Dr Seán Allan studied at Emmanuel College, Cambridge and at the Humboldt Universität in what was then East Berlin. Before taking up his first post at the University of Reading, he spent a number of months as a researcher at the Freie Universität in Berlin funded by a DAAD Grant for Young Academics. He joined the the University of Warwick in 2001. In 2010, he and Prof Ricarda Schmidt (Exeter) were awarded a grant of £362,000 by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) for a 3-year project entitled 'Kleist, Education and Violence. The Transformation of Ethics and Aesthetics'. His work in this area also formed the basis of an individual impact case study for REF2014. In the autumn of 2011 he was visiting scholar at Smith College and the DEFA library at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst funded by a grant from the DEFA-Stiftung. From January 2016 he will be funded by a year-long Research Fellowship from the Leverhulme Trust to support his work on a new project entitled 'Screening Art. Modernist Aesthetics and the Socialist Imaginary in East German Cinema'.
In 2007 he received a Warwick Award for Teaching Excellence, and this was followed in 2009 by the award of a National Teaching Fellowship from the Higher Education Academy. As a member of the government's A Level Content Advisory Board (ALCAB) he has been actively involved in the re-design of the new qualification. He has acted as external examiner at the universities of Liverpool, Reading, and St Andrews and was head of German Studies at Warwick during the initial phase in which the individual language departments were amalgamated into the current School of Modern Languages.
His research falls into two main areas. The first of these embraces the transnational dimension of post-war socialist cinema. He was recently awarded a 12-month Research Fellowship from the Leverhulme Trust to support his work on his latest book project 'Screening Art. Modernism and the Socialist Imaginary in East German Cinema' – a project which investigates questions of intermediality and which spans not only film, but also literature, music, and the visual arts in post-war cinema. This project grew out of his long-standing interest in DEFA and, in particular, the desire to integrate the study of East German Cinema into contemporary approaches to film studies. His latest work in this area is reflected in his essay ‘'Transnational Stardom. DEFA's Management of Dean Reed' that will be published in the autumn of 2016 in a major new collection of essays he has co-edited entitled Re-Imagining DEFA. East German Cinema in its National and Transnational Contexts. Together with colleagues from the USA, he has co-convened a series of 5 panels at the GSA on 'DEFA and Amerika' (2104, Kansas City) and a 3-day GSA seminar series on 'East German Film and TV in its Global Context' (2015, Washington DC).
His other main research interest is in the culture of the European Enlightenment and, in particular, inter-disciplinary approaches that explore the mediation of music and the visual arts in both fictional and non-fictional discourses. Together with Professor Ricarda Schmidt (University of Exeter), he co-directed a three-year project on Heinrich von Kleist supported by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), entitled “Kleist, Education and Violence. The Transformation of Ethics and Aesthetics” . This project has led to two substantial outputs: the first was a volume of essays specifically on the theme of literature and violence published under the title Konstruktive und destruktive Funktionen von Gewalt im Werk Heinrich von Kleists, ed. Ricarda Schmidt, Seán Allan and Steven Howe (2012); the second was a jointly authored monograph by the same team Unverhoffte Wirkungen. Erziehung und Gewalt im Werk Heinrich von Kleists (2014). His interest in the nexus of education and violence and its transcultural mediation is also reflected in a special number of German Life and Letters (co-edited with Elystan Griffiths) entitled Heinrich von Kleist. Performance and Performativity (2011). There he explores the ways the radical politics of the late 1960s and student movement are viewed through film adaptions of Kleist's literary works including Volker Schlöndorff's Kohlhaas – Der Rebell (1968) and Hans-Jürgen Syberberg's San Domingo (1970).
His interest in performance and performativity is also complemented by a long-standing interest in translation and translation studies. He has worked together with a range of theatres (including the Royal National Theatre, London) on producing translations of both new and classical works of German drama.
Teaching and supervision
- GE 109 Aspects of German Culture in the Age of Enlightenment
- GE 207 Aspects of German Culture in the Age of Revolution
- GE 412 The Writer and Imperial Germany
- GE 429 Berlin. Society, Culture and Politics from 1900 to the Present-day
- GE401 Modern German Language III
- EN 946 German Romanticism
- FR922 The Lure of Italy within the faculty's MA in Pan-Romanticisms
- HI978 Core course MA in History and Film
- I have supervised a range of MA dissertations including topics on Monika Maron, Berlin Architecture, and Representations of the Body in Post-war Cinema.
