Short CV/Education and training

  • 1969
    BA in German and Spanish from the National University of Ireland

  • 1971
    M. A. in German from the National University of Ireland

  • 1975 – 1989
    Lecturer of German at the University of Reading, UK

  • 1976
    PhD in German philology (minor subjects: Spanish, English) from the University of Basel, Switzerland

  • 1986 – 1987
    Fellowship from the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation (renewed 1998)

  • 1988
    Founder and president: Women in German Studies in the UK (WIGS)

  • Since 1989
    Faculty lecturer in German at Oxford University; Fellow, Exeter College, UK

  • Since 1999
    Professor of German Literature at the University of Oxford, UK

  • 1997 – 1999
    British Academy reader in the humanities

  • 2005 – 2005
    Fellow at the Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin – Institute for Advanced Study

  • 2007
    Mellon Distinguished Visiting Professor at the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign, USA

  • 2010 – 2014
    President of the Alexander von Humboldt Club of the United Kingdom

  • 2012
    Elected a Fellow of the British Academy

Selected publications

  • Watanabe-O Kelly, H.: Melancholie und die melancholische Landschaft. Ein Beitrag zur Geistesgeschichte des 17. Jahrhunderts, Berne: Francke Verlag 1978.

  • Watanabe-O Kelly, H.: Triumphal Shews. Tournaments at German-Speaking Courts in their European Context 1560-1730, Berlin: Gebr. Mann Verlag 1992.

  • Watanabe-O Kelly, H. (ed.): The Cambridge History of German Literature, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press 1997.

  • Watanabe-O Kelly, H., Béhar, P. (eds.): Spectaculum Europaeum. Theatre and Spectacle in Europe, Histoire du Spectacle en Europe (1580-1750), Wiesbaden: Otto Harrassowitz 1999.

  • Watanabe-O Kelly, H., Simon, A.: Festivals and Ceremonies. A Bibliography of Works relating to Court, Civic and Religious Festivals in Europe 1500-1800. London: Cassell 2000.

  • Watanabe-O Kelly, H.: Court Culture in Dresden from Renaissance to Baroque. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan 2002.

  • Watanabe-O Kelly, H., Mulryne, J.R., Shewring, M. (eds.): Europa Triumphans. Court and Civic Festivals in Early Modern Europe, 2 vols. London: Ashgate 2004.

  • Watanabe-O Kelly, H., Colvin, S. (eds.): Women and Death: Warlike Women in the German Literary and Cultural Imagination since 1500, Rochester, NY: Camden House, 2009.

  • Watanabe-O Kelly, H.: Beauty or Beast? The Woman Warrior in the German Imagination from the Renaissance to the Present, Oxford: OUP 2010.

Selected projects

  • Project Leader of the Hera-funded international project "Marrying Cultures: Queens Consort and European Identities 1500 – 1800." 2013 – 2016

  • Director (PI) of a project to produce a large database of descriptions of celebrations from the early modern period in collaboration with several libraries in Europe and the USA. The first year of funding has been approved, 2010 – 2014

  • Director (PI) of a Major Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) research project with the title: Representations of women and death in German literature, art and media 1500 to the present, 2005 – 2008

  • Director (PI), together with Professor J.R. Mulryne (University of Warwick), of a Major Arts and Humanities Research Board (AHRB) research project with the title: Europa Triumphans, 1998

Membership in scientific bodies/juries

  • Chair of the Advisory Board of the Herzog August Bibliothek, Wolfenbuettel, Germany, 2014 – 2018

  • Member of the scientific committee of the Institute of Advanced Study ("Wissenschaftskolleg") Berlin, 2010 – 2016

  • Member of the scientific committee, Einstein Foundation Berlin, Germany, 2010 – 2016

  • Member of the expert committee for the German University Excellence Inititiave, 2006 – 2017

  • Member of the scientific committee, Einstein Foundation Berlin, Germany, 2010

  • Member of the expert committee for the German university Excellence Initiative, 2006 – 2013

  • Member of a reviewer panel for the Excellence Initiative, 2006

  • Chairperson of the panel for German, Scandinavian and Dutch studies in the British RAE (Research Assessment Exercise), 2005 – 2008

  • Member of the Major Arts and Humanities Research Board (AHRB) panel for postgraduate awards, 2002 – 2004

  • Member of the advisory board for the Herzog August Library in Wolfenbüttel, Germany, 2001 – 2005

  • Member of the steering committee of the European Science Foundation Network on Theatre Iconography, 1997 – pres.

  • Member of the Baroque committee (Consultative Committee on Seventeenth Century Studies), Herzog August Library, Wolfenbüttel, 1996 – 2004

  • Member of the Panel for German, Scandinavian and Dutch studies in the British RAE (Research Assessment Exercise), 1995 – 1996 and 1999 – 2001


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  1. Women's Roles in Courts and Culture

    Professor Helen Watanabe-O'Kelly's studies have shown the critical role of women in shaping the culture of Europe's courts from the 16th century onwards, although German literature of the period often frames women as disruptive or dangerous.