Research Overview

European Studies is an area studies program drawing broadly on historical and socio-cultural theory and focusing on Europe of the modern period. While our main theoretical structures include world systems and civilisational theory, we also focus on contemporary social theory, comparative literary theory and intellectual history.

Current projects in European Studies include:

Writing the World: Transnationalism and Translation in Literary Studies.
This project considers the critical practice of transnationalism and involves the discussion of language, linguistic communities and translation broadly as the “movement” of narratives across cultural and national boundaries. Ever since Goethe’s development of the concept of Weltliteratur in the early 19th century, scholars have sought common ground in the international study of literature. However issues of nation, language and culture have rendered earlier models of understanding problematic. For the nation remains both as historical reality and residual idea in the literary-cultural sphere. Transnational approaches to literary study must address ongoing questions regarding nation, culture and the language community.

Ismail Kadare and Professor Peter Morgan

Ismail Kadare and Professor Peter Morgan

Literature and Dictatorship: Ismail Kadare, 1957-2015 – Albanian dissident and oppositional writer and intellectual, Ismail Kadare, was a controversial figure under the dictatorship of Enver Hoxha, and remains so in the context of post-communist Albania. Kadare has spoken out on Albanian national interests at a time of unrest in the Balkans since the 1990s but can be as critical of his own country and fellow Albanians as he is of other Balkan and global groups. As a writer living in the most oppressive Stalinist dictatorship in Europe, Kadare committed himself both to Albanian language and identity and to providing an alternative voice for modern Albanians to that of the dictatorship. This project focuses on the interrelationships of literature and politics in the European authoritarian-dictatorial and the post-communist environment.

Skanderbeg statue

Statue of Skanderbeg in Tirana, Albania

Ethno-Cultural and National Identities of Europe: various projects are underway on issues of European ethnic and national identity. In several projects, developments in Albanian and Kosovar national identity are viewed in the context of the socio-historical (and linguistic) developments of the 20th century. The relationship of Albanians and Kosovars to each other and to their Balkan neighbours is a focal point of this project.

Literature, History and Social Identity: the literature of Europe represents a sustained exercise in the exploration of modern social and individual identities. Various projects are underway in which specific aspects of intellectual and literary history relate to their times, places and ethno-cultural identities.

Hitler Youth Poster

Hitler Youth poster

  • “Coming out in Weimar” – a study of the emergence of male homosexual identities in German literature and social theory of the modernist period from 1890 until 1934 when Nazi policy effectively ended the literary exploration of themes of homosexual life.
  • The final phases of the German “68-generation’s” coming-to-terms with the past, as exemplified in the work of controversial writer, W.G. Sebald.
  • The role of the Swiss reformed Church in the development of Swiss national identity as represented by the greatest of Swiss-German realist writers, Gottfried Keller in the late 19th century.
  • Ethnicity, Immigration and the European Union: How does the EU deal with issues of “illegal immigration”? EU policy on displaced peoples has changed dramatically in the context of large numbers of refugees from Africa, the Middle East and elsewhere. As in other areas of EU policy, the area of humanitarian policy development comes into tension with practical and political interests both at the national and the supranational levels.

While individual projects are necessarily narrowly focused, the European Studies program maintains a broad commitment to the study, research and scholarship of a European history and society since the 18th century, with a focus on contemporary modernity. We stress the importance of language, culture and the research disciplines in the production of quality research and publications.

The Australian and New Zealand Journal of European Studies (ANZJES) is a point of focus for postgraduate and early career research publication, and we encourage our students and staff members to use this journal as well as other Australian and international journals to disseminate their work.