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English Department

Barbara Straumann

Barbara Straumann, Prof. Dr.

  • Ausserordentliche Professorin für Englische Literaturwissenschaft
044 634 36 80


My professorship focuses on English Literature since 1800. In my research and teaching, I place a special emphasis on the long nineteenth century, including its cultural afterlife. Further research and teaching foci include (inter)mediality, film, visual culture, gender, psychoanalysis as well as literary and cultural theory.

I received my PhD in 2004 for a comparative study of Alfred Hitchcock and Vladimir Nabokov. My “cross-mapping” of the two authors takes as its point of departure the conditions of exile they found themselves in and goes on to show how their relentless playfulness and irony points to the creation of a new home in the world of signs. In 2014 I completed my Habilitation thesis on female performers in British and American narratives of the long nineteenth century. My study argues that the tension between the public voice of fictional female performers – singers, actresses, preachers and speakers – and other textual voices can be seen to refigure the cultural debate over the ‘voice’ of women in aesthetically complex ways.

One of my current research projects looks at the emergence of modern celebrity culture in the long nineteenth century. I also take a keen interest in debt (especially in the Victorian novel), gender and money as well as economic criticism more generally. I am a member of the DFG network Methodologies of Economic Criticism. I also actively contribute to the “Women, Money and Markets” network. In 2021 I co-organized the fourth annual “Women, Money and Markets” conference on Female Economies. I am currently planning a symposium on debt studies, which will take place in 2023. I also continue to work on queenship and female political power.

While much of my current research and teaching looks at British literature and culture, I am also strongly invested in American Studies, serving as President of SANAS (Swiss Association for North American Studies). Together with Michael C. Frank, I am currently organizing the 2022 SANAS Symposium on The Politics of Emotion.


Video podcast of my inaugural lecture
“I Owe You: Schulden in der britischen Literatur”
University of Zurich, 9th November 2015


Selected radio interviews

“Brontës Lyrik: Eine eigenständige Stimme”                                                         Kontext, SRF, 2 Kultur, 19th July 2018                                         

“200 Jahre Frankenstein”                                                                                                 Zeitblende, SRF 4 News, 10th March 2018                                               

“Die moderne Jane Austen: Wie gut ist das neue Stolz und Vorurteil?”
Kontext, SRF 2 Kultur, 18th July 2017


“Jackie: First Lady und Stilikone”
Kontext, SRF 2 Kultur, 29th May 2017




Straumann, Barbara. Female Performers in British and American Fiction. Anglia Book Series 58. Berlin, Boston: De Gruyter, 2018.

Straumann, Barbara. Figurations of Exile in Hitchcock and Nabokov. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2008.


Bronfen, Elisabeth and Barbara Straumann. Die Diva: Eine Geschichte der Bewunderung. München: Schirmer/Mosel, 2002.
With the following chapters: “Queen, Dandy, Diva: Eine Geschichte der theatralischen Selbstentwürfe vom höfischen Schauspiel bis zur Photographie,” “Comtesse de Castiglione: Die immer schon Vergängliche,” “Ludwig II. von Bayern: Der königliche Aussenseiter,” “Andy Warhol: Die selbstreflexive Diva,” “Joseph Beuys: Der Meister, der vom Himmel fiel.”



Journal Articles and Chapters in Books

"Long Live the Queen! Queen Victoria as a National Icon in Film." Brexit and Beyond: Nation and Identity. Ed. Daniela Keller and Ina Habermann. SPELL, Swiss Papers in English Language and Literature, 39. Tübingen: Narr, 2021. 41-60.

“Fatal Resemblances: Cross-mapping Hitchcock’s Vertigo with Nabokov’s Lolita.” Haunted by Vertigo: Hitchcock's Masterpiece Then and Now. Ed. Sidney Gottlieb and Donal Martin. New Barnet/Bloomington: John Libbey/Indiana University Press, 2021. 95-116. 

