After attending a comprehensive, I studied French and German at Cambridge, spent a year in Berlin learning Ancient Greek, and then returned to Cambridge to do my PhD on the poet Friedrich Hölderlin. After that, I was college lecturer in German at Keble College, Oxford for a year, then lecturer in the German Department at Bristol for three years, and came to Queen’s in 2000. From 2002-3 I was a Fellow of the Alexander-von-Humboldt Foundation in Berlin, and in 2018-19 I held a research fellowship from the Leverhulme Trust. I am currently the Tutor for Undergraduates at Queen’s.
I teach a wide range of authors and topics in the modern period, so from the mid-18th century to the present day. Precisely what mainly depends on the interests of my students in a given year, but I am interested in all literary genres and also in some aspects of thought. I teach language to all years, especially translation. Most of my graduate supervision has been on 20th-century poetry.
My main interest is poetry, not just when it’s written in German. I did my thesis on Hölderlin, a poet writing after the French Revolution but only really discovered in the 20th century. Since then, I have worked on a number of other poets – including Goethe, Mörike, and Celan – and have recently completed a book on Rilke. I have also translated Hölderlin and Rilke and am interested in ideas about translation. I see my work as broadly comparative and have written on English and French writers as well as German.
Selected publications are listed below and a full list of publications is available here.
- Rilke: the Life of the Work (OUP, 2020)
- Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet & The Letter from the Young Worker (Penguin, 2011; Penguin Classics, 2012) [translator and editor]
- Friedrich Hölderlin, Essays and Letters (Penguin, 2009) [translator and editor, with Jeremy Adler]
- Agenda Vol. 45 No. 2 (Spring 2010): C. H. Sisson Special Issue [guest editor]
- ‘The romantic lyric’, in The Cambridge Companion to German Romanticism (CUP, 2009)
- Hölderlin and the Dynamics of Translation (Legenda, 1998)