Personal profile

Personal profile

I am a Reader in German and Cultural Studies in the Department of Languages, Literatures and Cultures. At present I am the Programme Director for German, and the Research Lead for the Department. From 2013 to 2015 I was Head of Department.

Educational background

I studied at New College, Oxford, and the University of Wales Swansea, where my PhD was awarded in 2000. Since then I've been Research Officer at the Centre for German-Jewish Studies in Sussex (2001) and Lecturer in German at King's College London (2001-3), and I joined the German Department at Royal Holloway, now part of the Department of Languages, Literatures and Cultures, in 2003.

Research interests

My research interests lie in Modern German and Austrian literature and film, and in particular in the culture of the interwar period (1918-1939). I also research the history of sport and cultural responses to sport and leisure in the German-speaking countries.

I have a particular interest in the work of the Austrian novelist and journalist Joseph Roth (1894-1939), the subject of my 2006 monograph Facing Modernity: Fragmentation, Culture and Identity in Joseph Roth's Writing in the 1920s, MHRA Texts and Dissertations, 67 (Leeds: Maney, 2006) . I continue to work on this fascinating and contradictory author.

From the reviews of Facing Modernity:

  • 'Hughes's readings of Roth's texts are fresh and compelling. [...] [U]ndeniably this new study considerably expands the scope of the discussions about Roth and his intellectual environment in the light of current critical debates and theories. Hughes presents his arguments clearly and succinctly. The scholarly documentation is impeccable, and the book, equipped with a comprehensive bibliography and an extensive index, is as user-friendly in its organization as it is sophisticated.' (Dagmar Lorenz, Modern Language Review)
  • 'Hughes achieves [his aims] with authority and admirable breadth of reference [...] The overall argument is coherently structured and includes valuable new readings of the travel report "Die weissen Städte" and of the early novels. Subsequent chapters on the treatment of modern phenomena in Roth's reportage on technology and on film are the product of careful research and are a welcome and overdue contribution to our understanding of the development of Roth's ideas at this period. [...] it is an important book, both as only the second monograph on Joseph Roth to appear in English [...] and because it sheds light on the writing and cultural debates of the Weimar Republic.' (Helen Chambers, Modern Austrian Literature)

In 2017 I publshed a substantial, illustrated monograph on the cultural, social and political significance of the legendary German boxer Max Schmeling (1905-2005)Max Schmeling and the Making of a National Hero in Twentieth-Century Germany (Palgrave Studies in Sport and Politics, 2017). Described in the Journal of Sport History as 'an engagingly readable book', it examines responses to and representations of Schmeling, and of boxing and sport more generally, between the Weimar Republic and the present day. From the reviews of Max Schmeling and the Making of a National Hero:

  • A 'probing, balanced treatment of how the world’s nascent mass media presented one of its original international celebrity athletes.' (Zachary Androus, Journal of Sport History)

 My other areas of research interest include: the Neue Sachlichkeit (New Objectivity); 'Generational' discourses and youth culture in Germany; 'Amerikanismus' and responses to the USA in German culture; the cinema of the Weimar Republic; the literature of the anti-fascist exile; the work of the novelist Hermann Hesse.

I would welcome expressions of interest from any potential postgraduate students with research interests in any of these areas.


I teach at all levels on the German, Comparative Literature and Culture and Film Studies programmes.

My first-year teaching includes a number of Comparative Literature courses including ML1101 International Film: Contexts and Practices, which covers iconic films such as The Blue AngelCitizen Kane, Rashomon and Psycho. My second-year course GM2124 Childhood and Youth in Modern German Culture covers drama, novels and films from the 19th to the 21st centuries. In the final year I teach GM3134 National Socialism and The Third Reich in German Film and Visual Culture from 1933 to the Present. Almost all of my teaching is comparative and interdisciplinary in nature.

I also teach German language, and have taught grammar, comprehension and translation for our core language courses.

I am a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.


Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 16 - Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions


  • Modern Germany, Modern Austria, Joseph Roth, Weimar Culture, History of Sport, German Cinema, Neue Sachlichkeit, Exile Studies, Max Schmeling