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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

  • 11th- and 12th-century literary and manuscript culture
  • Penitential theology
  • Middle High German epic and romance
  • Genre and literary history
  • European cult of St Oswald

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 literary culture of the German lands in 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. She is involved in related projects on temporalities and medieval poetic anthologies, working together with colleagues in the UK, Europe and USA.

Sarah is also part of a team working on a series of interrelated outreach and academic projects related to the European cult of St Oswald (

Sarah welcomes enquiries from potential PhD students in medieval German literature. For more details, please see her full research profile.


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. She is part of a team working on public engagement events and activities connected to legends of St Oswald in England and Germany (

Selected publications

Bridal-Quest Epics in Medieval Germany: A Revisionary Approach

Bowden, S., 2012, London: Modern Humanities Research Association. (Modern Humanities Research Association. Texts and dissertations; vol. v. 83)(Institute of Germanic and Romance Studies (University of London). Bithell series of dissertations; vol. v. 40)

Punishment and Penitential Practices in Medieval German Writing

Bowden, S. (ed.) & Volfing, A. (ed.), 2018, Boydell & Brewer Ltd. (King's College London Medieval Studies)

Performing didacticism in Early Middle High German Poetry: Poet, audience and creed in Arme Hartmann’s Rede von deme heiligen gelouben

Bowden, S. K., 2019 Prozesse et delectare: Case Studies on Didactic Literature in the European Middle Ages /Fallstudien zur didaktischen Literatur des europäischen Mittelalters. Kössinger, N. & Wittig, C. (eds.). de Gruyter, (Das Mittelalter. Perspektiven mediävistischer Forschung. Beihefte; vol. 11), pp. 85–101