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Bernhard Malkmus is interested in the way cultural practices shape our relation to the world. In particular, he explores how human engagement with the natural world has changed since the 18th century and how aesthetic practices such as literature, music, and the visual arts allow us to reflect on these changes. He looks at the history of modernity through the lens of environmental history and ethics. In so doing, he aims to understand in what ways certain cultural modes of imagination can be related to the systemic environmental problems we are facing today - and in what ways aesthetic practices can change our inherited modes of imagination.

Academic Biography

Bernhard Malkmus is a tutorial fellow at New College and took up his post as Professor of German and Environmental Humanities in 2023. Prior to that, he held teaching and research positions at Newcastle University, The Ohio State University, Goldsmiths University London, and the Charles University in Prague. He studied on the shores of Lake Constance at the Universität Konstanz and wrote his doctoral thesis under the leaden sky over the University of Cambridge. Research fellowships allowed him to develop his ideas in conversation with colleagues at Harvard University (2002), Internationales Forschungskolleg Kulturwissenschaften, Vienna (2014-15), Rachel Carson Center Munich (2015-16), Universität Bamberg (as DAAD Fellow 2016), Goethe-Universität Frankfurt (as Humboldt Fellow 2021-2022).


Bernhard Malkmus teaches papers at all undergraduate stages. Particular teaching interests include Goethezeit & Romanticism; modernity & modernism; literature & ecology; reading cultures, digital cultures & democracy; Germany and Europe. In 2023-24 he gives a lecture series entitled "Of Humans and Other Animals: Reading German Canonical Texts in through an Environmental Lens".

He welcomes expressions of interest from prospective graduate students whose curiosity has led them into fields related to his areas of expertise.

This is one of his students:



Bernhard Malkmus has published widely in the fields of Goethezeit and Romanticism, modernity studies, narratology, and environmental humanities. As a co-editor of the Ecocriticism series at Metzler, Heidelberg, he is interested in hearing about promising projects in the intersecting field of literature and ecology. He is also a nature writer and essayist who publishes regularly in newspapers and magazines such as Merkur, Sinn und Form, Times Literary Supplement, Der Freitag, Die Welt.

Most recently, he has published a cultural history of the lynx with Matthes & Seitz, Berlin. Current projects include a literary history of the Great Acceleration, provisionally entitled "Menschendämmerung" and a book-length creative writing meditation on extinction, "Die Himmelsstriche der Seeschwalben". As a translator, he has worked on poetry by authors such as W.S. Merwin, Raúl Zurita, Peter Balakian; his completely revised edition of the German translation of Peter Matthiessen's nature writing classic The Snow Leopard came out in 2022.

He will make certain aspects of his research available to the public at these forthcoming events:

May 2024: Marx and the Anthropocene workshop, University of Oxford

June 2024: Reading at the Vilmer Sommerakademie, Vilm

July 2024: "Der Luchs die Kultur des Naturschutzes", Wissenschaftszentrum Umwelt, Universität Augsburg

August 2024: Keynote "The Friedrich Nietzsche Wilderness", Università Verona (Nietzsche Society)

September 2024: Workshop on Nature Writing, Burg Lenzen / Elbe


coming soon...