Dr. Benjamin Kohlmann


  • Currently (2011-): Assistant Professor, University of Freiburg
  • 2010-2011: Lecturer at the Department of English and American Studies, University of Regensburg



  • 2007-2010: PhD in English Literature, Lincoln College, University of Oxford
  • 2005-2007: M.A. degree in Philosophy and English Literature, University of Freiburg
  • 2004-2005: Graduate study at Yale University (Philosophy Department)
  • 2001-2004: Undergraduate studies, Philosophy and English Literature, University of Freiburg




Edited Volumes


Journal Articles (Peer-Reviewed)

  • "Towards a History and Theory of the Socialist Bildungsroman", under review.
  • "What Is It Like to Be a Rat? Early Cold War Glimpses of the Post-Human", Textual Practice 28/4 (2014), 655-75.
  • “Awkward Moments: Melodrama, Modernism, and the Politics of Affect”, PMLA 128/2 (2013), 337-52.
  • “An Honest Decade: William Empson and the Ambiguities of Writing in the 1930s”, English Literary History 80/1 (2013), 221-49
  • "Edward Upward, W. H. Auden, and the Rhetorical Victories of Communism", Modernism/Modernity 20/2 (2013), 287-306.
  • “‘Men of Sobriety and Buisnes’: Pepys, Privacy, and Public Duty”, Review of English Studies 61/251 (2010), 553-71 
  • “‘The Heritage of Symbolism: Henry Green, Maurice Bowra, and English Modernism in the 1920s”, Modern Language Notes 124/5 (2009), 1188-1210 
  • “‘Stand Still, True Poet That You Are!’ Remembering the Brownings, Imagining Memorabilia”, ZAA 57/2 (2009), 125-38


Book Chapters

  • "'The End of Laissez-Faire': Literature, Economics, and the Idea of the Welfare State". Late Victorian into Modern, 1880-1920. Ed. Laura Marcus, Michèle Mendelssohn, and Kirsten Shepherd-Barr. Oxford: Oxford UP, forthcoming 2015.
  • "Versions of Working-Class Idleness: Non-Productivity and the Critique of Victorian Workaholism". Leisure, Idleness and Indolence in British Literature. Ed. Monika Fludernik and Miriam Nandi. Basingstoke: Palgrave-Macmillan, forthcoming 2014.
  • "'A Foot in Mortmere': Christopher Isherwood and Edward Upward". The American Isherwood. Ed. Jim Berg and Christopher Freeman. Minneapolis: U of Minnesota P, 2014.
  • "Introduction", Edward Upward and Left-Wing Literary Culture in Britain. London: Ashgate, 2013. [9,000 words]
  • "Introduction", Utopian Spaces of Modernism: British Literature and Culture, 1885-1945. Ed. Rosalyn Gregory and Benjamin Kohlmann. London: Palgrave, 2012. [7,500 words]


Handbook and Dictionary Entries

  •  “Thomas Love Peacock”, “Thomas Lovell Beddoes”, “Edmund Burke” in Encyclopaedia of Literary Romanticism. Ed. Andrew Maunders. New York, 2010 
  • “Edward Upward”, Literary Encyclopedia,, 2010 [2500 words]



  • Review of Marius Hentea, TaTa Dada: The Real Life and Celestial Adventures of Tristan Tzara. Modernism/Modernity, forthcoming.
  • Review of Jock Macleod, Literature, Journalism, and the Vocabularies of Liberalism. ZAA, forthcoming.
  • Review of Jed Esty, Unseasonable Youth: Modernism, Colonialism, and the Fiction of Development. Modernist Cultures, forthcoming.
  • Review of Ina Habermann, Myth, Memory, and the Middlebrow: Priestley, du Maurier, and the Symbolic Form of Englishness. ZAA, 61/1 (2013), 93-95.
  • Review of Kristin Bluemel, ed., Intermodernism: Literary Culture in Mid-Twentieth-Century Britain. Modernist Cultures, 6/1 (2011), 196-98
  • Review of Paul Crosthwaite, Trauma, Postmodernism, and the Aftermath of World War II, Modern Language Review, 105/2 (2010), 546-47



  • Poems by Silke Scheuermann, in Inventory Journal (2014)


Scholarships and Prizes

  • Research Fellowship, Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, Department of English and Comparative Literature, Columbia University (10/2012-09/2013)
  • Grant to organize conference 'Cultivating the Economy: Literature, Politics, Economics, 1870-1930' at Columbia University; Thyssen Foundation, 2013 (€7000)
  • Travel grant to attend "On Liberties: Victorian Liberals and Their Legacies", Gladstone's Library, Hawarden, UK; German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD), 2013
  • Travel grant to attend "Space Between Conference", McGill University, Montreal; German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD), 2011
  • Michael Foster Memorial Scholarship, awarded by the University of Oxford, 2008-2010 (waiving university and college fees)
  • PhD scholarship, German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD), 2008-2010
  • Various travel grants awarded by Lincoln College and the English Faculty at Oxford University, 2008-2010
  • Baden-Württemberg Scholarship (to study at Yale University), 2004-2005
  • Scholar of the German National Academic Foundation (Studienstiftung des deutschen Volkes), 2003-2010


