Dr Laura Martin
- Senior Lecturer in Comparative Literature (Comparative Literature)
My main research area in past years has been in the literature of the 18th century and early 19th century in Germany, the US and Britain, with particular emphasis on the works of Goethe and Kleist, women writers of the period (in particular Benedikte Naubert), the Novella and the Fairy Tale. I have published on the above authors as well as on Musäus, Mörike, Büchner, Hawthorne, and Henry James. My abiding interests include Romanticism; Grimms’ Fairy Tales and their relationship to other tale production in Germany and elsewhere, the relationship of gender to (literary) genre; women writers in the 18th and 19th centuries; the Fantastic in literature, Anglo-German Relations in the Romantic era; Theories of Narrative, Gender Theory, and Comparative Interpretations of Fairy Tales.
More recently, I have written on the purpose and importance of comparative literature and language studies: Reading the Individual: the Ethics of Narration in the Works of W.G. Sebald as an Example for Comparative Literature (Comparative Critical Studies, February 2014). In this essay, I discuss Sebald’s narrators—who ‘colonise’ their interlocutors’ stories—as an example of the promise and the dangers of speaking for an Other, much as the comparatist does as he/she careers through various cultures.
As a candidate with the Independent Group of Analytical Psychologists (IGAP), I am now minded to bring together the work of Swiss psychiatrist/psychologist C.G. Jung with my literary studies, which I undertook in a recent project entitled Fantastical Conversations with the Other in the Self: Dorothy L Sayers and her Peter Wimsey as Animus (coming out with the University of Toronto Quarterly in 2016), and another one entitled Novalis and the Terra Nova of the Imagination: A German Romantic Fairy Tale Writer and the Search for Wholeness.
In November 2012 I hosted a conference called Narrative Magic: Transformations Through Storytelling, which brought together academics and practitioners from a very wide variety of fields, including literary studies, psychology, neuroscience, storytelling, creative writing, and more. I continue to be fascinated by the power of narrative and the use of fantasy and imagination to create our realities.
From this I am currently developing an interdisciplinary research project on the idea of ‘magical narratives’—those which mingle inner and outer worlds—across a wide expanse of cultures and millennia, which will incorporate into her work on literature some insights gained from work by and with therapists working in the modalities of narrative therapy, dreamwork and psychotherapy. Eco-criticism and the challenges of the Anthropocene are becoming ever more her concerns.
What unifies my interests in narrative (both ‘realistic’ and fantastic), in gender studies and in the theoretical work of the last decades in literature studies is an investigation of the possibility of approaching, (re)presenting, and understanding not only oneself, but also the Other; the possibility of ‘voicing’ or speaking for the Other; how words and music (whether sung or not) are incorporated in the consciousness of those who hear and read them, thus allowing an Other to become part of the self. Theoretical underpinnings include Levinas, Damrosch, Spivak and Bhabha. On myth and fairy tale theoretical underpinnings include Jung and Jungian thought, Freud and Freudians, Alan Dundes, Lévi-Strauss, and many others. An ever-deepening interest in Buddhism also underlies this project.
Areas of supervision:
I welcome proposals for research topics for MPhil (Research) or PhD degrees in any of the following areas. (Please see the main Comparative Literature webpage for further information about these degrees.) My languages are English, German and (some) French, and I especially welcome comparative topics.
- The late 18th-century and 19th-century in German, American and British literature
- The History of the Fairy Tale
- Comparative Interpretations of Fairy Tales
- Women writers of the 18th/19th centuries
- The Novella
- Magical Narratives
- The Fantastic in Literature
- German, British and American Romanticisms
- German authors: Goethe, Kleist, ETA Hoffmann, Kafka
I teach across the Comparative Literature Programme, from First Year to Honours. Authors and topics that I teach or have taught range from Sophocles to Virginia Woolf, the Brothers Grimm, Toni Morrison, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Franz Kafka, Thomas Mann, Paul Celan, William Faulkner, W.G. Sebald, German Romantic Poetry, Heinrich von Kleist, German Realism, The Brothers Grimm and the European Fairy Tale, German Women Writers in the Age of Goethe, Heroic Men, Heroic Women, Exploring Identity, Crossing Borders, Narratives of Adultery, and Constructing the Literary Self. I organise and am a strong contributor on the two Honours Core Courses in Comparative Literature: ‘Theories of Reading’ and ‘Intercultural Readings’, which are Honours-level lectures on 20th and 21st-century theoretical approaches to literature and culture. Here I have taught on the New Criticism, Reader Response, Sigmund Freud and Literature, CG Jung and Literature, Gayatri Spivak, Homi Bhabha, David Damrosch and more.
Current Honours options include The Brothers Grimm and the European Fairy Tale and Magical Narratives.
At postgraduate level I have offered seminars on Gender Studies, French Feminism (Cixous and Kristeva), Narrative Theories, Comparative Literature as a discipline, CG Jung and literature, Psychoanalysis and Literature, German and English Romantic Poetry, the Bildungsroman, Canons and Canon Formation, and more.
I convene and teach on our MLitt in Comparative Literature including seminars on: The History of Comparative Literature; Northrup Frye; Feminism and Eco-Criticism (theory and practice).
In addition, I have supervised and co-supervised and examined a number of Honours and MLitt Dissertations as well as several PhDs on 19th- and 20th-century topics, including these PG-student topics:
- Towards an Anthropology of Literature: the Magic of Hybrid Fictions
- Attitudes Magic and Fantasy in Modern Francophone and Anglophone Literary Fairy Tales
- A Collection of Modern Fairy Tales (a creative writing project)
- The Presentation of Mothers in Novels by Women Writers of German Speaking Countries in the 1970s
- Tales of Curiosity and the Fulfilment of the Self in the Märchen of the Grimms and Their Contemporaries
- Body, Mind and Power in Nineteenth-Century German Literature
- Political Melancholy in Early Nineteenth-Century Literature
Dr Laura Martin came to the University of Glasgow in 1995 as a Lecturer in German, moving to Comparative Literature, where she is Senior Lecturer, in 2005. In addition to her university work, Laura is training with the Independent Group of Analysical Psycholologists in London to become a Jungian psychotherapist. She is a keen amateur singer and has sung with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra Chorus and Edinburgh Festival Chorus in recent years.
Laura Martin was awarded a Ph.D. from the Institute of Liberal Arts at Emory University in 1996 for her comparative study of Goethe, Kleist, Hawthorne and James. Before coming to Glasgow, Laura was a Lektorin at the University of Regensburg.