books and edited volumes

Anglophone Verse Novels as Gutter Texts: Postcolonial Literature and the Politics of Gaps.

New York: Bloomsbury Academic 2023, 244 pp.

Anglophone Verse Novels as Gutter Texts draws on the notion of the ‘gutter’ in graphic narratives – the gap between panels that a reader has to imaginatively fill to generate narrative sequence – to analyse the largely overlooked literary form of the verse novel. Marked at all levels by the tense constellation of segment and sequence, and a conspicuously ‘gappy’ texture, verse novels offer productive alternatives to the dominant prose novel in contemporary fiction, where a similar ‘gappiness’ has become a hallmark, as illustrated by the loosely interlaced multi-strand plot structures of influential ‘world novels’.
The verse novel is a form particularly prolific in the postcolonial world and among diasporic or minoritarian writers in the Global North. This study concentrates on two of the most prominent areas in which verse novels distinguish themselves from the prose novel to read texts by Derek Walcott, Anne Carson, Bernardine Evaristo, Patience Agbabi and others: In ‘planetary’ verse novels from the Caribbean, Canada, Samoa and Hawai’i, the central trope of the volcano evokes a world in constant un/making; while post-national verse novels, particularly in Britain, modify the established paradigms of imagined communities. Dirk Wiemann’s study speculates whether the resurgence of verse novels correlates with the apprehension of inhabiting a world that has become unpredictable and dangerous but also promising: a ‘post-prosaic’ world.

  • A lucid, conceptually rich and erudite intervention which brings into focus the ‘aberrant’, ‘off-beat’ genre of the Anglophone verse novel. Drawing attention to a flourishing bibliodiversity, Anglophone Verse Novels as Gutter Texts acts against the persistent centring of the novel as the pre-eminent form of literary world-making in postcolonial and world literature scholarship, thus offering a significant re-assessment of the field. Through a careful analysis of the social implications of ‘gappy’ form, Dirk Wieman fashions a compelling and layered argument about the verse novel’s propensity to imagine alternative, unfinished social worlds and undecided futures.

Corinne Sandwith, Professor of English, University of Pretoria, South Africa

  • Wiemann’s wonderfully stimulating study ranges across the globe from the Global South to the post-Imperial metropolis, offering scintillating glimpses of a little studied but vibrant and timely genre, the contemporary verse novel. Above all, Wiemann gives us new and vital insights into the relationship between literary form and the sociopolitical realities of our violent times.

Russell West-Pavlov, Professor of Anglophone Literatures, University of Tübingen, Germany

  • Wiemann identifies an important and under-examined segment of the postcolonial canon – the verse-novel – and provides an eloquent defense and analysis of key works in that form, emphasizing the interconnectedness of formal and ideological analysis. A valuable expansion of the discourse of the “world novel” beyond the usual suspects.

Alexander Beecroft, Professor of Comparative Literature, University of South Carolina, US


Postcolonial World Literatures

Special Issue Thesis Eleven 162.1 (2021)
Ed. With Ira Raja and Shaswati Mazumdar.
ISSN: 0725-5136
Online ISSN: 1461-7455
Postcolonial criticism has repeatedly debunked the ostensible neutrality of the ‘world’ of world literature by pointing out that and how the contemporary world – whether conceived in terms of cosmopolitan conviviality or neoliberal globalization – cannot be understood without recourse to the worldly event of Europe’s colonial expansion. This special issue of Thesis Eleven assembles a number of critical interventions that aim to read world literature as constitutively postcolonial. 


Postcolonial Literatures in English: An Introduction.

With Anke Bartels Lars Eckstein and Nicole Waller.
Stuttgart: Metzler 2019, 207 pp.
ISBN 3476026744
The term ‘postcolonial literatures in English’ designates English-language literatures from Africa, Asia, the Americas and Oceania, as well as the literatures of diasporic communities who have moved from those regions to the global north. This volume introduces the central themes of postcolonial literary studies and delineates how these themes are reflected and elaborated in exemplary literary works by postcolonial authors from around the world. It also offers succinct definitions of key terms like Orientalism, hybridity, Indigeneity or writing back.
“a volume that points to new directions in postcolonialism as a way of teaching and a way of reading, or in the words of John McLeod, as something ‘that one does’ […]. Indeed, the four authors of Postcolonial Literatures in English manage successfully to show not only the continued relevance of postcolonial ideas as perspectives on contemporary global issues, but also the centrality of postcolonial world literature in engaging readers in a multiscopic, planetary vision of a world that includes everyone.” 
       – Eva Rask Knudsen and Ulla Rahbek,The Year’s Work in Critical and Cultural Theory 38 (2020.    
Genres of Modernity:
Contemporary Indian Novels in English.
Amsterdam/New York: Brill 2008, X, 334 pp.
Pb: 978-90-420-2493-9

