 'Blessed are the Meek': Women and Children in John Foxe's Actes and Monuments (PhD, completed 2015)

Matthias Berger, M.A.: United under the Banner of Medievalism? Medievalism and the Construction of Swiss and British National Identities (PhD project)

Claudia Perner, University of Duisburg-Essen: “US-American Inoutside Perspectives in Globalized Anglophone Literatures” (PhD, completed 2011)

Samuel Röösli: "Sensing Nature: The Non-Human World in the Literature of Early Medieval England"

Habilitation (completed):

Dr Mary Flannery, "Practicing Shame: Female Honour in Later Medieval England"


Theatre Productions

In 2010, Prof. Kern-Stähler and her medieval drama seminar students produced a medieval Christmas play at the Historisches Museum Bern. More information about the theatre production can be downloaded here: A Medieval Drama (pdf, 451KB)


Study Trips

May 2019: England (2019 England Excursion (PDF, 17.7 MB))

March 2018: Sutton Hoo and West Stow (Sutton Hoo.pdf (PDF, 3.9 MB))

May 2017: Lincoln, York, Yorkshire (Lincoln&Yorkshire.pdf (852KB))

May 2016: London 

May 2015: Norwich (Norwich.pdf (PDF, 1.4 MB))

November 2014: St. Gallen

May 2014: Paris Study Trip to St. Denis

May 2013: Canterbury (Canterbury.jpg (JPG, 270KB))

May 2011: York, England (York.pdf (PDF, 623KB))

May 2010: Canterbury (Canterbury.pdf (PDF, 1.0 MB))


Recent Courses Taught at the University of Bern

Miracles, Mystics and Monasteries: Religion and Literature in Medieval England

Theory and the Medieval Text

Antiquity in the Anglophone Imagination: Heroic Women in Classical and Medieval Literature

Medieval Ruins, the NS Party Rally Grounds, the Site of the Nazi War Crimes Trials: Literary Encounters with Nuremberg 

In the footsteps of Julian of Norwich and Margery Kempe: Medieval Norwich (with Study Trip)

Chaucer’s Lives: Constructing the Author in Literary Biographies

Sensing the Middle Ages: The Senses and Sense Perception in Old and Middle English Literature

From Skin to Book: Medieval Manuscripts (with Study Trip to Stiftsbibliothek St. Gallen)

An Introduction to Medieval English Literature and Culture

Medieval Literature in Paris

Chaucer’s Women

Language, Literature and Space

Introducing Medieval English Studies – Key Concepts, Topics, Challenges

Exploring Medieval Artefacts (with Study Trip to Canterbury)

Public and Private Spaces in Medieval England

“What is an Author?” Medieval Notions of Authorship



Secrecy and Surveillance in Medieval and Early Modern England. Tübingen: Narr, in press. [with Nicole Nyffenegger]

The Five Senses in Medieval and Early Modern England. Leiden: Brill, 2016. [with Beatrix Busse and Wietse de Boer]

Ethik in der Medizin: Literarische Texte für den neuen Querschnittsbereich GTE. Münster: mentis, 2013. [with Bettina Schöne-Seifert and Anna Thiemann]

English on the Move: Mobilities in English Language and Literature. Swiss Papers in English Language and Literature (SPELL), 28. Tübingen: Gunter Narr, 2012. [with David Britain]

“A Missionary Zeal”: Besatzung, Entnazifizierung und Umerziehung als Aktionsfeld und im Geschichtsbewusstsein britischer Literaten. Heidelberg: Universitätsverlag Winter, 2009. Monograph.

Literary Encounters of Fundamentalism: A Casebook . Heidelberg: Universitätsverlag Winter, 2008. [with Klaus Stierstorfer]

Refractions of Canada in European Literature and Culture. Berlin and New York: de Gruyter, 2005. [with Heinz Antor, Gordon Bölling and Klaus Stierstorfer]

“A Room of One’s Own”: Reale und mentale Innenräume weiblicher Selbstbestimmung im spätmittelalterlichen England. Tradition – Reform – Innovation. Studien zur Modernität des Mittelalters, 3. Frankfurt/M. et al: Peter Lang, 2002. Monograph.

