Laura Bradley


Accepting PhD Students

PhD projects

Laura is happy to supervise projects on twentieth- and twenty-first century German theatre, Brecht, GDR literature and culture, and censorship. Prospective students are very welcome to approach her with informal enquiries.
Supervisors at Edinburgh often work as a team, and Laura has experience of co-supervising and examining MScR and PhD projects in English Literature and Russian, as well as having supervised several PhD students in German to completion.

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Personal profile


MA (Hons), MSt, DPhil (Oxon)

Laura Bradley grew up in Liverpool and graduated from the University of Oxford with a Congratulatory First in the MA in Modern History and Modern Languages (German). During her degree, she spent a year teaching at the Gesamtschule Rodenkirchen, Cologne, and made her first forays into theatre archives in Cologne and Berlin. She also holds an MSt in European Literature (Distinction) and a DPhil in German from the University of Oxford, and spent two years as a Junior Research Fellow at Merton College, Oxford. She moved to the University of Edinburgh in 2005 and was promoted to Senior Lecturer in 2011 and to a Personal Chair in German and Theatre in 2016. Laura is currently Series Editor of German Monitor (published by Brill) and a member of the Editorial Board of the Brecht Yearbook.

Research Interests

Laura Bradley's research focuses on theatre, politics, and censorship, with a particular focus on the GDR. She has published two monographs with Oxford University Press: Brecht and Political Theatre: 'The Mother' on Stage (2006) and Cooperation and Conflict: GDR Theatre Censorship, 1961-1989 (2010). Her third monograph, Brecht and the Art of Spectatorship, is well underway and is supported by the British Academy and Leverhulme Trust. Laura has published extensively in leading journals on Brecht, GDR theatre cenosrhsip, and representations of crime in GDR film and television.

Laura enjoys collaborating with theatre practitioners and arts professionals, and sharing her research with the public; she has collaborated, for example, with the National Performing Arts Studio Nairobi, the Unicorn Theatre London, the playwright Peter Arnott and the Playwrights' Studio Scotland, and the documentary film maker Susan Kemp. Theatres interested in collaborating with Laura - particularly on productions of Brecht's plays - are very welcome to get in touch!


Research Activity

Laura's first monograph was published by Oxford University Press in 2006, under the title Brecht and Political Theatre: 'The Mother' on Stage. It traced the performance history of Brecht’s play Die Mutter from its origins in the Weimar Republic, through Brecht’s exile and the division of Germany, to the Berlin Republic. As Die Mutter is the only text that Brecht staged in the Weimar Republic, in exile and the GDR, it is uniquely placed to offer insights into his development as a theatre director. His three contrasting productions show how he became more sensitive to cultural difference and more pragmatic about making concessions for particular audiences, in order to increase their receptivity towards his work. In turn, post-Brechtian directors have used Die Mutter to promote their own political and theatrical concerns, from anti-authoritarian theatre to reflections on the legacies of state Socialism.

Her second monograph was published by Oxford University Press in 2010, under the title Cooperation and Conflict: GDR Theatre Censorship, 1961-1989. The key questions concern how theatre censorship worked, in contrast to censorship of the book; how theatre censorship developed between 1961 and 1989; and how (far) it varied from one theatre and region to the next. The material includes state and Party papers from regional and federal archives; the Stasi files; and material from theatre archives, such as prompt books, rehearsal notes, set designs, photographs and correspondence. This research was generously supported by the AHRC, British Academy, Carnegie Trust and DAAD.

Laura has published a series of articles on theatre censorship in peer-reviewed journals and edited books, and has also published on contemporary German theatre, representations of crime and detection in the GDR, the Turkish-German writer Emine Sevgi Özdamar, and the poet Kito Lorenc. She co-edited a volume entitled Brecht and the GDR: Politics, Culture, Posterity, with Karen Leeder (University of Oxford). It was published in 2011 as volume 5 of the Edinburgh German Yearbook.

Laura is currently working on a monograph entitled Brecht and the Art of Spectatorship. The archive research for the monograph is funded by the British Academy/Leverhulme Trust.

