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Niamh Burns

Stipendiary Lecturer in German


I attended a state school in Dublin, Ireland, before coming to Oxford to study for a BA in Philosophy and German at New College, with a year spent at the University of Bonn. I completed an MSt in Modern Languages and am working on my doctorate, also at New College. I joined Queen’s as a Stipendiary Lecturer in German in 2020.


I teach the entire breadth of the German undergraduate courses in modern literature and translation, with particular specialties in modernism, Expressionism and intellectual history. I have also held an Ashmolean Junior Teaching Fellowship, using museum objects to teach undergraduates about German philosophy and art history.


In my doctorate I work to uncover and reappraise the work of under-researched German philosopher and mystic Gerda Walther (1897-1977). I trace her negotiation of abstraction across the discourses of mysticism, philosophy and modernist aesthetics that her work compellingly, and disruptively, combines: offering a new vision of the philosophical landscape in early 20th century Germany. I am also generally interested in the literature, art and intellectual history of modernism, and look particularly at the contributions of under-researched women.


‘A Modernist Mystic: Philosophical Essence and Poetic Method in Gerda Walther (1897-1977)’, German Life and Letters, 73 (2) (2020), 246-69.

‘Communication, performance and metaphor in Ingeborg Bachmann: three case studies’, Oxford German Studies, 49 (3) (2020), 249-62.