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Research and Teaching: King Albert and Clara Zetkin and I

Research and Teaching: King Albert and Clara Zetkin and I

It’s 10:20pm, and I’m riding my bike home from downtown Leipzig. I now know the city so well that my body automatically guides me home through the empty streets as I reflect on the past few hours. I was just at the Leipziger Passage cinemas and saw the Pakistani film Joyland I saw, but I’m not thinking about the movie at all, but about my companion: the students in my seminar that I’ve been attending since October University of Leipzig Literary theory in German studies.

I spontaneously decided last week that I wanted to meet my class outside of the seminar room. In a space that gives us the opportunity to have a conversation that I don’t have to lead from the blackboard like a teacher. Some of the students wanted to go home after the movie to digest what they had seen, and a few of them sat with me at a nearby bar. In dimly lit rooms, we talked about the queer rebellion against the patriarchal and conservative structures of Pakistani society, which director Saim Sadiq shows in his film. It was an equal exchange. The exchange I had been imagining before the semester started.

At that time I was thinking about how to organize my teaching role at the university. I asked myself a lot of questions: “What is science?”, “What is the function of science?” and “Why is the study of literature socially important?” I couldn’t find definitive answers to all the questions, but I was sure of one thing: In my seminar, I wanted to give students a space in which they could think critically about literature, society, and the connections between the two.

As I drove past the Humanities Center of the University of Leipzig on the now dark Beethovenstrasse, I stopped briefly and recalled being in my office contemplating the plan and content of the symposium. I clicked on the website of the Federal Ministry of Education and Research to find out what university patrons actually expect from research and teaching, that is, from me. The words “innovation”, “participation”, “prosperity” and “sustainability” kept coming to my mind. As the Ministry understood it, science should be used as a tool for a more just, sustainable and non-discriminatory society – which fits with my understanding of the term: science as an active practice of creating knowledge that can help reduce injustice and discrimination in society. Our community.

My office is located in a modern building made of a lot of glass and steel, made up of different cubic shapes. Directly opposite is a building that shows a completely different understanding of architecture. It was opened in 1891 and named the Albertina Library by King Witten Albert of Saxony. The library building still bears the same name today, and the number of books has only doubled. The open collection in the library’s basement alone now includes 300,000 volumes.

I stand in front of the beautiful building and think about all the books and the great potential within them. They all provide information about what is thought, feeling, hope or hate in society. Using literary studies techniques, all the hopes, dreams, thoughts and resentments found in the books can be traced. This is exactly the craft I want to introduce to my students.