Prof. Dr. Gabriele Rippl

Ordentliche Professorin
North American Literature and Culture

+41 31 684 83 66
Postal Address
Department of English
Länggassstr. 49
CH – 3012 Bern
Consultation Hour
Office hours: by appointment

Gabriele Rippl studied English, American and German literatures and linguistics at the University of Constance and received her MA degree (plus ‘Staatsexamen’) in 1989. She was a doctoral fellow at the graduate studies programme ‘Theory of Literature and Communication’ (German Research Foundation/DFG-Graduiertenkolleg ‘Theorie der Literatur und Kommunikation’) from 1991 to 1993. This PhD scholarship allowed her, together with a DAAD-stipend, to work on her PhD thesis on early modern Englishwomen’s autobiographies at the University of Constance and the Bodleian Library, Oxford. Her PhD thesis was published as her first book Lebenstexte. Literarische Selbststilisierungen englischer Frauen in der frühen Neuzeit with Fink in 1998. On the completion of her doctoral thesis, she held positions as lecturer and assistant to Prof. Dr. Aleida Assmann, Chair of English Literature, University of Constance. From 1993 to 2001, she taught BA and MA classes on English and American literatures and wrote her post-doctoral thesis (‘Habilitation’) on intermediality and ekphrasis (text-picture relationships) in nineteenth- and twentieth-century Anglo-American literature. The research for this project was supported by the University of Constance, a Visiting Research Fellowship of the University of Wales, Lampeter, UK, and a Visiting Fellowship at Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge, UK. Based on this research project, she published her second book Beschreibungs-Kunst. Zur Intermedialen Poetik angloamerikanischer Ikon-Texte (1880-2000) with Fink 2005. She was Visiting Professor in English at the University of Tübingen, the University of Bern, and the University of Bielefeld, before she became Full Professor of English Literature and Vice-Director of Comparative Literature at the University of Göttingen in 2003.

Since October 2005 she has been Full Professor and Chair of American Studies/Literatures in English at the University of Bern, where she served as Head of the Department of English (2006-08), as president of the Collegium generale (2007-15), as president of the SNSF Research Committee of the University of Bern, and as co-founder and first director of the Center for Cultural Studies (now ‘Walter Benjamin Kolleg’). In 2008 she held a three-month scholarship of the Canadian Government (Faculty Enrichment Program), which enabled her to do research on a project on Canadian literature and Greek myth at the University of Western Ontario, London, Canada. She spent autumn term 2015 as visiting scholar at UCLA, Los Angeles, USA (supported by the Swiss National Science Foundation, SNSF). In 2017 she was a scholar at the Center for Advanced Studies, University of Cologne, where she undertook research for a project with the title "Anglophone Life Writing Today: Transcultural Figurations--Intermedial Constellations." She was the Vice Dean of the Faculty of the Humanities and Social Sciences at the University of Bern (2019-2021)

Prof. Rippl is a member of the Swiss National Research Council (Division 1) and the President of the SNSF’s Specialised Committee Careers. She also serves as a member of the Presiding Board of the National Research Council, as president of Ambizione (SNSF Division 1), as Chair of the SNSF Panel Editions, on several other SNSF committees, and as an advisory board member of the Berrow Foundation, Lincoln College, Oxford.

From 2021 to 2023, she was the Dean of the Faculty of the Humanities and Social Sciences at the University of Bern and a member of the university’s Senate. In 2014 AcademiaNet – European Expert Database of Outstanding Female Academics elected her as a new member.

Editorial responsibilities: Anglia. Journal of English Philology (De Gruyter), the Anglia Book Series (De Gruyter) and the series Handbooks of English and American Studies: Text and Theory (De Gruyter).

Gabriele Rippl’s teaching and research are devoted to North American, British and other Anglophone literatures and cultures. She teaches drama, fiction, and poetry from the colonial/early modern to the contemporary period as well as literary and cultural theory. Like many of her colleagues in literary and cultural studies, she regards literature as one cultural practice among others, and she is particularly interested in the histories and interplay of different symbolic systems and media. As a specialist in early modern, nineteenth-, and twentieth-century literature and culture, she has published books and articles on literary theory, gender studies, postcolonial studies, intermediality (i.e. the interrelation between literary and visual culture), autobiographical writing, cultural sustainability, the reception of classical antiquity in Anglophone literatures, the history and theory of the media, and the anthropology of literature.

TEACHING (recent semesters):

Sabbatical Leave for HS 2023 and FS 2024

FS 2023 (teaching reductions: deanery and SNSF)

  • C: MA Literature Forum
  • C: BA Literature Forum
  • Coll: Key Issues in North American Studies

HS 2022 (teaching reductions: deanery and SNSF)

  • MAS: Early Modern / Colonial Life Writing: Individual – Self – Subjectivities (with Dr. Regine Maritz, Department of History)
  • C: BA Literature Forum
  • C: MA Literature Forum
  • Coll: Key Issues in North American Studies

FS 2022 (teaching reductions: deanery and SNSF)

  • L: On the Waterfront: Literary and Linguistic Perspectives (joint lecture of members of the Department of English)
  • C: BA Literature Forum
  • C: MA Literature Forum
  • Coll: Key Issues in North American Studies

HS 2021 (teaching reductions: deanery and SNSF)

  • Coll: Key Issues in North American Studies

FS 2021 (teaching reductions: deanery and SNSF)

  • L:           Unlearning Racism: Literary and Linguistic Perspectives
  • L:           “Contamination” – A Key Term in Modern and Contemporary Discourses
  • C:          BA Literature Forum
  • C:          MA Literature Forum
  • Coll:      Key Issues in North American Studies

HS 2020 (teaching reductions: deanery and SNSF)

  • C:         BA Literature Forum
  • C:         MA Literature Forum
  • Coll:     Key Issues in North American Studies
  • WS:      PhD Workshop “Life” with Prof. Dr. Mita Banerjee (University of Mainz), Walter Benjamin Kolleg, University of Bern

FS 2020

  • L:         Literary History (joint lecture of members of the Department of English)
  • C:         BA Literature Forum
  • C:         MA Literature Forum
  • C:         MA Workshop Environmental Humanities
  • Coll:     Key Issues in North American Studies


SUPERVISION (selection):


  • Boog Michael: The Problem of Worldmaking: Critical Irrealism in Contemporary Anglophone World Literature;
  • Ilsemann, Mareike: Translations of Form in Anglophone World Literatures (working title, cosupervision; first supervisor: Prof. Dr. Birgit Neumann, University of Düsseldorf);
  • Liebermann, Yvonne: Latency and Memory in Contemporary Anglophone (working title, cosupervision; first supervisor: Prof. Dr. Birgit Neumann, University of Düsseldorf);
  • Von Rütte, Sabine: The Representation of Motherhood in Contemporary American Fiction and Music (working title);
  • Sarfin, Jonathan: Word – Image Relations and the Ecological Imperative in Contemporary North American Fiction: Towards and Eco-Ekphrasis (working title);
  • Sutter Malaika: Crafting the Needle: Text/ile-Image Constellations in Contemporary North American Fiction and Art.


  • Bischof, Roman: Narrating Neurons? Perspectives on Mental Illness in British and American Novels in the Age of Neuroscience;
  • Pirhulyieva, Jakhan (University of Bern, cosupervision): Space in Polar Exploration: Ships and Ice Realms in AngloAmerican Fiction, 1818–1851;
  • SkiboBirney, Bryn: Writing Between ‘the Human’ and ‘the Animal’ in Margaret Atwood’s MaddAddam Trilogy” (member of the dissertation jury, University of Geneva, viva: May 2020);
  • Reichel, Elisabeth (University of Basel, cosupervision): Cultural Relativism, ‘Primitivism,’ and the Valuation of Cultures in the Writings of Edward Sapir, Ruth Fulton Benedict, and Margaret Mead;
  • Weigel, Anna: ‘Fiction of the Internet’: From Intermediality to Transmedia Storytelling in 21st-Century Novels (University of Helsinki, Dissertationsgutachten/Preliminary examination statement);
  • Hoffmann, Agnes: Selective Affinities: Landscape Around 1900 between Text and Image (Hugo von Hofmannsthal and Henry James) (University of Basel, cosupervision, 2016);
  • Mayer, Uwe: Mythos als Fremdheitstopos: Zur Produktivität einer Denkgewohnheit in der englischsprachigen Literatur seit der Romantik (GCSC Giessen, cosupervision, 2016);
  • Etter, Lukas. Auteurgraphy: Distinctness of Styles in Alternative Graphic Narratives (first supervisor, 2014; (Faculty prize 2015 for best PhD thesis);
  • Hoppeler, Stephanie: Continuity in Comic Books and Comic Book Continuity: Serialized USAmerican Comic Books of the 1980s (first supervisor, 2014);
  • Cottier, Annie: Rewriting Histories and Geographies: Cosmopolitan Moments in Contemporary Indian Writing (first supervisor, 2014);
  • Escherle, Nora Anna: ‘Our Work to Cry: Your Work to Listen.’ Religious Alterity and Violence in Contemporary Anglophone Novels on Partition and Communalism by Pakistani and Indian Writers (first supervisor, 2013);
  • Georgi, Claudia: Liveness and Mediatisation: The Use of Film and Video in Contemporary British Theatre and Performance (international cosupervisor, 2012);
  • Kessel, Markus: ‘Aus Negern Afrikaner machen’. Die Vermittlung subsaharischafrikanischer Literaturen in deutscher Übersetzung seit Ende der 1970er Jahre (international cosupervisor, 2010);
  • Morawietz, Eva Maria: The Canonization of a Modern Literary Vernacular in American Culture from the 1950s1970s (international cosupervisor, 2010);
  • Preuss, Stefanie: Processes of Canon Formation in Scottish PostWar Society and their Functions for the Construction of National Identity (first supervisor, 2010);
  • Nadj, Nadine (University of Giessen): Die fiktionale Metabiographie: Gattungsgedächt­nis und Gattungskritik in einem neuen Genre der zeitgenössischen englischsprachigen Erzählliteratur (international cosupervisor, 2008);
  • Straub, Julia: The New Life of Beatrice. Work on a Feminine Myth in Victorian Literature (first supervisor, 2007).


  • 2014: Straub, Julia: The American Memory of Literature, 17701840.


Advisory Positions

Other Professional Memberships

Research Interests

Intermediality (text-image relations, ekphrasis and eco-ekphrasis in particular); environmental humanities; Anglophone world literatures; cultural studies and cultural sustainability; literary theory; graphic novels; interculturality and postcolonialism; transculturalism; history and anthropology of the media; literature and anthropology; 17th, 19th and 20th century women writers in English; autobiography research; feminist literary theory.

Current Research Projects G. Rippl

  • Der ökologische Imperativ: Materialität, Medialität und Metaphorik ökologischer Fragestellungen in Kunst, Literatur und Gesellschaft, Prof. Dr. G. Rippl (American Studies/Literatures in English, University of Bern), Prof. Dr. Peter Schneemann and Dr. Toni Hildebrandt (both Art History, University of Bern), Prof. Dr. Michaela Schäuble (Social Anthropology, University of Bern) and Prof. Dr. Peter Krieger (Art History, UNAM Mexico City), SNSF Sinergia project (2021–2024), Mediating the Ecological Imperative.
  • Interdisciplinary Walter-Benjamin-Kolleg research platform “Auto_Bio_Graphie”, a cooperation between Dance Studies (Prof. Dr. Ch. Thurner), Spanish Literature (Prof. Bénédicte Vauthier), American Studies/Literatures in English (Prof. Dr. G. Rippl) and Visual Anthropology (Prof. Dr. M. Schäuble)


