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Translator Anne Birkenhauer Appointed August Wilhelm von Schlegel Visiting Professor of Poetics of Translation at Freie Universität for 2014/2015 Fall/Winter Semester

№ 108/2014 from Apr 04, 2014

Anne Birkenhauer, a translator who lives in Jerusalem, will be the August Wilhelm von Schlegel Visiting Professor of Poetics of Translation during the 2014/2015 fall/winter semester at Freie Universität Berlin. On October 27, 2014, she will give her inaugural lecture in the Academy of the Jewish Museum in Berlin.

Anne Birkenhauer was born in 1961 in Essen, Germany. She studied Jewish studies and German studies at Freie Universität Berlin, and since 1989 she has been living and working in Israel. Birkenhauer worked as a research assistant in the Department of Jewish History at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. In addition, she was editor of the German edition of the journal Ariel - Magazine for Art and Culture in Israel as well as the Jewish Almanac of the Leo Baeck Institute.

Birkenhauer's career as a translator began in the 1980s, when she translated a book of poems by Dan Pagis. Since then she has developed a broad repertoire of prose translations. Besides classic literary authors such as Jaakow Shabtai, Jehoshua Kenaz, Gabriela Avigur-Rotem, and Aharon Appelfeld, she has translated modern experimental prose by Yuval Shimoni and Yoel Hoffmann, to name just two, and works by other younger writers with completely different styles of writing that are often ethnically influenced and colloquial (Sarah Shilo, Daniella Carmi, Eshkol Nevo).

For her German translation of the novel Isha Borachat Mi’bsora (published in 2008; German: Eine Frau flieht vor einer Nachricht, 2009), she and the author David Grossman were jointly awarded the Albatros Literaturpreis in 2010. In 2011 she was awarded the Jane Scatcherd Prize for the same novel. The book was published in English as To the End of the Land (2010). Since 2011, along with the translator Gadi Goldberg, she has been directing a Hebrew-German workshop for translators that takes place regularly in Germany and Israel as part of the ViceVersa Program of the Robert Bosch Stiftung.

The August Wilhelm von Schlegel Visiting Professorship was set up in 2007 by the Deutsche Übersetzerfonds e.V. (German Translator Fund) and Freie Universität Berlin. It is the first chair devoted to the poetics of translation in German-speaking countries. Each year the visiting professorship is awarded to an experienced literary translator who teaches during the fall/winter semester at the Peter Szondi Institute of Comparative Literature. Anne Birkenhauer is the eighth person to hold this chair, following Frank Günther, Burkhart Kroeber, Stefan Weidner, Susanne Lange, Olaf Kühl, Rosemarie Tietze, and Elisabeth Edl.

"Poetics of Translation" – the ambitious title of this chair is self-explanatory. Its objective is not to offer practice exercises in translation skills for literary scholars, but rather a critical reflection of methods of translation used by oneself and others, as well as comparative text analysis. The founders anticipate that this endowed chair will become well known for the reflection of historical methods and theories of literary translation. The Deutsche Übersetzerfonds and the Peter Szondi Institute view the August Wilhelm von Schlegel Visiting Professorship as a significant step toward greater appreciation of literary translation as an independent artistic achievement and as a tool for counteracting the still widely held view that literary translation is a secondary "craft."

The establishment of this visiting professorship was made possible by the Commissioner of the German Federal Government for Culture and Media. As of 2009, the chair is being funded by the German Federal Cultural Foundation.

Time and Location

  • Monday, October 27, 2014, 7:30 p.m.
  • Academy of the Jewish Museum Berlin, Lindenstraße 9-14, 10969 Berlin; subway station: Hallesches Tor (U1)

Further Information

  • Jürgen Jakob Becker, Deutscher Übersetzerfonds, Tel.: +49 30 81 69 96 25, Email:
  • Dr. Georg Witte, Peter Szondi Institute of Comparative Literature, Tel.: +49 30  838 – 564 22, Email: