Apr 22, 2015
A year-long lecture series on German literature from the Middle Ages to the present that is being held jointly by the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and Freie Universität Berlin is being concluded with an event devoted to the work of Herta Müller. On April 29, Herta Müller, the winner of the 2009 Nobel Prize in Literature will be reading excerpts from her work that have not yet been published in Hebrew. The text passages will be read in both German and Hebrew. Following the reading, Dr. Jürgen Brokoff, a professor of German at Freie Universität Berlin, will carry on a conversation with the author that gives the audience insight into her work. The main focus will be on the intercultural writing situation of the Romanian-born German writer. The reading and the discussion are part of the program of events that the two universities are holding during the anniversary year "Fifty Years of Diplomatic Relations between Germany and Israel."
During the past two semesters well-known scholars of German literature from Freie Universität Berlin and other German and international universities have been holding lectures as part of a course on German literature taught at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. The lectures covered the period from the Nibelungenlied to the present. The writers that were dealt with included Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Thomas Mann, Franz Kafka, Sophie von La Roche, Rahel Varnhagen, and Elfriede Jelinek. The final event of the series is being devoted to Herta Müller, and she will be present in Jerusalem. In Israel she is primarily known for her novel, The Land of Green Plums (German: Herztier), which was published in 1996 and published in Israel in a Hebrew translation by Tali Konas. The reading will include excerpts from The Hunger Angel (German: Atemschaukel; 2009), a 304-page prose poem, and Cristina und ihre Attrappe (Christina and Her Dummy; not yet published in English). The passages were translated into Hebrew by Tali Konas and published in the Israeli newspaper, Haaretz, prior to the reading.
The aim of the lecture series was to give new impulses to German studies at the Hebrew University. Professor Yoav Rinon, who heads the Department of Literature there said, “The lecture series was an important step in our efforts to set up a German studies program.” Professor Susanne Zepp, the academic coordinator of the strategic partnership between Freie Universität and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, said, “We were overwhelmed by the interest shown by the students and by their active participation. Yoav Rinon is currently preparing the book edition of the lectures for publication in Hebrew on the Israeli book market. It is expected to be an important contribution that will further build upon the success of the lecture series.”
The lecture series was designed and coordinated by Prof. Dr. Susanne Zepp in cooperation with the professor of German literature, Dr. Anne Fleig, and the professor of comparative literature, Dr. Joachim Küpper, both of Freie Universität Berlin, in close cooperation with their colleagues in Jerusalem. Prof. Dr. Yoav Rinon heads the project in Jerusalem, and the German studies scholar, Dr. Karin Neuburger, coordinates the project at the Hebrew University. The interdisciplinary DAAD Center for German Studies, the Center for Austrian Studies, and the Franz Rosenzweig Minerva Research Center German-Jewish Literature and Cultural History at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem were also involved in getting the series off the ground.
The Hebrew University of Jerusalem and Freie Universität Berlin cooperate within the framework of a strategic partnership, which includes exchange programs and joint research projects in the humanities and natural and social sciences. During the anniversary year "Fifty Years of Diplomatic Relations between Germany and Israel," Freie Universität and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem are jointly organizing a number of scholarly conferences and workshops. The academic cooperation between the two universities has a long history extending back into the 1950s. The Federal Republic of Germany and the State of Israel took up diplomatic relations on May 12, 1965, and German-Israeli cooperation in science and research is considered to have paved the way for the diplomatic relations between the two countries.
In sponsoring this lecture series, the Axel Springer Foundation, 60 years after its founding, aims to contribute further to German-Israeli understanding. Beginning in the 1960s the publisher Axel Springer used his foundation to contribute to social, cultural, and academic projects in Israel. This commitment is continued by the foundation to this day.
This text was originally published on April 21, 2015, as a press release.