Dr Elystan Griffiths MA (Cantab), PhD, FHEA

Photograph of Dr Elystan Griffiths

Department of Modern Languages
Senior Lecturer in German

Contact details

Room 207, Ashley Building
University of Birmingham
B15 2TT

I teach widely across the curriculum in German Studies, including  language, literature and cinema. My research interests include social and political writing of the 18th and 19th centuries, women’s writing and the pastoral.


  • MA (Cantab) in Modern and Medieval Languages
  • PhD in German Studies
  • PG Cert HE, University of Birmingham


Originally from Cardiff, and a native speaker of Welsh, I studied Modern Languages (German and French) at Robinson College, Cambridge and completed my doctorate in German Studies at the University of Birmingham under the supervision of Professor Michael Perraudin. I have been a staff member at the University of Birmingham since 2000. Alongside my work of teaching and research in German Studies, I am also Deputy Director of Education for Quality Assurance and Enhancement in the College of Arts and Law.


Within the Department, I teach German language, literature, history and film, and I contribute to modules on European film. I also teach a final-year option on German-Language Cinema since 1960.

Postgraduate supervision

Elystan Griffiths' main research interests are in German literature of the period 1750-1815, with a particular interest in literary responses to political and social change. He is currently working on a monograph on the German idyll during this period. He has also published on the development of German literature in the context of the unification of Germany in 1871.

Dr Griffiths is happy to supervise postgraduate projects within his areas of interest.

Find out more - our PhD German Studies  page has information about doctoral research at the University of Birmingham.


My research is focused on German literature from 1750 to 1850. My previous research publications include a monograph on Heinrich von Kleist's politics, a first edition (with David Hill) of J.M.R. Lenz's writings on social and military reform (the so-called 'Berkaer Projekt'), and a monograph (2020) on German-language pastoral from 1750 to 1850. I am currently working on a project dealing with conceptions of obedience and agency in the 18th and 19th centuries and a second project on the Sturm und Drang.

Other activities

I am currently Head of Education in the School of Languages, Cultures, Art History and Music. I am also external examiner for German Studies at Aston University.


Recent publications


Griffiths, E 2019, The Shepherd, the Volk, and the Middle Class: Transformations of Pastoral in German-Language Writing, 1750-1850. Studies in German Literature Linguistics and Culture, Camden House, Rochester NY. <https://boydellandbrewer.com/the-shepherd-the-i-volk-i-and-the-middle-class.html>


Griffiths, E & Wagner, M 2020, 'Introduction: genres of obedience', Seminar A Journal of Germanic Studies, vol. 56, no. 2, pp. 85-91. <https://muse.jhu.edu/article/753886#info_wrap>

Griffiths, E 2020, 'Sophie von La Roches Zeitschrift Pomona für Teutschlands Töchter und der literarische Markt der 1780er Jahre im Lichte unveröffentlichter Briefe', German Life and Letters, vol. 73, no. 2, pp. 161-211. https://doi.org/10.1111/glal.12259

Griffiths, E 2014, 'Sophie von La Roche, Shaftesbury and the Problem of Virtue: Inheritance and Self-Creation in Die Geschichte des Frauleins von Sternheim', Forum for Modern Language Studies, vol. 50, pp. 82-96. https://doi.org/10.1093/fmls/cqt045

Griffiths, E 2014, '"Oft reiss' ich mich aus der Stadt los, und fliehe in einsame Gegenden": Social Criticism in Salomon Gessner’s Idylls', Publications of the English Goethe Society, vol. 83, pp. 22-36. https://doi.org/10.1179/0959368314Z.00000000029, https://doi.org/10.1179/0959368314Z.00000000029

Griffiths, E 2012, '‘Die Unverhoffte Wirkung’: Revolutionary Violence, ‘Beschränkung’ and the Rewriting of the Domestic Idyll in Kleist's Works', German Life and Letters, vol. 65, no. 4, pp. 399-420. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1468-0483.2012.01579.x

Chapter (peer-reviewed)

Griffiths, E 2015, 'Die Napoleonische Kolonialpolitik und die Zerstörung der Idylle: Kleists Die Verlobung in St. Domingo und Salomon Gessners Inkel und Yariko'. in C Zelle, A Lütteken & W de Bruyn (eds), Kleist in der Schweiz - Kleist und die Schweiz. Wehrhahn, Hanover. <http://www.wehrhahn-verlag.de/index.php?section=&subsection=details&id=1032>


Griffiths, E & Hill, D 2016, Die Berkaer Schriften. in J Freytag, H-G Winter & I Stephan (eds), J. M. R. Lenz Handbuch. De Gruyter Reference, De Gruyter, pp. 257-267.

Book/Film/Article review

Griffiths, E 2015, 'Heinrich von Kleist and Jean-Jacques Rousseau: Violence, Identity, Nation. (Studies in German Literature, Linguistics and Culture). By Steven Howe. Rochester/New York: Camden House, 2012.', Modern Language Review, vol. 110, pp. 285-87.

Griffiths, E 2015, 'Heinrich von Kleist and Modernity. Ed. by Bernd Fischer and Tim Mehigan. Rochester, NY: Camden House. 2011.', Modern Language Review, vol. 110, pp. 284-85.

Griffiths, E 2014, 'Mary-Elizabeth O’Brien, Post-Wall German Cinema and National History: Utopianism and Dissent (Rochester, NY: Camden House, 2012) and A New History of German Cinema, ed. by Jennifer M. Kapczynski and Michael D. Richardson (Rochester, NY: Camden House, 2012)', Journal of European Studies, vol. 44, no. 4, pp. 445-46.

Griffiths, E 2013, 'Book review: Theo Buck, ‘Der Poet, der sich vollendet’: Goethes Lehr- und Wanderjahre (Cologne: Böhlau, 2008)', The German Quarterly, vol. 86, no. 2, pp. 222-223. https://doi.org/10.1111/gequ.10179

Griffiths, E 2013, 'Tim Mehigan, Heinrich von Kleist: Writing after Kant. Rochester, NY: Camden House, 2011', Monatshefte, vol. 103, pp. 142-144.

Special issue

Griffiths, E & Wagner, M (eds) 2020, 'Genres of Obedience', Seminar A Journal of Germanic Studies, vol. 56, no. 2. <https://muse.jhu.edu/issue/42196>

Allan, S & Griffiths, E 2011, 'Performance and Performativity in the Works of Heinrich von Kleist', German Life and Letters, vol. 64, no. 3, pp. 160 pp. https://doi.org/10.1111/glal.2011.64.issue-3

View all publications in research portal


German literature, 1770-1815; contemporary German film

Alternative contact number available for this expert: contact the press office