Doctoral Program Literature (30 ECTS)

PhD Program in English and American Literary Studies

The English Department has offered a PhD Program in English and American Literary Studies since 2011. Students in this program complete a monograph dissertation and earn 30 ECTS points through a combination of curricular activities including doctoral colloquia, workshops, international conferences, scholarly publications, organization of colloquia, and/or courses in university pedagogy or professional skills.

Upcoming Events 2018

An overview of all events will be made available soon.

Workshop: Failure. 23-24 March 2018


Friday, 23rd March, 2018, PLH-E-5
16:15-18:00 (followed by an apéro): “Failure: Academic Pressures and Challenges” Input and Discussion. Ana Sobral

Saturday, 24th March, 2018, PLH-E-5
10:00-16:00 (incl. lunch break): “Failure, Improvisation and Creativity” Input and Activities. Daniela Landert

Evening (optional): Improv-Theater “Die Enthüllung”, Langkult (Langstr. 113a) 20:00

This writing workshop will address the everyday challenges and difficulties of academic research and writing. The topic of 'failure' will be approached from a constructive perspective, foregrounding the opportunities and alternative avenues opened up precisely by moments of writer's block, 'mistakes' or 'wrong ideas' we all face in the long process of writing a dissertation, book or article. Using the framework and techniques borrowed from improvisation theatre, we will explore practical solutions to the fear and the experience of 'failure'. This will therefore be a workshop that fosters openness, creativity and play.

Please sign up for/book this workshop by March 15 as places are limited (

Book Launch: Ida Lupino - die zwei Seiten der Kamera, March 26, 19:00


Buchvernissage: Ida Lupino - die zwei Seiten der Kamera

Ida Lupino, Jahrgang 1918, ist einer der großen Stars des klassischen Hollywood. Nach ihren Anfängen im britischen Kino der 1930er Jahre ist ihr der Sprung nach Amerika gelungen, und dort war sie bis in die 1970er Jahre als Schauspielerin erfolgreich. Doch bis heute ist nur wenigen bekannt, dass sie auch hinter der Kamera ein eigenständiges Werk geschaffen hat. Als unabhängige Regisseurin und Produzentin widmete sie sich furchtlos brisanten Stoffen und begab sich in einen kritischen Dialog mit dem klassischen Hollywood und dem Amerika der 1950er Jahre. Als eine von ganz wenigen Frauen wechselte sie gekonnt zwischen den beiden Seiten der Kamera – stets mit einer großen Sensibilität für die vielschichtigen Möglichkeiten des Mediums und immer mit einem so eigenen wie auch eigenwilligen Blick. Gleichzeitig vollzog Ida Lupino früh und erfolgreich den Schritt vom big screen der Kinos zum small screen des Fernsehens und war in diesem neuen Medium über Dekaden sowohl als Regisseurin wie auch als Schauspielerin äußerst produktiv. Anlässlich ihres 100. Geburtstags ist es nun an der Zeit, Ida Lupinos künstlerisches Schaffen mit neuem Blick zu betrachten, gerade auch weil ihre subtile Gesellschaftskritik überraschend aktuell ist.
Mit Beiträgen von Johannes Binotto, Elisabeth Bronfen, Stella Castelli, Lukas Foerster, Morgane Ghilardi, Fabienne Liptay, Ivo Ritzer, Hannah Schoch, Barbara Straumann und Murièle Weber.

Ab 19:00 im Cabaret Voltaire.

Roundtable mit Elisabeth Bronfen, Johannes Binotto, Fabienne Liptay, Hannah Schoch.

Screening NO 5 CHECKED OUT (1956, 30min) mit EInführung von Ivo Ritzer. Anschliessender Apero & Buchverkauf.


Workshop: Persona Studies, 11 May 2018


Prof Mandy Merck as well as Prof David P Marshall will be in Zurich for a workshop focusing on different notions of persona studies, celebrity cultures and “The Celebrity Persona Pandemic”. This workshop includes further talks by Prof Elisabeth Bronfen and Dr Sandra Mayer.

PhD students are encouraged to make use of this unique opportunity.

Workshop: Hermoine Lee, 31 May - 1 June 2018


British Biographer and master of Life Writing, Dame Hermoine Lee, whose work includes among others biographies of Virginia Woolf, Edith Wharton as well as Willa Cather, will be present for a doctoral workshop on Life Writing. Discussing Life Writing and the art of crafting a biography from the particular standpoint of authorship, this workshop is designed to offer unique insights, in conversation with Dame Hermoine Lee who will respond to questions raised in the ensuing discussions.

