Reports of Participants

Burrhus Njanjo discussing the last presentation together with Weijie (Leonie) Zhao, Annick Thönnissen und Maya Maurer.

"In Weimar, you exreience cultur; in Weimar everything ist culture"

A poem about me! Yes, that's right! One poem, and a week later, a second poem! In fact, over the two weeks of the summer school, there were two poems about every participant written by Fernando from Brazil. They were sometimes about the person, sometimes about their research questions or their character; that is what made them so funny. This gives you some idea of the congenial atmosphere at the summer school.

For example, I noticed how quickly people from all over the world (four continents and ten countries) and from different cultures were able to communicate and joke with each other, how appropriately and easily they discussed topics with lecturers, productively examining them from very different angles. Whilst the MWW Research Association is surely not alone in facilitating such events, in my opinion, they certainly did a fantastic job. When you experience something like this, you do not for one moment regret your decision to apply for the summer school. My love affair with Weimar and MWW began in the winter of 2015 in Wuppertal; a friend showed me the announcement for the MWW Summer School and gave me a compelling and enthusiastic report on the last summer school, which he had attended in Marbach. At the time, I was still vague about what I wanted to focus on for my PhD, although, thanks to my friend, I had gradually come under the spell of the MWW Summer School in Weimar. After participating in the IPIW Winter School in Wuppertal, I firmly resolved to investigate the issue of literary history in relation to world literature and the topic of canons and national authors from a post-colonial perspective. After that, I felt I had no other option than to send off my application for the MWW Summer School in Weimar. Besides, for any German studies scholar, Weimar has a special significance. By default, you think of Goethe and Schiller, and the Weimar Republic. But once you are in Weimar, many other names are added to the list: Herder, Wieland, Nietzsche, Liszt, Musäus, Albert Schweitzer and Anna Amalia, after whom the library was named. Then, there is also the impressive archive, and the various palaces and museums with which Weimar distinguishes itself as a real (constructed) city of culture.

The theme of the summer school was 'The Making of a National Author - Formation and Aspiration'; I was interested in how the issues of national authors and world literature could relate to each other, how the term 'national author' should be understood, and what this would mean in relation to current and recent discussions on the concept of the nation, both in Europe and Africa, bearing in mind factors such as war and terrorism. Although the discussions at the summer school were very European in focus, the theoretical insights gained can to some extent be transferred to an African context and are interesting in relation to the debate surrounding national authors, for example in Cameroon. I have also come to the realisation that discussions about national authors have recurred in the 19th, 20th and 21st centuries, and that until now, little significance has been given to intercultural, intercontinental and trans-national perspectives in relation to the construction of 'great authors.

My research is entitled 'European Modernity as Mirrored by "Primitivism": An Exploration of Intercultural and Trans-National Literary Historiography from a Post-Colonial Perspective.' During my research visit to the library, I came across the following three books and I have worked with these extensively: Nicola Gess, (ed.), Literarischer Primitivismus (Berlin/Boston: De Gruyter, 2013), Nicola Gess, Primitives Denken, Wilde, Kinder und Wahnsinnige in der literarischen Moderne (Müller, Musil, Benn, Benjamin) (München: Wilhem Fink, 2013) Sven Werkmeister, Kulturen, Zur Figur des Primitiven in Ethnologie jenseits der Schrift, Kulturtheorie und Literatur um 1900 (München: Wilhem Fink, 2010).

These texts have helped me to broaden the theoretical section and enabled me to gain a wider view of the latest research developments in relation to my work. This Cultural Studies research is shaped by Weimar, now and always; because in Weimar, you experience culture; in Weimar, everything is culture.

Burrhus Quercy Njanjo Nkake is completing his Master's 2 in German studies at the University of Yaoundé I in Cameroon; he also teaches German. He is particularly interested in intermedia, modernity and the avant-garde, film and migration. His research project is entitled: 'European Modernity as Mirrored by "Primitivism": An Exploration of Intercultural and Trans-National Literary Historiography from a Post-Colonial Perspective.'