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Dr Tom Smith, Lecturer

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

Full research profile

Module surgery hours:
Thursdays 11am-12pm, or by appointment

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.

With Nicola Thomas, Rey Conquer and Richard McClelland, German Studies colleagues across the UK, I’ve been developing an online resource called Expanding the German Studies Curriculum. It features a bibliography of texts and films, and a blog with contributions from academics and students in German Studies. Please get in touch if you’d like to contribute something!

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.


Music, the GDR military and the GDR today in the works of Walter Flegel
Smith, T. A. 31 Aug 2018 The GDR Today: New Interdisciplinary Approaches to East German History, Memory and Culture. Ehrig, S., Thomas, M. & Zell, D. (eds.). Oxford: Peter Lang, (Studies in Modern German and Austrian Literature ; vol. 6)
Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Emotional ambivalence and the musical canon: Elfriede Jelinek's restaging of Schubert's songs in 'Winterreise' (2011)
Smith, T. A. Jul 2018 In : German Life and Letters. 71, 3, p. 331-352 22 p.
Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

A postcritical poetics? Transtemporal encounters in defunct Soviet barracks in works by Ulrike Almut Sandig and Clemens Meyer
Smith, T. A. 2018 In : Oxford German Studies. 47, 3, p. 313-328
Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

The archive and the closet: same-sex desire and military service in Stefan Wolter’s autobiographical writing
Smith, T. 2016 In : Oxford German Studies. 45, 2, p. 198-211 14 p.
Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Narrative and the body in uniform: East German military masculinities in Claus Dobberke’s Ein Katzensprung and Jürgen Fuchs’s Fassonschnitt
Smith, T. Jan 2015 In : Modern Language Review. 110, 1, p. 204-221 18 p.
Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

'Eine Befreiung aus einer Einengung': Helga Königsdorf’s Queer Protagonists, Shame and Self-Censorship in 'Ungelegener Befund' and 'Gleich neben Afrika'
Smith, T. 2013 In : German Life and Letters. 66, 2, p. 187-198. 12 p.
Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Körpersprache – ein in den Geisteswissenschaften wenig behandelter Aspekt: Doris Schöps liefert mit „Körperhaltungen und Rollenstereotype im DEFA-Film“ neue Einblicke in die Figurenanalyse
Smith, T. 2017 In :
Research output: Contribution to journalBook/Film/Article review

Review: 'Art and Democracy in Post-Communist Europe' by Piotr Piotrowski
Smith, T. 2014 In : Journal of Contemporary European Studies. 22, 1, p. 85-86 2 p.
Research output: Contribution to journalBook/Film/Article review