Reading Researchers: Figures of Transgression

In a regular feature, we’ll bring you updates from “Reading Researchers,” highlighting the innovative and compelling research that members of the Department of Modern Languages and European Studies are pursuing. Here’s an update from Dr. Ute Wölfel, a Lecturer in German Studies, whose research interests include the German war film, GDR feature and documentary film, GDR literature and representations of everyday life in print media.

I’m often being asked what academics do in the summer when the students are gone. People normally suspect that we have three months of holidays. Well, just as football players don’t only work on Sundays when the League matches are on, academics don’t only work during term time. Rather, the summer is my ‘training camp’ when I catch up with research and prepare next year’s classes.

Part of my summer this year was devoted to research workshops, days when I met with other academics who share my interests. One of the topics that brought me together with colleagues in Reading was Figures of Giving_a_sick_man_a_drink_as_US_POWs_of_Japanese,_Philippine_Islands,_Cabanatuan_prison_campTransgression in Films on War and Violent Conflict. After a series of film screenings throughout the academic year, we had the summer luxury of listening to each other’s work on those intriguing characters who cross the line between friend and enemy. Why are they part of so many war films? Are those who have contact with the ‘other side’ vile traitors because they seriously harm their own group of belonging? Or are they important as future negotiators?

The workshop allowed us to shuffle and test ideas for a new project, out next ‘match’.