Ben Schofield originally studied German and Dutch at the University of Cambridge, before undertaking a Research Masters and PhD in Germanic Studies at the University of Sheffield, funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council. During his studies, he also researched at the Universities of Munich, Berlin and Passau (in Germany), and the University of Utrecht (in the Netherlands).
From 2007-08, he was Lecturer in Modern German Culture at the Institute of Germanic and Romance Studies, part of the School of Advanced Study at the University of London, and was at the same time Lecturer in Dutch in the Department of German and Dutch at the University of Cambridge. In 2008 he joined King’s College London as a Post-Doctoral Research Fellow in German and Comparative Literature, and in 2010 was appointed Lecturer in German, becoming Senior Lecturer in 2013.
Research Interests and PhD Supervision
- German and Austrian identity in transnational contexts, including Anglo-Germanic and US-Germanic relations
- German Theatre, Theory and Performance, including Shakespeare and Germany
- 19th Century Realism, Popular Culture and the Rise of the Bestseller
- Cultural Representations of Nationhood in Global Contexts
Ben Schofield’s research spans the 19th, 20th and 21st centuries, and covers both literary texts and theatre practice. A central concern of all his work is the representation of the German nation, German identity, and a broader notion of “Germanness” in cultural texts – particularly within popular culture. In the field of 19th century studies his specific interests include the birth of Realism; the rise of the German “Bestseller”; the institutionalization of history and historicism; and the development of theatrical theory.
In particular, he has specialized in the writings of the most widely-read dramatist, novelist and historian of the period, Gustav Freytag. In 2012, he published a monograph on Freytag with the MHRA, entitled Private Lives and Collective Destinies. Class Nation and the Folk in the Works of Gustav Freytag, and co-edited a volume published with Camden House on The German Bestseller in the Nineteenth Century.
He has also written chapters, articles and reviews on a large range of topics relating to Realism, Romanticism, historicism, and theatrical censorship. In 20th century and contemporary studies, his work has focused predominantly on German theatre practice, in particular on the representation of German culture in transnational contexts, such as the Cultural Olympiad 2012, with a core focus on the cultural relationship between Germany and Shakespeare. This work led to a co-authored chapter on the German contribution to the 2012 Globe to Globe Festival in Shakespeare Beyond English: A Global Experiment, published by Cambridge University Press.
He is currently working on a second monograph on the representation of Germany and Austria in the writings of US bestselling author John Irving, exploring the concept of Germanness from an American and thus wider global perspective. Ben Schofield has supervised numerous MRes and PhD dissertations on topics covering literature, film, art, history, cultural memory, and theatre and performance from the 19th century to the present. He is also responsible for the Department’s successful Joint-PhD programmes with the University of Stuttgart, the Sorbonne, Paris, and the Humboldt University Berlin. Any students wishing to undertake MRes or PhD supervision with Dr Schofield are very welcome to contact him directly.
For more details, please see his full research profile.
Ben Schofield currently teaches at all levels in the German Department, with modules covering the culture and history of the German-speaking countries from 1750-present. His teaching includes introductory modules for first year students, exploring the fundamental questions of what constitutes German culture and why is it important as a field of study.
At second year level, his modules include theoretically more complex approaches to the relationship of German culture to world culture, especially through modules that explore the links between cultural production and historical understanding in Germany between 1815-present, and Germany’s contribution to wider global literary practice through the development of German Realism.
At final year level he takes in-depth research-led courses, including explorations of contemporary German culture, post-1989 film and literature, and the connections between cultural politics and political culture.Expertise and public engagement
Ben Schofield regularly presents his research through public talks, videos, blogs and podcasts. Recent work includes:
- Podcast: “What does J. K. Rowling's secret book tell us about the 'Bestseller' label?”
- Video: “Can Shakespeare be considered the German national poet?”
- Public Talk/Podcast: “Weimar Berlin: Social Contexts, Social Inspirations”, part of the Southbank’s The Rest is Noise season
- Podcast/Blog: “Globe to Globe: Germany, Shakespeare and the Cultural Olympiad”
- Video: “Is London the other capital of Germany?”
- Public Talk/Video: “Conclusions: Culture, Citizenship, Integration, Foreign Affairs”, part of the A Soul for Europe ‘Forum Lyon’
Ben Schofield also serves on the Executive Committee of the Association for German Studies and on the Advisory Board of the Institute of Germanic and Romance Studies. He is also an advisor to the European project A Soul for Europe, including participation in televised debates with EU Commission President José Manuel Barosso.