Hilary Brown


Accepting PhD Students

PhD projects

I am happy to supervise postgraduate students in my areas of expertise in German Studies (Early Modern Germany, Anglo-German cultural relations) and Translation Studies (translation history, literary translation, gender and translation).

Current PhD supervision

Hannah Overton-Gill, 'Investigation into the Role of Women in the History of Translation, using the Case Study of Mme de Rochmondet' (co-supervised with Dr Caroline Ardrey)

Completed PhD supervisions

Hayat Alkhalifah (Saudi Cultural Bureau Scholarship), ‘The Translation of Language Play in "Alice in Wonderland" into Arabic’, co-supervised with Professor Rebecca Gould

Anne M. Leahy, ‘Paths to Signed Language Interpreting in Great Britain and America , 1150-1900’

Helen Tatlow (AHRC), ‘Encountering Heinrich von Kleist in the Works of John Banville and David Constantine', co-supervised with Dr Elystan Griffiths and Professor Maike Oergel (Nottingham)


Research activity per year

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Personal profile

Research interests

  • Cultural history of early modern Europe
  • Anglo-German cultural relations
  • History of translation
  • Literary translation
  • Gender and translation
  • Women intellectuals pre-1900

My research sits at the intersection of Translation Studies, Early Modern Studies, Comparative Literature, and German Studies. My work has dealt largely with transnational cultural history in the period 1500-1800. I have examined in particular the role of women in European intellectual life, challenging some of the old assumptions about women as marginalised and insignificant and contributing to cross-discipline debates about gender as a category of analysis.  

I have worked extensively on the history of women translators. My postdoctoral project, funded by the Leverhulme Trust and AHRC, examined the voluminous but neglected translations of Germany’s first prominent woman of letters, Luise Gottsched (1713-1762). My monograph Luise Gottsched the Translator (2012) showed how translation was at the heart of Gottsched’s œuvre and part of an ambitious and progressive programme which had a profound impact on German culture of the Enlightenment. More recently, I have been developing my work on the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Between 2017 and 2019, I spent extended periods of time at the Herzog August Bibliothek Wolfenbüttel working on early modern translation as a Senior Research Fellow of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation. The resulting monograph, Women and Early Modern Cultures of Translation: Beyond the Female Tradition (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2022), brings a European perspective to a field dominated by Anglocentric scholarship, and in doing so argues for a reassessment of the significance of gender in translation history. I have contributed articles on gender and translation to major reference works including the Routledge Encyclopedia of Translation Studies (3rd edition, 2019).

I also have a long-standing interest in Anglo-German cultural relations, dating back to my MA and PhD days. My PhD project explored the links between women's writing in Germany and Britain in the late eighteenth century by means of a detailed case study and was published as Benedike Naubert (1756-1819) and her Relations to English Culture (2005). I am currently co-editor of ANGERMION: Yearbook for Anglo-German Literary Criticism, Intellectual History and Cultural Transfers / Jahrbuch für britisch-deutsche Kulturbeziehungen (De Gruyter)


Current and previous research grant awards include: 

  • Short-Term Fellowship, Herzog August Bibliothek Wolfenbuettel, 2023 
  • German Research Foundation (DFG) Mercator Fellowship, 2021-22
  • Humboldt Fellowship for Experienced Researchers, 2017-19
  • AHRC Research Leave Award, 2009-10
  • British Academy Small Research Grant, 2008
  • Leverhulme Trust Study Abroad Studentship, 2003-05


I studied French and German as an undergraduate in St Andrews and completed an MA in Anglo-German Cultural Relations at the University of Leeds. I carried out my doctoral research at Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge, under the supervision of Professor Roger Paulin. I spent two years as a postdoctoral researcher at the Institut für Germanistik, Universität Potsdam, and six years as Lecturer in German at Swansea University before coming to Birmingham in 2011. Between 2017 and 2019, I was based intermittently at the Herzog August Bibliothek Wolfenbüttel as a Senior Research Fellow of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation.

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 5 - Gender Equality


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