Karolina Watroba (Poland)

Life after Ertegun House

I stayed in Oxford to study for a DPhil in Modern Languages as a resident Ertegun alumna, with funding from the Clarendon-Merton Modern Languages Scholarship. Following on from my master’s dissertation, my DPhil thesis explored the cultural impact that Der Zauberberg has made beyond academic circles. I analysed the novel’s many and varied literary and cinematic afterlives, looked at its place in the public imagination, and compared how readers with different degrees of academic training approach it and what they make of it. My main goal was to challenge established academic ways of studying canonical works of art and their cultural reception. This comparative project spanned ten decades, ten languages and fifteen countries on five continents. In October 2019, I started a post-doctoral research fellowship in Modern Languages at All Souls College - which means that I'm still in Oxford and get to regularly visit Ertegun House.

My heartfelt thanks go to Mica Ertegun for her generosity and vision, and to everyone who has helped her set up this wonderful programme, including the past and current Ertegun directors and administrators, for their unwavering support. I hope to be an active Ertegun alumna in the years to come!