Celebrating 40 Years

Dr. Gisela Holfter


  • Senior Lecturer in German
  • Course Director: MA in Irish German Studies
  • Joint Director, Centre for Irish-German Studies, since 1997
  • Course Board, BA Joint Honours
  • Course Board, MA in English
  • Course Board, MA in Comparative Literature and Cultural Studies

Academic Background

  • MA (Washington University, St. Louis, MO, USA) 1992
  • PhD (Universität Köln, Köln, Germany) 1995
  • Assistant teacher at four schools, Belfast, Northern Ireland 1988/89
  • Teaching a wide variety of short and medium-term language courses at institutions in Cologne (Deutsche Welle, Fortbildungsakademie der Wirtschaft, Carl-Duisberg-Colleg) 1992-96
  • Part time Lecturer Universität Köln, Germany, Spring 1994 and 1995
  • Lektor, University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand 1995
  • Since 1996 at the University of Limerick. Starting as Assistant Lecturer in German, Department of Languages and Cultural Studies, University of Limerick, 1999 promoted to Lecturer in German, 2003 promoted to Senior Lecturer in German

Research Interests

  • German-Irish relations
  • German literature (19th century to contemporary writing)
  • Exile Studies

Teaching Interests

  • German literature 19th-21st century
  • Comparative & English Literature
  • Business German
  • German area studies
  • Intercultural relations, specifically German-Irish
  • Masterclasses for postgraduate students

Selected Awards

  • An Duais 2012 (German Ireland Fund award for outstanding contributions to Irish-German relations, for the introduction of the MA in Irish-German Studies)
  • Guest Researcher Leo Baeck Institute, London and Zentrum für Antisemitismusforschung, TU Berlin 2011-2012
  • DAAD-Research Award for Senior Academics 2011 (July-August, TU Berlin and Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Science)
  • Martin Miller and Hannah Norbert-Miller Fellowship in Exile Studies 2011(April-June, Institute of Germanic & Romance Studies, University of London School of Advanced Study)
  • Kuratoriumsaward 2010 Irish-German Chamber of Commerce (with Business German in Ireland Working Group)
  • Shortlisted for European Award for Languages with Projects in Business German in 2008
  • Irish Research Council for the Humanities and Social Sciences Research Fellow 2006/2007
  • Royal Irish Academy and Austrian Academy of Science exchange scheme, spring 2006
  • Writer-in-Residence, Heinrich Böll Cottage, Achill, summer 2006
  • Exiles in Ireland – German-speaking refugees in Ireland in the 30s and 40s, IRCHSS project grant, 2002-2004 (project leader, with H. Rasche)
  • Research Grant for Senior Academics, DAAD – German Academic Exchange Service, autumn 2000 & 2004
  • Intercultural competence for Irish exchange students in Germany, Royal Irish Academy, 2002- 2003 (project leader, with Dr C. O’Reilly and Prof A. Thomas, Regensburg)
  • Heinrich Böll Foundation PhD scholarship, 1993-1995


PhD Research Supervision

Claire O’Reilly, PhD (1997-2001), The Expatriate Life: A Study of German Expatriates and Their Spouses on Assignment in Ireland and the Development of Culture Training and Expatriate Support Based on Their Adjustment Experiences.
(first PhD in German in the University of Limerick; Dr O’Reilly then obtained a Junior Professorship for Intercultural Training at Technische Universität Chemnitz, Germany, for three years and is now Lecturer in German in UCC)

Thorsten M. Päplow, PhD “Heinrich Bölls ‘Irisches Tagebuch’”, Göteborgs Universitet (jointly supervised with Prof Edgar Platen, University of Göteborg, Sweden) (2004-2007)

Siobhan O’Connor, PhD “Policy and Public Opinion towards the German-speaking Exiles in Ireland” (2003-2009, spent one year on maternity leave)

Alice Mazurek, PhD (2008-2011) “Who drums through Grass’s Peeling the Onion – Grass’s The Tin Drum as the subtext of Peeling the Onion and a comparison of the national and international reception of the texts”, Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences scholarship holder (2010 -2011)

Also supervision of students of taught MAs in Comparative Literature, English and History


Current  PhD Students

Birte Schulz, PhD “Questions of identity for German-speaking exiles in Ireland”, IRCHSS scholarship holder, since 2004

