Our alumni regularly present themselves to the community. Last time, it was Felix (see news 12th August). Today, Sibylle tells us about her passion for English Literature, why for her research never stops, and that she has a project idea for a writing workshop on "Death and Dying".

Sibylle Erle is a Leadership Academy Fellow (2020/21) and passionate about English Literature and Culture (research field of the Humanities) and likes networking with peers on AlumNode. Also, Sibylle is a Reader in English Literature at Bishop Grosseteste University in Lincoln.

Here, she will tell you more about her career path and willingness to collaborate with you:

1. I am a researcher because...

I studied English and Russian Language and Literature in Germany, Britain and Russia, with my heart settled on a teaching career in Germany. When I realized that I did not want to teach the ins and out of present perfect progressive, I went back to the drawing board. I wanted to talk about ideas, make people think until their brains explode. This is a long time ago.

Research is my life and I feel most alive when I teach. My chosen research field is well established. I enjoy trying to break new ground and make new connections between ideas and different fields of research. I value openness and respect between colleagues, trust in cooperation, determination, focus, persistence and excellence.

I am good at making connections between ideas that might seem unexpected but often flourish.

2. What do you do when you are not doing research?

I don’t think I can answer this question because for me – for better or worse, for me research never stops: I think, I read and write to communicate about those big ideas which I find and trace in texts and all kinds of cultural artifacts or encounters.

I enjoy going for walks with my young family, sitting in playgrounds with nothing to do but listen to the laughter of children and love going to art galleries, sitting in posh coffee shops adjacent to those temples of aesthetic experience. My private passion, apart from my young family, is always cheese.

3. What was the most memorable experience of your career so far? (and your project idea?)

Having successfully pitched an idea to a publisher, the insight that the next step would be to begin planning the book. Or maybe - a question by an audience member at my lecture in Nuremberg in 2019 crystallised an idea that had germinated while visiting a local museum.

That experience inspired a new potential project and has preoccupied me ever since.
At my institution, I head up a Research and Knowledge Exchange Unit on Literature and Literacies. My aim is to inspire colleagues with huge teaching loads so that they excel and believe in the value of their individual academic work.

I also try to nurture and encourage (my) PhD students towards publication and project leadership, in other words to take a more proactive role in their future careers. I can think of many moments observing the stages in the formation of a researcher’s identity, and especially the moment in which it solidifies.

The most memorable moment was when I realized how different my (German) attitude towards death and dying is.

Death and Dying, once deemed to have almost disappeared from everyday life (Ariès 1974), have now become an almost fashionable taboo. True, the dying are hidden away in hospitals or hospices in recent times, but talking about it has become a matter of public discussion through the Death Café movement as well as the COVID-19 pandemic.

Death and dying has gone global; it is a well-documented phenomenon on account of the various statistics and graphs, but do we really understand what all this means to us personally? Interdisciplinary conversations about death and dying are important, because they help us to prepare and live with loss.

If you are interested in collaborating with Sibylle, please do not hesitate to get into contact with her. You can write her a message on AlumNode or write to us via contat@alumnode.org and we will connect you with her.