Rauriser Literaturpreis 2016 awarded to Hanna Sukare

Our literary expert Uwe Schütte was a member of the jury who awarded this year’s Rauris Prize for Literature to Hanna Sukare. The award recognises the best German-language prose debut of the year. Not strictly speaking a young debutante, Sukare is 59 years old and lives in Vienna. Her excellent novel Staubzunge was published by Otto Müller in Salzburg.



Rauris is a small alpine town in the Salzburg region of Austria. It is famous for its annual literary festival which will take place this year from 30 March to 3 April. Find out more about the event here.





Kölle Alaaf!




The carnival in Cologne is not only one of the biggest but also one of the most amusing festivals in Germany. People are about to celebrate the end of the carnival season which starts in November and furthermore herald the Christian season of Lent. From “Weiberfastnacht”, the Thursday before Shrove Monday, until “Shrove Tuesday” there is a proven period of sessions, balls and parades, and it is celebrated, sung and danced mainly in the halls, restaurants and pubs. People from all over the world unite to  join the processions and try to catch the sweets. The local beer “Kölsch” flows like water and every year cologne provides another theme to entertain the carnival revellers.

Popular song from a local band:


Sebald Radio Programme with Uwe Schütte

On Tuesday, 26 January, at 8.04 pm the Saarländischer Rundfunk (SR) will broadcast a 2.5 hrs programme on the writer W.G. Sebald. On the eve of Holocaust Memorial Day, the programme will discuss, amongst other topics, howW.G. Sebald Sebald’s literary writings dealt with the atrocities of the Holocaust. Infos on the programme can be found on the Sebald blog VERTIGO.

Among the  experts interviewed is our colleague Uwe Schütte, whose PhD was supervised by Sebald. He will argue, however, that it is a mis-conception to regard Sebald as an author of Holocaust fiction. Sebald, in his view, actually questioned the uniqueness of the Holocaust, which he considered a part of an overarching destructive tendency he called the “natural history of destruction”.

You can listen to the programme via the SR Lifestream here.

Guest post: Life after graduation

Today’s guest post is from Ben Young, an Aston graduate who now lives in Munich.


Hawidere and Grüße aus München!

My name is Benjamin Young, I’m a 25 year-old Aston graduate who is currently living and working in Munich, southern Germany. I studied on the International Business & Modern Languages (IBML) BSc between 2008-2012 and moved back out shortly after graduating.

After initially moving to Munich in May 2012, I started working for the British Government at the Consulate General in May 2014. My day to day work is with the commercial arm of the Government, working for UK Trade & Investment, helping German firms invest into the UK and providing a route into (and through!) Government from a local perspective. My remit covers advanced engineering & manufacturing with a heavy focus on the railways, so I am often working with large German companies such as Siemens, Deutsche Bahn and BMW. The skills that I learned at Aston, and vitally the combination between applied business subjects and language skills, was really key to me hitting the ground running in this job.

The Ambassador’s Residence in Vienna – there is still always time for tea, even in Austria!

The Ambassador’s Residence in Vienna – there is still always time for tea, even in Austria!

Outside of my main duties there is more general, Consular work to be done to show off the UK to the Germans, widen our network and organize visits from British delegations. I was part of the organizing group for the HM Queen Elizabeth Royal State Visit earlier this year, and was fortunate enough to be with the delegation on the Frankfurt leg of the trip to the Roemer and historic city hall, and garnering a surprising amount of camera time! As well as this, we still organize a Queen’s Birthday Party each year (she is yet to attend), and I am often asked to represent the UK at interesting events such as the maiden voyage of the National Express trains linking Cologne, Bonn and …, from which I am writing this blog post- it’s a far shout from the old National Express coach station in Digbeth!

I feel very fortunate to have studied at Aston and there’s no doubt in my mind that it has helped me greatly so far in my career. Although I do occasionally feel the pangs of homesickness (as a season ticket holder at West Bromwich Albion, it has been particularly tough), I have at least been able to switch the Birmingham Christmas Markets for the real thing – and there is of course Oktoberfest!

I’m happy to speak with any prospective or current students or indeed upcoming graduates should you have any questions about working for the British Government overseas, moving countries or my course studies – please do feel free to get in touch.

GODSTAR – Der verquere Weg des Genesis P-Orridge

Straying a little from his usual area of expertise, our colleague Uwe Schütte has published a small book on the life and artistic career of Neil Megson, better known as the extremist performance artist Genesis P-Orridge. Screen Shot 2015-12-21 at 21.41.10

In the late 1960s he founded the performance group “COUM Transmissions” which later grew into the band “Throbbing Gristle” who are credited with inventing the industrial music genre. Their dissonant anti-music, played at ear-piercing noise levels, intended to question the role of entertainment in a post-Auschwitz world. Picking up on the cultural critique of Critical Theory, they disavowed all forms art or artistic activities that aim to cover up the ugliness and moral decay of modern existence.

Following the dissolution of  “Throbbing Gristle”, P-Orridge founded his new band “Psychic TV”, which dabbled in esotericism, and he even founded a sect called “Temple of Psychic Youth” in the early 198os. It was shortly afterwards that “Psychic TV” first released a single and then an entire double album with the title GODSTAR as a tribute to the late Brian Jones, founding member of the Rolling Stones, who had prematurely died in mysterious circumstances in 1969, aged 27. P-Orridge had met Jones by chance in May 1966 in a film studio on Aston Road, just a stone’s throw away from Aston University.

