Transatlantic Dialogue in Thomas Mann House in California

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Literary Scholar Stefan Keppler-Tasaki Wins Thomas Mann Fellowship for 2019

No 230/2018 from Sep 10, 2018

Professor Stefan Keppler-Tasaki, an Einstein Visiting Fellow at the Friedrich Schlegel Graduate School of Literary Studies of Freie Universität, has been awarded a Thomas Mann Fellowship for 2019 at the newly established Thomas Mann House in Los Angeles. The Thomas Mann House and the Villa Aurora - the former homes in California of the writers Thomas Mann and Lion Feuchtwanger, who had been forced into exile by the Nazis - are run today by a German nonprofit association and funded by the German Federal Foreign Office and the German Federal Government’s Commissioner to Promote Culture and Media. The fellowships of the Villa Aurora & Thomas Mann House e.V. are intended to help intellectuals in all areas to carry out major projects dealing with issues of transatlantic exchange. As a Thomas Mann Fellow in 2019, Stefan Keppler-Tasaki will examine the significance of Villa Aurora as a residence for German-speaking artists (1995-2015) and explore their literary work on themes related to escape and refuge, survival and new beginnings.

Stefan Keppler-Tasaki is a professor of German literature at the University of Tokyo. Since 2015 he has also been teaching and doing research as an Einstein Visiting Fellow at the Friedrich Schlegel Graduate School of Freie Universität Berlin, where he is also responsible for the Transpacifica project. In his work Keppler-Tasaki deals with the complex web of relationships between the history of literature, religion, and ideology with particular emphasis on the formation of individuality and collectivity. He also studies the medium of film and its relationship to literature. His current book is entitled Alfred Döblin. Massen, Medien, Metropolen , and it focuses on the years that the Berlin novelist Alfred Döblin spent in Los Angeles.

The Thomas Mann House in Pacific Palisades, Los Angeles, was the residence of Thomas Mann and his family from 1942 to 1952. They had emigrated from Germany to Switzerland in 1933 and as of 1938, they found refuge in the United States. After the Mann family returned to Europe, the villa was owned privately by others. In 2016 the German federal government purchased the house, and in 2018 it was inaugurated by German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier as a transatlantic meeting place.

The German Minister of State for International Cultural Policy Michelle Müntefering stresses the importance of the Thomas Mann House for German-American exchange. She said, "In California Thomas Mann found the space for his great literary work, which his homeland denied him. Today, the house has again become a place of open dialogue. I am therefore delighted that outstanding intellectuals and thinkers from various disciplines will be visiting the Thomas Mann House next year in order to discuss topical and social issues with their American partners across disciplines. After all, we are facing major challenges on both sides of the Atlantic. To master them together, cultural meeting places, such as the Thomas Mann House, are of tremendous importance. It is also supported by the Berthold Leibinger Foundation, the Robert Bosch Foundation, the Alfried Krupp von Bohlen and Halbach Foundation, and the Goethe Institute.


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