My key areas of research are modern German literature and thought; modern European drama and dramatic theory, epic theatre; Bertolt Brecht; theories of post/modernity and post/modernism; critical theory and aesthetics.
I am co-investigator on a major AHRC project 'Brecht into English' (2013-18), and have co-edited/translated 2 volumes of Brecht's theoretical writings which appeared in 2015: a thoroughly revised and expanded edition of John Willett's Brecht on Theatre, and a new volume on Brecht on Performance, for which I have produced a new edition and revised co-translation of the Messingkauf texts. I have also co-edited a special number of German Life and Letters (April 2016) on Rethinking Brecht.
I was also a co-organiser of the International Brecht Symposium held at the University of Oxford in June 2016, the first time it had taken place in the UK.
My other recent publications are co-edited volumes on Post-dramatic Theatre and the Political (2013) and Aesthetics and Modernity from Schiller to the Frankfurt School (2012), both based on large international symposia I co-organised.
My research over the past 35 years has been very wide ranging. My doctoral thesis and first published book The Problem of Action in modern European Drama (1981) investigated the work of Schiller, Buechner, Ibsen and Chekhov in relation to dramatic theory from Aristotle to Brecht and modern social theory. I have published various articles and two books on Bertolt Brecht - Bertolt Brecht: Centenary Essays (co-edited with R. Livingstone; 1997), and Bertolt Brecht and Critical Theory (1997, 1998), which deals with his 'Threepenny' project 1928-1931; co-edited and translated a new selection of his writings - Brecht on Art and Politics (with Tom Kuhn, 2003) - and produced a new edition and translation of Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny (2007). My publications also include numerous articles and chapters on critical theory and sociological aesthetics (eg Adorno, Althusser , Barthes, Brecht, Jameson, Kracauer, Lukacs, Mukarovsky, Szondi) and modern German and European literature, and edited volumes on Theorising Modernism (1993) and Counter-cultures in Germany and Central Europe: from Sturm und Drang to Baader-Meinhof (with M. Oergel, 2003).
I have also done a considerable amount of PhD supervision, having supervised 14 PhDs to completion in both German Studies and Critical Theory in the following areas:
- Volkskultur. Aspekte einer kulturtheoretischen Debatte 1890-1939.
- Politics of Representation in Alexander Kluge, Heiner Mueller, and Elfriede Jelinek
- Aesthetics and Anaesthetics in Wolfgang Welsch
- Modernity in Late Weimar Republic Novels
- Siegfried Kracauer and Weimar Culture
- Walter Benjamin and Judaic Theology
- German Drama and the Rise of National Socialism 1919-32
- Towards a Theory of Detritus: Waste and Value in Consumer Society
- Critical Theory and the Language of Chaos Theory
- Critical Theory and the Philosophy of Humour
- Hermeneutics, Deconstruction, and the Problem of Realism
- Utopianism and Psychoanalytic Theory in the Frankfurt School
- Literary Theory and the Practice of Interpretation
- Theoretical Approaches to Colonial Literature
I am currently engaged in interdisciplinary work on a new model of reception theory, and modern/ist artistic discourses from Wordsworth to Brecht.
I am also a member of the Arts Faculty Modernism Research Group..