This is what makes the German Literature Institute Leipzig so special

Ulrike Draesner as the first woman to hold the chair at the DLL

A lot has changed over the past 25 years. On the one hand formal: While the students initially acquired an artistic diploma as a degree, since 2006 they have completed their studies with a bachelor’s degree. Three years later, the DLL introduced a postgraduate master’s program that focuses on a novel project. On the other hand, the institute can also look back on an eventful internal history. There is the gender ratio, for example, which was very male-dominated in the first few years. After more and more female students were to be found, came along Ulrike Draesner only in 2018 the first woman to the chair. Cultural diversity is also increasing at the DLL.

Jan Kuhlbrodt, who belongs to the second year after the new foundation and has since repeatedly been active as a lecturer at the institute, observes that a significant and growing proportion of students and sometimes teachers enrich life at the institute with a migration background. The guest lecturers, who each give their own impulses, are decisive for constant dynamics in teaching. “If Anja Utler teaches, for example, or Ann Cotten as a guest lecturer, then completely different texts come up than, for example, when Norbert Hummelt is there,” explains Kuhlbrodt. It is precisely this range that is important. It characterizes the institute, he thinks, adding: “There’s a world between Hummelt and Cotten. And that’s the DLL.”

From youth culture to political discourses

The discourses at the DLL have also moved with the times. This not only comes into play in the debates and discussions in seminars and corridors, but is also reflected in the texts. While the majority of students used to focus on phenomena of youth culture, today political themes often appear in their works. Professor Haslinger explains his observation “that the social relevance of what writers do here is seen and re-evaluated.”

Despite all the movement, all the progress, all the changes, there are also things that have survived in almost the same way today. Not only is the tried-and-tested application process carried out as it was 25 years ago, but also what can be gathered from all discussions as a unique selling point, indeed the spirit of the German Literature Institute in Leipzig: the intensive exchange between writers, between established and aspiring writers. Looking back, Kristof Magnusson, who came to the institute to study in 1998 and to teach in 2012, states:

This is the place that brought me into contact with the people who have enriched me more than most other things in my life.” He hopes it stays that way. Because: “For a lively literary culture, you need these places, where you can talk about reading and writing.

Kristof Magnusson, graduate of the German Literature Institute in Leipzig

However the DLL may change in the future, whatever direction it may take, as long as this exchange takes place, there is a fair chance of always recognizing it.

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