Professor David Hill BA, DPhil


Emeritus Professor of German Studies

Department of Modern Languages

Photograph of Professor David Hill

Contact details

Ashley Building
University of Birmingham
B15 2TT


My main research interests lie in the literature, culture and society of Germany around the end of the eighteenth century.


My work on German culture of the late eighteenth century has focused on texts and authors who have in different ways reflected the transitions between Enlightenment, Sturm und Drang, Classicism and Romanticism. It has been based on the close reading of texts but has attempted to uncover in them the tensions and pressures of a broader shifting social and cultural world. My special interests include text-editing, and I have produced (with Elystan Griffiths) the first edition of the reform project of J. M. R. Lenz, and my interest in music has led (in collaboration with Robert Meikle) to the first edition of an opera by Reichart based a text by Goethe. I am also concerned with the analysis of contemporary Germany and am one of the founding editors of Debatte: Journal of Contemporary Central and Eastern Europe.


My current research revolves round ideas of the ‘open text’ or fragment in European literature, including such diverse authors as Lessing, Goethe and Coleridge. I am also preparing contributions to handbooks dealing variously with Lessing, Lenz and the Sturm und Drang.


Self-authored books and editions

  • (with R. B. Meikle) Johann Friedrich Reichardt,“Claudine von Villa Bella.” A setting of Goethe’s Singspiel in Three Acts (A-R Editions:Wisconsin, 2009) 
  •  (with E. Griffiths) Jacob Michael Reinhold Lenz, Schriften zur Sozialreform. Das Berkaer Projekt, Historisch-kritische Arbeiten zur Literatur, 42 (Frankfurt: Lang, 2007)
  • Literature of the Sturm und Drang, The Camden House History of German Literature, vol. 6 (Camden House: Rochester, 2003), 377 pages
  • J. M. R. Lenz, Prince Tandi of Cumba, Contemporary Theatre Studies, 9 (Harwood Academic: [London,] 1995), 127 pages
  • J. M. R. Lenz. Studien zum Gesamtwerk (Westdeutscher Verlag: Opladen, 1994), 234 pages
  • G. E. Lessing, Nathan der Weise, New German Studies Texts & Monographs, 9 (University of Hull: Hull, 1988), 219 pages
  • Klinger’s Novels.  The structure of the Cycle, Stuttgarter Arbeiten zur Germanistik, 76 (Akade­mischer Verlag: Stuttgart, 1982), 234 pages

Articles in refereed journals

  • “Ode an die Freude,” Österreichische Musikzeitschrift, 65.7-8 (2010), 30f.
  • “Configurations of utopia: Lessing’s Nathan der Weise and Lenz’s Der neue Menoza,” Publications of the English Goethe Society, 77 (2008), 61-67.
  • “Problems of identity in the poetry of J. M. R. Lenz,” Lenz-Jahrbuch, 12 (2002-03), 7-29.
  • “Of mice and sparrows: nature and power in the late eighteenth century,” Forum for Modern Language Studies, 38 (2002), 1-13
  • “Johann Karl Wezel and the Art of Illusion,” Publications of the English Goethe Society, NS 68 (1999), 45-60
  • “The Classical Era,” The Year’s Work in Modern Language Studies, 58 (1996), 789-836
  • “The Classical Era,” The Year’s Work in Modern Language Studies, 57 (1995), 736-82
  • “The Classical Era,” The Year’s Work in Modern Language Studies, 56 (1994), 802-43
  • “J. M. R. Lenz’ ‘Avantpropos’ zu den ‘Soldatenehen’,” Lenz-Jahrbuch, 5 (1995), 7-21
  • “J. M. R. Lenz and William Hamilton: ‘Yärros Ufer’,” Forum for Modern Language Studies, 30 (1994), 144-151
  • “‘Es ist nicht wahr, daß die kürzeste Linie immer eine gerade ist’ ‑ eine Quelle,” Euphorion, 85 (1991), 98‑101
  • “Lessing: die Sprache der Toleranz,” Deutsche Vierteljahrsschrift für Literatur­wissen­schaft und Geistesgeschichte, 64 (1990), 218‑246
  • “‘Das Politische’ in Die Soldaten,” Orbis Litterarum, 43 (1988), 299‑315
  • “‘An diesem Brunnen hast auch du gespielt’: Notes on Klinger and his Relationship to Goethe,” Goethe Yearbook, 4 (1987), 1‑36
  • Die schwedische Gräfin: Notes on early bourgeois realism,” Neophilologus, 65 (1981), 574‑588
  • “Widersprüche in Klingers Giafar,” Jahrbuch des freien deutschen Hochstifts (1974), 75‑90
  • Der Kettenträger ‑ a novel by Klinger?” New German Studies, 1 (1973), 173‑178

