MA, DPhil (Oxon)
Lecturer in German (and Professor of German at the University of Bristol)
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.
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.
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.
There’s a list on: http://www.bris.ac.uk/german/staffandresearch/lecturers/vilain.html
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.
Registered Charity Number: 1143423