Skip to main content




I am currently a DPhil candidate in German Literature at the Faculty of Medieval and Modern Languages and at Balliol College, University of Oxford. Before coming to Oxford, I completed a Bachelor of Arts in German Language and Literature and in Philosophy at Ludwig Maximilians University of Munich (2020, w. dist.), funded by the National German Scholarship programme. Subsequently, I obtained a Master of Studies in Modern Languages in the European Enlightenment programme at the University of Oxford (2021, w. dist.), also at Balliol College, fully and generously funded by the Lidl Graduate Modern Languages Scholarship of the University of Oxford. 


DPhil Research


My DPhil thesis, funded by the Balliol College Scholarship, aims to re-examine the notion of moral and social progress in the German Enlightenment. It is commonplace to say that the period brought forth a new form of thinking about (unlimited and linear) progress, yet that very notion has been the object of increasing critique in recent times, especially from the perspective of feminist and postcolonial theory. This motivates me to take a deeper look at the major discourses on progress in the Enlightenment with respect to their own self-reflexivity: Did thinkers during that period provide discursive tools to criticise the possible one-sidedness of Enlightenment conceptions of progress?


To answer this question, it is necessary to transcend disciplinary boundaries and to combine an analysis of the philosophical, literary and aesthetic discourse on progress in a novel way. My hypothesis is that literary works, especially dramas, present a particular reflexive form of Enlightenment discourse because they render blind spots of philosophical theories of moral progress visible. Literary works problematise social mechanisms of oppression that may not be overcome by certain notions of progress but rather reproduced by them. As I will aim to show, this power of art has been critically reflected on in advanced aesthetic theories of the time. 


My doctoral project is supervised by Professor Barry Murnane and Dr Christoph Schmitt-Maass




Teaching Assistant in German Literature at Lincoln College, University of Oxford 


Main Research Interests


Enlightenment literature, poetry, philosophy, 18th Century

Moral philosophy, philosophy of art

Aesthetic theory, theory of tragedy 

Kant, Lessing, Mendelssohn, Marianne Ehrmann

“Feminism” in the Enlightenment




“‘Ideale Gemeinschaft’ oder ‘Fesseln der Tradition’? Immanuel Kants Konzeption der Urteilskraft und ihre Kritik durch die Hermeneutik”. In:  Limina: Natur – Politik. Verhandlungen von Grenz- und Schwellenphänomenen in der Vormoderne. Edited by Annika von Lüpke, Tabea Strohschneider and Oliver Bach. Berlin/Boston: De Gruyter Verlag 2019, pp. 357-374.




“Marianne Ehrmann (1755-1795)”. In: Feministische Aufklärung in Europa. The Feminist Enlightenment across Europe. Interdisziplinäres Jahrbuch zur Erforschung des 18. Jahrhunderts und seiner Wirkungsgeschichte. Edited by Isabel Karremann and Gideon Stiening. Hamburg: Felix Meiner Verlag 2020, pp. 312-323.



Selected Publications in Progress (scheduled for 2024)


“Die Wirkungsästhetik des Trauerspiels bei Lessing und Mendelssohn”. In: Sinne und Triebe. Zum Verhältnis von praktischer Ästhetik und moral sense theory in der Philosophie und Dichtung der Aufklärung. Edited by Oliver Bach (De Gruyter Verlag, forthcoming 2024).


“The Right to One’s Own Voice. Aesthetic Forms of the Formation of Female Autonomy in the Works of Ehrmann and Lessing”. In: Women, the Law and Womens Rights in the Eighteenth-Century. The Feminist Enlightenment Across Europe. Edited by Isabel Karremann and Gideon Stiening (J. B. Metzler-Verlag, forthcoming 2024). 


“Die Paradoxie der Aufklärung. Aufgeklärter Absolutismus und öffentliche Vernunft in den Fortschrittstheorien Kants, Lessings und Mendelssohns”. In: Aufklärung und Absolutismus. Zur Rezeption frühneuzeitlicher Staatsklugheits- und Verhaltenslehren im 18. Jahrhundert. Edited by Jens Ole Schneider and Gideon Stiening. (Forthcoming in the series Studien zum Achtzehnten Jahrhundert, Meiner Verlag, 2024).


Book Review of Rudolf Langthaler: Kant – ein Kritiker Lessings? Übereinstimmungen und Differenzen im Kontext von Religion und Aufklärung. Berlin/New York: De Gruyter Verlag 2021, for: Scientia Poetica – Jahrbuch für Geschichte der Literatur und der Wissenschaften/Yearbook for the History of Literature, Humanities and Sciences. Edited by Andrea Albrecht, Lutz Danneberg, Gerhard Regn, Wilhelm Schmidt-Biggemann and Friedrich Vollhardt (De Gruyter Verlag, forthcoming 2024). 


Interview and Public Outreach


“Advancing our understanding of German culture”


Interview with and Report by Sarah Pakes on my Oxford Modern Languages Graduate Scholarship for my MSt in Modern Languages in the Philanthropy Report 2020/21 of the University of Oxford, pp. 16-17.


Can be accessed at: and


Selected Conference Papers


“Aufgeklärter Absolutismus und öffentliche Vernunft in den Fortschrittstheorien Kants, Lessings und Mendelssohns”, presented at the international and interdisciplinary conference “Aufklärung und Absolutismus. Zur Rezeption frühneuzeitlicher Staatsklugheits- und Verhaltenslehren im 18. Jahrhundert” at the Friedrich Schiller University of Jena,

31 March-2 April 2022


“Sensuality as Part of Reason: The Influence of Baumgarten’s Aesthetics (1735) on Lessing’s and Mendelssohn’s Theory of Tragic Drama (1755-57)”, presented at the international German Studies Association Congress in Indianapolis, USA, at the conference “Tradition and Discontinuity: The Early Modern Period as Solitary Era”,

30 Sept.-3 Oct. 2021


“Das Recht auf eine eigene Stimme. Ästhetische Formen der Herausbildung weiblicher Autonomie bei Ehrmann und Lessing”, presented at the international and interdisciplinary conference “Vom Recht der Frau zu Frauenrechten im Europa des 18. Jahrhunderts. Frauenrechte in der Philosophie, den Wissenschaften, den Künsten und der Rechtspraxis des langen 18. Jahrhunderts” at the University of Zurich,

31 Aug.-4 Sept. 2021


“Reflections on ‘Invisibility’ in the Life and Works of Marianne Ehrmann”, presented at the interdisciplinary conference on “Invisibilities” at Balliol College, University of Oxford,

14 April 2021




The profile picture was taken in the Old Common Room at Balliol College by John Cairns.