Hybrid Encounters Speaker- Introduction: Hans Ulrich Gumbrecht

Hybrid Encounters „Moods & Vibes“ with Hans Ulrich Gumbrecht & Westbam (18th Ocobter 2018, 7pm Georg-Neumann-Saal, Einsteinufer 43, 10587 Berlin) is just around the corner. For those of you are only familiar with one of those speakers (or neither) we’re doing an introduction for both!  – Hans Ulrich Gumbrecht this week and Westbam then following next week.

Hans Ulrich Gumbrecht, for those who known him in person also “Sepp”, was Professor in Literature at the Department for Comparative Literature at Stanford University since 1989 and until very recently. As a scholar, Gumbrecht focuses on the histories of the national literatures in Romance languages (French, Spanish, and Brazilian) but also on German literature. He teaches topics in the western philosophical tradition and is interested in forms of aesthetic experience in the 20/21st- century “everyday culture” and sports.

His written oeuvre encompasses 50+ books alone, and further countless journalistic statements and reviews. Probably most prominent (at least among his journalistic work) are his contributions for the FAZ blog “Digital/Pausen“ (sadly discontinued recently), covering a very broad spectrum of topics like politics, American culture, poetry and literature, gender and religion enriched by his memoir.

Gumbrechts scholarly work has evolved intensely around (at least) two prominent motives: One being “Stimmung” (a topic that will certainly be addressed in the upcoming Hybrid Encounter “Modes/Vibes)”, which plays with the idea of “cultural moods”: Certain moods are symptomatic for certain times; in capturing the spirit of a certain time one can get a understanding how people of that time were experiencing. This understanding can be reached by examining everyday activities, arts and literature of that period. “Stimmung” as an approach to not only get ahold of the zeitgeist of past times, but also as an approach to understand literature differently.

“Presence” and “broad presence” are both diagnostics of our times: Considering a range of present-day phenomena, like hypercommunication and globalization, Gumbrecht notes an important shift in our relationship to history. Although we continue to use concepts inherited from a "historicist" viewpoint, a notion of time articulated in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, the actual construction of time in which we live in today, which shapes our perceptions, is no longer historicist. Without fully realizing it, we now inhabit a new, unnamed space in which the "closed future" and "ever-available past" (a past we have not managed to leave behind) converge to produce an "ever-broadening present of simultaneities.

For those interested in Gumbrechts idea and his works there is some further reading:
Interview in Neue Zürich Zeitung, 09/22/18, unter https://goo.gl/qE2Ub3
Digital/ Pausen” FAZ- Blog, 03/24/2018, unter https://blogs.faz.net/digital/
Gumbrecht, H.U., "Stimmung lesen - Über eine verdeckte Wirklichkeit der Literatur". Hanser, 2011.
Gumbrecht, H.U., "Our broad present - Time and Contemporary Culture". Columbia University Press, 2014.


Elias Dieterle