I have supervised a range of MA dissertations and co-supervised PhD projects on Gender Relations in GDR Cinema of the 1970s and 1980 and The Standing of the German Cinema in Great Britain after 1945. Both of these PhD projects resulted in published monographs. I have recently completed the supervision of a PhD on 'Montage Aesthetics: Narrative, Adaptation, and Urban Modernity in Alfred Döblin's Berlin Alexanderplatz' and one on Bodies in crisis: staging the Wende.
I am curently supervising a project on:
- On leave for the academic year 2015/16
- ‘Transnational Stardom. DEFA’s Management of Dean Reed’, in: Re-imagining DEFA. East German Cinema in its National and Transnational Context, ed. Seán Allan and Sebastian Heiduschke (Oxford: Berghahn, forthcoming 2016)
- Unverhoffte Wirkungen. Erziehung und Gewalt im Werk Heinrich von Kleists, co-authored with Ricarda Schmidt and Steven Howe (Würzburg: Königshausen & Neumann, 2014)
- Konstruktive und destruktive Funktionen von Gewalt im Werk Heinrich von Kleists, co-edited with Ricarda Schmidt and Steven Howe (Würzburg: Königshausen & Neumann, 2012).
- DEFA. East German Cinema 1946-92, co-edited with John Sandford (Oxford: Berghahn, 1999)
- ‘Kosmopolitische Fiktionen. DEFA und der Globalisierungsprozess der europäischen Aufklärung’, in: Grenzen und Grenzüberschreitungen. Transnationale Filmbeziehungen der DEFA vor und nach dem Mauerbau, ed. Skyler Arndt-Briggs, Barton Byg, Andy Raeder, Evan Torner, and Michael Edel (Wiesbaden: Springer Vs Verlag: 2013), pp. 45-60
- ‘Representations of Art and the Artist in East German Cinema. DEFA’s ‘Künstlerfilme’, in: DEFA at the Crossroads of East German and International Film Culture. A Companion, ed. Marc Silberman and Henning Wrage (Berlin: de Gruyter, 2014), pp. 87-105
- Heinrich von Kleist. Performance and Perfomativity (co-edited with Elystan Griffiths), German Life and Letters (Special Number), 64 (2011).
- “Sag’, wie soll man Stalin danken?” Kurt Maetzig’s Ehe im Schatten (1947), Roman einer jungen Ehe (1952) and the cultural politics of post-war Germany, German Life and Letters (64/2 (2011), 255-71.
- "Post-unification German-Jewish Relations and the Discourse of Victimhood in Dani Levy’s films" in Screening War. Perspectives on German Suffering, ed. Paul Cooke and Marc Silberman (Rochester NY: Camden House, 2010), pp. 251-66
- "Projections of History. East German Film-Makers and the Berlin Wall", in Divided But Not Disconnected. German Experiences in the Cold War, ed. Tobias Hochscherf, Christoph Laucht, and Andrew Plowman (Oxford: Berghahn, 2010), pp.119-33
- ‘Good Bye, Lenin! (2003)’, in: The Cinema of Germany [24 Frames series], ed. Joseph Garncarz and Annemone Ligensa (New York: Wallflower, 2012), pp. 226-35
- The Stories of Heinrich von Kleist. Fictions of Security (Rochester NY: Camden House, 2001)
- The Plays of Heinrich von Kleist. Ideals and Illusions (Cambridge: CUP, 1996)
- National Teaching Fellow
- Fellow of the Higher Education Academy
- Panel member of A Level Content Advisory Board (ALCAB)
- Member of AHRC Peer Review College
- BA; MA (Cambridge)
- M.Phil (Cambridge)
- PhD (Cambridge)
Feedback and Student Advice
Autumn/Spring/Summer Terms 2015
I am on study leave this academic year; but I can be contacted via my usual e-mail address.
GE 109 Aspects of German Culture in the Age of Enlightenment
GE 207 Aspects of German Culture in the Age of Revolution
GE 412 The Writer and Imperial Germany
GE 429 Berlin. Society, Culture and Politics from 1900 to the Present-day
GE401 Modern German Language III
EN 946 German Romanticism
FR922 The Lure of Italy within the faculty's MA in Pan-Romanticisms
HI978 Core course MA in History and Film