Christ Church Crest
ยป Professor Robert Vilain

Professor Robert Vilain

Professor Robert VilainQualifications

MA, DPhil (Oxon)

Role or Position

Lecturer in German (and Professor of German at the University of Bristol)

Email address

Academic Background

I studied French and German at Christ Church in the 1980s, staying on to complete a DPhil in comparative literature. My first teaching position was at the University of Manchester (1990-1991); from there I moved to Royal Holloway, where I was promoted to Professor in 2003. In September 2010 I took up the Chair of German at the University of Bristol. From October 2003 to September 2006, I held a Leverhulme Trust Major Research Fellowship for work on the reciprocal influence of French and German Literature in the period between the Franco-Prussian War and the Annexation of the Rhineland. For the first term of 2004-2005, I held a Fellowship at the Columbia University Institute for Scholars at Reid Hall in Paris.

Undergraduate Teaching

I teach German language and German literature from c. 1750 to the present day, with a particular focus on the late 19th and 20th centuries and on poetry.

Research Interests

My research interests are in German, French and Comparative Literature in the 19th and 20th centuries, with a particular focus on Franco-German literary relations, Austrian literature and the inter-relations of words and music in opera and song. Authors on whom I have particularly concentrated include Hugo von Hofmannsthal, Rainer Maria Rilke, Yvan Goll and Paul Valéry. With a colleague from University College London I co-edit the international journal Austrian Studies, and I have an academic interest in detective fiction.

Publications include:

There’s a list on:


Apart from the usual cultural pursuits linked to my work – music, theatre, opera, travel and reading (especially crime fiction) – I am passionate about food and an enthusiastic cook with an enormous and ever-growing collection of cookbooks, ready to try out new recipes on unsuspecting guests. Three unusually affectionate cats help create a relaxing atmosphere at home. Nathaniel and Imogen, twins born in January 2008, ensure that the cup of joy runneth over.


Printable Version