The Oxford Kafka Research Centre aims to advance and co-ordinate research on Franz Kafka, and more generally on German-language and especially German-Jewish literature and culture in the period of Modernism. The Centre is also the home of the John-Fell funded ‘Kafka Global’ Project which marks the centenary of Kafka’s death in 2024 with a major exhibition at Oxford’s Weston Library and an ambitious academic and cultural programme.
Many Kafka scholars visit Oxford in order to study the large collection of Kafka manuscripts housed in the Bodleian Library. They were placed there in 1961 by the late Malcolm Pasley of Magdalen College, a pre-eminent Kafka scholar, with the agreement of Kafka’s nieces, their legal owners. The manuscripts served as the basis for the Critical Edition of Kafka (published by S. Fischer Verlag), in which Malcolm Pasley played a leading role, and for the facsimile edition now being produced by the Stroemfeld/Roter Stern Verlag.
The centenary of Kafka’s death in 2024 provides a unique opportunity for Oxford to showcase its role as custodian of Kafka’s manuscript and his global legacy. The centenary will be marked by a major exhibition at the Weston Library, ‘Kafka Global’, which in turn will be accompanied by an ambitious academic and cultural programme. Organised by the Oxford Kafka Research Centre in collaboration with the German Literary Archive Marbach and the National Library of Israel, ‘Kafka Global’ will define Kafka studies for the next generation.
Besides promoting the study of Kafka’s manuscripts and his global legacy, the Research Centre aims to serve the whole spectrum of Kafka studies, ranging from biographical and historical research via literary and cultural studies to methodological and theoretical inquiries. It particularly aims to encourage interdisciplinary and intermedial approaches.
The Centre was founded by Manfred Engel and Ritchie Robertson in 2008 with the help of a grant from the John Fell Fund, and is now jointly led by Carolin Duttlinger, Katrin Kohl, Barry Murnane, and Ritchie Robertson. Since its foundation it has hosted many international conferences on topics ranging from ‘Translating Kafka’ to ‘Kafka – Religion – Modernity’; has hosted several visiting scholars; and has laid the foundation for many ground-breaking publications, including multiple edited collections of essays.