‘Geschwindigkeit der Literatur’

Public Lecture by Writer Ilma Rakusa, Winner of the 2017 Berlin Literature Prize of the Stiftung Preußische Seehandlung and Visiting Professor of German Literature: May 18

‘ 122/2017 from May 16, 2017

The writer Ilma Rakusa, Visiting Professor of German Literature sponsored by the Preußische Seehandlung Foundation, will give her inaugural lecture at Freie Universität Berlin on Thursday, May 18, at 6:15 p.m. The lecture will be in German. It is entitled "Die Geschwindigkeiten der Literatur - Sondierungen auf dem Gebiet der Poetik und Prognostik." It is public, and admission is free. An introduction to the lecture will be given by Michael Gamper from the Peter Szondi Institute of Comparative Literature at Freie Universität Berlin.

Ilma Rakusa was born in Slovakia in 1946 as the daughter of a Slovenian man and a Hungarian woman. She spent her early childhood in Budapest, Ljubljana, and Trieste. She then moved with her family to Zurich, where she spent her school years and began studying Slavic and Romance languages at the university. She continued her university studies in Paris and Leningrad. The selection committee for the 2017 Berlin Literature Prize stressed that "This multinational and multilingual biography is reflected in her literary work, and she is one of the most important voices of the multilingual Central European literature, which has been characterized by migration experience, marginalized by nationalist terror and communist dictatorships, and pushed out of public awareness. In Rakusa’s literary work, she addresses the cultural diversity of Europe in a sensitive and poetic manner. Formally, she utilizes all the genres, but most often narrative texts and lyric poetry. Her literature is characterized by an extraordinary awareness of language, form, and musicality, as well as by a transnational horizon, and her poetological work is characterized by a rare level of reflection. In her recently published volume of poetry, Impressum: Langsames Licht, she reveals a wonderful world hidden by everyday life. Franz Schuh praised the book as being an artistic equilibrium of pathos and occasionalism; calling it the ’sound of the present,’ he said it characterizes life today. In addition to her own original literary work, Rakusa is a translator of numerous works by authors in various parts of Europe, and she views herself as a mediator of international literature."

The Berlin Literature Prize goes to writers whose literary works have made a substantial contribution to the development of German contemporary literature in the areas of lyric poetry, narrative prose, or drama. The Berlin Literature Prize is connected with a Visiting Professorship for German Literature at the Peter Szondi Institute of Comparative Literature at Freie Universität Berlin. From 2005 through 2016, twelve times altogether, it was called the Heiner Müller Visiting Professorship for German Literature.

Each year during the spring/summer semester, the award winner supervises a literary workshop for young authors who are students at the universities in Berlin or Brandenburg. The previous award winners/visiting professors were Herta Müller, Durs Grünbein, Ilija Trojanow, Ulrich Peltzer, Dea Loher, Sibylle Lewitscharoff, Thomas Lehr, Rainald Goetz, Lukas Bärfuss, Hans Joachim Schädlich, Olga Martynova, and Feridun Zaimoglu.

Time and Location

  • Thursday, May 18, 2017, 6:15 p.m.
  • Seminar Center, Freie Universität Berlin, Otto-von-Simson-Straße 26 (Room L116), 14195 Berlin, subway station: Freie Universität/Thielplatz or Dahlem-Dorf (U3)

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