Transatlantic German Studies: Personal Experiences

  • September 15 – 16, 2017
  • DUC 276 and Olin Library, Special Collections

Fourteen leading scholars in the field of American Germanistik/German Studies are going to deliver lectures. They will report about their personal experiences in the profession: about how they got involved in the field of Germanistik, how they reacted to the given status of the field at the time, about what they believed was particularly important in respect to new directions, and how they were able to contribute over the decades to approaches and goals in the profession on both sides of the Atlantic regarding the role of literature, interdisciplinary endeavors, pluralism, and diversity. Of particular interest are the transatlantic dialogues.

The symposium is meant to profile individual contributions to the profession. It will complement the historical surveys about the trends and turns in Germanistik/German Studies. It focuses on individual experiences, less on general structures although interference of personal goals and overarching paradigm shifts will play an important role in the recollections. The lectures will bring to mind a pluralistic history from the inside, from the subjective point of view of colleagues who have had an impact on forming our field of studies in America. Half of the scholars invited were born as U.S. citizens, half of them immigrated from other countries or continents.

German Studies are an integral part of the Humanities. Implicitly and explicitly the role of the Humanities with its changes and challenges as well as with the defensive position they are in right now are on the mind of all contributors. When they started studying or teaching German literature and culture in the United States, their professors or senior colleagues often were Jewish scholars who had fled Germany in the 1930s and 1940s. The exiled scholars were aware of the value-oriented teaching and research in the Humanities. In order to signal the connection to that earlier generation, we are arranging the symposium in memory of Egon Schwarz.

For more information about this event, please contact Prof. Paul Michael Lützeler at