The Samuel Fischer Guest Professorship for Literature was instituted at the Freie Universität Berlin in 1998 by the publishers S. Fischer in association with the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD), Freie Universität Berlin and the Veranstaltungsforum of the Holtzbrinck Publishing Group. In addition to teaching at Freie Universität, the author holds a special Guest Professorship Lecture in Berlin and reads in further cities at various literary events.
The guest professorship is intended to promote the dissemination and critical analysis of world literature. It gives students at Freie Universität Berlin the chance to create literature with internationally renowned authors. The results of this collobaration have been documented and published in Edition AVL.
In the winter term 2017/18 Joshua Cohen is S. Fischer guest professor. Cohen, who won the Pushcart Prize 2012 and the Matanel Award for Young Promising Jewish Writers 2013 is often compared by critics to his rhetorically brilliant colleagues David Foster Wallace and David Pynchon.
Joshua Cohen was born in 1980 in New Jersey and studied Composition at the Manhattan School of Music. He lives in New York City and works as a writer, essayist and critic for Harpers’ Magazine, the New York Times Book Review and for London Review of Books. In his published stories and novels Cohen employs a precise power of observation and a virtuoso style of writing, which ranges from abstract through playful to radical language. He also creates multiple layers of meaning through visual representation such as capital letters and blank spaces.
His novel “Witz” was on the shortlist for the “Best Books of 2010” by the weekly magazine The Village Voice and his novel “4 Messages” was listed on the Shortlist “Best Books of 2012” by The New Yorker. In 2017 he was named one of Granta’s Best of Young American Novelists.
English poet and novelist Lavinia Greenlaw was born in 1962 in London. At the age of eleven her family moved to a small village in Essex. Looking back she describes this period in her vivid memoir The Importance of Music to Girls (2007): “I didn’t work: my language, accent. Codes and clothes were all wrong. People laughed at my name and mimicked the way I spoke. My voice was too posh, I had ink on my shirt, I was messy and skinny and dead white.” In 1980 Greenlaw returned to London and studied seventeeth-century art at the Courtauld Institute.
Her first collection of poems The Cost of Getting Lost in Space, was published in 1991. For Night Photograph (1993), the first volume within Faber & Faber’s prestigious series of poetry, she was shortlisted for the T.S. Eliot Prize, the Forward Prize and the Whitbread Book Award.
Not only in reviews about music and art, Greenlaw often crosses the borders of the mere text put between the two covers of a book. For BBC Radio she adapted for instance Virginia Woolf’s novel Night and Day and dealt in her radio documentaries with the effects of light and vision in the arctic midsummer and in particularly dark places in England. Her sound work Audio Obscura (2011) won the Ted Hughes Award for New Work in Poetry and she was the first artist-in-residence at the Science Museum.
Together with the guest professorship a series of S. Fischer guest of honour-lectures was established beginning with Antonio Skármeta from Chile and Carlos Fuentes from Mexico. In May 2007 Orhan Pamuk, Nobel-Prize Winner of Literatur 2007, read from his Book Istanbul. To mark the 10th anniversary of the guest professorship, Paul Auster read in September 2008 at the Berliner Ensemble and the Nobel-Prize Winner Kenzaburo Oe on 1 November 2008 at the Haus der Kulturen der Welt as guests of honour. For the 15th anniversary the first guest professor from 1998, Vladimir Sorokin, read in June 2013 at the Berliner Ensemble from his book The Blizzard.
Since 1995, the Samuel Fischer Guest Professorship was held by the following authors (in alphabetical order):
Former Samuel Fischer Guests of Honour: