Nigel Harris

Prof, ,

Accepting PhD Students

PhD projects

I am always delighted to supervise postgraduates interested in any aspect of German literature and culture between, very roughly, 1100 and 1600 – whether on my own or in collaboration with other Birmingham colleagues. Some of the dissertations I have supervised to completion in recent years have been on the following topics:

• The <em>Schachbuch</em> of Heinrich von Beringen
• Christian imagery in Hartmann von Aue’s <em>Gregorius</em>, Kafka’s <em>Die Verwandlung</em> and Thomas Mann’s <em>Der Erwählte</em> (with Nicholas Martin)
• Utz Eckstein’s Zwinglian dialogues <em>Concilium</em> and <em>Rychsztag</em>
• Peasants in dialogue with authority in three Reformation dialogues
• Albrecht Dürer’s scientific writings
• Max Mell and Reinhold Schneider’s reception of the <em>Nibelungenlied</em> (with Nicholas Martin)
• British Library Add. 24946 (an important manuscript source of late-medieval didactic literature)

1991 …2022

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Personal profile

Research interests

Throughout my career I have tried to fill gaps in our understanding of the late-medieval and early-modern worlds that other scholars have either not been aware of or have shied away from. Hence I have prepared – from the original manuscripts and/or early prints – the first modern editions of several fourteenth-, fifteenth- and sixteenth-century works that were popular in their day but thereafter fell into oblivion – such as the Latin and German Etymachia (1994), the In campo mundi treatise (2005), the complete works of the Tyrolean bishop Ulrich Putsch (2007, 2013), and two dialogues by the Swiss reformer Utz Eckstein (2013). These activities have led me in turn to become very interested in ways in which animals were perceived and used in the Middle Ages (see for example The Thirteenth-Century Animal Turn, 2020), and also in the Swiss Reformation. I have recently completed, with my colleague Sharon van Dijk, a Leverhulme-funded project to translate and re-interpret the letters exchanged by the Swiss Reformers Huldrych Zwingli and Johannes Oecolampadius between 1522 and 1531. We hope this work will lead to a significantly new understanding of the importance of these figures (especially Oecolampadius) for the development of the Protestant Reformation, not least in England. Current projects include articles on the South Tyrolean translator Heinrich Haller and on the cultural history of the panther, as well as a volume translating and analysing selected theological works by Oecolampadius. 


I am a Cornishman who was brought up and educated in Somerset. I did my first degree at Birmingham, then went to Oxford for postgraduate study, before returning to the Birmingham German Department in 1984. With the exception of a year as Visiting Professor at the University of Florida, I have been here ever since.  

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 16 - Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions


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