Andreas Spechtl, DAAD Songwriter in Residence

Spechtl 2For the first time, we  invited to Aston not a Writer but a Songwriter in Residence. Andreas Spechtl, singer and songwriter of the Berlin-based, Austrian band Ja, Panik will be in Birmingham from 20 April. His band is recognised as one of the foremost German-language indie bands. They won acclaim in particular for their last two albums “DMD KIU LDT” and “Libertatia”, the latter winning the Album des Jahres Award of the leading music magazine SPEX. The highlight of his stay will be a free  solo concert in the city centre. More news on this after Easter. Spechtl was invited by our resident pop music expert Uwe Schütte and his stay is sponsored by the DAAD  and the Goethe Institut, London.

Aston scholars publish first volume of literary criticism on Klaus Böldl’s works


Last year, Aston’s School of Languages and Social Sciences hosted novelist Klaus Böldl as Writer in Residence. During his stay, the author  presented his works to a variety of audiences and discussed his writings with Aston academics.

One year on, German at Aston is pleased to announce the publication of the first scholarly volume on Böldl’s works, edited by Aston lecturers Dr Claudia Gremler and Dr Uwe Schütte.


Pages from Flyer Gremler_Schütte 5384-9

Aston Writer in Residence 2014: Heinrich Detering

German@Aston is delighted to announce that poet, literary critic and scholar Heinrich Detering will be Aston’s Writer in Residence 2014.


Heinrich will be with us shortly, so watch this space for details, which we will be able to provide very soon.

German@Aston is looking forward to welcoming yet another exciting author and we are grateful for continued support from the German Academic Exchange Service’s Writer in Residence Programme.

You can read up on the successful stays of our previous Writers in Residence in this section of our blog.

Aston Writer in Residence: Klaus Böldl

We were delighted to welcome German novelist Klaus Böldl as DAAD writer in residence. His time at Aston presented the author with his first opportunity to meet an English speaking audience and to interact with British students.

To mark the author’s stay, Dr Claudia Gremler and Dr Uwe Schütte organised the first academic conference on Böldl’s works. Having the author present and available to comment on the researchers’ interpretations of his writings turned the event into a very special occasion.

Böldl is an acclaimed author, particularly well known for his first novel Studie in Kristallbildung (“Study in Crystal Formation”) published in 1997. He is highly esteemed by critics and has won several literary prizes. Most of his books are set in Scandinavia and Böldl excels in describing remote regions allowing the reader to vividly picture unfamiliar landscapes.

This relationship between space and landscape formed one of the topics of the conference. In addition, the different aspects of identity in Böldl’s novels were examined, the application of ethnographic concepts was discussed and the portrayal of Limits and Extremes in Böldl’s books was analysed. There was a strong focus on Böldl’s most recent book, Der nächtliche Lehrer (“The Nocturnal Teacher”) from 2010.

The conference's keynote speaker

Aston was particularly proud to welcome our keynote speaker, Prof Heinrich Detering, President of the German Academy for Language and Literature. His lecture focussed on the tension between narration and contemplation in Böldl’s work and led to a lively discussion.

At present, Böldl’s books are only available in German. Their lucid yet highly associate style poses a challenge to translators. At Aston we chose to accept this challenge and set up a  Böldl project for our Translation Studies students. As part of their course of study, final year students translated passages from Der nächtliche Lehrer. They were presented in a bilingual reading at the end of the conference. Our colleague Jean Darvill, who supervised the students and helped them combine their efforts into a single translation, joined Böldl in this public event which also attracted staff and students from other universities.

Jean Darvill and Klaus Böldl present the first English translation of "Der nächtliche Lehrer"

The remainder of Böldl’s stay at Aston was filled with further student projects, including a Schreibwerkstatt and a workshop exploring Germany’s literary scene.

Klaus Böldl’s visit was only the most recent in a long line of similar projects – made possible by the support we received from the German Academic Exchange Service. We are hoping to host another author next year – so watch this space!

