Karen Leeder

Karen Leeder

Emeritus Fellow
Modern Languages
MA DPhil Oxf

Karen Leeder studied German at Oxford and the University of Hamburg. After teaching for three years at Emmanuel College, Cambridge (1990-1993), she took up her Fellowship at New College in 1993 and became Professor of Modern German Literature in 2008, Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts in 2017 and Fellow of the Academia Europaea in 2020.

She is a prize-winning translator of contemporary literature: including Evelyn Schlag, Raoul Schrott, Ulrike Almut Sandig, Hans Magnus Enzensberger, Wilhelm Schmid, Michael Krüger and Durs Grünbein.  She was awarded the Schlegel-Tieck Prize for her translations of Evelyn Schlag in 2005 and her translation of Schlag’s All Under One Roof was a Poetry Book Society Recommendation for 2018. In 2016 she received an English PEN and an American PEN award for her translations of Ulrike Almut Sandig Thick of it which was runner-up for the Schlegel-Tieck Prize (2019). She has been working on the poetry for Durs Grünbein for over a decade and won the Stephen Spender Prize (2011) and the John Frederick Nims Prize (2018) for translations of his poetry. She is a Trustee of the Stephen Spender Trust and the Poetry Translation Centre and regularly appears on radio and television talking about aspects of German culture. During 2014-2015 she was a TORCH Knowledge Exchange Fellow working with the Southbank Centre, Modern Poetry in Translation and Poet in the City and leads the project ‘Mediating Modern Poetry’. She works regularly with emerging translators, schools, festivals and arts organisations on the translation of poetry.

Research Interests

She has published widely on modern German culture, especially of the post-1945 and contemporary periods, including:

  • poetry and the poetic tradition 
  • modernity 
  • GDR literature
  • contemporary German culture
  • translation 
  • lateness
  • women’s writing
  • angels
  • spectres
  • Rilke
  • Brecht. 

Selected Major Publications

  • The Fifth Dimension: Contemporary German Poetry (Oxford, 2021).
  • Ed., with Lyn Marven Ulrike Draesner. A Companion (Berlin, New York: de Gruyter, 2021)
  • Ed., Rereading East Germany: The Literature and Film of the GDR (CUP, 2016; paperback 2019).
  • Ed., with Michael Eskin and Christopher Young, Durs Grünbein: A Companion (Berlin, New York: de Gruyter, 2013).
  • Ed., with Laura Bradley, Brecht & the GDR: Politics, Culture, Posterity, Edinburgh German Yearbook, vol. 5 (Rochester, NY: Camden House, 2011)
  • Ed., with Robert Vilain, Cambridge Companion to Rainer Maria Rilke (CUP, 2010).
  • Ed., ‘Schaltstelle’: Neue deutsche Lyrik im Dialog (Amsterdam: Rodopi, 2007). 

A full list is available on Karen's Faculty profile.

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