Prof. Dr. Iwan-Michelangelo D’Aprile (Potsdam): The Lithuanian Experience. German-Lithuanian Literary Entanglements in the Spirit of Radical Enlightenment


Mo. 03.10.2022 | 17:00 Uhr

The lecture will present three key protagonists of the German literary discourse on Lithuania from the late 18th to early 20th Century: Salomon Maimon, Therese Huber, and Alfred Döblin. All three authors published on their Lithuanian experiences in non-fictious reports as well as in innovative literary forms and genres: Maimon’s description of his emigration from Lithuania to Berlin (“Lebensbeschreibung”, 1792/93) counts as one of the first and still most astonishing Jewish autobiographical novels in modern German literature. Huber’s Vilnius-based novel “Destination Cloister” (”Klosterberuf”, 1811) in a new way combines the genres of female autobiography, “Bildungsroman”, and historical-political “Zeitroman” and served as a prototype for later 19th Century political female authorship. Döblin’s “Travel in Poland” (“Reise in Polen”, 1926) echoed in the first chapter of his groundbreaking “Großstadtroman” “Berlin Alexanderplatz” (1929) and was in various ways constitutive for its avant-garde literary programme. By transforming the common German stereotypes and prejudices on Lithuanian-Polish-Jewish backwardness into a critique of the hypocrisies, blind spots, and limitations of the established cultures of their times the three examples open up a fresh perspective on the history of modern German Literature: as a catalyst for a self-reflective radical enlightenment and modernity the seemingly peripheral Lithuanian experience reveals at its core.

Prof. Dr. Iwan-Michelangelo D’Aprile holds the Chair “Cultures of the Enlightenment” at the University of Potsdam. He is member of the steering committee of the German Society for 18th Century Studies (Deutsche Gesellschaft für die Erforschung des 18. Jahrhunderts, DGEJ). Invited for Guest scholarships at the Duke University Durham North Carolina, the National University of Ireland Galway, the Université Bordeaux-Montaigne, the Ludwig Maximilian University Munich, and the German Historical Institute Paris. His book publications include: Das 18. Jahrhundert. Zeitalter der Aufklärung, Berlin 2008, Aufklärung und Kulturtransfer in Mittel- und Osteuropa (co-editor), Wolfenbüttel 2009, Die Erfindung der Zeitgeschichte. Geschichtsschreibung und Journalismus zwischen Aufklärung und Vormärz, Berlin 2013, Fontane. Ein Jahrhundert in Bewegung, Reinbek bei Hamburg 2018. In addition, he published several chapters on Baltic authors of the Enlightenment such as Johann Georg Hamann, Johann Gottfried Herder, Immanuel Kant, Salomon Maimon, or Garlieb Merkel.

In cooperation with the University of Vilnius und Lithuanian Institute of History

Location: University of Vilnius, Faculty of History, Room 211

Na styku kultur. Kaszubi i inne narody
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