Department of English

Modern English Literature

Prof. Dr. Virginia Richter

Full Professor and Chair of Modern English Literature, Director, Department of English

Modern English Literature

+41 31 631 83 68
B 264
Postal Address
Department of English
Länggassstr. 49
CH – 3012 Bern
Consultation Hour
In the autumn semester 2020, consultations will be online.

If you need an appointment, please write an email.

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 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.

Research interests

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.

Please click here to see 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)

PD Dr. Ursula Kluwick: Fictions of Fluctuation. An Ecocritical History of Water in 18th and 19th century English Literature. (2017)

Dr. Marijke Denger: Empire in the East Indies: Literature, Geopolitics and Imperial Awareness in British Malaya and the Dutch East Indies, c. 1780-1930

Doctoral Projects

Jakhan Pirhulyieva: Space in Polar Exploration: Ships and Ice Realms in Anglo-American Fiction, 1818-1851

Razieh Talebi: Great Expectations Revisited: The Study of “Transculturation” in Selected Novels

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)

Recent Courses

  • Richter: Victorian Literature (BA and MA Lecture)
  • Richter: Victorian Poetry (MA Seminar)
  • Richter: A Poor, Bare, Forked Animal: Shakespeare’s Human Creatures (MA Seminar)
  • Richter: Method in the Madness: Introduction to Methodology (BA and MA Workshop)
  • Lubrich/Richter: The First World War in Literature and Art / Der Erste Weltkrieg in Literatur und Kunst (bilingual) (MA Seminar)
  • Huber/Richter: Writing the Great War (FA and MA Lecture)
  • Richter/Holenstein: From Jon Knox to Sherlock Holmes: Swiss-British Exchanges in the Modern Period (MA Seminar)
  • Richter: English Drama from Shakespeare to the Present (FM Drama Across the Ages and MA Lecture)