Later this week, Uwe Schütte, Reader in German at Aston University, will be hosting a conference on the novelist Ulrich Peltzer who has established himself as one of the leading literary voices in contemporary literature. His last novel „Teil der Lösung“ was recently translated into English as „Part of the Solution“ ( http://press.uchicago.edu/ucp/books/book/distributed/P/bo11455314.html ).
The public conference “Die Gegenwart erzählen: Ulrich Peltzer und die Ästhetik des Politischen” is taking place on the 5th of December, 2013, at the prestigious Brecht-Haus in Berlin. Peltzer himself will be present for the conference. In the evening he will also be reading passages from his latest, still unpublished novel.
We were delighted to welcome German novelist Klaus Böldl as DAAD writer in residence. His time at Aston presented the author with his first opportunity to meet an English speaking audience and to interact with British students.
To mark the author’s stay, Dr Claudia Gremler and Dr Uwe Schütte organised the first academic conference on Böldl’s works. Having the author present and available to comment on the researchers’ interpretations of his writings turned the event into a very special occasion.
Böldl is an acclaimed author, particularly well known for his first novel Studie in Kristallbildung (“Study in Crystal Formation”) published in 1997. He is highly esteemed by critics and has won several literary prizes. Most of his books are set in Scandinavia and Böldl excels in describing remote regions allowing the reader to vividly picture unfamiliar landscapes.
This relationship between space and landscape formed one of the topics of the conference. In addition, the different aspects of identity in Böldl’s novels were examined, the application of ethnographic concepts was discussed and the portrayal of Limits and Extremes in Böldl’s books was analysed. There was a strong focus on Böldl’s most recent book, Der nächtliche Lehrer (“The Nocturnal Teacher”) from 2010.
Aston was particularly proud to welcome our keynote speaker, Prof Heinrich Detering, President of the German Academy for Language and Literature. His lecture focussed on the tension between narration and contemplation in Böldl’s work and led to a lively discussion.
At present, Böldl’s books are only available in German. Their lucid yet highly associate style poses a challenge to translators. At Aston we chose to accept this challenge and set up a Böldl project for our Translation Studies students. As part of their course of study, final year students translated passages from Der nächtliche Lehrer. They were presented in a bilingual reading at the end of the conference. Our colleague Jean Darvill, who supervised the students and helped them combine their efforts into a single translation, joined Böldl in this public event which also attracted staff and students from other universities.
The remainder of Böldl’s stay at Aston was filled with further student projects, including a Schreibwerkstatt and a workshop exploring Germany’s literary scene.
Klaus Böldl’s visit was only the most recent in a long line of similar projects – made possible by the support we received from the German Academic Exchange Service. We are hoping to host another author next year – so watch this space!
Our colleague Uwe Schütte has just published Unterwelten – Zu Leben und Werk von Gerhard Roth, a general introduction to the Austrian author Gerhard Roth who is well-known for being actively engaged in political debates.
Gerhard Roth’s literary works are primarily concerned with the fight against neglecting historical responsibility. Hence they can be read as an alternative to official historical interpretations. His work is a multilayered oeuvre that gives a voice to the persecuted, forgotten and alienated.
Unterwelten – Zu Leben und Werk von Gerhard Roth offers insights into the author’s work and demonstrates its role as an artistic tracing of the dark past. Uwe Schütte is an established expert on Gerhard Roth ever since his PhD thesis Auf der Spur der Vergessenenen – Gerhard Roth und seine Archive des Schweigens was published in 1997.
You can find more details on the book here:
A public launch of the book will take place on 15 January 2014 in the Vienna City Hall.
Do you have an ineffective gas-bag of a boss, a proficiently talented, yet inordinately modest best friend, or know that you’ll never have kids despite what all your friends say, but lack the word(s) to describe that fact?
Never fear, The Neologist is here to help. Simply send him a definition of your predicament and he will provide a German compound noun or phrase “that will not only describe precisely what you mean to say, but also dazzle the person you’re speaking to with your brilliance and wit” and “that will immediately telegraph your utter intellectual superiority”.
Here’s a recent example:
Slowly Spinning in San Simeon
Since I was a kid my Mom always said “go slow” when we were on our way out of the house. But living in California and working in the clay arts it’s all about “instant success.” Is there something I can say to my artist friends when they challenge me in my artistic quest for all things “quality, not quantity”?
Thank you for this kind service when one special word said in a dramatic way is so necessary sometimes. Even if it’s a German word said with an Italian accent while splattering clay.
Slowly Spinning in San Simeon
Dear Slowly Spinning,
In a situation such as yours I would find it difficult to resist the urge to seek refuge in a simple English BUZZ OFF! Hell, I might not even use the word “buzz.” But civility demands restraint. And if the German language can offer anything it’s most certainly the civil expression of repressed anger. Thus I suggest that — upon your next confrontation with your friends’ lust for instant glory — you unleash upon them the concept of
m, qu’nst-lur-reesh-er gay’-roongs-pro-tsess’
(artistic fermentation process)
You might also mention the German saying
Gut Ding braucht Weile.
goot ding browkt vile’-uh
(A good thing takes time.)
