About the event:
In 1969, the poet Paul Celan, who upended modern poetry with his German-language poems testifying to the Holocaust, visited Israel. There he found love, hope, and other things, both tangible and intangible, that he commemorated in several poems and letters. But how to read Israel today in light of this historic visit, through the lens offered by Celan’s poetry? The poet taught us that language is shot through with historical memory both available and unavailable, personal and public, redemptive and traumatic. Can Celan’s poetry teach us to see the present – also present-day Israel – without being overdetermined by or denying the past? Can Celan’s poetry in fact chart a step out of our present via a deeply compromised and yet powerfully personal language?
About the speakers:
Ulrich Baer is University Professor at New York University and has published extensively on the representation of personal and collective trauma in literature, film, photography, and public debate. His books include We Are But a Moment; Remnants of Song: The Experience of Modernity in Charles Baudelaire and Paul Celan; and, as editor and translator, The Dark Interval: Rilke’s Letters on Loss, Grief and Transformation. His podcast, "Think About It," is devoted to in-depth conversations on powerful ideas and great books. His most recent book, What Snowflakes Get Right: Free Speech, Equality and Truth in the University, was published by Oxford University Press in October 2019.
Amir Eshel is Edward Clark Crossett Professor of Humanistic Studies and Professor of German Studies and Comparative Literature at Stanford University. His research focuses on contemporary literature and the arts as they touch on memory, history, politics, and ethics. He is the author of Zeit der Zäsur: Jüdische Lyriker im Angesicht der Shoah (1999); Das Ungesagte Schreiben: Israelische Prosa und das Problem der Palästinensischen Flucht und Vertreibung (2006); Futurity: Contemporary Literature and the Quest for the Past (2013); and Poetic Thinking Today (forthcoming with Stanford University Press in 2019 and with Suhrkamp Verlag (in German) in 2020). Amir Eshel is a recipient of fellowships from the Alexander von Humboldt and the Friedrich Ebert foundations and received the Award for Distinguished Teaching from the School of Humanities and Sciences at Stanford University.
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Celan in Israel: A Conversation between Ulrich Baer and Amir Eshel is funded by the DAAD from funds of the German Federal Foreign Office (AA).