Genres of Modernity maps the conjunctures of critical theory and literary production in contemporary India. The volume situates a sample of representative novels in the discursive environment of the ongoing critical debate on modernity in India, and offers for the first time a rigorous attempt to hold together the stimulating impulses of postcolonial theory, subaltern studies and the boom of Indian fiction in English. In opposition to the entrenched narrative of modernity as a single, universally valid formation originating in the West, the theoretical and literary texts under discussion engage in a shared project of refiguring the present as a site of heterogeneous genres of modernity. The book traces these figurative efforts with particular attention to the treatment of two privileged metonymies of modernity: the issues of time and home in Indian fiction. Combining close readings of literary texts from Salman Rushdie to Kiran Nagarkar with a wide range of philosophical, sociological and historiographic reflections, Genres of Modernity is of interest not only for students of postcolonial literatures but for academics in the fields of Cultural Studies at large.

“This is quite simply one of the finest books on Indian fiction in English to have appeared to date and probably the best study of the problematics of Indian literary modernity to have been produced by a European scholar.”   
    – Journal of Commonwealth Literature 45.2 (June 2010).
“Wiemann is so stimulating a critic of Indian writers in English that he makes one wish there were other Western scholars like him writing on genre and modernity in Indian literatures not written in English.”
     – Harish Trivedi, ZAA 60.4 (2012).
“Wiemann’s book undoubtedly makes an invaluable addition to the existing wealth of scholarship on Indian writing in English.”
     – Sukbir Singh, Comparative Literature Studies 48.2 (2011).
“this book is a must-read for all those who are interested in cultural studies, postcolonial literature, and the social sciences.”
     – Ioana Boghian, The European Legacy 16.6 (2011).
“Wiemann’s book presents a powerful challenge to students of postcoloniality as a phenomenon of modernity.”
     -Dieter Riemenschneider, Journal of Postcolonial Writing 46.3/4 (July 2010).
“an enormously rewarding study”
     – Mridula Nath Chakraborty & Ira Raja, The Year’s Work in English Studies (2010).


Exilliteratur in Großbritannien 1933-1945.
Opladen: Westdeutscher Verlag 1998, 377 pp.
Pb. 3531131583
Republished as e-book: Heidelberg (Springer) 2013.
ISBN 978-3-322-89926-2

Exilliteratur in Großbritannien 1933-1945 analyses the poetics and politics of continental exilic writers in 1930s and WWII Britain. While most authors – among them Arthur Koestler, Peter de Mendelssohn or Ernest Bornemann aka Cameron McCabe – adopted English as their medium and managed to integrate, however precariously, into British literary circuits, their texts all the same remain constitutively oriented on the conflicts and struggles in Central Europe into which they attempt to symbolically intervene. The book is focused on the conspicuous yet largely neglected preference for sacralising topoi and narrative subtexts that inform the texts in question. Yet this ‘religious turn’ on the side of exile and refugee writers of the Nazi period has to be reconstructed not primarily as a retreat from direct political engagement but rather to the contrary as a precondition for the articulation of a polemic response to the impulse of fascism. In a combination of close reading and the systematic embedding of texts into their historical discursive environment, Exilliteratur in Großbritannien reopens a range of widely forgotten novels to a strong rewriting for the present.

“die erste Arbeit, die sich einer größeren Auswahl der im britischen Exil entstandenen literarischen Werke in einer sowohl vergleichenden als auch literaturtheoretisch orientierten Perspektive nähert.”
     – Waltraud Srickhausen, (2.2001).

97948.jpgPostcolonial Justice

Ed. with Anke Bartels, Lars Eckstein and Nicole Waller.
Amsterdam & New York: Brill 2017.

Postcolonial Justice addresses a major issue in current postcolonial theory and beyond, namely, the question of how to reconcile an ethics grounded in the reciprocal acknowledgment of diversity and difference with the normative, if not universal thrust that appears to energize any notion of justice. The concept of postcolonial justice shared by the essays in this volume carries an unwavering commitment to difference within and beyond Europe, while equally rejecting radical cultural essentialisms, which refuse to engage in “utopian ideals” of convivial exchange across a plurality of subject positions. Such utopian ideals can no longer claim universal validity, as in the tradition of the European enlightenment; instead they are bound to local frames of speaking from which they project worlds.