While there is much to be said for a daily artistic discipline in creating new work, being awarded the trappings of worldly success for said work isn’t always under our control. Hence the maddening need for patience — and for German compound nouns — to keep eager friends (and one’s own inner voice) at bay.
I, for one, admit to suffering from mutwillig unterbewußte Pünktlichkeitsverschiebung. Look it up…
The University of Birmingham’s Department of Modern Languages (German Studies) and Institute of German Studies have announced a range of AHRC-funded studentships for September 2014, through their involvement in the Midlands3Cities Doctoral Training Partnership. They will consider applications for PhD study in all areas relevant to their research. Queries can be addressed to Dr Nigel Harris (firstname.lastname@example.org) (Department of Modern Languages) or Dr Sara Jones (email@example.com) (Institute of German Studies).
These scholarships are open to applicants from the EU, including the UK. They will enable the recipients to undertake meaningful and stimulating research under the guidance of a supportive and distinguished group of academics. To apply for funding, students must have applied for a place to study at the University of Birmingham and have already provided two academic references via the university’s application system. The deadline for funding applications is 12pm, Thursday 9 January 2014.
For further information, please visit: http://www.birmingham.ac.uk/ahrc-funding
Or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
The fall of the Iron Curtain in 1989 led to fundamental cultural and political re-alignments in the German-speaking world, unleashing a wave of cultural comment and creative activity. The 1990s and early twenty-first century saw a re-vitalisation of the film scene in both Germany and Austria, evident not only in highly acclaimed niche productions but also in a series of international box-office hits. Alongside preoccupation with the traumatic past (The Counterfeiters , The White Ribbon) German film turned to topics of migration and multiculturalism (The Edge of Heaven) and discovered a new sense of ironic humour (Good Bye, Lenin!).
The list of films includes:
Stefan Ruzowitzky, The Counterfeiters (2007): 13 November, 15.00 (introductory talk to series by Dr Deborah Holmes)
(Schindler’s List: 20 November, 13.15)
Fatih Akin, The Edge of Heaven (2007): 27 November, 13.30
Michael Haneke, The White Ribbon (2009): 3 December, 20.30
Wolfgang Becker, Goodbye, Lenin! (2003): 18 December, 13.30
According to persistent legend, the last Soviet soldier left Austria on the 25th of October, 1955, ending the 10-year Allied occupation of Austria following the end of World War II. In reality, the Soviets had left in September, and while the British forces officially handed over the last occupied barracks on the 25th, a number of soldiers actually stayed on for some time. Still, October 26th has since been the country’s ”Nationalfeiertag”, commemorating the culmination of Austria’s negotiations for self-governance. These talks had carried on for years until, on May 15th, 1955, the Foreign Ministers of Britain, France, the US and the Soviet Union officially signed the Staatsvertrag treaty. Afterwards, Austrian Foreign Minister Leopold Figl stood on the balcony of Belvedere palace, showed the signed treaty to the assembled masses and proclaimed, “Österreich ist frei!” (Austria is free!).
If you feel like celebrating this momentous day, you might want to seek out one of the Austrian cafés and restaurants run by ex-pats and fans of the “Alpenrepublik”. One such place is Kipferl, a café-restaurant in London, styled after the famous Viennese Kaffeehaus. With its delicious coffee, served properly with a glass of tap water, its selection of authentic savoury dishes and delectable cakes and German-speaking waiting staff, this lovely spot in Camden Passage in Islington really is ‘a little slice of home’ for Austrians abroad.
Right here in Birmingham, you can get your Austrian ‘fix’ at Franzls Restaurant, situated in leafy Bearwood. The menu includes Austrian classics and traditional dishes with a twist, some of which are testament to Austria’s imperial past, such as Cevapcici and Gulaschsuppe.
Know of any other Austrian culinary havens around the country? Leave a comment and we’ll be happy to showcase them!
On the 22nd of October, Uwe Schütte hosted a reading by the German author Alban Nikolai Herbst, followed by a discussion with the author, at the “Literaturhaus Stuttgart”. Alban Nikolai Herbst read excerpts from his latest novel Argo, the grand finale of his Anderswelt trilogy . Alban Nikolai Herbst is a renowned postmodern German writer and won the literary award “Fantastik Preis der Stadt Wetzlar” in 1999 for Thetis, the first book in this series.
The novel follows an author, Hans Deters, who writes a story about the East German Achilles Borkenbrok. The book deals with the DDR and its people, their fears and hopes, and manages to blend Homer’s Ulysses with our world. It challenges our world views, our perception of reality and guarantees a thrilling reading experience.
As you might know, Aston University offers a wide range of opportunities to go abroad. This provides you with an excellent chance to get to know other cultures, improve your language skills, earn valuable work experiences and last but not least gain friends for life.
A stay abroad further offers you the chance to get an insight into the working culture of other countries. By doing a placement year in a German company, you will, for example, be able to tell whether German punctuality is reality or just a myth. You will also learn about work ethics and typical work environments. As an Erasmus student or as a teaching assistant you will get to know the German educational system and you will be able to meet a lot of people your own age.
If you are an Aston student who is living in another country right now and writing a blog, feel free to send us the web address so that others can read about what you are doing and how you experience life in your new ‘Heimat’.
Some students already sent us a link to their blog, so take a look at what a placement year can be like: