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Literature and Science

The Literary Studies group at the TU Berlin is located at the Institute of History and Philosophy of Science, Technology, and Literature. With its special focus on "literature and science" it provides an advanced study program for students of literature, art, media and cultural studies. In the master's program “Theory and History of Science and Technology”, the courses of literary studies constitute the separate major field “Literatur und Wissenschaft”. In this context, the chair also cooperates with the “Institute for Art History, Art Theory and Aesthetics” at the Berlin University of the Arts. In the bachelor´s program “Culture and Technology”, the chair of literary studies is responsible for the interdisciplinary module "Text and Knowledge".

Literary Studies at the TU Berlin: a Chronology

Since 1895, lectures on the history of literature have been held regularly at the Royal University of Technology in Berlin, as part of the Department of General Sciences. These classes were attended by students of the degree programs in architecture, civil engineering, mechanical engineering, marine engineering, as well as chemistry and metallurgy. The topics ranged from mathematics and physics to economics and law, commercial health and foreign language teaching. After the refounding of the Technical University of Berlin in 1946, the Department of General Sciences became the Humanistic Faculty (Humanistische Fakultät). Together with philosophy and the history of art and music, the field of German literature now contributed to a general education program that was binding for students from all faculties. The literary scholar Paul Altenberg, under whose leadership the Berlin Urania was reopened on the TU Berlin campus, was one of the defining university teachers of this humanistic course in the 1950s. The Germanist, poet and literary critic Walter Höllerer was appointed as his successor in 1959. He strongly advocated an expansion of the Faculty of Humanities in the direction of a broad spectrum of disciplines and also set an example with the establishment of an institute and a magazine for "Language in the Age of Technology". The magazine, the first edition of which appeared in the fall of 1961, considered it its task to address the issue of technology through an analysis of the entire field of current language practice, including the language of the mass media and formal computer languages. In the winter semester of 1961/62, an international reading series organized by Höllerer took place in the Berlin Congress Hall (now the House of World Cultures), in which writers such as Ingeborg Bachmann, Friedrich Dürrenmatt, Henry Miller, Natalie Sarraute and Eugène Ionesco took part and which was recorded and broadcasted by the Berlin television station (SFB). In 1963, Höllerer founded the Literary Colloquium Berlin (LCB), a house that still exists today to host and foster contemporary literature. The expansion of the Humanistic Faculty promoted by Höllerer as dean affected in particular the field of literary studies. So German literature was soon expanded to add an medieval studies section and was finally able to establish itself as an independent department. Norbert Miller and Friedrich Knilli started here as research and teaching assistants. Since the 1970s Miller, as chair holder, following his research interest in comparative literature also included art and music while Knilli took steps towards an institutional separation by developing a focus on media studies. With Thomas Cramer, Peter Wapnewski, Conrad Wiedemann, Hans Dieter Zimmermann, Reinhard Baumgart and Harald Hartung, the history of German literature from the Middle Ages to the present was represented at the TU Berlin until the late 1990s. There was a special interest, also in cooperation with the Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences (BBAW), founded in 1992, on Berlin Classic and Romantic literature. When Sigrid Weigel was appointed professor for Literary Studies for the winter semester 1999/2000 she also became director of the Center for Literary and Cultural Research (ZfL). Her proposal to orient the humanities thematically and methodically towards the technical and natural sciences came at a time of drastic cuts. With the opening of the degree programs "Culture and Technology" (BA) and "History and Culture of Science and Technology" (MA) in 2009 (now reorganized and renamed as „Theory and History of Science and Technology“), the reform was implemented to a large extent. The remaining chair of ​​Literary Studies with a Focus on Literature and Science is today part of the Institute of History and Philosophy of Science, Technology, and Literature.

 

 

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