Presentations and Panels:


Papers (Selected)

"'A Romance about Capital': E.M. Forster and the Idea of the Welfare State", Modernist Communities, Paris, 2014

"'By implication, poetic': Mass-Observation's Artistic Origins in the 1930s", British Association of Modernist Studies, London, 2014

"Politics Without Footnotes", Modernist Studies Association, Brighton, 2013

"Spiral Descent: Communist Anti-Communism after World War II", Anti-Communism: Literature, Culture, Propaganda, Institute of English Studies, London, 2013

"Rethinking the 1930s: Literature, Politics, and the Communist Voice", Stanford University, 2013 (invited lecture)

"Forms of Preparedness: E.M. Forster, Risk, and Unemployment Insurance", Cultivating the Economy, Columbia University, 2013

"The Drama of Preparedness: Unemployment Insurance and E.M. Forster's (New) Liberal Aesthetic", On Liberties: Victorian Liberals and Their Legacies, Gladstone's Library, Hawarden (UK), 2013

"'Playing with Bright Images': The Making and Unmaking of Surrealist Black Humour", Space Between Conference, DePaul University, Chicago 2013

"Auden, Isherwood, and Post-Liberal Citizenship", Modernist Studies Association, Las Vegas, 2012

"'Higher Feelings' and the State: Literature, Economic Discourse, and the End of Laissez-Faire, 1870-1930", Max Planck Institute for Human Development (Centre for "History of the Emotions"), Berlin, 2012 (invited paper)

"A Lost Generation: The Literature of the 1930s and Writing after Modernism", Generation M: Resetting Modernist Time. UVA, Amsterdam, 2012

"'Brittle Ghosts': Surrealism, History, and Black Humour in the 1930s", History and Humour. Freiburg, 2012

The Poverty of Surrealism: Social Critique in Early Mass-Observation”, The ‘Space Between’ Conference, McGill University, Montreal, 2011

Awkward Moments: Melodrama, Modernism, and the Politics of Affect”, Intermodernism Seminar, Brunel University, London, 2011 [invited paper]

"What Is It Like To Be a Rat? Thomas Pynchon and Early Cold War Glimpses of the Post-Human", Research Seminar, Regensburg University, 2011

"A ‘Radical Aesthetic’? Social Facts and Poetic Authority in Mass-Observation”, Modernism and Utopia, University of Birmingham, 2010

“‘The Heart of Standing Is You Cannot Fly’: William Empson and Taking Sides”, Utopian Spaces of British Literature and Culture, 1890-1945, University of Oxford, 2009

“Henry Green, Maurice Bowra, and the ‘Heritage of Symbolism’”, Twentieth-Century Literature Research Seminar, University of Oxford, 2009

“The Uses of Poetry: From T. S. Eliot to William Empson”, MLA Convention, Poetry Division (chaired by Susan J. Wolfson and Alan Golding), San Francisco, 2008

“Poetical Remains: Robert Browning in the Marketplace”, Bodies and Things: Victorian Literature and the Matter of Culture Conference, University of Oxford, 2008


EUCOR PhD and MA Conference, University of Freiburg (two days; co-organized with W. Hochbruck and M. Fludernik), 2014

"Anti-Communism: Culture, Literature, Propaganda", Institute of English Studies, London, 28 August 2013 (symposium)

"Cultivating the Economy: Literature, Politics, Economics, 1870-1940", Columbia University, 23-24 May 2013 (conference)

"British Literature and the State, 1870-1940", panel at MLA 2013

"British Literature and the Interventionist State", panel at MSA 2012

“Utopian Spaces of British Literature, 1890-1945”, University of Oxford, 18 September 2009 (conference)


Teaching Experience:

At Freiburg, Oxford, and Regensburg I have taught introductory classes as well as advanced courses, mainly on nineteenth- and twentieth-century English literature. Topics have included: "Twentieth-Century British Drama", "History and Politics in Virginia Woolf's Novels", "Contexts of Modernism", "Victorian Poetry and Prose". I have also taught a workshop for high school teachers at Regensburg University.


Research Projects:

I have a special research interest in the culture and politics of modernism, especially in the transformations during the late-Victorian period which gave rise to 'modernism' and to the politicization of modernist writing in the late 1920s and 1930s. My doctoral thesis, Ambiguities of Political Writing: Left-Wing Literature of the 1930s, examined works by I. A. Richards, T.S. Eliot, William Empson, the English Surrealists, Mass-Observation, and Edward Upward. This project will be published as a monograph in 2014.


My second book project (Habilitation) considers the connections between literature and economics (esp. emerging concepts of 'welfare') in the long nineteenth century. I am currently working on a book chapter which explores the intersections between literature and economics in this period by tracing the shift from laissez-faire economy to state regulation and state-organized welfare. My interests in nineteenth-century literature and culture have also recently focused on the utopian imaginary of late Victorian writing and on representations of working-class idleness in Victorian fiction and poetry.

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