Knowledge Exchange

Laura regularly works with theatre companies on their stagings of Brecht's plays. In 2018, she advised Stuart Nash, Director of the National Performing Arts Studio, Nairobi, on his production of The Caucasian Chalk Circle at the Kenyan National Theatre. She filmed an introduction to Brecht's epic theatre for the Unicorn Theatre, which has generated over 42,000 views on YouTube; and she appeared in an introductory video for the Unicorn Theatre's production of The Caucasian Chalk Circle, which has received over 15,000 views. Laura has also provided academic support for productions of Brecht's Arturo Ui at the Liverpool Everyman/Playhouse and of The Threepenny Opera by Fourth Monkey Theatre in Camden (2011), and she has worked with Theatre Found on public events on censorship, including an event at the Tron Theatre in Glasgow featuring the Artistic Director of the Belarus Free Theatre (2011). Laura also contributed to a BBC Radio Scotland feature on politics and cabaret (2007), and has worked with the RSC (2006) and Visiting Moon Theatre Company (2001).

In 2014-15, Laura Bradley was Principal Investigator on a collaborative project called 'Who's Watching Who?', funded by the AHRC and with public events running from 2014 through to 2018. Laura worked with the award-winning playwright Peter Arnott and the ex-BBC film maker Susan Kemp to engage wider public audiences with her research on the GDR. Peter wrote a new play called ENSEMBLE, and the development process was opened up to the public through Peter's blog and a series of eight public events, including rehearsed readings of three different drafts. Rehearsed readings of the finished play were performed on the largest stage at the Traverse Theatre Edinburgh, Websters Theatre in Glasgow, and the Byre in St Andrew's. Susan Kemp made a documentary film called WRITING ENSEMBLE, shot on location in Berlin, Dresden, Edinburgh, and Glasgow. It has been shown at the Glasgow Film Theatre, Edinburgh Filmhouse, Scottish Storytelling Centre, and Hyde Picture House in Leeds, as well as at other screenings in Edinburgh and Berlin. These later screenings included an event at the Being Human Festival in 2018.

The precursor to this project was a two-day special event at the Glasgow Film Festival in 2011, which Laura co-organised with Susan Kemp and Fiona Rintoul, at their invitation. The event was called 'The Stasi Are Among Us', and it featured 6 film screenings, introduced by the directors Thomas Heise, Claus Löser, Hannes Schönemann, and Rainer Simon. It also included roundtable discussions with the directors and readings of underground literature by the writers Johannes Jansen and Gabriele Stötzer.

External Research Grants

  • British Academy/Leverhulme Trust Small Research Grant (2018-20)
  • AHRC Follow-On Funding Award (2014-15)
  • DEFA-Stiftung Grant (2010-11)
  • AHRC Research Leave Award (2009)
  • British Academy Small Research Grant (2006-8)
  • Carnegie Trust Awards (2006, 2009, 2012)
  • DAAD Award (2004)
  • AHRC Studentships (1999-2000, 2000-2003)


  • Laura Bradley teaches German language and literature to undergraduates at all levels.
  • She recently led the introduction and development of 6 new courses in the Division of European Languages & Cultures, and she is course organiser of the team-taught course Cultural Responses to War, co-taught with colleagues from Asian Studies, Celtic & Scottish Studies, and DELC.
  • Her specialisms include an Honours Option on Bertolt Brecht, a 2nd-year option on Culture, Modernity & the City in the Weimar Republic, and poetry written by Brecht, Wolf Biermann and Heiner Müller.
  • At MSc level, she regularly teaches theatre and performance, and she supervises MSc dissertations on theatre, comparative literature, and translation.

Education/Academic qualification

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), "Es ist unmöglich, ohne die Bühne ein Stück fertig zu machen": Brecht's "Die Mutter" in Performance, University of Oxford

Award Date: 1 Jan 2003

Master of Studies, European Literature. Distinction., University of Oxford

Award Date: 1 Jan 2000

Master of Arts, Modern History and Modern Languages (German). Congratulatory First., University of Oxford

Award Date: 1 Jan 1999


  • PD Germanic languages
  • Censorship
  • Theatre
  • Brecht
  • GDR
  • Crime


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