Heinrich Böll Centenary Lecture

To mark the centenary of the birth of Heinrich Böll (1917-85) on 21 December 2017, Stephen Murphy, who is writing a thesis on Böll’s ‘Aesthetics of the Humane’, will give a lecture on the author’s most famous short novel, Die verlorene Ehre der Katharina Blum / The Lost Honour of Katharina Blum entitled: ‘The Aesthetics of the Humane in Heinrich Böll’s Die verlorene Ehre der Katharina Blum’. 

Date: 13 December  

Time: 3pm  

Venue: Keir Hardie 021  

The paper will be followed by a screening of Volker Schlöndorff’s film adaptation.


Die verlorene Ehre der Katharina Blum tells the story of a 27-year-old freelance housekeeper who has a romantic encounter with a young man who is on the run from the law, helps him flee, and is subsequently exposed to a vituperative tabloid campaign of smears and fabrications that deprives her of her “honour” and leads, ultimately, to an act of shocking violence.  The novel was written at a time that West Germany was gripped by the perceived threat of the Baader-Meinhof Group.  Given the degree to which Böll considered himself a writer informed by the Zeitgeist – to say nothing of several coincidences and allusions in the book to the wider events in reality – it is little surprise that critiques of the novel have concentrated on its connection to the then unfolding civil emergency.  These critiques, however, by and large neglect other readings. My talk, in contrast, relates the novel to Böll’s call, during his Frankfurt Lectures of 1964, for literature to assume an “aesthetic of the humane” as counterweight to the tilt of West Germany into an atomised and instrumental society.  I explain how, in Die verlorene Ehre der Katharina Blum,Böll compares and contrasts humane and inhumane conceptions of four of the seven elements of everyday existence that make up his aesthetic, namely “dwelling (Wohnen), “neighbourhood” (Nachbarschaft), “homeland” (Heimat) and “love” (Liebe)

Herta Müller and the Currents of European History: A Conference

Dr Brigid Haines (Swansea University and a member of the CCGC), along with Prof Michel Mallet (Université de Monction) and Jenny Watson (Sheffield University) is part of the organising committee for the forthcoming 'Herta Müller and the Currents of European History' conference at the University of London.  Read more about this here >>>.

CCGC director delivers talk to Welsh think-tank, Gorwel

Julian Preece with Russell Deacon (Gorwel)On Tuesday 27 June  2017 in the Venue Old Chamber, Ty Hwyel, National Assembly for Wales, Cardiff Bay, Professor Julian Preece gave a talk on “The Changing Shape of Germany, EU-Hegemon or ‘Hippy State’? Issues and Personalities in the Federal Elections of 2017”. He is pictured here after the lecture with Professor Russell Deacon, who is Gorwel's administrative director.

In the talk Professor Preece noted that after Brexit, Trump, Macron, electoral politics in the western democracies are changing in unprecedented ways as voter allegiances shift, established parties crumble, and old battle lines are re-drawn. How will Germans respond when they go to the polls on 17 September 2017 he asked? In the summer of 2015, Chancellor Angela Merkel, in office since 2005, looked set to equal records established by fellow Christian Democrats Konrad Adenauer (1949-63) and Helmut Kohl (1982-98) and win a fourth successive victory. Then came the extraordinary events of the ‘migrant crisis’, the rise of the Pegida movement and the far-right party, ‘Die Alternative für Deutschland’. In January this year, the Social Democrats nominated EU Parliament President Martin Schulz their chancellor candidate and his poll ratings soared.

In the talk Professor Preece also noted that the SPD’s Frank-Walter Steinmeier was elected Federal President in March, only the third Social Democrat to hold this office in the history of the republic. The SPD then crashed in state elections in the Saarland, Schleswig-Holstein and North-Rhine Westphalia. The smaller parties as ever in Germany play key roles: Europe’s largest Green Party, Die Grünen, once a haven for radicals, now firmly embourgeoisé; the rump of the old East German state communist party, Die Linke, currently the third largest force in the Bundestag; the resurgent Free Democrats; and of course the AfD which may achieve what has eluded any party to the right of the CDU and cross the 5% hurdle at a national election. Professor Preece concluded by providing his analysis of how events are likely to unfold over the final months of the campaign and what the flavour of the new government in Berlin is likely to be.

Find out more at the Gorwel website:  http://www.gorwel.co/wordpress/?p=2977.

Consultancy Work

The Centre has recently undertaken consultancy work for murmur research (http://www.murmurresearch.com) and the advertising agency Wieden & Kennedy (http://wklondon.com) on social attitudes and mental behaviour in German-speaking Europe. We welcome enquiries from commercial researchers interested in the biggest market in Europe.