Modern Languages

Alexander von Humboldt award for Ian Cooper

12 May 2017

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Dr Ian Cooper, Lecturer in German in the Department of Modern Languages, has been awared an Alexander von Humboldt Foundation grant to host a colloquium entitled 'Celan and Heidegger Fifty Years after Todtnauberg'.

The meeting between the poet Paul Celan and philosopher Martin Heidegger on 27 July 1967, at Heidegger's mountain retreat near the Black Forest village of Todtnauberg, is one of the seminal literary and intellectual encounters of the twentieth century, and continues to be the subject of intense speculation and debate. While the various, and widely differing, imaginative and reconstructive attempts to define what exactly was discussed by the two men that day are essentially exercises in conjecture, the core historical tension of the meeting is not a speculative matter: namely, Celan's need to hear from Heidegger, with whose philosophy he had a deep and appreciative familiarity, some account of the thinker's involvements during the years of the Third Reich. The meeting at Todtnauberg has acquired the symbolic aura of a history-laden encounter between the Jewish poet and former National Socialist philosopher.

The 50th anniversary, in 2017, of the 'event' of Todtnauberg may be seen as an occasion to consider in greater depth than has been usual the intellectual and imaginative currents shaping the relationship between Celan's work and Heidegger's. Celan and Heidegger Fifty Years after Todtnauberg addresses their relationship by bringing together an international group of scholars with specific interests in Celan and Heidegger, and in poetry and philosophy more generally.

The colloquium will seek perspectives on Celan and Heidegger which are properly integrated into a historical, and above all textual, understanding of their respective imaginative achievements and which attend to the forms of modern selfhood that they develop as inheritors of the German Romantic-Idealist account of 'being in the world'.

The Alexander von Humboldt Foundation was founded by the German government to promote international academic cooperation between scholars from Germany and from abroad.

For more information on the Foundation, please see its website here:


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