Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin

Oxford Berlin Partnership

”Happy in Berlin? English Writers in the City, the 1920s and Beyond” was the largest project to date developed by colleagues at the Centre for British Studies and Oxford. It is led by the Centre’s fellow Prof Stefano Evangelista (Trinity College, Oxford) and Prof Gesa Stedman.

During the summer of 2021, the three-part exhibition of the same title could be visited in Oxford and Berlin. Currently, a travelling exhibition has been developed, based on the part of the exhibition that was shown at Humboldt-Universität.

The project website documents how writers ranging from Christopher Isherwood to the less well-known Alix Strachey experienced Berlin, which places were important to them, and what they wrote about their time in Berlin.

The five-part podcast series which accompanied the project is available here.

The accompanying catalogue can be found here.

For more information, please contact Prof Stedman at


The new Oxford Berlin Project Funded by Einstein Stiftung Berlin

The Boundaries of Cosmopolis

‘Cosmopolis’ is a way of mapping the cosmopolitan ideal in the guise of a utopian city space, literally a ‘world city’, which transcends existing national and linguistic divisions. However, in the very act of reaching beyond the old boundaries of world cultures, the ideal cosmopolis inevitably creates new boundaries, that is, new transitional spaces caught between inclusion and exclusion, new categories of resistance, identities that do not fit. ‘The Boundaries of Cosmopolis’ examines how literature influences and transmits ideas of world citizenship and of the world city. In doing so, it undertakes a critical examination of the concept of cosmopolitanism in relation to literature. Its main focus is on Berlin and London as world cities during the period between 1870 and the 1930s.


How does literature shape ideas of world citizenship and of the world city? And, conversely, how does the actual, embodied space of cosmopolis affect literature: that is, how do the cultural and social geographies of the world city shape writing and reading practices, and how do they affect the international circulation of literature? What is the relationship between the world city and world literature? What are the challenges of mapping cosmopolis as a literary space?


In seeking to answer these questions, the project aims to:


  • Generate a critical and interdisciplinary understanding of cosmopolitanism and world literature, and investigate the complex relationship between these two concepts
  • Investigate the concept of boundaries in order to foster our understanding of how literary networks operate within the world city and world literature
  • Examine the literary traffic and mobility between London and Berlin in the period from the 1870s to the 1930s
  • Examine the impact of gender on international literary exchanges by paying particular attention to the role of women as international mediators


‘The Boundaries of Cosmopolis’ is supported by a BUA Einstein Visiting Fellowship, held in association with the Centre for British Studies, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin. It forms part of the Oxford Berlin Research Partnership, which fosters the links between universities and cultural institutions in the two cities.



‘The Boundaries of Cosmopolis’ aims to support the independent research of its project team and create academic collaborations with local and international partners. To this purpose, the project will comprise yearly workshops involving guest speakers and researchers at various career stages. It is envisaged that the project will also host the 2026 summer session of the Harvard Institute for World Literature.


Project Team

‘The Boundaries of Cosmopolis’ is a collaboration between Einstein Visiting Fellow, Professor Stefano Evangelista (Oxford) and Professor Gesa Stedman (Berlin). In its initial phase, the project is seeking to recruit a doctoral student and a postdoctoral researcher, who will conduct their own independent research within the framework of the project. It is envisaged that the doctoral student’s research focus will be on periodicals as a medium of translation and cultural exchange. The successful candidates will be based at the Centre for British Studies, where they will work closely with the project team. They will take an active part in organising workshops, research activities and the 2026 summer session of the Harvard Institute for World Literature. They will have access to travel grants in order to carry out archival work and disseminate the project’s findings.


The Centre for British Studies is an interdisciplinary and international teaching and research centre at Humboldt Universität. It is located close to the main buildings of the university and the Staatsbibliothek, in the heart of Berlin.



Lectures, Events, Meetings and Future Projects

The Centre has been strongly involved in the Oxford-Berlin Partnership from the start and continues to support it with a number of events and projects.

Currently, we are preparing our Lange Nacht der Wissenschaften Project which will show the travelling exhibition “Happy in Berlin? English Writers in the City, the 1920s and Beyond” at the Lichthof (atrium) in the main building Unter den Linden. The event will take place on 17 June 2023 and will include a writer’s talk and curators’ tours.

A smaller project on translating silences in poetry will take place in Oxford in June and in Berlin in September, organised together with Prof Kate McLoughlin, Harris Manchester College.

Prof Miles Taylor is setting up an early-career focused seminar series on medical humanities, with the Charité and Oxford partners. The first meeting of this new venture will take place in Oxford in May 2023.

Our highly popular annual Oxford-Berlin Lecture series continues, most recently with a lecture by Prof Rana Mitter (February 2023).

One of the Centre’s longest-standing Oxford-Berlin co-operations is run by our law professor, Gerhard Dannemann:

The Oxford University Comparative Law Forum promotes the study and discussion of legal issues from a comparative perspective by taking full advantage of the benefits of online publication as a fast, cheap and widely accessible means for publishing serious academic writing. It was founded by Gerhard Dannemann in the year 2000 when he was still teaching at the University of Oxford. He remained general editor of OUCLF when he took up a professorship at the Centre for British Studies in 2003.  He is presently supported by Dr Sam McIntosh, Lecturer in Law at the Centre, as Assistant Editor, and Leo Kämpfe, student assistant at the Centre, as HTML editor. With continuing support from Oxford's Law Faculty, including several co-editors, OUCLF is an example of longstanding and ongoing cooperation between Humboldt Universität and the University of Oxford.


Past Events


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