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Heiko Feldner

Heiko Feldner

Reader in German Studies and Critical Theory

School of Modern Languages

+44 29208 75598
66a Park Place, Room 1.44, Cathays, Cardiff, CF10 3AS
Media commentator
Available for postgraduate supervision


I am a passionate academic and educator who enjoys teaching and research in equal measure. Over the past three decades, I have taught modern history, political economy, critical theory and German studies at Cardiff, Halle-Wittenberg and, in a visiting capacity, Xiamen University, while trying to shed light on 'ideology', 'power' and the enigmatic lure of 'capitalism' from different angles in my writing.

As a general editor of Bloomsbury’s Writing History series and co-director of the Cardiff Centre for Ideology Critique, I warmly welcome enquiries for PhD and postdoc research on critical theory and modern historiography, contemporary ideologies (Anthropocene, transhumanism), and the relevance of Marx (Wertkritik), Foucault (biopolitics) and Žižek (ideology critique).

Recent speaking engagements:

  • The German Federal Elections of 26th September 2021, live interview on TRT World news channel, 27 September 2021,
  • The Alternative for Germany (AfD) party and its classification as right-wing extremist by domestic intelligence service, live interview on TRT World news channel, 3 March 2021,
  • ‘The End of Sociodicy? From the War Paradigm to Tianxia’, paper at Contemporary Aesthetics forum of Zhejiang Social Sciences Annual Conference, Zhejiang University, Hangzhou, 18-20 December 2020 (online)
  • ‘What is the Historical Meaning of 1989?’, paper at symposium The Meaning of 1989 and the (Dis)Appearance of the German Democratic Republic, Cardiff, 29 November 2019
  • The 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall and the question of German unity today, live interview on TRT World news channel, 9 November 2019
  • ‘Sublime Objects of Ideology and Critical Theory Today’, research talk and interview at Xiamen University, School of Marxism, Xiamen, 19 July 2019
  • ‘The Innovation Paradox of Digital Capitalism’, public lecture, Xiamen University, School of Foreign Languages and Cultures, Xiamen, 17 July 2019
  • ‘Post-Digital Capitalism? Labour and Work in the 21st Century’, paper at The Future of Work in the Post-Digital Age conference of the Artes Liberales Institute, University of Warsaw, 27-28 May 2019
  • ‘The Idea of Communism? From Homo Economicus to Homo Socialis’, keynote at conference The Idea of Communism and its Representation in Modern Art, Yan’an University, Yan'an, 4-5 December 2018
  • ‘Climate Change or System Change? The Value of Marx, 200 Years after his Birth’, paper at conference The Idea of Communism and its Representation in Modern Art, Yan’an University, Yan'an, 4-5 December 2018
  • ‘What Does God Do When He is Dead?’, lecture at symposium of Center for Contemporary Marxist Aesthetics, Zhejiang University, School of Media and International Culture, Hangzhou, 2 December 2018
  • 'Green Growth and Ideology Critique’, interview by Research on Marxist Aesthetics journal, Zhejiang University, Hangzhou, 1 December 2018
  • ‘The Devil Take the Hindmost, or Why We Should Like to Read Karl Marx Today’, public talk at School of Modern Languages World Talk Lecture Series, Cardiff University, 1 November 2018
  • ‘Digital Automation and the Valorization of Cultural Creativity’, paper at 15th Russian-Chinese Sociology Conference Cultural Economy and the Economization of Culture, St. Petersburg State University, 12-13 October 2018
  • ‘Marx and the Global Economic Crisis’, public talk at the Marx200 festival of the Cardiff Socialist Forum, Cardiff, 23 June 2018
  • ‘Capitalism Forever! A Socio-Analytical Perspective on the 2008 Crisis and its Aftermath’, paper at Creativity, Critique and Globalization conference, with Fabio Vighi, Cardiff University, 14-15 July 2017
  • ‘The Finitude of Capitalism and the Perverse Charm of Utopian Denial’, keynote at 5th Marxist Aesthetics Forum conference The Power of Utopia, with Fabio Vighi, Zhejiang University, Hangzhou, 23-25 September 2016
  • ‘The Relevance of Marx and Lacan Today’, public lecture at Zhejiang University, School of Media and International Culture, with Fabio Vighi, Hangzhou, 26 September 2016
  • 'Crisis: As It Happened', paper at Thinking of(f) Crisis conference of the Slovenian Academy of Sciences, with Fabio Vighi, Ljubljana, 1-2 June 2016
  • ‘The Great Denial’, paper at annual conference of the Society for Lacanian Psychoanalytic Theory (LACK): Psychoanalysis and Freedom, with Fabio Vighi, Colorado Springs, 22-23 April 2016
  • ‘Critical Theory and the Crisis of Contemporary Capitalism’, paper at research seminar series Risking the Impossible of the Centre for Ideology Critique and Žižek Studies, with Fabio Vighi, Cardiff University, 9 March 2016
  • ‘The Meaning of 1989’, paper at the symposium The Legacy of Socialism of the GW4 Network for the Study of Socialist and Post-Socialist Europe, University of Bath, 12 May 2015
  • ‘Digging Its Own Grave: Marx, Lacan and the Exhaustion of the Capitalist Drive’, paper at Marx and Crisis conference of the Institute of German Studies, University of Rome ‘La Sapienza’, with Fabio Vighi, Rome, 20-22 November 2014
  • ‘The Matrix Cannot be Reloaded’, paper at research seminar series of the School of Languages and Social Science at Aston University, Birmingham, 19 June 2014
  • ‘Returning to Marx?’, public talk at round table with philosopher Christopher Norris and filmmaker Jason Barker in connection with public screening of Barker’s documentary film Marx Reloaded, 16 May 2013 in Cardiff
  • ‘History and Excess’, paper at annual conference of the Association for the Psychoanalysis of Culture and Society: Ethics in an Age of Diminishing Distance, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, 24-26 October 2008
  • ‘The Conceptualization of Surplus in Foucault and Žižek’, paper at annual conference of the Association for Economic and Social Analysis: Surplus/Excess, University of California, Riverside, 4-5 April 2008





















