PD Dr. Angelika Zirker

Literary Studies / English Department, Eberhard Karls Universität Tübingen



Contact details

angelika.zirker [aτ] uni-tuebingen.de


Eberhard Karls Universität Tübingen

Englisches Seminar

Wilhelmstraße 50

D-72074 Tübingen

Phone: +49 (7071) 29-73260



Project: Explicit Speakers and Implicit Communication: Wordplay in Early Modern Poetry

It is a well-established view in literary studies that in dramatic texts as well as in prose often a second level of communication comes into play that is ‘external’ to the text proper, including author and reader or audience, depending on the genre. The project takes this as a starting point and examines how such a further communicative level is also relevant in poetry. The hypothesis is that language itself – as formed by the author – communicates (besides the lyrical I) with the reader on a further level. The corpus includes English poetry from the Early Modern period in which, for example, secret wordplay, i.e. wordplay that may not be detected at first glance, becomes functional. This may comprise instances of serio ludere, of serious play, especially in sacred poetry: here, language itself serves to uncover hidden truths on an external level of communication and allows for a rather unusual interaction between speaker and hearer, i.e. author and reader. Examples also include wordplay that remains undetected on the level of the speaker (and his/her addressee) and that does not seem to be functional on the internal communicative level but reverberates on the interpretation of the text as a whole, where it becomes function, for instance, in the sense of iconicity. 



Angelika Zirker studied English, German and French philology at the Universities of the Saarland (Saarbrücken) as well as Metz und Cardiff. Her PhD on Lewis Carroll (Der Pilger als Kind: Spiel, Sprache und Erlösung in Lewis Carrolls Alice-Büchern; “The Pilgrim as a Child: Play, Language and Salvation in Lewis Carroll’s Alice Books”) was published in 2010. She is currently working on her second project “Stages of the Soul in Early Modern Poetry“ which is concerned with the interface of drama and poetry in relation to the soul in the poetry of William Shakespeare und John Donne. Since 2009 she has been involved in an interdisciplinary project on wordplay with Esme Winter-Froemel (see, for example, the jointly organized international conference „Wordplay and Metalinguistic Reflection – New Interdiscipinary Perspectives / Les jeux de mots et la réflexion métalinguistique – nouvelles perspectives interdisciplinaires, Tübingen, March 7-9, 2013).

Her research interests include language and literature, especially wordplay and ambiguity, literature and religion as well as literature and ethics. The literature of the Early Modern period is a core area of her research and teaching, with a focus on Shakespeare and Donne, but also including religious poetry, drama from the medieval period to the seventeenth century. Furthermore, she has published on the Victorian novel (esp. Dickens), concepts of childhood and is currently working in the field of First World War Poetry.  

Angelika Zirker coordinated the research proposal and is now an associate member of the Research Training Group 1808 Ambiguity: Production and Perception (Speaker: Prof. Dr. Matthias Bauer). Furthermore, she is an associate member of project  A2 „Interpretability in Context“ of SFB 833 in Tübingen (Constitution of Meaning). She has also been part of two small graduate projects in Tübingen, “Dimensions of Ambiguity” (Speaker: Prof. Dr. Matthias Bauer, 2008-2011) and “Sacred Texts” (Speaker: Prof. Dr. Birgit Weyel, 2011-2013). She is a member of the Tübingen Centre of Pre-Modern Studies and co-initiator of the peer-learning project „Annotating Literature“.  Angelika Zirker also is one of the co-editors of the international journal Connotations: A Journal for Critical Debate


Publications on the topic of the network

Zirker, Angelika (2010). „‘Time No Longer’: The Context(s) of Time in Tom’s Midnight Garden“, in: Mike Cadden (Hg.): Telling Children's Stories: Narrative Theory and Children’s Literature. Lincoln, NE: University of Nebraska Press, 268–291.

Zirker, Angelika (2011). „Physiognomy and the Reading of Character in Our Mutual Friend“, in: Partial Answers 9.2, 379–390.

Zirker, Angelika (2011). „‘You Can’t Stay Downstairs’: Death-in-Life and Life-in-Death in Frances Hodgson Burnett’s In the Closed Room“, in: Matthias Bauer, Rüdiger Pfeiffer-Rupp, Claudia Sasse und Ursula Wienen (Hg.): Sprache, Literatur, Kultur: Translatio delectat. Festschrift für Lothar Černy. Münster: LIT, 157–174.

Dietrich, Julia; Angelika Zirker (2012). (mit Julia Dietrich). „Noch nie war das Böse so clever: Iagos Soliloquien in Shakespeares Othello aus literaturwissenschaftlicher und ethischer Perspektive“, in: Franz Fromholzer, Michael Preis und Bettina Wisiorek (Hg.): Noch nie war das Böse so gut: Die Aktualität einer alten Differenz. Heidelberg: Universitätsverlag Winter, 197–218.

Zirker, Angelika (2012). „Weak, sexless, one-dimensional, boring? Reading Amy Dorrit“, in: Norbert Lennartz und Francesca Orestano (Hg.): Dickens’s Signs, Readers’ Designs: New Bearings in Dickens Criticism. Rom: Aracne, 169–189.

Zirker, Angelika (2013). „Ngaio Marsh’s Innocent Vicarage: Character, Religion and Performance in Overture to Death“, in: Anya Morlan & Walter Raubicheck (Hg.): Christianity and the Detective Story. Newcastle-upon-Tyne: Cambridge Scholars P, 2013. 20–36.

Bauer, Matthias; Angelika Zirker (2013). mit Matthias Bauer). „Sites of Death as Sites of Interaction in Donne and Shakespeare“, in: Judith Anderson und Jennifer Vaught (Hg.): Shakespeare, Donne, and the Cultural Imaginary. New York: Fordham University Press. 17–37.

Antoni, Klaus; Matthias Bauer; Jan Stievermann; Birgit Weyel; Angelika Zirker (Hg.; 2013). Heilige Texte: Literarisierung von Religion und Sakralisierung von Literatur im modernen Roman. Münster: LIT.