Professor Nigel Harris BA, DPhil

Department of Modern Languages
Professor of German

Contact details

Ashley Building
University of Birmingham
B15 2TT

I see myself as a medievalist with an extension into the sixteenth century, and as someone with a particular passion for teaching these still deeply relevant periods to modern undergraduates.


I did my first degree at Birmingham (French and German) and my doctorate at Oxford, and have spent my entire career in the Birmingham German Department.


As the Department’s specialist in medieval and early modern literature, I teach a number of courses in these fields at second- and final-year level. My second-year course, entitled ‘Knights, Maidens and Priests’, focuses on a diverse range of short medieval and sixteenth-century texts, whereas my long established final-year course, ‘Epic and Romance’, currently deals with the Nibelungenlied, Gottfried von Strassburg’s Tristan, and works by Hartmann von Aue. I also contribute to the first- and second-year core courses in German literature, supervise postgraduate research into the medieval and early modern periods, and do a wide range of language teaching.

Postgraduate supervision

I am keen to supervise postgraduates working on any aspect of German literature and culture between, roughly, 1100 and 1650. I am always happy to undertake joint supervisions with other Birmingham colleagues.

Some of the dissertations I have supervised to completion in recent years have been on the following topics:

The Schachbuch of Heinrich von Beringen
Christian imagery in Hartmann von Aue’s Gregorius, Kafka’s Die Verwandlung and Thomas Mann’s Der Erwählte
Utz Eckstein’s Zwinglian dialogues Concilium and Rychsztag; peasants in dialogue with authority in three Reformation dialogues
Albrecht Dürer’s scientific writings
Max Mell and Reinhold Schneider’s reception of the Nibelungenlied
The important fifteenth-century German manuscript British Library Add. 24946.


Much of my research activity is devoted to three sometimes related interests: allegorical and symbolic uses of animals in medieval literature; late medieval didactic literature (in Latin and German), and its methods of conveying religious and ethical ideas to an increasingly wide audience; and the ways in which certain authors of the High Middle Ages adapted their French sources. I find myself also developing an increasing interest in the Swiss Reformation. I am currently working on a set of studies of medieval animal imagery, on the various versions of the late-medieval theological compendium known as the Lumen anime, and on the Zurich reformer Huldrych Zwingli.


Recent publications


Harris, N 2020, The Thirteenth-Century Animal Turn: Medieval and Twenty-First-Century Perspectives. Palgrave Macmillan.

Harris, N 2016, ‘Gesta Romanorum’. A New Translation by Christopher Stace with an Introduction by Nigel Harris. translated by Christopher Stace, Manchester Medieval Studies, Manchester University Press, Manchester.

Harris, N & Love, J 2013, Dialogue and Disputation in the Zurich Reformation: Utz Eckstein's 'Concilium' and 'Rychsztag'. Peter Lang, Oxford.

Harris, N 2013, The Shorter Works of Ulrich Putsch: 'Diarium', 'Oraciones super missam' and 'Manuale simplicium sacerdotum'. Peter Lang.


Harris, N 2013, '‘Das es teutsche zung vernimpt’: Zur Übersetzungsliteratur Tirols um 1400', German Life and Letters, vol. 66, no. 3, pp. 233-253.

Harris, N 2011, 'Der Pfau bei Konrad von Megenberg – und anderswo', Jahrbuch der Oswald von Wolkenstein–Gesellschaft in Edith Feistner (ed.), Konrad von Megenberg: Ein spätmittelalterlicher Enzyklopädist im europäischen Kontext. Wiesbaden:Reichert, vol. 18, pp. 175-88.

Chapter (peer-reviewed)

Harris, N 2018, 'Der Seele Rat' in komparatistischer Sicht: Heinrich von Burgeis, 'L'Omme Pecheur' und 'Everyman'. in E De Felip-Jaud & M Siller (eds), Heinrich von Burgeis: 'Der Seele Rat': Symposium zu einem hochmittelalterlichen Predigermoench. Schlern-Schriften, vol. 367, Wagner, Innsbruck , pp. 199-212.

Harris, N 2017, Lehren und Bilden in den Schriften eines mittelalterlichen 'Machtmenschen'. Bischof Ulrich II Putsch von Brixen. in H Lähnemann, N McLelland & NM (eds), Lernen, Lehren und Bilden in der deutschen Literatur des Mittelalters : XXIII. Anglo-German Colloquium, Nottingham, 2013. Narr Francke Attempto, Tuebingen , pp. 139-49.


Wallace, D & Harris, N 2016, Salzburg. in D Wallace (ed.), Europe: A Literary History, 1348-1418. vol. 2, Oxford University Press, Oxford, pp. vol. 2, 589-602.

Harris, N 2011, Man, Monster, Animal? Virgil’s Cacus in the Middle Ages and Sixteenth Century. in Volume edited by Baudouin van den Abeele et al.

Book/Film/Article review

Harris, N 2011, 'Review of...The Apocryphal Adam and Eve in Medieval Europe: Vernacular Translations and Adaptations of the ‘Vita Adae et Evae. Brian Murdoch (ed.)', Modern Language Review, no. 106, pp. 194f.

Harris, N 2011, 'Review of...Tiere und Fabelwesen im Mittelalter. Sabine Obermaier (ed.)', Arbitrium, no. 1, pp. 15-18.

Harris, N 2011, 'The Apocryphal Adam and Eve in Medieval Europe: Vernacular Translations and Adaptations of the 'Vita Adae et Evae'', Modern Language Review, vol. 106, pp. 195-196.

Conference contribution

Harris, N 2015, Hans Vintler, Ulrich Putsch, Michel Velser und die Tiroler Übersetzungsliteratur um 1400. in M Siller (ed.), Hans Vintler: ‘Die Blumen der Tugend’ (1411): Symposium nach 600 Jahren. Schlern-Schriften, Wagner, Innsbruck, pp. 165-186.

Entry for encyclopedia/dictionary

Harris, N 2010, Articles on ‘Breve Chronicon monasterii Stamsensis’, ‘Kleine Stamser Chronik’ and ‘Johannes Spies’, in Graeme Dunphy (ed.). in Encyclopaedia of the Medieval Chronicle.

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