Dr Joanna Neilly

Dr Joanna Neilly

I’m originally from Northern Ireland, and I first came to Oxford as an undergraduate in 2003. I studied French and German, having spent no more than a week in Germany and no time at all in France before I applied to the course! Studying literature at Oxford opened up a whole new world to me. In French, I particularly enjoyed the seventeenth-century dramatists Racine and Molière, as well as Baudelaire’s moody poetry. But my real loves were in German: E.T.A. Hoffmann, Frank Wedekind, and Thomas Mann, to name a few. 

I now work primarily on German Romanticism, although I have broad interests across nineteenth-century German literature. I am fascinated by the way German culture from this period has remained influential beyond German borders. For example, the perennially popular “Nutcracker” ballet is based on a story by E.T.A. Hoffmann (1776-1822), whose life and work also inspired a French opera; and the stories first published by the Grimm Brothers in 1812 never seem to stop generating new adaptations.

Teaching

Since 2012, I have taught German literature and language at various Oxford colleges. At St Peter’s, I teach Modern German Literature from 1770 to the present day. I try to strike a balance between guiding students through the major developments of the period, and giving them the freedom to tailor some aspects of the course according to their interests. As well as teaching better-known writers such as Goethe, Schiller, Mann, and Brecht, I have enjoyed tutorials on such diverse authors as Marie von Ebner-Eschenbach, Carl Zuckmayer, Elfriede Jelinek, Wladimir Kaminer, and Feridun Zaimoğlu. I also teach poetry and the set texts on the prelims literature course.

In addition, I teach translation into and from German. Language and literature go hand-in-hand, and there’s no better (or more enjoyable) way to learn about your own language than by viewing it through another.

Research

You can find out more about my research and publications on my departmental profile page