Perspectives on English Revolutionary Republicanism
Ed. with Gaby Mahlberg
Farnham (Ashgate) 2014, 238 pp.
ISBN-short: 9781472404121

Perspectives on English Revolutionary Republicanism takes stock of developments in the scholarship of seventeenth-century English republicanism by looking at the movements and schools of thought that have shaped the field over the decades: the linguistic turn, the cultural turn and the religious turn. While scholars of seventeenth-century republicanism share their enthusiasm for their field, they have approached their subject in diverse ways. The contributors to the present volume have taken the opportunity to bring these approaches together in a number of case studies covering republican language, republican literary and political culture, and republican religion, to paint a lively picture of the state of the art in republican scholarship. The volume begins with three chapters influenced by the theory and methodology of the linguistic turn, before moving on to address cultural history approaches to English republicanism, including both literary culture and (practical) political culture. The final section of the volume looks at how religion intersected with ideas of republican thought. Taken together the essays demonstrate the vitality and diversity of what was once regarded as a narrow topic of political research.

“Readers of this stimulating collection will find plenty of food for thought, especially in its welcome exploration of religion’s place in republican thinking.”
– Bernard Capp, English Historical Review (April 2016)
“This volume offers refinements rather than breakthroughs. But the refinements are significant: the level of scholarship is generally high and at times outstanding, as attested by the volumes comprehensive bibliography. “
– Feisal G. Muhamed, Renaissance Quarterly 68.3 (2015)
” a balanced treatment, and the reader will appreciate the neatly organised format.”
– Lindsay Breach, Parerga 33.2 (2016), 199-200.

For more details see

European Contexts for English Republicanism
Ed. with Gaby Mahlberg
London (Routledge) 2013, 288 pp.
ISBN-10: 1409455564
ISBN-13: 978-1409455561

European Contexts for English Republicanism offers new perspectives on early modern English republicanism through its focus on the Continental reception of and engagement with seventeenth-century English thinkers and political events. Looking both at political ideas and at the people that shaped them, the collection examines English republican thought in its wider European context during the later seventeenth and eighteenth century. In a number of case studies, the contributors assess the different ways in which English republican ideas were not only shaped by the thought of the ancients, but also by contemporary authors from all over Europe, such as Hugo Grotius or Christoph Besold. They demonstrate that English republican thinkers did not only act in dialogue with Continental authors and scholars, their ideas in turn also left a long-lasting legacy in Europe as they were received, transformed and put to new uses by thinkers in France, Italy, the Netherlands, Germany and Poland. 

Far from being an exclusively transatlantic affair, as much of the established scholarship suggests, English republican thought also left its legacy on the European Continent, finding its way into wider debates about the rights and wrongs of the English Civil War and the nature of government, while later translations of English republican works also influenced the key thinkers of the French Revolution and the liberals of the nineteenth century. 

Bringing together a range of fresh and original essays by British and European scholars in the field of early modern intellectual history and English studies, this collection of essays revises a one-sided approach to English republicanism and widens the scope of study beyond linguistic and national boundaries by looking at English republicans and their continental networks and legacy.

“Collectively, the essays in this volume highlight the complexity in untangling the threads of English republicanism as it wove its way through two centuries of continental thought, and in doing so clearly demonstrate the benefits of a collaborative, interdisciplinary approach.”
– Victoria Anker, The Seventeenth Century 29.2 (2014)
“The collection of thought-provoking essays contained herein make European Contexts for English Republicanism  essential reading for students of English republicanism and of early-modern political thought more broadly.”
– Matthew Jonston, History of European Ideas (2014)
“Gaby Mahlberg and Dirk Wiemann’s excellent collection of essays, European Contexts for English Republicanism, is a much-needed, groundbreaking work. … Early modern intellectual historians will find it useful and enjoyable for many years to come. Historians of the book, legal and political historians, as well as early modern European historians will only benefit from it.”
– Vittoria Feola, Sixteenth Century Journal, 45.4 (2014)
“Jede weitere Forschung zu diesem Thema wird mit Gewinn von den in diesem Band versammelten Fallstudien ihren Ausgang nehmen”
– Peter Schröder, Zeitschrift für historische Forschung 42.4 (2015)
“The collection effectively demolishes any notion of English insularity regarding the political thinking of the Interregnum, and anybody interested in the lives and adventures of texts rather than human beings will read the book with profit.”
Jutta Schwarzkopf, Journal for the Study of British Cultures (2.2014)

For more details see


politics of passionThe Politics of Passion: Reframing Affect and Emotion in Global Modernity
Ed. with Lars Eckstein.
Frankfurt (Lang) 2013, 233 pp.
ISBN-10: 3631601964

The demise of the modern self-centred subject does not engender a waning but a politicisation of affect: The site of passion is now no longer the individual’s interiority but the contact zone of intersubjective encounters. The public and political status of the emotions thus becomes apparent, making visible how affects are embedded in and shaped by discursive regimes. Neither spontaneous nor overdetermined, passion is therefore not the «other» of reason but a deeply social energy that fuels political, cultural and everyday practices. The Politics of Passion combines theoretical reframings of affect and emotion in global modernity with analyses of concrete instances of politics of passion from above or from below. By including debates and struggles in Western, Asian and African contexts, the volume attends to the actual plurality of affective rationalities and politics beyond a Eurocentric framework.