"Apotheose des Stars: Moderne Formen der Bewunderung." Ikonen: Was wir Menschen anbeten. Ed. Christoph Grunenberg and Eva Fischer-Hausdorf. Bremen, Munich: Kunsthalle Bremen / Hirmer Verlag, 2019. 328-339. (English version: "Apotheosis of the Star: Modern Forms of Admiration." Icons: Worship and Admiration. Ed. Christoph Grunenberg and Eva Fischer-Hausdorf. Bremen, Munich: Kunsthalle Bremen / Hirmer Verlag, 2019. 329-339.)

"Admired and Reviled: Figures of Finance Capitalism in Martin Scorsese’s The Wolf of Wall Street (2013) and Anthony Trollope’s The Way We Live Now (1875)." Anglistentag 2017 Regensburg Proceedings. Ed. Anne-Julia Zwierlein, Jochen Petzold, Katharina Boehm and Martin Decker. WVT Wissenschaftlicher Verlag Trier: Trier, 2018. 145-157.

"Very British: Eine Engländerin in Amerika." Ida Lupino: Die zwei Seiten der Kamera. Ed. Elisabeth Bronfen, Ivo Ritzer and Hannah Schoch. Deep Focus 26. Berlin: Bertz + Fischer, 2018. 33-56.

"Force Fields of Serial Narration." Anglistentag 2016 Hamburg Proceedings. Ed. Ute Berns and Jolene Mathieson. WVT Wissenschaftlicher Verlag Trier: Trier, 2017. 151-160. (With Sylvia Mieszkowski.)

"Noise and Voice: Female Performers in Meredith, Eliot and Dinesen." UNLAUTE: Noise / Geräusch in Kultur, Medien und Wissenschaft seit 1900. Ed. Sylvia Mieszkowski and Sigrid Nieberle. Sound Studies, 6. Bielefeld: Transcript, 2017. 239-260.

"Debt and the Moral Imagination in Middlemarch." Economy and Aesthetics. Ed. Peter Szendy and Eyal Peretz. The Yearbook of Comparative Literature 60. Bloomington, Indiana, Toronto: The Department of Comparative Literature, Indiana University & The University of Toronto Press, 2017. 125-148.

"'How to Live Well on Nothing a Year': Money, Credit and Debt in Thackeray's Vanity Fair." Economies of English. Ed Genoveva Puskas and Martin Hugo Leer. SPELL, Swiss Papers in English Language and Literature, 33. Tübingen: Narr, 2016. 163-180.

"Der viktorianische Roman denkt seriell: Wiederholung und Differenz bei George Eliot." Noch einmal anders: Zu einer Poetik des Seriellen. Ed. Elisabeth Bronfen, Christiane Frey and David Martyn. Zurich: Diaphanes, 2016. 162-180.

"Elizabeth I: The Cinematic Afterlife of an Early Modern Political Diva." The British Monarchy on Screen. Ed. Mandy Merck. Manchester: Manchester UP, 2016. 132-154. (With Elisabeth Bronfen.)

"Adaptation – Remediation –Transmediality." Intermediality: Literature – Image – Sound – Music. Ed. Gabriele Rippl. Handbooks of English and American Studies: Text and Theory. Berlin: De Gruyter, 2015. 249-267.

"Inhabiting Feminine Suspicion." Alfred Hitchcock: Critical Evaluations of Leading Film-makers. Ed. Neil Badmington. Volume 4. London, New York: Routledge, 2014. 159-195.

“Kleopatra im Doppelporträt mit Elizabeth I.: Die Inszenierung der zwei Körper der Königin.” Kleopatra: Die ewige Diva. Ed. Kunst- und Ausstellungshalle der Bundesrepublik Deutschland Bonn. Munich: Hirmer, 2013. 68-77.

"The Conflict of Voice in Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Blithedale Romance." Cultures in Conflict, Conflicting Cultures. Ed. Christina Ljungberg and Mario Klarer. SPELL, Swiss Papers in English Language and Literature, 29. Tübingen: Narr, 2013. 173-186.

