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Karl Heinz Bohrer

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Karl Heinz Bohrer

Visiting Professor

Karl Heinz Bohrer, editor of the German literary magazine “Merkur” (“the German journal of European thought) and Professor [em.] for Modern German Literary History at the University of Bielefeld, is perhaps Germany’s most significant contemporary writer on aesthetics and the literary imagination. In overlapping careers as journalist, literary editor, professor, and magazine editor, he has written about topics ranging from aesthetics and contemporary politics to English football. As literary editor of the leading German newspaper (1968-1974) Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, he established that newspaper as a prominent review venue.

Bohrer was born in 1932 under the Third Reich, and was only 12 when the War ended. For Bohrer, the gum-chewing, jazz-playing GIs represented a “triumph of secularization” that taught his generation to “be human without gods” (Die Zeit, 7 March 1997). He has divided his time between Germany and England, and achieved great success with his provocative and humorous essays focused at first on England’s unique style of coping with its own “decline,” and later on the Thatcher years and parallel reflections on Germany’s postwar values and conventions. His books on aesthetics (the aesthetics of terror, of war, of the State) and German Romanticism are widely appreciated in Europe and abroad.