Dr Anna-Sophie Jurgens

PhD in Comparative Literature (LMU Munich, Germany). Magister in Comparative Literature, Russian and French Literature (LMU Munich, Germany)
Feodor Lynen Postdoctoral Fellow (Alexander von Humboldt Foundation)
ANU College of Arts and Social Sciences and ANU College of Science

Areas of expertise

  • Comparative Literature Studies 200524
  • Literary Studies 2005
  • Cultural Studies 2002
  • Other European Literature 200515
  • Other Language, Communication And Culture 2099
  • Studies In Creative Arts And Writing Not Elsewhere Classified 199999

Research interests

Circus in Fiction

Science & Technology in Fiction

Circus and Science

Performance Histories / Popular Entertainment

Hyperbolic Aesthetics

Knowledge Credibility (in Fiction)

Avant-Gardes; 19th and 20th century novel

Artistic Research

Researcher's projects

I work in the fields of Comparative Literature, Popular Entertainment Studies and Science in Fiction Studies, and have a doctorate in Comparative Literature from the Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich, Germany (published in 2016).

My primary research focus is on the popular arts of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries (in fiction). I seek to get a better understanding of how they were, and are, formative for the present. I am particularly interested in the richness and multidimensionality of the cultural and aesthetic capital of the circus in fiction and other media (embodied, for instance, in violent and cannibal clowns, epileptic dancers and freak performers), on the one hand, and of pathological body aesthetics oscillating between humour and violence (as typified by Frankenstein-clowns and mad scientists), on the other. Over the last few years, I have also developed a special interest in the relationship between popular entertainment, fictional literature and science and technology (regarded as a kind of cultural practice), and therefore in the links between scientific research and creative imagination. I am currently exploring the interplay and relationship between comic performance and technology in culture.





 – Monograph – 


Jürgens, A.-S. (2016): Poetik des Zirkus – Die Ästhetik des Hyperbolischen im Roman (Poetics of the Circus – Hyperbolic Aesthetics in Fiction), Heidelberg: Winter, 453 pages.


– Edited collections & special themed journal issues – 


Jürgens, A.-S. (Ed.) (expected 2020): Circus, Science and Technology: Dramatising Innovation, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan. Edited collection in preparation with Palgrave’s series ‘Studies in Performance and Technology’ including 8 chapters by leading international scholars (contract signed 17/02/2019).


Special themed journal issue on “Violent Clowns”, guest editorial by A.-S. Jürgens | Comedy Studies 11/1 (2020) (online 2019), 14 papers.


Special themed journal issue in preparation/redefinition, guest editorial by A.-S. Jürgens | Journal of Science & Popular Culture (peer-reviewed), 10 papers on “Popular Performance & Science”.

Fuchs, Margarete, Jürgens, A.-S., Schuster, Jörg (Eds.) (2019): ManegenkünsteZirkus als ästhetisches Modell, Bielefeld: transcript, about 480 pages. (expected to be published 31/10/2019)


Jürgens, A.-S., Wierschem, M. (Eds.) (2017): Pat­terns of Dis|Order – Beiträge zur Kulturgeschichte der Un|Ordnung, Münster: LIT Verlag, 398 pages.


Jürgens, A.-S., Tesche, T. (Eds.) (2015): LaborARTorium – Forschung im Denkraum zwischen Wissen­schaft und Kunst (LaborARTory – Research in between Science and Art), Biele­feld: transcript, 336 pages.  


– Peer reviewed journal articles & book chapters – 


Jürgens, A.-S. (2019, online): "'Greatest Klown on Earth' and the Killer Klowns from Outer Space. Stephen Chiodo in conversation with Anna-Sophie Jürgens", Comedy Studies 11/1.


Jürgens, A.-S. (2019, online): "Humorectomy: Engineering Comic Clown Violence. Will Elliott in conversation with Anna-Sophie Jürgens", Comedy Studies 11/1.


Jürgens, A.-S. (2019, online): "Violence in the Clownlight. Ira Seidenstein on the inner world of the clown, slapstick and dynamite. A conversation with Anna-Sophie Jürgens", Comedy Studies 11/1.


Jürgens, A.-S. (2018): “Comic in Suspenders: Jim Sharman’s circus worlds in The Rocky Horror (Picture) Show”, Journal of Australian Studies 42/4, 507-523.


Jürgens, A.-S. (2019): "Side-Splitting Amusement: On comic scientists - the sciency type of violent clowns?" Comedy Studies 11/1 (online).


Jürgens, A.-S. (2019): "The Matter of Fact: Science and Identity in Contemporary Australian Fiction", Australian Humanities Review 65, 107-122.


