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Dr Sarah Bowden

Sarah BowdenSenior Lecturer in German

Tel +44 (0)20 7848 5597
Address Department of German
King's College London
Room 5.07 Virginia Woolf Building
22 Kingsway
London WC2B 6LE




Sarah Bowden is a medievalist with a particular interest in the literary culture of the German lands in the 11th and 12th centuries. She studied German and Latin at Clare College, Cambridge, where she stayed to take an MPhil and PhD funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council, and also spent time as a visiting student at the Universities of Freiburg im Breisgau and Cologne. In 2010 Sarah was elected to the post of Powys Roberts Research Fellow at St Hugh’s College, Oxford, and joined King’s College London as Lecturer in German in 2012.

Research interests and PhD supervision
  • Early Middle High German literature
  • 11th- and 12th-century literary culture
  • Penitential theology
  • Middle High German epic and romance
  • Genre and literary history

Sarah’s research centres on the literary culture of the German lands in the Middle Ages. Her first monograph, Bridal-Quest Epics in Medieval Germany: A Revisionary Approach (2012), offers a major reappraisal of one of the canonical, yet problematic, genres of medieval German literature, and is connected to her wider interest in the history of scholarship on medieval literature as well as the ways and means in which we categorize and label texts.

Sarah’s current research focuses on the so-called ‘Early Middle High German’ period of the 11th and 12th centuries. She is particularly interested in the development of German as a literary language and the relationship between German and Latin; in the emergence of a discourse of vernacular religious poetry; and in the manuscript transmission of German-language writing in the 12th century. Her next monograph, provisionally entitled Writing Sin: Text and Confession in the German Lands, 1050–1200, deals with these areas of interest through the lens of attitudes towards (and writing about) sin, confession and penance. In 2018 Sarah was awarded a Fellowship for Experienced Researchers by the Humboldt Foundation to work on this project.

Sarah welcomes enquiries from potential PhD students in medieval German literature.

Selected publications
  • Bridal-quest Epics in Medieval Germany: A Revisionary Approach, MHRA Texts and Dissertations 85 (London: MHRA, 2012)
  • Punishment and Penitential Practices in Medieval German Writing, ed. with Annette Volfing, King’s College London Medieval Studies XXVI (London, 2018)
  • ‘A False Dawn: the Grippia Episode in Three Versions of Herzog Ernst’, Oxford German Studies 41.1 (2012), 15–31
  • ‘Dinge und ars in Salman und Morolf’, in Dingkulturen. Objekte in Literatur, Kunst und Gesellschaft der Vormoderne, ed. by Anna Mühlherr, Heike Sahm, Monika Schausten and Bruno Quast, Literatur | Theorie | Geschichte, 9 (Berlin/New York: de Gruyter, 2016), pp. 232–46
  • ‘Auf Deutsch lehren: Deutsch und Latein in ausgewählten frühmittelhochdeutschen Texten’, in Lehren, Lernen und Bilden in der deutschen Literatur des Mittelalters. XXII Anglo-German Colloquium, Nottingham 2013, ed. by Henrike Lähnemann, Nicola McLelland and Nine Miedema (Tübingen: Narr Franke Attempto, 2017), pp. 127–40
Sarah teaches undergraduate and postgraduate modules on medieval literature and culture. She also enjoys teaching translation.
Expertise and public engagement

Sarah has organised and been involved with a wide range of outreach activities for language learners, including the ‘World Cultures, Global Futures’ summer school at King’s in 2017.

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