Hilary Brown

Colleges, School and Institutes

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, in preparation), 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)

In 2021-22, I am due to take up a Mercator Fellowship from the German Research Foundation (DFG) in connection with the DFG-funded Priority Programme on ‘Übersetzungskulturen der Frühen Neuzeit / Early Modern Cultures of Translation’.

Current and previous research grant awards include: 

  • 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

Biography

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.

Willingness to take PhD students

Yes

PhD projects

I am happy to supervise postgraduate students, particularly in the areas of translation history, literary translation, and gender and translation. I am currently supervising the following students:

Hayat AL-Khalifah, ‘The Translation of Dual-Readership Literature: Alice in Wonderland in Arabic’ (co-supervised with Professor Rebecca Gould)
Anne M. Leahy, ‘Paths to Signed Language Interpreting in Great Britain and America since 1150 AD’
Helen Tatlow, ‘Heinrich von Kleist in Anglophone Translation and Adaptation’ (M3C award holder, co-supervised with Dr Elystan Griffiths and Dr Maike Oergel)