Recently Finished Research Projects

Anglophone World Literatures, with Prof. Dr. Neumann (Düsseldorf) and Stefan Helgesson (Stockholm)


Original – Copy: Techniques and Aesthetics of Reproduction, Interdisciplinary Walter Benjamin Kolleg research platform, with Prof. Dr. Ch. Göttler, Prof. Dr. P. Schneemann (Art History), and Prof. Dr. M. Stolz (Medieval German Literature)


SNF Doctoral research group: Seriality and Intermediality in ‘Graphic Novels’

In the last 30 years, many so-called ‘graphic novels’ have been published and have enjoyed enthusiastic popular reception. Writers such as Neil Gaiman (Sandman), Alan Moore (Swamp Things, V for Vendetta, From Hell), Frank Miller (The Dark Knight Returns), Art Spiegelman (Maus: A Survivor’s Tale), Joe Sacco (Safe Area Gorazde), Chris Ware (Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid on Earth) and Marjane Satrapi (Persepolis) are collaborating with well-known graphic artists such as Dave McKean, Dave Gibbons, Bryon Talbot, Mark Buckingham, Gene Wolfe, Eddie Campbell and are bringing to life this bi-medial mode of representation which has obviously inherited a lot from its precursors, comics, but also has a distinct aesthetics of its own. The aim of our project, which is part of the international and interdisciplinary research group on Popular Seriality: Aesthetics and Practice, is to explore the intermedial aesthetics of serialized graphic novels in all their variations and transformations, and their different visual and narrative worlds. Furthermore, we want to examine how and where graphic novels are positioned in the cultural landscape as well as the various forms of canonization processes they can undergo.

In September 2009, the SNF (Schweizerischer Nationalfonds) granted the funds for the implementation of this project.

This project was associated with the DFG research group "Popular Seriality - Aesthetics and Practice" at the University of Göttingen.

Doctoral research group: Cosmopolitanism and Identity in Contemporary Indian Literatures in English: Exploring Fictions of the Homeland and of the Diaspora

In this research project, the concept of ‘cosmopolitanism’ was to be investigated in contemporary literatures of India and of the Indian diaspora. Long understood in the classical sense of the word - the cosmopolite as a ‘citizen of the world’ - the concept of cosmopolitanism has acquired new significance in the last thirty years, due to postcolonialism and, in its wake, globalisation, migration, multiculturalism and the re-emergence of nationalism and religious fundamentalism. By invoking new notions of belonging, citizenship and identity, and by recognizing new sites of cultural production, cosmopolitanism raises issues which demand to be investigated in cultural studies and, specifically, literary studies. Fictions produced by writers of Indian origin living in India or elsewhere discuss identity, cosmopolitanism, globalisation and nationalism from several perspectives. Considering the historical, political and social background of Indian literatures in English, it seems a worthwhile undertaking to investigate a selection of texts in respect to the issues of cosmopolitanism and identity, as well as to the further thematic concerns these concepts imply.

This project was conducted with Prof. Dr. Virginia Richter, University of Bern.

VW-Project Literarische Wertung und Kanon: Theorie und Praxis der Literaturvermittlung in der ‘nachbürgerlichen’ Wissensgesellschaft

Das von der VW-Stiftung mit einer Million Euro finanzierte und am Göttinger Zentrum für Theorie und Methodik der Kulturwissenschaften verankerte Promotionskolleg war ein Pilotprojekt für eine in den Geisteswissenschaften neue Organisationsform der Graduiertenförderung. Literaturwissenschaftliche Qualifikation wird mit hoher Praxiskompetenz in Dissertationsprojekten verbunden, die Wertungs-, Kanonisierungs- und Vermittlungskulturen im wissenschaftlichen und wirtschaftlichen Bereich untersuchen und miteinander vergleichen. Beteiligte Fachgebiete sind Amerikanistik, Anglistik, Germanistik, Komparatistik, Romanistik und Slavistik. Neben ihrer wissenschaftlichen Arbeit lernen die Promovend/inn/en in Praktika bei renommierten Verlagen (dtv, Fischer, Hanser, Metzler, Suhrkamp, Wallstein und Verlagsgruppe Holtzbrinck) die Bedingungen gegenwärtiger Literaturvermittlung näher kennen.