Jürgens, A.-S. (2019): “Costumes of Beloning: ‘Fitting in’ circus fabrics in the novels The Unusual Life of Tristan Smith by Peter Carey and The Pilo Family Circus by Will Elliott, and the costume-cum-body art of Leigh Bowery”, in: Social Beings, Future Belongings: Reimagining the Social, ed. by David Bissell, Miranda Bruce, Helen Keane, Anna Tsalapatanis, London: Routledge, 98-104.


Jürgens, A.-S., Jarno Hietalahti, Lena Straßburger and Susanne Ylönen (2019, online): "Schlock horror and pillow punches: Introduction to the dialectics of the violent clown", Comedy Studies 11/1 (Introduction to a special themed journal issue on Violent Clowns), 1-17.


Jürgens, A.-S., Maier, A.G. (accepted for publication 25/02/2019): "The Parasite as Performer", Journal of Science & Popular Culture.


Jürgens, A.-S. (in press): “Fun-de-siècle: Dance, popular spectacles and the circus“, Tanz & Archiv.


Jürgens, A.-S. (2020, online 2019): "Clowns in Space: An Introduction to Circus Aliens and Spaced-out Comic Peformers", Southern Space Studies: "Outer Space and Popular Culture: Influences and Interaction", ed. by Annette Froehlich, Springer: Cham, 71-89.


Jürgens, A.-S. and R.C. Williamson (in press): "Engineering Circus Enchantment: Automagic Technology and Electrifying Performances in Fiction", Circus, Science and Technology: Dramatising Innovation, ed. by Anna-Sophie Jürgens, Cham: Palgrave Macmillan. Expected to be published 2020.


Jürgens, A.-S. (in press): "Circus Matters: Engineering, Imagineering and Popular Stages of Technology – Introduction", Circus, Science and Technology: Dramatising Innovation, ed. by Anna-Sophie Jürgens, Cham: Palgrave Macmillan. Expected to be published 2020.


Jürgens, A.-S. (2018): “A funny Taste: Clowns and Cannibals”, Comedy Studies 9/2, 171-182.


Jürgens, A.-S. (2018): “So called experts? Knowledge Credibility in Fiction”, in Our Changing World in the South Pacific, ed. by Trevor R. Finlayson ISBN 9780958814928 (Australian Association of von Humboldt Fellows), Chapter 6.


Jürgens, A.-S. (accepted for publication 17/04/2018): “S/Laughter: On the interplay of clowning and cannibalism in popular culture”, in: Komik und Kolonialismus, ed. by Anne Peiter, Bochum: Projektverlag.


Jürgens, A.-S. (2017): “Le Roman de cirque, le Roman Circus mundi et le Roman circassien” (Circus novels and circus texts), in: Le Comparatisme comme approche critique/Comparative literature as a critical approach: Affronter l'Ancien/Facing the Past, Tome 1, ed. by Anne Tomiche, Paris: Classiques Garnier, 483-494.


Schuster, S., Jürgens, A.-S. (2017): “Being in a mess – Kollaborationen in der Un|Ordnung des philologischen Märchens“ Cosmos-Collaborator (On Collaborations in the philological Fairy-Tale Cosmos-Collaborator), in: Pat­terns of Dis|Order, ed. by A.-S. Jürgens a. Markus Wierschem, Münster: LIT Verlag, 371–386.   


Jürgens, A.-S., Wierschem, M. (2017): “Muster der Un|Ordnung” (Introduction), in: Pat­terns of Dis|Order, ed. by A.-S. Jürgens a. Markus Wierschem, Münster: LIT Verlag, 13–39.


Jürgens, A.-S. (2016): “Circus as Idée fixe and Hunger: Circomania in Fiction”, in: CLCWeb: Comparative Literature and Culture 18/3; 7 pages.


Jürgens, A.-S. (2016): “Clowneske Zirkuskunstfiguren – Zu Wandel und Werken des Zirkus­clowns in der Literatur” (Clownesque Circus Creatures – The Evolution of Clowns), in: Über den Clown – Künstlerische und theoretische Perspektiven (On Clowns – Artistic and Theoretical Perspectives), ed. by Richard Weihe, Bielefeld: transcript, 165–181.


Jürgens, A.-S. (2015): “Zirkuskunstwerke: Zur urheberrechtlichen Schutzfähigkeit der Ma­negenkunst” (Circus Creations – Copyright and the Arts of the Ring), in: Neue Rundschau 4, 153–157.


Jürgens, A.-S., Wierschem, M. (2015): “The Poetics of Anamorphosis and the Art of Entropy”, in: LaborARTorium, ed. by Anna-Sophie Jürgens and Tassilo Tesche, Bielefeld: transcript, 279–297.


