The highly popular, sometimes controversial and often acclaimed contemporary (West) German author, Walter Kempowski, ranks among Germany's most distinguished authors. He is the recipient of many prestigious German literary honors and continues to receive numerous distinguished literary prizes and awards, recently, the Hermann-Sinsheimer-Preis für Literatur und Publizistik in March 2003. In December 2002 he was awarded the Dedalus-Preis für Neue Literatur des Südwestrundfunks und des Ministeriums für Wissenschaft, Forschung und Kunst, Baden-Württemberg, and in September 2002, the State of Lower Saxony honored him with the Nicolas-Born-Preis. He is not only a chronicler and archivist-historian of popular testimony to the events of modern history, he is also a writer of fiction, an autobiographer, a diarist, and a literary innovator. He also employs techniques of artists and writers of the Dada movement (collage and montage).

Further, his writing exploits modern technology's and photography's means to record in infinite detail and nuance the present and the past. Kempowski believes that the voices, words and travails of a wide spectrum of people who have lived through and experienced the brutal history of modern Europe bear witness to historical truths not found in the evaluative judgments of the “experts,” the academic historians. As with Heinrich Böll, the themes which Kempowski treats focus on the impact that daily events of the major wars of the 20th century, especially the Second World War, have had and continue to have on the German middle classes.

The aims of the Symposium are several: To examine and assess in depth via four days of lectures, workshops and discussions these witnessing aspects of Kempowski's oeuvre. Internationally-known Kempowski scholars will present their recent research. The teaching and learning opportunities of the Symposium will be extended by several panels on the theme of didacticizing works of Kempowski for the literature class in schools, colleges and universities, a senior undergraduate students’ workshop on Kempowski’s critical reception in the German literature class will complement the pedagogical impulses of the DaF Seminar.

We plan to publish a Proceedings following the conclusion of the meetings.

Information::Tagung an der Universität Bielefeld

In addition to the Symposium at Eastern Michigan University in April 2004, Prof. Dr. Jörg Drews is organizing a 3-day conference from May 12 - 14, 2004 at the Fakultät für Linguistik und Literaturwissenschaft der Universität Bielefeld.

Additional information about the May Symposium can be accessed at www.walter-kempowski.de


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