The Irreducibility of Images: Intermediality in Contemporary Literary and Cultural Studies

This project focuses on the question of the relationship between word and image, text and picture in American and British literature and thought since the eighteenth century. Instead of addressing this issue from a relatively narrow philological angle, the concept of “intermediality” seeks to outline the interdisciplinary character of this project. On the one hand, intermediality refers to a wide range of phenomena, such as “illustration”, “pictorialism”, “ekphrasis”, “iconicity” and “emblem”, situating them within a wider cultural and intellectual framework. On the other hand, intermediality can also be understood as a term that seeks to describe how text-image relationships take part in the generation and dissemination of “knowledge”, broadly perceived. It is precisely in this sense that the present project does not focus merely on the similarities or differences between “text” and “image”. Rather, it seeks to investigate their wider effect on cultural imagination and imaginaire.

This project was conducted with Prof. Dr. Christian Emden, Rice University, Houston/Texas.

Haunted Narratives: The Politics and Poetics of Identity Formation and Life Writing

Zwei schweizerisch-estnische Graduiertenkonferenzen finden vom 25.-31. Mai 2007 an der Universität Tartu und vom 7.-11. Mai 2008 an der Universität Bern statt und dienen der Nachwuchsförderung. Das gemeinsame Forschungsprojekt von Philosophinnen, Literatur- und KulturwissenschaftlerInnen der Universitäten Bern und Tartu beschäftigt sich mit Formen individueller und kollektiver Identitätskonstitution vor dem Hintergrund der historischen Entwicklungen im 20. Jahrhundert. Diese Identitätskonstitutionen von Individuen und kulturellen und politischen Gemeinschaften weisen zunehmend Brüche auf, die sich in Geschichten der politischen Unterdrückung, der Verfolgung, der ethnischen Säuberungen und Kriege und schliesslich auch in Exil-, Transkulturations- und Hybriditätserfahrungen niederschlagen. Die Ergebnisse der beiden Tagungen werden in Buchform publiziert.

The project was conducted with Prof. Dr. Margit Sutrop and Prof. Dr. Tiina Kirss (University of Tartu, Estonia).

Karman-Project: Staging Difference - Interreligious Conflicts in South and Southeast Asia

The research cluster “Staging Difference” aims at elucidating the emergence of increasingly tangible interreligious conflicts fuelled by stagings of religiously defined collective identities in South and Southeast Asian postcolonial societies. Its focus is on the media-driven communication of national and global social movements and their interaction with, and “colonisation” of, local conflicts. The three PhD projects (social anthropology, science of religion and literary studies) are methodologically linked across disciplines by a discourse analytic approach to intermediality.

Prof. Dr. Gabriele Rippl in collaboration with Prof. Dr. Karénina Kollmar-Paulenz and Prof. Dr. Heinzpeter Znoj.


List of Publications, 15.02.2023

Latest Publications

Juliet Simpson / Gabriele Rippl eds. JNR Journal of the Northern Renaissance 14 (2023), special issue: Emotional Objects: Northern Renaissance Afterlives [radical open access:]

Ekphrasis in Contemporary Anglophone Literature”, in: Hollis Beach and Rose Cely Dolbashian, eds., Contemporary Literary Criticism, Columbia: Gale/LLC-Publishing, 2023, 1-9 (with Sofie Behluli).

