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Professor Stephen Parker

Professor Stephen Parker

Professor in German Studies

66a Park Place, Cathays, Cardiff, CF10 3AS
Available for postgraduate supervision


I joined Cardiff in October 2018 on a part-time basis from Manchester where I was Henry Simon Professor of German. There, I also acted as Head of School (2000-8). In 2013-4 I was the Chair of the ALCAB Panel for Modern and Classical Languages, which was established by the Russell Group and the Department for Education to reform A levels. My research and teaching focus on modern German history and culture. Over the years I've held a number of fellowships and large grants that have enabled me to do original archival research that has fed into my publications and teaching. That work has also enabled me to spend time in German cities that I love such as Berlin and Munich. I'm enjoying contributing to the School of Modern Languages at Cardiff.


From 2008-18 I was Henry Simon Professor of German at the University of Manchester. I had previously been Professor and Senior Lecturer there after joining as Lecturer in 1984.

At present I am Principal Investigator for a research project on the German lawyer Heinrich Simon, who was one of the leaders of the 1848 Revolution. The four-year project is supported by the Leverhulme Trust. Leverhulme had earlier awarded me a Major Research Fellowship (2009-12), which enabled me to write my biography of Bertolt Brecht. From 2000-4 I was the Pincipal Investigator for a project, supported by an AHRC large grant, on German literary historigraphy covering the years 1930-60. In 1993-4 I was an Alexander von Humboldt Research Fellow at the Free University Berlin when I did archival work into the history of the journal Sinn und Form. In 1991-2 I was awarded a Research Fellowship by the John Rylands Research Institute, University of Manchester to work on the Peter Huchel Collection, which I had brought to the University.  

I took my PhD at Manchester (1978-83) on the German poet and editor Peter Huchel. My research was supported by a Major State Studentship.

I was awarded a First for my undergraduate degree in Modern Languages (French and German) at the University of Leeds (1974-8). 

Honours and awards

2018-22, Principal Investigator, ‘Double Agent: Heinrich Simon’s Constitutional Mission in Neo-Absolutist Prussia, Leverhulme Trust, £354,000

2009-12, Research Fellow, Leverhulme Trust

2000-4, Principal Investigator, ‘The Modern Restoration’, AHRC Large Grant, £180,000

1993-1994 Research Fellow, Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, Free University, Berlin

1991-1992 Research Fellow, John Rylands Research Institute

Professional memberships

International Brecht Society

Association of German Studies

Academic positions

2008-18 Henry Simon Professor of German, University of Manchester

2002-2008 Professor of German, University of Manchester

1994-2002 Senior Lecturer in German, University of Manchester

1984-1994 Lecturer in German, University of Manchester

Speaking engagements

December 2018: ‘Sinn und Form: Eine transnationale Zeitschrift aus der DDR?’ At the symposium Transnationale Akzente. Zur vermittelnden Funktion von Literatur- und Kulturzeitschriften im Europa des 20. Jahrhunderts, Literaturarchiv Sulzbach-Rosenberg

December 2018: ‘A German Drama in Gold Rush California: Emilie Wedekind’s Fall’, University of Bristol

September 2018: Launch Event for Bertolt Brecht: Eine Biographie, Brecht-Haus, Augsburg

May 2018: Launch Event for Bertolt Brecht: Eine Biographie, Akademie der Künste, Berlin

March 2017: ‘“Erinnert ihr euch der peinlichen Schädel des Sokrates und Verlaine?“  Bertolt Brechts Baal als Satyrspiel‘, conference to mark 25th anniversary of Brecht Research Centre, Augburg in Brecht Festival 2017






















I'm involved in supervision and assessment of German-English assignments for the MA in Translation, Interpreting and Subtitling. I supervise and assess assignments by students during their year abroad.

My research is in the field of modern German cultural history. I’ve mostly published on 20th-century topics, including the arts in National Socialist era and the GDR, particularly the journal Sinn und Form and its first editor, Peter Huchel. My last project, supported by the Leverhulme Trust, was a biography of the great dramatist and poet Bertolt Brecht. Bloomsbury published the English edition, Suhrkamp the German edition. A Czech edition was published by the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague. I’m in the middle of a new project, again supported by Leverhulme, on the papers of the German lawyer and constitutionalist Heinrich Simon, one of the leaders of the 1848 revolution. The project will yield a digital edition and a biography. Via the memoirs of Emilie Wedekind, the mother of the dramatist Frank Wedekind, I recently developed an interest in German emigration to the Pacific coast of South and North America in the mid-19th century, particularly emigres’ involvement in the spread of musical theatre and photography, from Valparaiso to San Francisco. This project led to the publication in 2020 by Wallstein of my book Die Wedekinds in Amerika, featuring the diary of Frank Wedekind's father, Wilhelm, concerning the start of his relationship with Emilie in San Francisco.


  • Bertolt Brecht
  • Life writing in the German-speaking world
  • Cultural politics and artistic practice in the Third Reich and the GDR
  • Literary journals in the German-speaking world
  • German emigre culture in the New World in the 19th century
  • German history and culture during the early to mid-19th century

Past projects

  • Co-Supervisor for Katherine Hiepko, The history of diabetes treatment in the GDR, AHRC-funded
  • Co-Supervisor for William Hall, A comparative study of the works of Heinrich von Kleist and E.T.A. Hoffmann, AHRC-funded