Workshop: Genres und medienübergreifende Perspektiven, 14-15 June 2018


Dieser Workshop ist Teil des DFG-Netzwerks “Genres und Media: Perspektiven auf Strukturen, Diskurse und Kulturen medialer Genre-Konzepte” und widmet sich folgenden Forschungsfragen: Wie werden Genres über mediale Plattformen hinaus prozessiert? Welche Performanzen greifen bei transmedialen Adaptionen von Genres? Welche Rolle spielen medienspezifische Differenzen in der Frage nach Genre-Markierungen? Inwiefern kann von der Existenz intermedialer Konstellationen ausgegangen werden, durch die Genres sich invariant positionieren? Mit Vorträgen von Elisabeth Bronfen und Fabienne Liptay und Diskussionsbeiträgen der Netzwerkmitglieder.  

Workshop: Cultural Memory, (P)Remediation and the 'Afterlives' of Literature, 12-13 October 2018


► Evening lecture on “The Afterlives of Odysseus,” Friday, October 12th, 2018: 16:15–18:15 (PLH-1-102)


In her evening lecture, Prof. Erll will give us a glimpse of her ongoing research into Odyssean Travels: A Literary History of Cultural Memory (a project for which she was awarded an opus magnum grant by the Volkswagenstiftung). The lecture will address the multifarious ways in which Homer’s Odyssey has travelled through time and space, and how it reverberates in today’s memory cultures, not least in the current “refugee crisis.” Discussing instances of “Odyssean memory” from the Middle Ages to the present day, Prof. Erll will demonstrate what memory studies can bring to the study of literary history – and vice versa.


► Workshop on “Cultural Memory, (P)Remediation and the ‘Afterlives’ of Literature,” Saturday, October 13th, 2018: 9:30–13:00 (PLH-1-102)


On the morning after the lecture, students and staff from the English Department will have the chance to join an informal round table discussion of three key concepts in the field of cultural memory studies. Originally introduced for the purposes of new media scholarship, the twin concepts of “remediation” and “premediation” have been made more widely applicable by Astrid Erll in her seminal work on the relation between media and cultural memory. Using a recent essay by the author as our starting point, we will explore the potential of these concepts for both Astrid Erll’s and our own current research. Participants are cordially invited to raise questions or comment on theoretical issues or to make statements drawing on their own case studies. In the second half of the workshop, we will move the discussion on to the notion of the “cultural afterlife,” as it has been theorized by Ann Rigney. Again, we will base our discussion on a short theoretical essay.

(organized by Michael C. Frank and Stella Castelli)

Workshop: Feminist Economics and the Study of Literature, 31 October -1 November 2018



Prof Joanna Rostek (Universität Giessen) will be in Zurich and give a guest lecture as well as a workshop addressing & discussing Feminist Economics and the Study of Literature.


  • Guest Lecture, Wednesday October 31st 2018, 14:00 - 15:45, PLH-1-105:

Women’s Right to Paid Work: Priscilla Wakefield’s Reflections on the Present Condition of the Female Sex (1798)


  • Workshop, Thursday November 1st 2018:, 18:15 - 20:00, PLH-1-105:

Feminist Economics and the Study of Literature





An overview and description of past events can be found here.


Each student’s dissertation project will be supervised by a committee consisting of at least two professors or Privatdozenten, the main supervisor being a professor or Privatdozent or Privatdozentin in the English Department; one of the supervisors has to be a faculty member of the Faculty of Arts at the University of Zurich. Normally the dissertation topic will correspond to one or more of the following sub-fields, which represent the primary areas of expertise of the English Literature faculty:

• Shakespeare and Early Modern to 1660

• Late Seventeenth and Early Eighteenth Century

• Romanticism and Nineteenth Century

• Modernism and Postmodernism

• (Dis)continuities: Early Modern / Postmodern

• Visuality

• Print Culture and the Study of the Book

• American Studies

• World Literatures in English

Travel grants

Students of the doctoral program may apply for travel grants to assist with travel to relevant conferences or research collections. The next deadline for handing in an application is: 15 April 2018
The travel grant policy and application form can be downloaded here:

Travel Grant Policy and Application Form (DOCX, 47 KB)

Enrolment, guidelines and accreditation

A step-by-step overview of the enrolment procedure can be downloaded here:

Enrolment_PhD_2016.pdf (PDF, 93 KB)

You can find a pdf-document with guidelines and a form concerning accreditation of ECTS (i.e. credit points) as well as a general study guide (Wegleitung) in the downloads section at:

General guidelines and requirements for the doctoral studies in English can be found here.

The "Doktoratsordnungen der Philosophischen Fakultät der Universität Zürich" (including the one for the doctoral program "English and American Literary Studies" can be found here.

All the forms such as the "Merkblatt zu den Doktoratsprogrammen", the "Formular Aufnahme ins Doktoratsprogramm" and  finally, the "Doktoratsvereinbarung" are to be found here.

Program Director

Prof. Dr. Elisabeth Bronfen
Telephone: +41 44 634 36 85
Office: PET 206

Program Co-ordinator

Stella Castelli, MA
Telephone: +41 44 634 36 26
Office: PET 5a

Doctoral Candidates

An overview of all doctoral candidates and their projects can be found in the research section.