Dear Students, dear members of Staff,
As the new academic year 2015/16 is about to commence, this is a good opportunity to look back at an intensive and successful year. It is worth mentioning that the English Department has recently celebrated what might be a record-breaking five successful completions of Ph.D. theses by Annie Cottier, Lukas Etter, Zoe Lehmann, Melanie Mettler and Kathrin Scheuchzer.
This fact, amongst others, attests to the academic vibrancy and intellectual stimulus that the department fosters, and there is more to come. The arrival of our new Dozentinnen has boosted our thematic and theoretical portfolio, also enriched by the seminar offered by our recent guest Professor, Makarand Paranjape, which received enthusiastic feedback. We certainly hope that we are able to pursue our exchange with the JNU New Delhi and other partner universities in order to complement our course offerings.
The department, however, also has to say good-bye to a colleague whose teaching and research has been one of its assets: Dr. Jürg Strässler is retiring from a successful and active academic career, and although we regret the loss of a much-liked and recognized scholar and colleague, I would like to use this opportunity to express the department's gratitude for his invaluable service and input he provided for many years. We all wish him good luck – and, needless to say, the door will always be open!
I would also like to offer a grateful ‘au revoir’ to Mi-Cha Flubacher, last semester's linguistics lecturer, as well as to Lucas Etter (who, after the successful completion of his Ph.D., left us for the University of Siegen), Fabian Felder, and three of last semester’s tutors: Barbara Boss, Ed Schindler Wright and Urban Zihlmann.
A hearty welcome goes out to the members of staff who will reinforce our ranks for the next semester: new lecturers Rory Critten and Elisabeth Reichel, our new assistants/Ph.D candidates Sara Lynch, Anja Thiel, Gwynne Mapes and Hannah Hedegard, and our new tutors Christina von Grünigen, Joanne Urwyler, Susi Scheurer and Sofie Behluli.
As far as our seminar offerings are concerned, I would like to point out that this semester's Friedrich Dürrenmatt Professor for World Literature, the renowned Burmese writer Wendy Law-Yone, will offer a seminar with the title ‘Explosive Transformations: Globalisation and its Discontents in English Language Asian Fiction’ which might be of interest to both English Literature and World Literature students. For more information, see: http://www.iash.unibe.ch/content/guest_professorship___collection/2015/wendy_law_yone/index_eng.html
Among other exciting events, members of the Department will offer two workshops/conferences in November: "The Poetics of Knowledge," organized by Dr. Irmtraud Huber with Dr. Wolfgang Funk, will take place from 5-7 November; "Communication in the 'Country of Babel': Language Ideological Debates on Contact Varieties", organized by Christoph Neuenschwander and Laura Tresch, will be held from 11-12 November.
For those desperate to know what to do in October and December, allow me to remind you again of the continuation of the Distinguished Lecture Series which on 5/6 October will feature one of the most renowned philosophers of our time, Alain Badiou. The series will be complemented by talks and workshops offered by Drucilla Cornell (who was unable to come last year), on 29/30 October, and Hans Ulrich Gumbrecht on 14/15 December, respectively.
It is also a pleasure to inform you of some of the achievements of our faculty: Prof. Kern-Stähler was awarded funding by the Royal Society of Edinburgh for a project on ‘The Senses: Past and Present’, organized in cooperation with Elizabeth Robertson and Fiona McPherson. Prof. Rippl's outstanding academic achievements have led to her appointment to the SNF's ‘Karrieren’ Selection Committee. Finally, and in all due modesty, I myself have been invited as faculty for the Institute of World Literature's next summer school at Harvard University.
As you can see, the department thrives as ever, and I hope that we will all take that momentum into what will prove to be an exciting AS 2015!
Professor for Literary Theory and Head of Department