Claudia Reese, PhD “Multicultural identity in contemporary Irish writing” (joint supervision with Dr Tina O’Toole, LCS), LCS scholarship holder, since 2007

Martti Steinke, PhD “German-speaking exiles in Northern Ireland”, IRCHSS scholarship holder, since 2009

Sara Eriksson, PhD “Tagebücher im Internet-Zeitalter “ (with Prof Elisabeth Wäghall-Nivre, University of Stockholm, Sweden as first supervisor), since 2012

Appointments as External Examiner

External Examiner at Trinity College Dublin, 2004/5 – 2006/7
External Examiner at Queen’s University Belfast, 2005/2006 – 2007/8

External Examiner for PhDs

NUI Galway, December 2005, 2010

University of Portsmouth, June 2006

Dublin City University, June 2009

Stockholm University, October 2011



  • Modern Language Association since 1995
  • Association of Third-level Teachers of German in Ireland since 1999
  • Business German in Ireland Working Group (BuGI), founder and chair, since 2001
  • Association for German Studies in Great Britain and Ireland since 2003
  • Internationale Vereinigung für Germanistik since 2006
  • Advisory Board University of Auckland Research Centre for Germanic Connections with New Zealand and the Pacific since 2009
  • Exilpen since 2012


Academic Publishing

  • ERIH Expert Committee 2006
  • Editorial Board German Monitor (Ropodi) since 2007
  • Series Editor Irish-German Studies (WVT) since 2007


Selected Publications of the last six years



Marx Engels Jahrbuch 2011 (focus on Friedrich Engels’ Geschichte Irlands’ (1869/1870) im Kontext der deutsch-irischen Beziehungen im 19. Jahrhundert), joint guest editor (with Jürgen Herres), Berlin: Akademie Verlag 2012


Heinrich Böll and Ireland, Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Publishing 2011, 200pp (2012 paperback edition)

(with G. Gallagher, M OhAodha), Irish-German perspectives on Etching, Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Publishing 2011

(sole editor) Heinrich Böll’s Irisches Tagebuch in Context, WVT: Trier 2010

(with Joachim Fischer) (eds), Creative InfluencesGerman-Irish Biographies Irish German Studies 4, Trier: WVT 2009, 197 pp.

(with Hans-Walter Schmidt-Hannisa) (eds), German-Irish Encounters – Irish German Studies 2, Trier: WVT 2007, 280 pp.

(sole editor) German-speaking exiles in Ireland 1933-45, German Monitor Series, Amsterdam/Atlanta: Rodopi 2006,  301 pp.

Articles in Books and Refereed Journals

Nationale Erinnerungskulturen im Vergleich, in: Franciszek Gruczu et al (eds), Akten des XII Internationalen Germanistenkongresses Warschau 2010, Band 9 (vol 9) , Frankfurt et al: Peter Lang 2012, pp. 235-240.

(with Jürgen Herres), Einleitung, in: Marx Engels Jahrbuch 2011, Berlin: Akademie Verlag 2012, pp. 7-11

Friedrich Engels im Kontext der deutschsprachigen Irlandrezeption im 19. Jahrhundert, in: Marx Engels Jahrbuch 2011, Berlin: Akademie Verlag 2012, pp. 28-48.

After the Irisches Tagebuch: Changes and continuities in the German image of Ireland 1961-2011, in: Joachim Fischer and Rolf Stehle (eds): Contemporary German-Irish cultural relations in a European Perspective: Reflections on cultural policy and practice (Irish-German Studies 7), Trier: WVT 2012, pp. 159-171.

(with Katrin Vogt and Hermann Rasche), Alighting in the Long Journey of Life – An ‘oral histories’ Migrationsprozesse untersuchen, in Unterricht Englisch, no 110, 2011, pp. 2-6.

Transitorische Identitäten – Anmerkungen zu Exil und Migration, in: Monika Unzeitig (ed): Grenzen überschreiten – transitorische Identitäten, Bremen: edition lumiére 2011, pp. 81-92.

Irish-German Art Relations, in  G. Gallagher, G. Holfter, M OhAodha, Irish-German perspectives on Etching, Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Publishing 2011, pp. 1-9.

