Skip navigation to content

Dr Tom Smith, Lecturer

Dr Tom Smith‌Contact Details 
Phone: +44 (0) 1334 462998
Office: Buchanan 106

Full research profile

Module surgery hours:
Thursday 10-12

Research and Teaching

I started in St Andrews in 2017 as Lecturer in German, having previously taught at Newcastle University, University College London, and Worcester College and Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford. My research interests focus on post-war and contemporary German culture, with an emphasis on gender and queer studies; the culture of East Germany; literature, film and television; and the importance of classical and popular music in German culture.

My current project explores the significance of emotions in post-1990 depictions of the German electronic music scene. German techno achieved international fame in the 1990s, and draws tourists to Germany in ever increasing numbers. Techno in Germany is most commonly associated with euphoria and with a productive repurposing of abandoned spaces that has united East and West. Yet this image masks the effects of commercialisation, globalisation and economic instability. Writers and filmmakers are fascinated by the negative emotions, detachment and anxieties that unsettle characters’ identities and the narratives of their literature and films. My project explores these negative emotions and the disruption associated with techno in film and literature. Based around literary representations of the techno scene, my approach combines musical analysis of techno mixes, literary close readings and queer affect theories.

I received my PhD in 2016 from University College London for a thesis on masculinities and military service in the German Democratic Republic. I am currently reworking this material as a monograph, which looks at previously neglected sources across literature, film and television and draws on research into military socialisation in anthropology and sociology as well as film and literary studies. My work advances theoretical debates around screen violence, vulnerability, shame and emotions, and the aesthetics of retro. It has significant implications for research into military masculinities, and suggests that even cynical relationships with institutions act to shape identities in ways that have acute relevance amidst discussions of apathy and detachment in contemporary politics.

This year my teaching will focus on literature and critical and cultural theory in a German and comparative context at undergraduate and Master’s level, as well as German language at sub-honours and honours level. I welcome enquiries about undergraduate dissertations or postgraduate work on any of my areas of expertise, and especially contemporary literature, East Germany, gender or queer studies, German film, and critical theory.