University of Passau lecturer wins dissertation award

Dr Joanna Rostek, Lecturer at the Chair of English Literature and Culture (Professor Jürgen Kamm), received the Dissertationspreis (dissertation award) of the Deutscher Anglistenverband, the German association of scholars of the English language and culture, for her doctoral thesis examining the connection of postmodern philosophy of history and maritime metaphors in contemporary English-language fiction.


How can the past be comprehended? Who decides which version of historical events is recorded and considered true by future generations? How trustworthy are historical sources and their interpretations? Are all involved persons treated fairly in historiography? These and similar questions have been the subject of many Anglophone novels since the 1970s. Joanna Rostek's thesis, entitled Seaing through the Past: Postmodern Histories and the Maritime Metaphor in Contemporary Anglophone Fiction, takes these questions one step further, and shows that authors from Britain and elsewhere tend to use maritime metaphors to find a tangible, postmodern approach to history. 

Dr Rostek explains: "The works of fiction I examined – many of which are award-winning – assume that there is a great deal of commonality between the sea and history as a concept. For instance, both are difficult to grasp, both tend to bring some things to the surface while letting others disappear in unfathomable depths, and both are fascinating and perilous at once. But more than that, it is impossible to impose a certain form on either the sea or history, as they are both in a state of constant motion, undergoing perpetual, incessant change."

The award is given every two years in recognition of an outstanding dissertation on the subject of English language, literature or culture. Laureates receive 1,500 euros in prize money, which is intended to promote research by the young generation of scientists.

Dr Rostek accepted the prize during the Anglistenverband conference at the University of Potsdam on 20 September 2012. In his laudatory speech, Dr Felix C.H. Sprang of the University of Hamburg, expressed his hope that Dr Rostek's work would “continue to sail the academic seas and serve as a beacon for the global scientific community."

More information and Dr Rostek's curriculum vitae can be found on the website of the Chair of English Literature and Culture. 



Note for editors: Please address your media enquiries to Dr Joanna Rostek, telephone +49 851 509 2793, or the Press Relations Section of the University of Passau, telephone: +49 851 509 1439. 

Book information: Joanna Rostek, Seaing through the Past: Postmodern Histories and the Maritime Metaphor in Contemporary Anglophone Fiction. Amsterdam – New York: Rodopi, 2011 (Postmodern Studies 47). 

Katrina Jordan | 04.10.2012



Media Relations
Phone: +49 851 509 1439

Note for editors: Please address your media enquiries to the Media Relations section of the University of Passau.