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The Writer-in-Residence Programme

The Writer-in-Residence Programme has been a prominent feature of the German Department since 1970. Initially co-funded by the Volkswagen Foundation it has for a number of years enjoyed the support of both the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) and the University. Their generosity has enabled the Department to host a number of Germany’s most important writers, critics and poets, including Dieter Wellershoff (1973/4), Günter Kunert and Martin Walser (1975), Ror Wolf (1976), Peter Rühmkorf (1978), Lothar Baier (1987) and Ludwig Harig (1989). Recent guests reflecting contemporary Germany’s rich and diverse literary culture have been the poets Barbara Köhler (1997) and Albert Ostermaier (2001), Romanian-German writer Herta Müller (1995), novelist and poet Marcel Beyer (1998), Jewish-German novelist, essayist and filmmaker Rafael Seligmann (1999), Turkish-German writer Emine Sevgi Özdamar (2002) and satirical poet Robert Gernhardt (2006).

In the early days, writers were invited for up to three months and these lengthy stays frequently resulted in fruitful mutual inspiration. While Dieter Wellershoff’s residence prompted Warwick staff to produce the first-ever volume of critical essays dedicated to this writer, the Department in return has found its way into a number of literary works. Most memorably, Warwick Germanists first became aware of Günter Kunert’s account of his eventful stay when perusing a copy of his Englisches Tagebuch at the stand of his publisher at the Frankfurt Book Fair! Martin Walser’s novel Jenseits der Liebe and Peter Rühmkorf’s fairy-tale ghost story Auf Wiedersehen in Kenilworth also bear eloquent witness to the creative stimulus of the Warwick experience.

The programme has also been responsible for a number of notable events, including Albert Ostermaier’s Warwick Arts Centre poetry reading to live musical accompaniment and workshops where students on the Creative Writing and Translation Studies Master’s programmes worked closely with visiting poets.A number of successful one-day conferences have been organised in honour of our writers-in-residence, with those involving Barbara Köhler and Marcel Beyer each resulting in a volume of essays. Enhancing the German Department’s strong contemporary focus, the Writer-in-Residence Programme provides a unique opportunity for students to meet and engage with a diverse range of contemporary writers whose texts frequently feature prominently in intellectual debate in Germany and on undergraduate reading lists.