(with G. Gallagher) Verbindungen – Conections: Gerhardt Gallagher and Gisela Holfter in Conversation: in  G. Gallagher, G. Holfter, M OhAodha, Irish-German perspectives on Etching, Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Publishing 2011, pp. 21-40.

Irish-German Literary and Cultural Connections as Context for Heinrich Böll’s Irisches Tagebuch in G. Holfter (ed), Heinrich Böll’s Irisches Tagebuch in Context, WVT: Trier 2010, pp 3-7.

(with H. Rasche), ‘John Hennig’ in: Dictionary of Irish Biographies, vol 4 G-J, edited by James McGuire and James Quinn, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press 2009, pp. 617-618.

(with H. Rasche), John Hennig (1911-1986) in: G. Holfter, J. Fischer (eds), Creative Influences – German-Irish Biographies Irish German Studies 4, Trier: WVT 2009, pp. 125-140.

Ein Fallbeispiel zur Rückkehrproblematik aus dem Exil – Ernst Lewy (1881-1966) in: A. Goodbody et al (eds): Dislocation and Reorientation, Amsterdam/New York: Rodopi: 2009, pp. 139-152.

(with C. O’Reilly), ‘Changes and developments in Irish-German relations since 1989, in: Niamh O’Mahoney, Claire O’Reilly (eds): Societies in Transition: Ireland, Germany and Irish-German Relations in Business and Society since 1989, Nomos: Baden-Baden 2009, pp. 169-184.

(with Hermann Rasche), Paul Gottfried Johannes Hennig, in: Biographisch-Bibliographisches Kirchenlexikon, Band 30, Herzberg: Traugott Bautz 2009, pp. 578-582.

Some facts and figures on German-speaking Exiles in Ireland 1933-45, in: Mathias Schulze et al, (eds) German Diasporic Experiences: Identity, Migration, and Loss. Waterloo, ON: Wilfrid Laurier University Press 2008, pp. 181-192.

„Und es ist nicht gut für einen Autor über einen Gegenstand zu schreiben, den er zu sehr mag in: Werner Jung, Jochen Schubert (eds): Ich sammle Augenblicke Heinrich Böll 1917-1985, Bielefeld: Aisthesis 2008, pp. 153-164.

(with Siobhan O’Connor and Birte Schulz) The experience of German-speaking refugees in Ireland 1933-1945, in: B. Faragó / M. Sullivan (eds): Facing the Other: Interdisciplinary Studies on Race, Gender and Social Justice in Ireland. Cambridge: Cambridge Scholars Press 2008, pp. 47-59.

(with Siobhan O’Connor and Birte Schulz) Resources relating to German-speaking Refugees in Ireland, in: Refugee Archives – Theory and Practice – Yearbook of the Research Centre for German and Austrian Exile Studies 2vol 9/2007 (published June 2008), pp. 41-55.

Akademiker im irischen Exil: Professor Ernst Lewy, in German Life and Letters 61/3, Juli 2008, pp. 361-385.

From bestseller to failure? Heinrich Böll’s Irisches Tagebuch (Irish Journal) to Irland und seine Kinder (Children of Eire), in: Christiane Schönfeld (ed): Processes of Transposition: German Literature and Film, Amsterdamer Beiträge zur neueren Germanistik, Amsterdam/Atlanta: Rodopi 2007, pp. 207-221.

Ein anderes Irisches Tagebuch aus den 50er Jahren – die Radiosendungen von Ernst Scheyer für den RIAS Berlin, in Gisela Holfter, Hans-Walter Schmidt-Hannisa (eds): Irish-German Encounters, Trier: WVT 2007, pp. 15-88.

(with P. Studer) Aspects of Swiss-Irish relations, in P. Studer, S. Egger (eds): From the Margins to the Centre – Irish Perspectives on Swiss Culture and Literature, Bern: Peter Lang 2007, pp. 15-30.

German-speaking Exiles 1933-1945 in Ireland – an Introduction and Overview, in: Gisela Holfter (ed) German-speaking exiles in Ireland 1933-45, German Monitor Series, Amsterdam/Atlanta: Rodopi September 2006, pp. 1-20.

Ernst Scheyer, in: Gisela Holfter (ed) German-speaking exiles in Ireland 1933-45, German Monitor Series, Amsterdam/Atlanta: Rodopi September 2006, pp. 149-170.


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