Walter Benjamin Kolleg

DARKNESS – On literature as a way to accelerate the thought

Wednesday, 2017/09/20 - Wednesday, 2017/12/20

Josefine Klougart, writer, Denmark


In fall term 2017 danish writer Josefine Klougart holds the eighth «Friedrich Dürrenmatt Guest Professorship for World Literature» at the University of Bern. She gives a course on darkness in literature.

Event organizer: Walter Benjamin Kolleg | Guest Professorship | Seminar
Speaker: Josefine Klougart, writer, Denmark
Date: 2017/09/20 - 2017/12/20
Time: 14:15 - 15:45
Locality: F001
Lerchenweg 36
3012 Bern
Characteristics: open to the public
free of charge

DARKNESS – On literature as a way to accelerate the thought

Through a mix of lectures and classroom discussions, we will try to get closer to answering two fundamental questions: What constitutes good literature? And what constitutes a good reading? In other words: By studying a number of great pieces of literature we will try to reach a better understanding of the nature of writing and the act of reading. The unifying motif we will look at is DARKNESS. Darkness will challenge us to confront a question that cultural studies today should try to address if not answer: Why bother to read poetry and fiction in a world on fire – why bother to read in a world that will soon be under water?

My thesis is that literature is not as much about recognizing ourselves in stories and ideas as it is about undergoing a change in the encounter with a new language. A new way of thinking. What happens to the mind when we read? Does literature refine our sensibilities? Does it accelerate our thoughts? And can these processes be transferred to a movement in our societies?

The course will be a combination of lectures and group readings of exemplary texts, both fiction and poetry, as well as drama and theory from renowned authors like Vladimir Nabokov, Inger Christensen, Elfriede Jelinek and Svetlana Alexievich. In addition, students will be writing short texts themselves imitating different voices in order to reach a fuller understanding of a given book experimentally.

The seminar will be conducted in English.

Josefine Klougart ist eine der vielversprechendsten jungen Autorinnen Skandinaviens und bereits jetzt eine der gefragtesten literarischen Stimmen ihrer Generation. Geboren 1985 in Dänemark, lebt Klougart heute in Kopenhagen. Sie studierte Literatur und Kunstgeschichte in Aarhus und besuchte die Danish Writer's School in Kopenhagen, die sie 2010 abschloss. Im gleichen Jahr veröffentlichte sie ihren Debütroman Stigninger og fald (engl. Rise and Fall), der mit dem Danish Royal Prize for Culture ausgezeichnet und für den Nordic Council Literature Prize nominiert wurde. Seither hat sie vier weitere Romane veröffentlicht, darunter On Darkness (2013) und New Forest (2016).