Essays in books

  • “The citizen and the family in the reform project of J. M. R. Lenz,” in Ehe – Haus – Familie, ed. Inken Schmidt-Voges (Böhlau: Cologne, Weimar, 2010), pp. 239-258.
  • (with E Griffiths) “Drafting the Self: The Poet as Reformer and Performer in J.M.R. Lenz’s Berkaer Projekt,” in The Text and its Context, ed. Nigel Harris and Joanne Sayner (Studies in Modern German Literature and Society) (Lang: Oxford etc., 2008), pp. 78-94.
  • “Goethe’s Egmont, Beethoven’s Egmont,” in Music and Literature in German Romanticism, ed. Siobhán Donovan and Robin Elliott (Studies in German Literature, Linguistics, and Culture) (Camden House: Rochester, 2004), 75-86
  • (with R. Meikle) “Johann Friedrich Reichardt’s setting of Goethe’s Singspiel Claudine von Villa Bella,” in Goethe und Schubert: Across the Divide, ed. Lorraine Byrne and Dan Farrelly (Carysfort: Dublin, 2003), pp. 137-60
  • “Introduction,” in Literature of the Sturm und Drang, The Camden House History of German Literature, vol. 6, ed. David Hill (Camden House: Rochester, 2003), 1-44
  • “‘Die schönsten Träume von Freiheit werden ja im Kerker geträumt”: The Rhetoric of Freedom in the Sturm und Drang,” in Literature of the Sturm und Drang, The Camden House History of German Literature, vol. 6, ed. David Hill (Camden House: Rochester, 2003), 159-84
  • “Lenz und Plautus,” in "Die Wunde Lenz". J. M.R. Lenz. Leben, Werke und Rezeption, ed. Inge Stephan and Hans‑Gerd Winter, Publikationen zur Zeitschrift für Germanistik, NF 7 (Lang: Bern etc., 2003), 173-84
  • “The Inner Form of Aus Goethes Brieftasche,” in Goethe at 250: The London Symposium. Goethe mit 250: Londoner Symposium, ed. T.J. Reed et al. (Iudicium: Munich, 2000), pp. 109-20
  • “‘– und macht mir die Erde zum Himmel’: Utopisches in der Lyrik von J. M. R. Lenz,” in Jakob Michael Reinhold Lenz, Text + Kritik, 146 (Munich, 2000), pp. 27-35
  • “Bürger and ‘das schwankende Wort Volk’,” in The Challenge of German Culture. Essays presented to Wilfried van der Will, ed. Michael Butler and Robert Evans (Macmillan/Palgrave: London, 2000), pp. 25-36
  • “Zwischen Intertext und Steckenpferd: Überlegungen zum Erkenntnisproblem in Tobias Knaut,” Wezel-Jahrbuch. Studien zur deutschen Aufklärung, 1 (1998), 104-19
  • “German Literature and the French Revolution: Wieland’s Göttergespräche,” in History and Literature. Essays in Honor of Karl S. Guthke, ed. William Collins Donahue and Scott Denham (Tübingen: Stauffenburg, 2000), pp. 231-49.
  • “‘Lettre d’un soldat Alsacien a S Excellence Mr le Comte de St Germain sur la retenue de la paye des Invalides.’  An unpublished manuscript by J. M. R. Lenz,” in Order from Confusion.  Essays Presented to Edward McInnes, ed. Alan Deighton, New German Studies Texts & Monographs, 10 (University of Hull: Hull, 1995), pp. 1-27
  • “The theme of religion and humanity in the early fiction,” in The Narrative Fiction of Heinrich Böll, ed. Michael Butler (Cambridge University Press: Cambridge, 1994), pp. 89-110
  • “Die Arbeiten von Lenz zu den Soldatenehen: ein Bericht über die Krakauer Hand­schriften” in “Unaufhörlich Lenz gelesen ...”  Studien zu Leben und Werk von J. M. R. Lenz, ed. Inge Stephan and Hans‑Gerd Winter (Metzler: Stuttgart, 1994), pp. 118-137
  • “The portrait of Lenz in Dichtung und Wahrheit: a literary perspective,” in J. M. R. Lenz. Studien zum Gesamtwerk, ed. David Hill (Westdeutscher Verlag: Opladen, 1994), pp. 222‑231
  • “Stolz und Demut, Illusion und Mitleid bei Lenz,” in J. R. M. Lenz als Alternative?  Positions­analysen zum 200. Todestag, ed. Karin A. Wurst (Böhlau: Cologne, 1992), pp. 64‑91


German literature and culture (including music, opera), especially of the period 1750-1820: Lessing, Goethe, Schiller, Enlightenment, Sturm und Drang, Romanticism

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