Prof. Dr. Virginia Richter
Full Professor and Chair of Modern English Literature, Director, Department of English
Modern English Literature
Virginia Richter studied English Literature, Comparative Literature and German Literature at the University of Munich and received her Magister degree in 1992. She was a doctoral fellow on the "Gender and Literature" graduate studies programme (DFG-Graduiertenkolleg "Geschlechterdifferenz und Literatur", 1993-95) and a co-founder and manager of the "Postcolonial Studies" graduate studies programme (2001-02). On completion of her doctoral dissertation, she held teaching posts in English Literature and Comparative Literature and received a postdoctoral research grant from the University of Munich. She carried out research on Darwinism, apes and missing links at the British Library, and as a Visiting Fellow at the University of Kent at Canterbury (2004). She completed her postdoctoral thesis (Habilitation) in 2005 and has the qualification (Venia legendi) to teach English and Comparative Literature. Based on this research project, she published her second book Literature after Darwin. Human Beasts in Western Fiction 1859-1939 with Palgrave Macmillan in 2011. For her transdisciplinary research she was awarded the "Therese von Bayern Preis". In 2006 she spent a semester as Visiting Scholar at the University of Leeds. She was Visiting Professor in English at the University of Göttingen and in Comparative Literature at the University of Munich. In spring 2018, she was a Visiting Research Fellow at the IASH, University of Edinburgh, working on her monograph on the beach in modernism. Since August 2020 she is working on the SNF-funded project The Beach in the Long Twentieth Century.
Since September 2007 she has held the Chair of Modern English Literature at the University of Bern. She was also offered Chairs at the Universities of Göttingen and Jena which she declined. From 2007-09 she was a board member of the German Association of University Teachers of English (Deutscher Anglistenverband). At the University of Bern, she was Head of the Department of English (2008-10), President of the Institute of Advanced Study (IASH) and its interdisciplinary Graduate School (2010-12 and 2014-15), and Vice Dean (2012-14). She was Dean of the Humanities from 2014-17. She is a board member of the Swiss Association of University Teachers in English (SAUTE), and serves on the editorial advisory board of The European Journal of English Studies (EJES). She is now again Head of Department. Starting in spring 2021, she has been elected President of the Forum für Universität und Gesellschaft (FUG, https://www.forum.unibe.ch/). In autumn 2021, she will take up her position as Vice Rector of the University of Bern (Vizerektorat Entwicklung).”
British literature and culture; Victorianism; Modernity; literary and cultural theory; gender studies; postcolonial studies/cosmopolitanism; literature and science, esp. Darwinism; literary animal studies; the beach in modern literature.
August 2020 - July 2024. The beach is an important space in Western literature. Ever since the rise in popularity of the seaside holiday, the beach has been depicted as a site of leisure, sensuous enjoyment and play, clearly distinguished from and often in a dialectical relationship with industrialised and metropolitan spaces of work. Despite its significance as a spatial frame in fiction, travel writing and memoirs, however, the beach has played a relatively minor role in scholarship until fairly recently. This project seeks to redress this neglect, focussing on a period in which the beach has undergone dramatic changes, both in everyday culture and in literary and artistic representations: the ‘long twentieth century,’ dating roughly from 1890 to the present. Team: Prof. Dr. Virginia Richter, PD. Dr. Ursula Kluwick, Guðrun í Jákupsstovu, Fabienne Blaser.
Book projects in preparation
Beach, Coast and Shore: A Fieldguide for Littoral Studies
The Beach in Modernist Literature
“The Missing Link”. Interview. Words to That Effect. Podcast, Episode 42. 26.02.2020. https://wttepodcast.com/2020/02/26/missing-link/
“300 Jahre Robinson Crusoe”. Interview. SRF 2 Kultur, 23.04.2019. https://www.srf.ch/sendungen/kontext/300-jahre-robinson-crusoe
Please click here to see a complete list of Prof. Dr. Virginia Richter's publications.
Applications from doctoral and postdoctoral candidates from outside the University of Bern will only be considered if they submit the complete set of documents specified on our departmental website (see "PhD Studies" under further information).
Postdoctoral Projects (Habilitation)
Dr. Marijke Denger: Empire in the East Indies: Literature, Geopolitics and Imperial Awareness in British Malaya and the Dutch East Indies, c. 1780-1930
Dr. Zoë Lehmann: The Languages of Science in Science Fiction.
PD Dr. Ursula Kluwick: Fictions of Fluctuation. An Ecocritical History of Water in 18th and 19th century English Literature. (2017)
Olivia Biber: Keeping the Political in Economics: The Economic Concerns of Female Victorian Writers. (working title)
Fabienne Blaser: Trouble in Paradise. The Beach as the Site of Disaster. (working title)
Guðrun í Jákupsstovu: Making Home in the Littoral: Of Encounters, Undoings, and Assemblages on the Beach. (working title)
Sanja Vaudano: Inside the Black Box: Poetics of Dream Narration in Salman Rushdie's Fiction. (working title)
Jakhan Pirhulyieva: Space in Polar Exploration: Ships and Ice Realms in Anglo-American Fiction, 1818-1851 (2020)
Marijke Denger: Liminal Communities in Contemporary Postcolonial Novels. (2015)
Zoe Lehmann Imfeld: The Ghost of God: Theology in the Supernatural Fiction of Arthur Machen, M.R. James, Sheridan Le Fanu and Henry James (2014)
Melanie Mettler, Lic. Phil. Hist.: Cosmopolitanism and Second Generation South Asian Diaspora Writers in English (2014)
Dr. Irmtraud Huber: Representing the Unrepresentable -- Magic Realism as Trauma-Narrative (2013)
- Richter: Seaside Stories (MA Seminar)
- Richter: Writing the Great War (MA Seminar)
- Richter: Oceanic Studies (MA Workshop)
- Richter: Reading Virginia Woolf (BA Workshop)
- Richter: Alternative Gender Worlds (BA Seminar)
- Richter: Nature in Literature: From Romanticism to Ecocriticism (BA and MA Lecture)
- Richter: Victorian Supernatural Tales (BA Seminar)
- Richter: Romanticism and Nature (MA Seminar)