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Professor Frank Finlay

Leeds-HKU Conference: Moving Beyond Research to Engagement and Impact

Speakers and Panelists

Professor Frank Finlay

Professor Frank Finlay
Dean of Arts, University of Leeds; Member of the UK Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2014 Sub-panel 28: Modern Languages and Linguistics

'Flattened by a Runaway Tank ...'? Impact and the Arts and Humanities


When 'Impact' was first placed on the UK Higher Education agenda, it was regarded with widespread suspicion and disdain; a slippery slope of a concept, particularly for the Arts and Humanities which, it was argued further, were ill suited to a process-driven methodology seemingly designed with the STEM disciplines in mind and as a way to measure returns on investment.

In this presentation Frank Finlay offers from his perspective as Dean of the Faculty of Arts at the University of Leeds and a two-time member of panels under RAE and REF, some personal reflections on how the Arts and Humanities responded to the challenge which 'Impact' posed. In particular, he charts the journey his own institution made and draws out some important lessons for the future. In conclusion he shows how and why 'Impact' has been beneficial in drawing attention to the transformative strengths of research in the Arts and Humanities.


Frank Finlay is Professor of German Language and Literature at the University of Leeds. He is Dean of the Faculty of Arts and a member of the University's senior management team. His research and teaching interests include German-language literature in its social and historical context, the writer as public intellectual, and the literary culture of Germany since 1945. He was member of an international team which produced the 27-volume critical edition of the complete works of Heinrich Böll (Cologne: 2002-2010), which was an impact case-study for his School's submission to the REF. He has published books and articles on a range of other authors, such as Günter Grass, UweTimm, Peter Turrini and Christian Kracht.

His current focus is on German-Jewish writing, particularly, as Co-Investigator on a project to explore 'Cosmopolitan Memory' in the Literature of Germany and South Africa funded by the British Academy. As Dean, Frank was instrumental in the creation of 'Arts Engaged'. This is one of the University's nine 'transformational projects' and its aim is to develop strategic thinking and innovative methodologies for embedding impact in all stages of the research process.

In terms of national roles, Frank was President of the Association of German Studies in the UK and Ireland and a panellist for the 2008 RAE and the 2014 Research Excellence Framework.

Presentation slides