“Ekphrasis”, in: Jørgen Bruhn / Asun López-Varela Azcárate/ Miriam de Paiva Vieira, eds. The Palgrave Handbook of Intermediality, London: PalgraveMacmillan, 2023, 47-71 (with Sofie Behluli).

“Art – Life – Planet: Ekphrasis today”, in: Neil Murphy, W. Michelle Wang and Cheryl Julia Lee, eds., The Routledge Companion to Literature and Art, London: Routledge, 2023, 241-250 (with Sofie Behluli).

Anglia, special issue Book Histories in the Digital Age, Anglia 139, vol. 1 (2021) (ed. with Ursula Lenker).

Stefan Helgesson / Birgit Neumann / Gabriele Rippl, eds. Handbook of Anglophone World Literatures, Berlin/Boston: De Gruyter, 2020.

Verbal-Visual Configurations in Postcolonial Literature:  Intermedial Aesthetics (co-authored with Birgit Neumann). London: Routledge, 2020.

“Ekphrasis”, in: The Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Literature, Oxford: Oxford University Press. Article published June 2019. doi:

Torsten Meireis / Gabriele Rippl, eds. Cultural Sustainability: Perspectives from the Humanities and Social Sciences, London: Routledge, 2019.

“Sustainability, Eco-Ekphrasis and the Ethics of Literary Description”, in: Torsten Meireis and Gabriele Rippl, eds. Cultural Sustainability, London: Routledge, 2019.

Kulturwissenschaftliche Zeitschrift 3 (2019), special issue Original und Kopie: Techniken und Ästhetiken der re-/produktiven Abweichung (with Michael Stolz).

“Einleitung” (with Michael Stolz), in G. Rippl and M. Stolz, eds., special issue Original und Kopie: Techniken und Ästhetiken der re-/produktiven Abweichung, in Kulturwissenschaftliche Zeitschrift 3 (2019).

“Ekphrasis als intermediale Transkription”, in G. Rippl and M. Stolz, eds., special issue Original und Kopie: Techniken und Ästhetiken der re-/produktiven Abweichung, in Kulturwissenschaftliche Zeitschrift 3 (2019).

“Kulturwissenschaft [Kulturelle Nachhaltigkeit]”, in: Ursula Kluwick und Evi Zemanek, eds., Nachhaltigkeit – interdisziplinär. Konzepte, Diskurse, Praktiken. Ein Kompendium, Wien/Köln/Weimar: Böhlau/utb, 2019. 312-329.

“Introduction”, American Studies/Amerikastudien 63.4 (2019), special issue Anthropology and Aesthetics: Boasian Vistas (with Philipp Schweighauser, Silvy Chakkalakal, A. Elisabeth Reichel), 431-440.

“Teju Coles Bilder: Open City (2011) – Every Day Is for the Thief (2007/2014) – Blind Spot (2016)”, in: Günter Blamberger and Dietrich Boschung, eds., Morphomata-Schriftenreihe, Paderborn: Fink, 2019. 355-372.


Dr. Nina Ernst: Stitching Memories: Intermedial and Cross-modal Representations of Embroidery in Swedish Comics, Poetry, and Art Works

Alexandra Kleeman: Something New Under The Sun

Prof. Dr. Barbara Schmidt-Haberkamp: Borders, mental and physical: John Lanchester's The Wall and Mohsin Hamid's Exist West

Dr. Julius Greve: H.D.'s Disembodied Voice: Post-Secular Ventriloquism as Poetic Practice

Prof. Dr. Miriam Vieira: Uncharted Space: Searching for the Presence of Architecture in Contemporary Literature

Prof. Dr. Juliet Simpson: Emotional Pasts: (Uncanny) Burgundy as Power and Pathos in Visual and Literary Cultural Modernity

Prof. Dr. Mita Banerjee: The Enigma of Whiteness: James Baldwin in Switzerland

Professor Gabriele Rippl serves as Dean of the Faculty of Humanities (1. August 2021 – 31. July 2023)


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