The Management of the Department

Since August 1, 2020, the Department has been led by Prof. Dr. Heike Behrens (Head of Department), Prof. Dr. Hugues Marchal (Vice Head of Department) and Dr. Susanne Duesterberg (Executive Board). The department heads are elected for a term of two years. A one-time re-election is not only possible but also desirable, as the familiarization with the respective offices requires time and resources.

Prof. Dr. Heike Behrens (Head of Department)

Heike Behrens has been Professor of Cognitive Linguistics and Language Acquisition Research at the University of Basel since 2005, with a dual affiliation to the English and German Departments. Together with Stefan Pfänder, she founded the international doctoral program Hermann Paul School of Linguistics at the Universities of Freiburg i.Br. and Basel. She is currently also head of the Review Board for Linguistics and the MA Program Language and Communication.

Heike Behrens studied English and German language and literature in Kiel and received her PhD after working on a research project on the diaries of Clara and William Stern (TU Brauschweig) on the acquisition of temporality in German children's language (Universiteit van Amsterdam, 1993). The dissertation was supported by an appointment at the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics in Nijmegen, as was the subsequent postdoctoral period. In 1995–1996, she spent time at the Institute for Human Development at UC Berkeley on a DFG research fellowship. After a senior assistantship at the University of Cologne (1996–1998), she worked in the Department of Developmental and Comparative Psychology at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig. In 2002, she was appointed Professor of German Linguistics at the Rijksuniversiteit Groningen (until 2005).

Her research focuses on language acquisition from a usage-based perspective. Among others, she was co-applicant for the ProDoc "Language as Cultural and Social Practice" (SNSF 2008–2012) and the DFG Research Training Group "Frequency Effects in Language" (DFG 1624, 2000–2014, Freiburg i.Br.) as well as editor of the Journal of Child Language (CUP, 2010–2015).

Prof. Dr. Hugues Marchal (Deputy Head of Department)

Hugues Marchal has been Associate Professor of Modern French and General Literature at the University of Basel since 2011. Before coming to Basel, he taught as Agrégé de lettres modernes and student at the École Normale Supérieure de Fontenay-Saint-Cloud in Lyon, France, at Duke University as Teaching Assistant, and at Johns Hopkins University as Visiting Scholar. He was also Chargé de mission pour le livre at the Cultural Service of the French Embassy in New York (1995–1997). From 1998, he benefited from various teaching and research fellowships at the Université de la Sorbonne Nouvelle-Paris 3, where he defended a dissertation entitled Corpoèmes: l'inscription textuelle du corps dans la poésie en France au vingtième siècle in 2002. In 2004, he became maître de conférences in French literature at the Sorbonne Nouvelle, where he directed the ANR project Euterpe: scientific poetry in France from 1792 to 1939 from 2007 to 2010. He was also vice president of the French literature and language section of the Conseil national des universités (2007–2010) and was appointed junior member of the Institut universitaire de France in 2010.

His main areas of research are poetry and theory of poetry since 1750, literature and science from the Enlightenment to the present, body writing, and the relationship between literature and the visual arts. He is the author of La Poésie (Flammarion, 2007) and has directed several collaborative works, including Muses et ptérodactyles: la poésie de Chenier à Rimbaud (Le Seuil, 2013). In Basel, he led the SNSF project Reconstruire Delille (2015–2019) and participated in the research projects Poetics and Aesthetics of Wonder (SNSF Sinergia, 2014–2017), Biolographes: Literary Creativity and Biological Knowledge in the 19th Century (ANR/DFG, 2014–2017), and The Power of Wonder (SNSF Sinergia, 2018–2022).

Dr. Susanne Duesterberg (Managing Director)

Dr. Susanne Duesterberg has been Managing Director of the Department of Languages and Literatures since October 2018. From 2006 to 2018, she worked at the University of Freiburg im Breisgau as program coordinator and deputy executive director at the English Department, as head of the examination administration of the Joint Commission of the Faculty of Philology and Philosophy, and most recently as acting head of International Student Administration and Advising. Susanne Duesterberg studied English Philology and Modern German Literary History at the University of Freiburg and the University of Birmingham. As part of the interdisciplinary research training group History and Narrative , she received her doctorate from the University of Freiburg in 2013 with a cultural studies thesis on the popular reception of archaeology in Great Britain.


Tasks of the Department's Management

The tasks of the Department's Management include, among other things, preparing the departmental priorities for the faculty development plan for the attention of the Departmental Assembly, managing the pool of funds, and submitting the use of funds to the Departmental Assembly for approval. In addition to administrative duties, the Management coordinates the different subject areas and seminars.

The tasks of the Head of Department include the organization of the work of the Department, the convocation and chairing of the meetings of the Departmental Assembly and the Management, the organization of the execution of the decisions of the Assembly and the Management as well as the external representation of the Department, in particular in the Faculty Committee.

The duties of the Managing Director include managing the office, preparing basic material within the decision-making processes of the faculty's committees (e.g. teaching committees), participating in the department's budget, financial and structural planning, controlling the operating funds and the funds of the departmental pool of funds in cooperation with the faculty's management, managing the administrative staff, and ensuring the efficient organization and smooth execution of the department's administrative processes.

Past Heads of Department

In the past, the Department was headed by following people:

  • from October 1, 2005 to August 31, 2007 by Prof. Dr. Georges Lüdi
  • from September 1, 2007 to July 31, 2009 by Prof. Dr. Heike Behrens
  • from August 1, 2009 to July 31, 2011 by Prof. Dr. Alexander Honold
  • from August 1, 2011 to July 31, 2013 by Prof. Dr. Miriam Locher
  • from August 1, 2013 to July 31, 2015 by Prof. Dr. Thomas Grob
  • from August 1, 2015 to July 31, 2016 by Prof. Dr. Beatrice Schmid
  • from August 1, 2016 to January 31, 2019 by Prof. Dr. Ina Habermann
  • from February 1, 2019 to December 31, 2019 by Prof. Dr. Philipp Schweighauser
  • from January 1, 2020 to July 31, 2020 by Prof. Dr. Ina Habermann (ad interim)