Jürgens, A.-S., Tesche, T. (2015): “LaborARTorium – Begegnungen im Denkraum” (LaborART­ory – A Thinking Space (Introduction)), in: LaborARTorium, ed. by Anna-Sophie Jürgens and Tassilo Tesche, Bielefeld: transcript, 9–22.  


Jürgens, A.-S., Tesche, T. (2015): “Kunst als Forschung – Ein Rückblick: Florian Dombois im Inter­view mit Anna-Sophie Jürgens und Tassilo Tesche” (Art as Research – A retrospection: Florian Dombois in­terviewed by ASJ and TT), in: LaborARTorium, ed. by Anna-Sophie Jürgens and Tassilo Tesche, Biele­feld: transcript, 33–41.  


Jürgens, A.-S. (2015): “Das versehrte Lachen – Neomoderne Gewaltclowns in der Literatur” (The Dam­aged Smile – Neomodern violent Clowns in Fiction), in: “Fröhliche Wissenschaft – Zur Gene­alogie des Lachens (“The Gay Science” – A Genealogy of Laughter), ed. by Kevin Liggieri, Freiburg: Karl Alber, 298–320. 


Jürgens, A.-S. (2015): “Singultus – Ein grotesker Reflex” (Singultus – A Grotesque Reflex), in: Kroener – Time Codes – Die Macht der Bilder (The Power of Pictures), ed. by Maren Martell and Kathrin Höhne, Mittelrhein Museum Koblenz; 6 pages.


Jürgens, A.-S. (2014): “The Joker, a neo-modern clown of violence”, in: Journal of Graphic Novels and Comics 5/4, 441–454.


Jürgens, A.-S. (2012): “Pygmalion im Zirkus: Zum Virtuos-Statuenhaften & Guy de Cars La Dame du Cirque (Pygmalion in the Circus Ring – Virtuosity and the Statuesque in Guy de Cars’ La Dame du Cirque), in: Jahrbuch der Deutschen Gesellschaft für Allgemeine und Ver­gleichende Literturwis­sen­schaft, 137–150.


Jürgens, A.-S. (2011): “Hermetische Liebesakrobatik: Joris-Karl Huysmans’ Des Esseintes und Thomas Manns Felix Krull im Zirkus” (Hermetic Love Acrobatics – Joris-Karl Huysmans’ Des Esseintes and Thomas Mann’s Felix Krull in the Circus), in: SprachKunst – Beiträge zur Litera­tur­wissenschaft Jahrgang XLII/2, 271–300.


– Online articles / Media engagement – 


Jürgens, A.-S. (2019): "Violent Clown Artists between Science & Art", w/k - Zwischen Wissenschaft und Kunst (Between Science and Art), 8 December 2019:  https://www3.hhu.de/wuk/en/violent-clown-artists-between-science-art/   


Jürgens, A.-S. (2019): “Eight great Australian fictional scientists worth reading about”, The Conversation, 11 February 2019: https://theconversation.com/eight-great-australian-fictional-scientists-worth-reading-about-110697


Jürgens, A.-S. (2018): “Violent clowns and panto dames: the origins of Rocky Horror’s Frank-N-furter”, The Conversation, 3 December 2018: https://theconversation.com/violent-clowns-and-panto-dames-the-origins-of-rocky-horrors-frank-n-furter-104003


Jürgens, A.-S. (2019): “Ira Seidenstein: Clowning and Academia Part 2 – Ira Seidenstein in conversation with Anna-Sophie Jürgens”, w/k: Zwischen Wissenschaft und Kunst (Between Science and Art): https://www3.hhu.de/wuk/en/ira-seidenstein-clowning-and-academia-part-ii/. Invited.



Jürgens, A.-S. (2018): “Ira Seidenstein: Clowning and Academia Part 1 – Ira Seidenstein in conversation with Anna-Sophie Jürgens”, w/k: Zwischen Wissenschaft und Kunst (Between Science and Art): https://www3.hhu.de/wuk/amelie/ira-seidenstein-clowning-and-academia-part-i/. Invited.


Jürgens, A.-S. (2018): ‘Violent clowns and panto dames’, Anna-Sophie Jürgens on clowning in Rocky Horror, ABC Breakfast Radio Canberra, 12 December 2018.


Jürgens, A.-S. (2018): ‘A very Canberra event is taking place at the ANU: the Circus Conference’, Anna-Sophie Jürgens in discussion with Jo Laverty about the ‘Imagineers in Circus & Science’ Conference, ABC Radio Canberra, 3 April 2018.


For Circus and Art Projects  see:



o    Special themed journal issue in preparation, guest editorial by A.-S. Jürgens | Comedy Studies (peer-reviewed), 6-8 papers on Violent Clowns; expected to be published in September 2019.

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Updated:  29 January 2020 / Responsible Officer:  Director (Research Services Division) / Page Contact:  Researchers