Book sections



My work uses insights from a variety of fields, especially political philosophy, modern intellectual history, macroeconomics, and theoretical psychoanalysis. Drawing on previous research about the implications of the economic crisis of 2008 (States of Crisis and Postcapitalist Scenarios, Ashgate 2014, ed. with Slavoj Žižek and Fabio Vighi; Critical Theory and the Crisis of Contemporary Capitalism, Bloomsbury 2015, co-authored with Fabio Vighi), I am currently working on a graphic essay entitled 'The Meaning of 1989’ with Cardiff visual artist Ute Feldner. The graphic essay takes a closer look at the demise of communism as a prelude to far larger developments, the latest phase of which we have entered with the pandemic of 2020-21.

Most recent publications:

  • (2021), ‘Preface to the Chinese Reader’, trans. Xu Jiaona, in: Heiko Feldner and Fabio Vighi, 批判理论与当代资本主义危机, trans. Xu Jiaona and Huang Man, Beijing: Oriental Publishing Center [Series: Critical Aesthetics and Contemporary Art Criticism], forthcoming in August 2021 (Chinese edition of Critical Theory and the Crisis of Contemporary Capitalism, London and New York: Bloomsbury)
  • (2020), ‘ 文化创意的增殖——数字资本主义与知识共享间的文化经济 ‘ (The Valorization of Cultural Creativity: Cultural Economy between Digital Capitalism and Creative Commons), in: Research on Marxist Aesthetics, vol. 22, no. 1, ed. by Wang Jie, Shanghai: People’s Publishing House, pp. 20-31. ISBN: 978-7-208-16034-7
  • (2020), Writing History: Theory and Practice, 3rd revised and extended edition, ed. with Stefan Berger and Kevin Passmore, London and New York: Bloomsbury [Series: Writing History, vol. 1], xii, 446 pp. ISBN (PB): 978-1-4742-5588-2

Recent conferences:

  • The Meaning of 1989 and the (Dis)appearance of the German Democratic Republic, 29 November 2019 in Cardiff, jointly organised with Nick Hodgin, Cardiff University
  • Creativity, Critique and Globalization, 6th International Marxist Aesthetics Forum Conference, 14-15 July 2017 in Cardiff, jointly organised with Fabio Vighi, Cardiff University, and Wang Jie, Zhejiang University, Hangzhou

I am a reviewer for public research funders, such as the American Council of Learned Societies and the Guggenheim Foundation, and a range of publishers and journals, such as Routledge and the Journal for Modern European History.


I enjoy teaching across all levels, from new undergraduate students in their first semester to experienced PhD researchers ready to submit their work.

Teaching responsibilities 2021-2022:

  • Introduction to German History and Culture, UG Year 1 core course; convener, teaching of Semester 1: History s. 1700
  • Cultures in Context, UG Year 2 optional course; teaching of block on ‘Power and Resistance’ in spring
  • Intercalary Year Abroad, UG core course; supervision of YA assignments, all year
  • The German Idea of History, UG Final Year optional course; convener, single-taught, all year
  • German Dissertations (English & German), UG Final Year optional courses; convener, supervision, all year
  • Culture and Protest in the 1960s, UG Final Year schoolwide option; teaching of block ’1968 in Germany’ in autumn
  • Research Methods, PG core course; teaching of components ‘Discourse Analysis' and 'Ideology Critique' in spring
  • Translation and Adaptation, PG optional course; teaching of component ‘Adapting History’ in spring
  • PGR supervision: 2 PhD theses (lead supervisor), 1 MPhil thesis (co-supervisor)


I joined Cardiff University as a lecturer in 2000 from the University of Halle-Wittenberg, where I was a research fellow at the Marx-Engels Centre MEGA and a lecturer in the departments of history and political economy. I am a member of the UK’s University and College Union and believe in the importance of free education, professional autonomy and collegial self-governance. In the School of Modern Languages, I have served in various roles, such as director of teaching and learning and programme convenor in German. Currently, I am a line manager to the French Department and a co-director of the Centre for Ideology Critique.

I am a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society and the Royal Society of Arts, London.


Apart from supervising BA and MA dissertations in German and European Studies, I have supervised a number of PhD students and post-doctoral researchers in the areas of critical theory, ideology critique, political economy, contemporary politics and modern European history, and served as PhD external examiner at other universities in the UK.

I am currently supervising three PhD/MPhil theses and warmly welcome enquiries for doctoral and postdoc research on critical theory and modern historiography, contemporary ideologies (Anthropocene, transhumanism), the history and concept of capitalism, and the relevance of Marx (value-form critique), Foucault (biopolitics) and Žižek (ideology critique).


  • Political theory and political philosophy
  • Modern German history, politics and culture
  • Critical theory