Matthew Hines

Department of Modern Languages
Doctoral researcher

Contact details

PhD Title: Writing a New Society: Aufbau in East German Literature 1945-1961
Supervisors: Professor Sara JonesDr Monica Jato and Dr Ute Hirsekorn (Nottingham)
Wolfson Scholar

Research profile


  • BA (First Class) Modern Languages (French & German) – The Queen’s College, University of Oxford
  • MSt Modern Languages (German) – The Queen’s College, University of Oxford


I joined Birmingham as a Wolfson Scholar in 2019 having studied for my BA and MSt in Oxford from 2014, the latter as a Taberdar, Waverley and Heath Harrison scholar. I originally come from south-east London.


My thesis reappraises the early years of literature in the German Democratic Republic, starting from its foundations in the Soviet Zone (SBZ) until the building of the Berlin Wall, called the Aufbau. Rather than apply a generalised aesthetic model to the period according to the Soviet or Lukácsian school, I seek out so-called dissidents and, with a reading of Walter Benjamin’s theory of allegory which allows a fragmentary consciousness to find expression in literature, explore how aesthetic deviation from the party line shared in, not deviated from, the state’s ambitions. Highlighting the inherently un-constructed beginnings of the (literary) Aufbau, I analyse experimental, critical and superficially conventional works of literature (novels, novellas, plays) allegorically to conclude that they come to (new) meaning as signifiers by their engagement with the historical present and thus perform an aesthetic, if not ontological, ‘building’.