“Instanzen der Wertung von Literatur: Medien im englischsprachigen Bereich.” Handbuch Kanon und Wertung. Ed. Gabriele Rippl and Simone Winko. Stuttgart/Weimar: Metzler, 2013. 140-146.

“Family Troube in Hitchcock’s Shadow of a Doubt.” Family Structures and Cultural Change. Ed. Monika Reif-Hülser. Amerikastudien / American Studies (forthcoming).

“‘We didn’t need dialogue, we had faces’: The Public Bodies of Gloria Swanson.” PhiN: Philologie im Netz Beiheft/Supplement 5 (2012): 128-146.

“A Voice of Her Own? Feminine Voice Effects in George Du Maurier, George Bernard Shaw and Isak Dinesen.” Slovo a Smysl / Word and Sense: A Journal of Interdisciplinary Theory and Criticism in Czeck Studies. 15 (2011): 21-29.

“A Voice of Her Own? Weibliche Stimmeffekte bei Shaw, Du Maurier und Dinesen.” Bild und Stimme. Ed. Sabina Brandt and Maren Butte. München: Fink, 2011. 239-255.

“‘There are many that I can be’: The Poetics of Self-Performance in Isak Dinesen’s ‘The Dreamers.’” Performing the Self: Constructing Premodern and Modern Identities. Ed. Karen Junod and Didier Maillat. SPELL, Swiss Papers in English Language and Literature, 24. Tübingen: Gunter Narr, 2010. 153-63.

“Diva Warhol: Mediale Performance und Versteckspiel.” Who is that pale man? Neues zu Warhol. Ed. Rolf Bier and Niels Büttner. München: Silke Schreiber, 2010. 195-222.

“The Effects of Voice in Isak Dinesen’s ‘The Dreamers.’” Variations 17 (2009): 157-171.

“Political Visions: The Two Bodies of Elizabeth I.” The Ritual and Rhetoric of Queenship: Medieval to Early Modern. Ed. Liz Oakley-Brown and Louise Wilkinson. Dublin: Four Courts Press, 2009. 252-270. (With Elisabeth Bronfen.)

“Medial Effects: The Singer and Her Voice in Willa Cather’s The Song of the Lark.” Mediality and Intermediality. Ed. Martin Heusser, Andreas Fischer and Andreas H. Jucker. SPELL, Swiss Papers in English Language and Literature, 21. Tübingen: Gunter Narr, 2008. 59-73.

“Vocal Effect and Resonance: Voice in Henry James’s The Bostonians.” English Text Construction 1.1 (2008): 83-96.

“Präsenz und Resonanz: Stimme in Germaine de Staëls Corinne ou l'Italie.” Mediale Gegenwärtigkeit. Ed. Christian Kiening.Medienwandel, Medienwechsel, Medienwissen, 1. Zürich: Chronos, 2007. 243-263.

“A Star Is Born: Ruhm in der filmischen Stargeschichte.” A Star Is Born: Ruhm im Kino. Ed. Margrit Frölich, Klaus Gronenborn and Karsten Vasarius. Arnoldshainer Filmgespräche, 24. Marburg: Schüren, 2007. 11-28.

“Aristocratic Cult Bodies: The Stagings of the Countess de Castiglione, Madame Yevonde and Vivienne Westwood / Aristokratische Kultkörper: Die Inszenierungen der Comtesse de Castiglione, Madame Yevonde and Vivienne Westwood.” Fashion Body Cult: Mode Körper Kult. Ed. Elke Bippus and Dorothea Mink. Schriftenreihe Hochschule für Künste Bremen, 3. Stuttgart: Arnoldsche Art Publishers, 2007. 122-143.

“Diva Elizabeth I: Politik und Entertainment.” Unterhaltung: Konzepte, Formen, Wirkungen. Ed. Brigitte Frizzoni and Ingrid Tomkowiak. Zürich: Chronos, 2006. 131-154. (With Elisabeth Bronfen.)

