Birgit M. Kaiser's research spans literatures in English, French and German of the 19th to the 21st century, always with a focus on literature as a mode of poetic knowledge production, on the relation of literature, aesthetics and affect, as well as on writing subjectivity in transcultural and postcolonial ecologies of power. For this last concern, especially questions of un/translatability, multilingualism and the materiality of language are important. Inspired by feminist new materialism, Birgit also works on changing forms of critique and criticality in the 21st century, as well as contemporary methods of reading.
Research collaborations and leadership
With Kathrin Thiele, she founded the interdisciplinary research network Terra Critica and together they coordinate the network since its beginning in 2012. Terra Critica organizes annual international academic meetings as well as regular ReadingRoom sessions for a wider public in Utrecht (in collaboration with Casco Art Institute). The network has established collaborations with a range of leading international academic institutions in Europe, the USA and Asia.
She is currently coordinator of the research community "Critical Pathways", an interdisciplinary research community within the UU strategic theme Pathways to Sustainability, focusing on a just sustainability. "Critical Pathways" stresses the need to move beyond an understanding of sustainability narrowly focused on technological solutions and to ask questions about social and cultural norms, political power relations, and global inequalities.
Since 2022, Birgit is researcher and supervisor in the EU-HORIZON MSCA Doctoral Network "European Literatures and Gender from a Transnational Perspective" (EUTERPE; 2022-2026), which brings together gender and transnational perspectives within an interdisciplinary approach to literary and cultural studies. EUTERPE is a collaboration of Central European University Vienna, University of Oviedo, University of Granada, University of York, University of Coventry, University of Lodz, University of Bolgona and Utrecht University, supervising and training a group of eleven PhD candidates. In this context, Birgit is also on the editorial board of the open source publication Dictionary of Transnational Women’s Literature in Europe (CEU Press) with key concepts and bio-bibliographic entries on leading representatives of the field.
She was a core member of “Creativity in World Literatures: Languages in Dialogue” (2016-2020), a research network funded by the UK Arts & Humanities Research Council within the Open World Research Initiative (OWRI).