Uwe’s book, which extends on a  long essay written over ten years ago, traces the results this meeting had on P-Orridge and how it changed his life. More info on the book can be found in this article published by Uwe in the Austrian national paper WIENER ZEITUNG. The book was launched in Vienna on December 12 at the Künstlerhaus in Vienna and can now be ordered at the Der Konterfei website.

Uwe Schütte on Pop Music and Literary Writing

The leading German literary magazine VOLLTEXT was re-launched today with its title story written by our colleague Uwe Schütte.

SScreen Shot 2015-12-21 at 21.19.52tretching over seven pages, “Poetry + Electricity = Rock’n’Roll” takes its title from a quote by Patti Smith. The essay deals with the overlap between pop music lyrics and high-brow poetry but also looks at novels recently written by pop musicians.

You can download Uwe’s essay here.

“Pop – Texte – Literatur” Event at Brechthaus, Berlin

Screen Shot 2015-12-07 at 22.11.47An event spanning three evenings and focussing on the overlap between literature and pop music took place earlier this month at the Literaturforum im Brechthaus in Berlin. Organised and chaired by our colleague Uwe Schütte, the first evening featured this year’s DAAD Songwriter in Residence Andreas Spechtl from indie heroes “Ja, Panik”. He was in conversation with Torsten Groß, chief editor of Germany’s leading music magazine SPEX. Andreas also played a number of his songs.


The second evening was devoted to the lyrics of the band “FSK”, which was founded in 1980 in Munich. Their chief songwriter, Thomas Meinecke, has established himself as one of the most important novelists in the German language over the course of the last fifteen years. He opted to sing a number of his lyrics to the audience a cappella style, stressing in discussion with Prof Eckhard Schumacher from Greifswald University that in his view they do not live up aesthetically to his literary writings.


On the third and final evening, Peter Thiessen from Hamburg band “Kante” discussed his recent work for the theatre with the director Friederike Heller. Over the last 8 years, “Kante” have stopped the usual cycle of recording albums and touring in favour of taking part in a number of theatre productions for which Peter has written original music, and a selection of which was recently released as IN DER ZUCKERFABRIK. One the course of the evening, Peter played solo renditions from his work for the theatre as well as from “Kante” albums.

The event took place in cooperation with FLUX FM radio station, you can to their radio trailer here:



Uwe Schütte & Sven Meyer discuss Sebald

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Our resident Sebald expert Uwe Schütte was invited by the Literarisches Zentrum in Göttingen to discuss the works of the renowned writer with Sven Meyer who is the editor of Sebald’s posthumous writings. The event,entitled “W.G. Sebald. Zwischen Kanon und Außenseitertum”, took place on Monday, 14 December 2015 – which is also the 14th anniversary of Sebald’s premature death. More info can be found here.




Last week one of Aston’s French Teaching Assistants and I went on a day trip to Bristol. We got there by bus and really enjoyed the trip although it has been raining the whole day. We made the best of it and wore colourful umbrellas so that the day wasn’t that grey any more. :) I appreciated being in the countryside and really enjoyed the mixture Bristol offers its visitors. First, we went to the Clifton Suspension Bridge and walked the way back to the City Center. While doing we saw many impressive buildings and had several coffees and teas in lovely cafés. Back in the center of Bristol we finished the day in a relaxed atmosphere and went on Bristol’s Christmas market. To get an impression of my first trip to Bristol I share some photos with you. :)


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Christmastime – the best time of the year

Advent season has only just started and it’s magic! In these days Birmingham’s German Christmas market is a nice place to be and the city looks marvellous with its Christmas decorations. The light’s brightness is everywhere and just standing there and taking at look at it is worth going there. It delights me to have the pleasure of visiting a Christmas market in Birmingham because this is a German tradition and I badly would have missed going there. In fact, for me there is no difference betweeen a Christmas market in Germany and the German Christmas market in Birmingham. People meet friends and family to spend a nice time together and to put themselves in the right mood for Christmas. They eat delicious food, drink hot mulled wine, listen to Christmas songs and maybe buy nice things on the market. So, the Christmas market makes me feel like home and going on the Christmas market should be a very important item on everybody’s Christmas to-do list. :)

Besides visiting the Christmas market, we use the Advent season to prepare ourselves for Christmas. This includes that we decorate our homes and make an Advent wreath. Every Sunday we light a candle and enjoy spending time with the family. In my family we bake various Christmas biscuits and drink hot chocolate with cream while listening to Christmas songs and having a great time together. I love to think of Christmas presents for my beloved and to see their bright faces on Christmas Eve. :) But before this great event on Christmas Eve can start, my mother and I spend the entire day with preparing and cooking food. When nearly everything is done we change clothes, go to church to put ourselves into the thoughful mood of Christmas Eve and spend the night within the close family circle.

I hope you enjoy the Advent season as much as I do and maybe we run into each other on Birmingham’s great German Christmas market! :) See you there!