Journal Articles and Book Chapters

“Introduction: Secrecy and Surveillance in Medieval and Early Modern England” (with Nicole Nyffenegger). In: Secrecy and Surveillance in Medieval and Early Modern England, ed. Annette Kern-Stähler and Nicole Nyffenegger. Tübingen: Narr, in press, pp. 11-21. [with Nicole Nyffenegger]

"Literarische Texte für die Medizinethik. Ein Beitrag für den neuen Querschnittsbereich 'Geschichte, Theorie und Ethik der Medizin' (GTE)", Briefe zur Interdisziplinarität 20 (Dezember 2017): 7-13. [with Bettina Schöne-Seifert and Anna Thiemann]

"Engaging with the Past: Reinventing the Middle Ages." Anglistentag 2016 Hamburg. Proceedings. Ed. Ute Berns and Jolene Mathieson. Trier: wvt, 2017, 85-147. [with Eva von Contzen and Nicole Nyffenegger]

"Introduction: Engaging with the Past: Reinventing the Middle Ages." Anglistentag 2016 Hamburg. Proceedings. Ed. Ute Berns and Jolene Mathieson. Trier: Wissenschaftlicher Verlag Trier, 2017. 87-91. [with Eva von Contzen and Nicole Nyffenegger]

“Introduction: The Five Senses in Medieval and Early Modern Cultures”. The Five Senses in Medieval and Early Modern England. Ed. Annette Kern-Stähler, Beatrix Busse, and Wietse de Boer. Leiden: Brill, 2016, 1-17. [with Kathrin Scheuchzer]

“Bleary Eyes: Middle English Constructions of Visual Disabilities”. The Five Senses in Medieval and Early Modern England. Ed. Annette Kern-Stähler, Beatrix Busse, and Wietse de Boer. Leiden: Brill, 2016, 69-95. [with Beatrix Busse]

“Smell in the York Corpus Christi Plays”. The Five Senses in Medieval and Early Modern England. Ed. Annette Kern-Stähler, Beatrix Busse, and Wietse de Boer. Leiden: Brill, 2016, 239-268. [with Rory G. Critten]

"The Sanctification of Home in Late Medieval England". Diasporic Constructions of Home and Belonging. Ed. Florian Kläger and Klaus Stierstorfer. Berlin and Boston: de Gruyter, 2016, 249-264.

“Autism and the American Dream: Progress and Recovery in the American Autie-Biography”. Narrative Matters in Medical Contexts across Disciplines. Studies in Narrative, 20. Ed. Franziska Gygax and Miriam A. Locher. Amsterdam and Philadelphia: John Benjamins, 2015, 17-31 [with Anna Thiemann]

“Middle English Narrative Poetry: Geoffrey Chaucer”. A History of British Poetry: Genres, Developments, Interpretations. Ed. Sybille Baumbach, Birgit Neumann and Ansgar Nünning. Trier: wvt, 2015, 29-40.

“Medieval Literature”. English and American Studies: Theory and Practice. Ed. Martin Middeke et al. Stuttgart: Metzler, 2012, 7-17. [with Stephan Kohl]

“‘The Lord Assembled a Dedicated Staff’: The Comic Crusade”. Burning Books: Negotiations between Fundamentalism and Literature. Ed. Catherine Pesso-Miquel and Klaus Stierstorfer. New York: AMS Press, 2012, 51-63.

“Gender, Creation and Authorship in the Late Middle Ages”. Gender and Creation: Surveying Gendered Myths of Creativity, Authority, and Authorship. Ed. Anne-Julia Zwierlein. Heidelberg: Universitätsverlag Winter, 2010, 25-42.

“Sweet Poison and Its Antidote: Troilus and Criseyde and the Disce Mori”. Anglistik 21.2 (2010): 171-80.

Introduction to: Literature and Silence. Anglistentag 2009 Klagenfurt. Proceedings. Ed. Jörg Helbig. Trier: wvt, 2010, 375-81. [with Ina Habermann]

“The Translation of Testimony and the Transmission of Trauma: Jonathan Safran Foer’s Everything is Illuminated and Liev Schreiber’s Film Adaptation”. Voices and Silence in the Contemporary Novel in English. Ed. Vanessa Guignery. Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Press, 2009, 160-184. [with Axel Stähler]

“Metaphor and (Dis)Embodiment: Inside the Autistic Mind”. The Literary Mind. Ed. Jürger Schlaeger. Yearbook of Research in English and American Literature 23 (2008): 67-80. [with Anna Thiemann]

“Intercultural Encounters: Rudy Wiebe, A Discovery of Strangers”. Teaching the Contemporary Novel. Ed. Susanne Peters, Klaus Stierstorfer and Laurenz Volkmann. Trier: wvt, 2008, 509-526.

“Role Models of Intimacy in Late Medieval England”. Interfaces 27 (2007-08): 67-80.

“Translating the Unspeakable: Interpreters at War Crime Trials in Contemporary British Drama”. Cultural Translation/Translation of Cultures. Ed. Monika Gomille and Klaus Stierstorfer. Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Press, 2008, 101-120.

“Vita mixta oder Doppelleben? – Chancen zur Erweiterung weiblicher Existenz im England des späten Mittelalters”. Außen und Innen: Räume und ihre Symbolik im Mittelalter. Ed. Nikolaus Staubach and Vera Johanterwage. Frankfurt et al: Peter Lang, 2007, 333-351.

“Romeo and Juliet”. Shakespeare Didaktisch II: Ausgewählte Dramen und Sonette für den Unterricht. Ed. Roland Petersohn and Laurenz Volkmann. Stauffenburg Handbücher, 9. Tübingen: Stauffenburg, 2006, 59-76.

“Taktiken des Raumwechsels: Giddens’ Structuration Theory und Andachtsräume von Frauen im spätmittelalterlichen England”. Grenz-Gänge: Studien zu Gender und Raum. Ed. Herwig Friedl and Nicole Schröder. Tübingen and Basel: Francke, 2006, 29-43.

“Homer on the Evolutionary Scale: Interrelations between Biology and Literature in the Writings of William Gladstone and Grant Allen”. Unmapped Countries: Biological Visions in Nineteenth-Century Literature and Culture. Ed. Anne-Julia Zwierlein. London: Anthem Press, 2005, 107-115.

“The Presentness of the Past: The Prosecution and Staging of Displaced War Criminals in Britain”. Staging Displacement, Exile and Diaspora: Papers Given on the Occasion of the Thirteenth Annual Conference of the German Society for Contemporary Theatre and Drama in English . Ed. Christoph Houswitschka und Anja Müller. Contemporary Drama in English, 12. Trier: wvt, 2005, 211-226.

“Re-Enacting the Arctic Voyage: The Northwest Passage in British Literature”. Refractions of Canada in European Literature and Culture. Ed. Heinz Antor, Gordon Bölling, Annette Kern-Stähler, Klaus Stierstorfer. Berlin: de Gruyter, 2005, 173-193.

“University Control Officers, British Writers and an Enemy People: Education Policy in the British Zone”. Anglistik: Research Paradigms and Institutional Policies 1930-2000. Ed. Stephan Kohl. Trier: wvt, 2005, 171-205. [with Stephan Kohl]

First published in: Anglistentag 2002 Bayreuth. Ed. Ewald Mengel, Hans-Jörg Schmid, Michael Steppat. Proceedings of the Conference of the German Association of University Teachers of English, 24. Trier: wvt, 2002, 109-130.

“Die Suche nach dem privaten Raum im englischen Spätmittelalter: Literatur und Lebenswirklichkeit”. Virtuelle Räume: Raumwahrnehmung und Raumvorstellung im Mittelalter. Akten des 10. Symposiums des Mediävistenverbandes, Krems 24.-26. März 2003. Ed. Elisabeth Vavra. Berlin: Akademie Verlag, 2005, 87-107.

“Zur Klausur von Nonnen in englischen Frauenklöstern des späten Mittelalters: Die Lincolner Visitation Returns 1429-1449”. Studien und Texte zur literarischen und materiellen Kultur der Frauenklöster im späten Mittelalter. Ed. Falk Eisermann, Eva Schlotheuber and Volker Honemann. Leiden and Boston: Brill, 2004, 103-118.

“‘The true and secret part of the history is left to me’: Colonial Oppression and Selective Historiography in Peter Carey’s True History of the Kelly Gang”. Xenophobic Memories: Otherness in Postcolonial Constructions of the Past. Ed. Monika Gomille and Klaus Stierstorfer. Heidelberg: Universitätsverlag Winter, 2003, 243-255.

“‘The inability to mourn’: The Post-war German Psyche in Mavis Gallant’s Fiction”. Refractions of Canada in European Literature and Culture. Ed. Heinz Antor, Sylvia Brown, John Considine, Klaus Stierstorfer. Berlin: de Gruyter, 2003, 259-270.

Short Articles and Reviews

"Fourteenth Century England 10, ed. by Gwilym Dodd, Woodbridge 2018, The Boydell Press, XI u. 201 S." Deutsches Archiv für
Erforschung des Mittelalters 75.2 (2019), 852-854.

“Nicholas Perkins (ed.). Medieval Romance and Material Culture. Cambridge: Brewer, 2015”. Anglia 135 (2017), 204-208. 

The Oxford Handbook of Medieval Literature in English. Ed. Elaine Treharne and Greg Walker (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010)”. Historische Zeitschrift 295 (2012): 479-480.

“Religion in Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales”. General Themes in Literature. Ed. Jennifer McClinton-Temple. New York, Oxford: Facts on File, 2010.

“Grief in Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales”. General Themes in Literature. Ed. Jennifer McClinton-Temple. New York, Oxford: Facts on File, 2010.

“Gender in Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales”. General Themes in Literature. Ed. Jennifer McClinton-Temple. New York, Oxford: Facts on File, 2010.

