Professor Dr. Hans Ulrich Gumbrecht has been appointed permanent visiting scholar for the study of literature at Zeppelin University. The internationally renowned literary scholar, cultural theorist and essayist will now regularly come from Stanford University to Lake Constance.
"Over the past two years, Zeppelin University has become my favorite academic institution in Germany, for two reasons: in the first place, ZU is one of the very few private schools that have managed to establish a sound financial basis and an astonishing international reputation, using the flexibility, the independence, and the many challenges of their private status, in many impressive ways. Secondly, and in stark contrast to the State-run German University System, Zeppelin University strikes me as profoundly "Humboldtian," because it has a habit of developing its most far-reaching and ambitious initiatives from the successful and indeed happy everyday Encounter between students and professors, in the classroom. Or, to quote Humboldt, himself: at this university, "the different tonalities of the different intellectual enthusiasms of different generations permanently inspire each other.'"
Born in Würzburg, Gumbrecht studied Romance and German studies, philosophy, and sociology in Munich, Regensburg, Salamanca, Pavia and Konstanz. In 1971 he did his PhD at the Universität Konstanz, where he also submitted his post-doctoral lecture qualification in the general and Romance study of literature in 1974. In 1975 he took on a professorship at the Ruhr-Universität Bochum, in 1983 at the Gesamthochschule Siegen. Since 1989 he has held various professorships for the general and comparative study of literature at Stanford University. At the moment he holds the Albert-Guérard-Chair.
"This long-term visiting professorship of Sepp Gumbrecht is a special gift for Zeppelin University and its students: Future decision makers in and bridging business, culture and politics have to learn how to read, how to observe acutely, think venturously and show presence in a special way – and this not only in crisis situations. A literary scholar such as Sepp Gumbrecht sensitizes these skills as hardly anybody else worldwide", rejoices ZU-President Prof. Dr. Stephan A. Jansen, who negotiated Gumbrecht’s professorship last year.
Gumbrecht is considered an important seismograph and trend-setter in the areas of literary, cultural and media theory, in whose development he has played a major role. Especially Niklas Luhmann’s system theory has influenced Gumbrecht’s work considerably for a time. In the more recent work of Gumbrecht, a move away from modern theoretical models and a simultaneous move to the history of philosophy and to metaphysical questions can be observed.
A larger audience has known him since the end of the 80s for his numerous contributions in the feature pages, especially in the Frankfurter Allgemeinen Zeitung and the Neue Zürcher Zeitung, as well as for his essays. Whereas he is an important mediator of European, especially German philosophy and science in the USA and Latin America, he explains and defends the points of view of his American adopted country in Europe, especially in Germany.
Numerous visiting professorships have led Gumbrecht to universities in North America, Europe, Latin America, Japan and South Africa, as well as to the Collège de France (Paris). He is a permanent visiting scholar at the Université de Montréal and at the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales (Paris). He has been awarded honorary doctorates from the universities Montevideo (1999), Montréal (2004), Siegen (2007), St. Petersburg (2007), Greifswald (2008) and Marburg (2009).