The White Backlash: Conservatisms in Contemporary British Writing.

Ed. with Lars Eckstein.

 With articles on Ian McEwan, Michael Arditti, Fay Weldon, Maggie Gee.
Contributions by Rajeev Balasubramaniam, Glynn Maxwell, and others.
Special issue of Hard Times (vol. 89, 2011), 47 pp.
ISSN 0171-1695.

Transcultural Britain.
Ed. with Bernd-Peter Lange.
With articles on the Indianisation of Jane Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice”, the negotiation of Little British national identity in television comedy, football after the nation, and recent developments in Black British arts.
Special issue of Journal for the Study of British Cultures
(vol. 15.1, 2008), 94 pp.
ISSN 0944-9094

Global Fragments: (Dis)Orientation in the New World Order. 
Ed. with Anke Bartels.
Amsterdam & New York (Rodopi) 2007, 378 pp.
ISBN-10: 9042021829

While the world seems to be getting ever smaller and globalization has become the ubiquitous buzz-word, regionalism and fragmentation also abound. This might be due to the fact that, far from being the alleged production of cultural homogeneity, the global is constantly re-defined and altered through the local. This tension, pervading much of contemporary culture, has an obvious special relevance for the new varieties of English and the literature published in English world-wide. Postcolonial literatures exist at the interface of English as a hegemonic medium and its many national, regional and local competitors that transform it in the new English literatures. Thus any exploration of a globalization of cultures has to take into account the fact that culture is a complex field characterized by hybridization, plurality, and difference. But while global or transnational cultures may allow for a new cosmopolitanism that produces ever-changing, fluid identities, they do not give rise to an egalitarian ‘global village’ – an asymmetry between centre and periphery remains largely intact, albeit along new parameters. The essays collected in this volume offer readings of literary, theoretical, and filmic texts from the postcolonial world. These texts are read as attempts to articulate the global with the local from a perspective of immersion in the actual diversity of life-worlds, focusing on such issues as consumption, identity-politics, and modes of affiliation. In this sense, they are global fragments: locally refractured figurations of an experience of world-wide interconnectedness.

     Reviewed by

    Eric Anchimbe, European English Messenger 17.1 (2008), 77-81.
    Andrew Monnickendam, Commonwealth Essays and Studies, Vol. 31.1 (2008), 117-119.

Only Connect: Texts, Places, Politcs. A Festschrift for Bernd-Peter Lange.
Ed. with Anke Bartels and Reinhold Wandel.
Frankfurt (Lang) 2008, 332 pp.
ISBN-10: 3631570295

This collection of articles, presented on Bernd-Peter Lange’s 65th birthday, tries to capture some of the manifold domains that he has worked to connect as one of the protagonists in the opening up of German Anglistik to Cultural Studies. The volume proceeds from literature, with the first section offering a variety of readings and rereadings of classic English texts. The subsequent sections focus on the dynamics of inclusion and exclusion that define mainstream and minorities, engage with cultural mobility as well as the various ways in which cultural space is represented and offer a variety of reflections on the relations that pertain between the fields of cultural representation and politics.

Discourses of Violence – Violence of Discourses: Critical Interventions, Transgressive Readings, and Post-National Negotiations.
Ed. with Johannes Angermüller, Anke Bartels and Agata Stopinska.
Frankfurt (Lang) 2005, 229 pp.
ISBN-10: 3631542267

The issues of violence and its control, containment or overcoming range prominently in the social sciences. Empirical sociology seeks to derive generalizable explanations from its research into concrete cases of the occurrence or absence of violent conflict, aspiring to transform such explanations into instructions for strategic action. Within cultural studies, discursive and epistemic formations are assumed to be fundamentally and endemically violent. In these perspectives, the quotidian violence that ineluctably inheres in modern discourses manifests itself as, e.g., normalisation, privilege and exclusion, thus sharing a wide range of common objects and objectives with the social sciences. The essays collected in this volume address contemporary conjunctures and discourses of violence in world society from different disciplines ranging from cultural studies, social science, political science and philosophy to history, literary criticism and psychology.

Reflexive Representations: Discourse, Power, and Hegemony In Global Captialism.
Ed. with Johannes Angermüller, Dietmar Fricke and Jörg Meyer.
Münster (LIT) 2004, 192 pp.
ISBN: 3-8258-7238-6.

Reflexive Representations addresses the manifold conjunctures, interactions and disjunctures that occur at various levels of what has come to be rubricated under the buzzword of “globalization”. While this term has the merit of reperiodizing our account of the capitalist dynamics, it simultaneously points to a crisis of representation both in political and epistemological terms. The contributions collected in this volume – being reflexive representations from the social sciences and humanities – assess some of the manifold aspects of this crisis.

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