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Dr Debbie Pinfold

Dr Debbie Pinfold

Dr Debbie Pinfold
B.A., M.A., D.Phil(Oxon.)

Senior Lecturer in German

Office 2.77, 21 Woodland Rd
21 Woodland Road,
Clifton, Bristol BS8 1TE
(See a map)

+44 (0) 117 928 8797


I studied German and French at St Hugh's College, Oxford and went on to do the research for my D.Phil there. My thesis focused on the child's narrative perspective and the way it has been used to present the events of the Third Reich; a revised version of this thesis subsequently appeared under the title The Child's View of the Third Reich in German Literature: The Eye Among the Blind (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 2001). Following my time at St Hugh's I spent two years in Hamburg where I worked on the radio plays and novels of Gert Hofmann (1931 - 1993). Since then my research interests have continued to focus on representations of childhood in the political sphere: I collaborated with Dr Ruth Whittle (Birmingham) on a book about women's writings about the German revolutions of 1848/9, Voices of Rebellion: Political Writing by Malwida von Meysenbug, Fanny Lewald, Johanna Kinkel and Louise Aston (Bern: Lang, 2005), in which my contribution focused on the way the women represented their childhoods, and the political implications of these representations. I am currently working on the political and literary discourse of childhood in the former German Democratic Republic.

Between 2009 and 2011 I was Co-Investigator (with Dr Anna Saunders, University of Bangor) on an AHRC-funded interdisciplinary network 'After the Wall: Reconstructing and Representing the GDR' which was set up to consider the ways in which memories of the GDR continue to be represented in and impact on present day Germany. The network hosted three two-day workshops, each focusing on a central topic (memory and forms of representation; evoking the GDR Alltag; recalling the GDR dictatorship), and a three-day international conference entitled ‘Remembering and Re-thinking the GDR: Multiple Perspectives and Plural Authenticities?’ (September 2010). A volume of selected papers from the conference is due to appear in 2013; in the meantime, more information on the network’s activities can be found on the ‘After the Wall’ website.

I am currently expanding my interests beyond the former GDR into the former Eastern Bloc as a whole. In September 2011 I co-organised (with Dr Sara Jones, now University of Birmingham) a conference entitled 'Remembering Dictatorship: Socialist Pasts in Post-Socialist Presents', which also served as a launchpad for a new memory project 'East meets West: Post-Socialist Communities in a British Context'. I would be interested in hearing from anyone living in Bristol or the surrounding area who has memories of living under state socialism: please contact for further information.

I would welcome proposals for postgraduate work in literary Vergangeheitsbewältigung; GDR literature; the way the GDR is remembered in united Germany and beyond; and literary constructions of childhood.


After my undergraduate and doctoral studies at St Hugh's College, Oxford,  I spent two years working on the radio plays and prose fiction of Gert Hofmann in the beautiful city of Hamburg, supported by a post-doctoral scholarship from the Alfred Toepfer Stiftung F.V.S. I returned to the UK and to Oxford to take up my first teaching post at Brasenose and Merton Colleges (1997-2001).  A year's research leave (2001-2002) allowed me to work on a new collaborative project on women's writing about the 1848/49 revolutions, and after a brief stint as Access and Admissions Administrator at Corpus Christi College, Oxford (2002-2003) I took up a temporary lectureship at the University of Bristol in 2003. In 2004 I was appointed as a lecturer at Reading University, where I remained until my return to a permanent lectureship at Bristol in 2005. 

Since my return to Bristol I have performed a variety of roles within the German Department and the School of Modern Languages, including Director of Teaching in German (2013/14 and 2017 - 2020) and a stint as SML Year Abroad Officer (2008 - 2010). One of the highlights of my stint as  SML Schools Liaison Officer / Routes into Languages Coordinator (2013 - 2016) was the opportunity to lead a schools project to celebrate the twenty-fifth anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall / German unification, in collaboration with ten local secondary schools and the south Bristol street art festival, Upfest. You can read more about that project here:


Over the course of my career I have taught a wide range of German literary subjects, from the eighteenth century to the present. I am particularly interested in German narrative writing since 1945 and the literature and the cultural memory of the former German Democratic Republic, but I have also taught a range of other authors and topics, including the poetry and novels of Goethe, Schiller's dramas, Thomas Mann, Kafka, Günter Grass and Christa Wolf. In addition I have taught various courses on twentieth-century German history. 

I currently teach the following undergraduate cultural units:

  • GERM10035            German Literature and Film: Texts, Contexts and Genres
  • GERM10039            Language and Power: Inroductions to German History
  • GERM20048            Effi Briest and her Afterlives
  • GERM20042            Divided Germany
  • GERM20049            From Judgement to Trial: Selected Works by Franz Kafka
  • MODL23017            Woman and Nation
  • GERM32054            Representing the Holocaust
  • GERM32060            After the  Wall: Remembering and Reconstructing the GDR
  • MODL30027            The Cultural Heritage of Historic Towns and Cities in Europe and Beyond
  • MODL30005            Independent Study

 I also teach on the following M.A. units:

  • MODLM2022            Institutions of Culture
  • MODLM2034            Tradition and Experimentation in Twentieth-Century European Fiction 


Consultation hours:

Teaching Block 2, 2019 /20

Wednesday 12 -1

Thursday 12 - 1

and at other times by prior arrangement. Please email to set up an appointment if necessary. 


  • Cultural memory of the former GDR
  • Representations of childhood
  • GDR literature
  • Coming to terms with the Third Reich past
  • Women's writing
  • Twentieth-century and contemporary narrative writing

Recent publications

View complete publications list in the University of Bristol publications system

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