Gabriele Rippl

Literatures in English, Bern
Fellowship: 01.02.–31.07.2017



Gabriele Rippl works on Literatures in English, intermediality, ekphrasis, visuality, and life-writing in the Department of English of the University of Bern (Switzerland). She completed her PhD on early modern Englishwomen’s autobiographies at the University of Konstanz in 1995, which was published in 1998 (»Lebenstexte. Literarische Selbststilisierungen englischer Frauen in der frühen Neuzeit«). Her second book, »Beschreibungskunst« (2005), investigated the intermedial poetics of Anglo-American icontexts (1880–2000). Before accepting the chair of »Literatures in English« at the University of Bern, she worked at the Universities of Konstanz, Tübingen, Bielefeld, and Göttingen and held fellowships in the UK, Canada, and Germany. She is the editor of the »Handbook of Intermediality« (2015), co-editor of »Anglia. Journal of English Philology,« the »Anglia Book Series,« as well as the series »Handbooks of English« and »American Studies: Text and Theory.« She now engages in two major research studies, one on postcolonial ekphrasis and another one in intermedial and transcultural life writing.


Fields of Research

  • Intermediality (text-picture relationships, esp. ekphrasis & evidence, photography, graphic novels)
  • Postcolonial/transcultural ekphrasis
  • Autobiography and life writing
  • Cultural studies/cultural sustainability
  • Reception/construction of classical antiquity in Anglophone literature
  • Media theory and semiotics
  • History and anthropology of media
  • Literature and anthropology
  • Literature and religion
  • Anglophone writers of the 17th, 19th, 20th and 21st centuries


Project outline

Anglophone Life Writing Today: Transcultural Figurations – Intermedial Constellations


As part of Morphomata’s research group on »Competing Perspectives: Figures of Image Control« and »Closed and Open Forms of Description« (2016–2018), Gabriele Rippl’s project explores contemporary anglophone ›life writing‹ from different interdisciplinary, transcultural, and (inter-)medial perspectives, thus bridging postcolonial/transcultural studies, life writing research, as well as intermediality studies, i.e. fields of research with overlapping interests that are not usually closely linked. I will focus on the work of internationally renowned writers such as Teju Cole, Aleksandar Hemon, Jamaica Kincaid, Caryl Phillips, Edward Said, and Binyavanga Wainaina. Born in the Caribbean, Europe, the Middle East, and Africa, these writers now all live at least part-time in the USA (in the case of Edward Said, he lived in the USA until his death in 2003). Their life writing is highly relevant today, at a time of enhanced mobility. At the International Morphomata Research Center, the texts’ transcultural aesthetic formations and intermedial configurations will be discussed within an interdisciplinary and comparative frame. Leaving behind western post-Enlightenment uniform and autonomous concepts of the self and traditional autobiographical modes of writing this self, the project considers how transcultural lives characterized by mobility, migration, and integration are written today. The intermedial quality of the texts – they either include photographs or employ other visual strategies such as ekphrasis – triggers questions regarding notions of identity, representation, and mediality/materiality which are negotiated against the background of today’s global mediascapes.


Publications (Selection)

  • Gabriele Rippl, Beschreibungs-Kunst. Zur intermedialen Poetik angloamerikanischer Ikon-Texte (1880–2000), Munich: Fink, 2005.
  • Gabriele Rippl, Lebenstexte. Literarische Selbststilisierungen englischer Frauen in der frühen Neuzeit, Munich: Fink, 1998.
  • Gabriele Rippl, ed., Handbook of Intermediality, DeGruyter Handbook Series: Handbooks of English and American Studies: Text and Theory, Berlin/Boston: DeGruyter, 2015 (also available as ebook).
  • Gabriele Rippl, together with Simone Winko, eds., Metzler Handbuch Kanon und Wertung, Stuttgart-Weimar: Metzler, 2013 (also available as ebook).
  • Gabriele Rippl, together with Tiina Kirss / Philipp Schweighauser / Therese Steffen / Margit Sutrop, eds., Haunted Narratives: Life Writing in an Age of Trauma, Toronto: Toronto UP, 2013 (also available in ebook).
  • Gabriele Rippl, together with Christian Emden, eds., Imagescapes: Studies in Intermediality, Oxford/Bern: Peter Lang, 2010. (Cultural History & Literary Imagination-Series).
  • Gabriele Rippl, together with Michael C. Frank, eds., Arbeit am Gedächtnis, Munich: Fink, 2007.
  • Gabriele Rippl, together Torsten Hoffmann, eds., Bilder. Ein (neues) Leitmedium?, Göttingen: Wallstein, 2006.
  • Gabriele Rippl, ed., special issue Towards a New Monumentalism? Cultural and Aesthetic Perspectives Beyond Postmodernism, Anglia 131, vol. 2 + 3 (2013).
  • Gabriele Rippl, together with Birgit Neumann, eds., special issue Anglophone World Literatures, Anglia 135, vol. 1 (2017).