“Women and Reading in Late Medieval England: Critical Considerations”. Anglistentag 2004 Aachen. Proceedings. Ed. Lilo Moessner and Christa M. Schmidt. Trier: wvt, 2005, 89-90.

“Julia Pascal, London, in Interview with Annette Kern-Stähler, Düsseldorf”. Anglistik 16 (2005): 131-137.

Women, Reading, and Piety in Late Medieval England. Ed. Mary C. Erler. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002)”. Anglia 123.4 (2005): 718-20.

Naked Before God: Uncovering the Body in Anglo-Saxon England. Ed. Benjamin Withers and Jonathan Wilcox. (Morgantown: West Virginia University Press, 2003)”. Anglia 123.1 (2005): 136-139.

Writing Gender and Genre in Medieval Literature. Approaches to Old and Middle English Texts. Ed. Elaine Treharne for the English Association. Essays and Studies 55. (Cambridge: D. S. Brewer, 2002)”. Anglia 123 (2005): 140-143.

“Caroline M. Barron. London in the Later Middle Ages: Government and People 1200-1500. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004)”. Archiv für das Studium der neueren Sprachen und Literaturen 242 (2005): 436-438.

“The Craft of Fiction. Margaret Atwood’s Textual Assassinations: Recent Poetry and Fiction. Ed. Sharon Rose Wilson. (Ohio State University Press); Varieties of Exile: New Essays on Mavis Gallant. Ed. Nicole Côté and Peter Sabor. (Peter Lang)”. Canadian Literature 186 (2005): 190-192.

“Home and Away. Diane C. Archibald. Domesticity, Imperialism, and Emigration in the Victorian Novel. (University of Missouri Press); Peter S. Li.Destination Canada: Immigration Debates and Issues. (Oxford University Press); Westwood Creative Artists. Passages: Welcome Home to Canada. (Doubleday Canada)”. Canadian Literature 182 (2004): 90-92.

“Refractions of Germany in Canadian Literature and Culture – An International Conference. The Banff Centre, Alberta, Canada, 26th-29th September 2002”. Anglistik 14 (2003): 220-222.

Research interests

Medieval English literature and culture, more specifically concepts of space, medieval authorship, text and image, the five senses, medieval disability studies, gender studies; science and literature; interrelations between bioethics and literature; British writers and the Second World War; British-German relations.

My research encompasses two primary areas: late medieval literature and culture and  Britain and the Second World War. My doctoral thesis, published in 2002,explores medieval women's use of space; my Habilitationsschrift, published in 2009, focuses on the role of British writers in the denazification and re-education of the Germans after the Second World War. I am currently preparing a second book on this topic. 

Within the field of medieval literature and culture, I am particularly interested in concepts of space, authorship,  book ownership and literacy, medieval drama and performance, the art of memory, cultural contact and interrelations between texts and visual culture.  “Sensing the Middle Ages” is another important area of my research. I am co-investigator in an international project on the senses in medieval literature and culture and I am currently preparing a collection of essays on the senses in late medieval and early modern cultures (with Beatrix Busse). I also have a strong interest in interrelations between medicine, ethics and literature and between bioethics and literature and am co-author of  Ethik in der Medizin: Literarische Texte für den neuen Querschnittsbereich (2013). I have also published on early modern, Victorian and contemporary literature and culture as well as on postcolonial literatures.  


  • June 2013 The Senses in Medieval and Early Modern Cultures: Language and Literature: University of Bern (with Prof. Dr. Beatrix Busse) 
  • March 2013 Studientag des Englischen Mittelalters: University of Bern
  • September 2009 Literature and Silence: Panel Anglistentag 2009, Klagenfurt (with Prof. Dr. Ina Habermann)
  • November 2008 Constructions of Home: Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster (co-organiser, with Prof. Dr. Klaus Stierstorfer)
  • November 2006 Fundamentalism and Literature: Westfälische Universität Münster  (co-organiser, with Prof. Dr. Klaus Stierstorfer and Dr. Axel Stähler)
  • July 2003 Refractions of Canada in European Literature and Culture: Universität Düsseldorf (co-organiser, with Prof. Dr. Klaus Stierstorfer)
  • January 1998 Gesellschaftliche, psychologische und religiöse Aspekte von Interiorität in Lebenswelt und Literatur des Mittelalters: Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster (with Anne Bollmann)

Professional memberships

I am a member of the board of SAMEMES and a member of the following professional organizations:

Editorial Responsibilities

I am on the editorial board of the Routledge journal Shakespeare and of Anglistik: International Journal of English Studies.

Extra-departmental mentoring

I am Betreuerdozentin (mentor) for the Schweizerische Studienstiftung (Swiss Study Foundation).