“Revisiting Mnemosyne: (Un)canny Recollection in Nabokov’s Speak, Memory.” Inventing the Past: Memory Work in Culture and History. Ed. Otto Heim and Caroline Wiedmer. International Cooper Series in English Language and Literature, 9. Basel: Schwabe, 2005. 95-115.

“‘exactly the same over and over again’: Serialität und Wiederholung bei Andy Warhol.” Figurationen: Gender, Literatur, Kultur 2 (2003): 85-100.

“Rewriting American Foundational Myths in North by Northwest.” American Foundational Myths. Ed. Martin Heusser and Gudrun Grabher. SPELL, Swiss Papers in English Language and Literature, 14. Tübingen: Gunter Narr, 2002. 121-134.

“The Masculine Space of North by Northwest, or Mapping the Vicissitudes of Masculinity as Performance.” Masculinities – Maskulinitäten: Mythos, Realität, Repräsentation, Rollendruck. Ed. Therese Steffen. Stuttgart, Weimar: Metzler, 2002. 56-76.

“Seriality and Repetition: Andy Warhol’s Images to Infinity.” Variations 7 (2001): 13-25.

“Double Trouble in Alfred Hitchcocks Shadow of a Doubt.” Zürich und das Unbewusste: Literatur und Tiefenpsychologie um 1900. Ed. Thomas Sprecher. Zürich: NZZ Verlag, 2000. 95-108. (With Elisabeth Bronfen.)

“‘Freudians keep out, please’? Nabokovs Ablehnung von (Be)Deutung.” rebus: Blätter zur Psychoanalyse 15 (1999): 19-51.

“The Castle of Alma as an Allegory of Memory: A Short Poetics of Space.” Symbolik von Raum und Ort. Ed. Paul Michel. Bern: Peter Lang, 1997. 469-480.


Short Texts

"Maggie Smith: Grand Old Lady of British Cinema." Filmpodium (July-September 2018): 4-6.

"Jane Austen Goes to the Movies: Die 'Austenmania' des Kinos." Kinok (December 2016): 4-9.

"Stimmt es, dass Frauen im 19. Jahrhundert keine Stimme hatten?" Journal: Die Zeitung der Universität Zürich (December 2014): 20.

Review of Will Norman. Nabokov, History and the Texture of Time. New York, London: Routledge, 2012. Journal of American Studies (forthcoming).

Review of Diva – Die Inszenierung der übermenschlichen Frau: Interdisziplinäre Untersuchungen zu einem kulturellen Phänomen des 19. und 20. Jahrhunderts . Ed. Rebecca Grotjahn, Dörte Schmidt und Thomas Seedorf. Forum Musikwissenschaft 7. Schliengen: Edition Argus, 2011. In: Lied und populäre Kultur / Song and Popular Culture: Jahrbuch des Deutschen Volksliedarchivs Freiburg. Ed. Nils Grosch and Fernand Hörner. Münster, München, Berlin, New York: Waxmann, 2011. 282-87.

“Königinnen.” Schauspielhaus Zürich: Beilage zur Saisonvorschau 2009/10 (Summer 2009): 18-19. (With Elisabeth Bronfen.)

“Scarlett Johannson: Star des Dazwischens.” Kino Xenix (January 2008): 13-17.

“Das Phänomen Stimme.” Variations 15 (2007): 283-285. (Review of Mladen Dolar, A Voice and Nothing More, 2006; Anne Karpf, The Human Voice: The Story of a Remarkable Talent, 2006; Doris Kolesch and Sybille Krämer, eds., Die Stimme: Annäherung an ein Phänomen, 2006.)

“Diven.” bestpicture 3 (October-December 2007): 6.

“Die Diva.” English and American Studies in German 2003: Summaries of Theses and Monographs – A Supplement to Anglia. Ed. Horst Weinstock. Tübingen: Max Niemeyer, 2004. 100-102.

“Escape into Landscape.” Fabrikzeitung 162 (May 2000): 9. (On Hitchcock’s North by Northwest.)