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Dr Sebastian Matzner

Sebastian MatznerSenior Lecturer in Comparative Literature

Tel +44 (0)20 7848 2261

Department of Comparative Literature
King's College London
Virginia Woolf Building, Room VWB 6.16
22 Kingsway
London WC2B 6LE



Dr Sebastian Matzner read Greek and Latin Languages and Literature, Religious Studies and Comparative Literature at the Philipps-Universität Marburg and the Justus-Liebig-Universität Gießen (2002-5), followed by an MA in Comparative Literature (2007) at King’s College London where he also earned his PhD in Classics and Comparative Literature (2012). His doctoral thesis, The Forgotten Trope: Metonymy in Poetic Action, won the University of Heidelberg’s Prize for Classical Philology and Literary Theory. He was subsequently awarded a Leverhulme Early Career Fellowship to pursue his postdoctoral research project ‘Beautiful Tyrants: Postcolonial Reflections on Philhellenism in Rome and Germany’ at the Faculty of Classics, University of Oxford (2012-14). He was P.S. Allen Research Fellow at Corpus Christi College (2012-14) and Lecturer in Classics at St John’s College (2013-14) before taking up a lectureship in Latin Language and Literature at the University of Exeter (2014-15). Sebastian returned to King’s as Lecturer in Comparative Literature in September 2015.

Research interests and PhD supervision
  • Literary Theory
  • Rhetoric and poetics
  • Poetics of acculturation and dynamics of cultural interaction across time
  • Classical reception studies and the classical tradition
  • History of sexualities and LGBTIQ studies

Trained in both Classics and Comparative Literature, Dr Matzner’s research focuses on interactions between classical literature (both Greek and Latin) and modern literature (especially German), with a particular focus on literary and cultural theory as pertinent to such interactions. His doctoral work drew on both classical Greek and modern German and English literature as well as on ancient and modern rhetorical and linguistic theory to tackle problems (of stylistic analysis, structuralist interpretation, and translation criticism) that confront literary scholars tout court. In his current research project, a comparative study of philhellenism in ancient Rome and modern Germany— framed as a self-imposed subjugation to a foreign culture and studied from the perspective of postcolonial theory—he continues this approach to explore questions of the politics and poetics of cultural influence that not only affect our understanding of this historical phenomenon, but are also highly relevant to our own globalised world.

Sebastian is happy to discuss research proposals on any topic that falls within his research expertise and would be particularly interested in working with candidates on projects that relate to his current research activities in fields such as: poetic language in theory and practice, global cultures of classicism, classical literature and LGBTIQ writing/identities.

For more details, please Sebastian's full research profile.
Selected publications
  • ‘Literary Criticism and/as Gender Reassignment – Reading the Classics with Karl Heinrich Ulrichs’, in K. Fisher and R. Langlands (eds.) Sex, Knowledge, and Receptions of the Past (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2015), 200-219
  • ‘The Collapse of a Classical Tradition? “The End of Rhetoric” in Germany around 1800: Gottsched, Kant, Schlegel’, Publications of the English Goethe Society 52.2 (2013), 104-123
  • ‘Tomis Writes Back: Politics of Peripheral Identity in David Malouf's and Vintila Horia's Re-Narrations of Ovidian Exile’, in J. Ingleheart (ed.) Two Thousand Years of Solitude: Exile after Ovid (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011), 307-323
  • ‘From Uranians to Homosexuals: Philhellenism, Greek Homoeroticism and Gay Emancipation in Germany, 1835-1915’, Classical Receptions Journal 2.1 (2010), 60-91
  • ‘Christianizing the Epic - Epicizing Christianity. Nonnus' Paraphrasis and the Old Saxon Heliand in a Comparative Perspective. A Study into the Poetics of Acculturation’, Millenium: Yearbook on the Culture and History of the First Millennium C.E. 5 (2008), 111-146
  • For a complete list of publications, please see Sebastian's full research profile.

Sebastian teaches literary theory, methods of comparative criticism, and topics in diachronic comparative literature (comparisons of texts from different periods). Much of his teaching programmatically combines classical and modern perspectives, typically focusing on close work with literary texts to address larger theoretical issues.

In 2015/16, he will be teaching on the following modules—

(a) Undergraduate:

4ABA0001 What is Comparative Literature? Conceptions and Methods

4ABA0003 Comparative Literature: Theoretical Foundations

4ABA0004 Forms of Shorter Narrative

5ABA0001 Literature of Empire

(b) Postgraduate:

7ABA0006 Theorising Literature Across Cultures: Contemporary Debates
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