German@Aston Proudly Presents: Klaus Böldl, Aston’s Writer in Residence 2013

German at Aston are excited to confirm that novelist Klaus Böldl has accepted our invitation and will be Aston’s Writer in Residence in October 2013. His stay is supported by the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD).

Böldl’s highly acclaimed works offer fascinating visions of some of Europe’s remotest regions. Set in the periphery of civilisation, Böldl’s writings combine a (post)modernist exploration of the individual’s existential crisis with an elaboration of the reconciliatory potential of nature.

On 2nd October Böldl will read extracts from his latest novel Der nächtliche Lehrer (”The Nocturnal Teacher”) (5pm, MB574). It will be a bilingual reading with an English translation presented by our colleague from Translation Studies, Lecturer Jean Darvill. We are particularly proud to announce that the translation was produced in collaboration with final year Aston German and Translation Studies students.

Free Admission, All Welcome!

[click here to download the poster]

Jörg Albrecht live @ Aston

This week, our writer in residence at Aston, the young and electric Jörg Albrecht, hosted and participated in a number of events on and off campus.

For those who weren’t able to meet him in person, we’ve collected some impressions for you here.

On Tuesday, Jörg read excerpts from his work in the Birmingham Conservatoire.

The event was part of the Birmingham Book Festival and Jörg presented some of his work in German while having it (simultaneously) translated into English on a projection screen. The audience saw his art performed and read and translated at the same time:

On Wednesday, Jörg participated in a workshop at Aston and offered an exclusive insight into his new book, which hasn’t even been published yet! In a very entertaining and humorous manner, he read excerpts from his work and the audience was eager to listen closely to his words.

Jörg Albrecht also visited some German language and culture seminars at univerity. He enganged in discussions about Germany on more general terms but also the specific differences between everyday life in the UK and Germany today. Topics such as ‘What will life be in the future?’ were breached and we discussed different ideas on life and in the last decade, the “00-years”. A lot of ideas on contemporary life and its problems, difficulties and absurdities can already be found in Jörg’s books, but he also answered questions that were of special interest to the students.

As we have mentioned before, Jörg lives in Graz/Austria at the moment and is actively involved in Austria’s literary scene. He is currently working on his new book and also produces various theatre and radio plays.

You can get more information on him in general here: Fotofixautomat

To hear a radioplay of his, go to Phonofix or a programme (2009/BR2)

Jörg as Stadtschreiber in Graz

Jörg Albrecht coming to Birmingham!

A timely reminder: Don’t forget to catch our own Uwe Schütte chatting to Aston’s writer in residence Jörg Albrecht at the Birmingham Book festival on October 19th (festival programme), 7:45-9pm at the Birmingham Conservatoire, Paradise Place.

Jörg, this year’s Stadtschreiber (city writer) in Graz, Austria, will be spending the whole week at Aston, presenting his work and visiting with undergraduate students in a number of classes.

He has also been interviewed for LeftLion, the Nottingham Culture Online magazine. Here’s the intro to the interview:

“Jörg Albrecht is one of the most exciting young writers to emerge from Germany, offering unique multi-media performances and audio dramas. His latest novel Sternstaub, Goldfunk, Silberstreif (Stardust, Flash of Gold, Silver Lining, 2008) tells a fictitious history of space travel, mixing numerous allusions to popular culture with authentic details of the history of German aeronautics. In addition to this he’s written a libretto for Hanover State Opera, is currently working on a novel about the German Werewolf and runs his own theatre company, copy and waste.”

To read the interview, and to watch some of Jörg’s video art, go here.

Curious about Jörg Albrecht?

Jörg Albrecht live 

Not much longer now until we meet our new Writer in Residence, Jörg Albrecht!

He’ll be arriving in Birmingham shortly to spend a week at Aston University, working with different student groups and reading from his works, and he will also join Uwe Schütte at the Birmingham Book Festival on Oct 19th to talk about recent trends in the German literary scene, especially in Berlin.


If you want to get a taste of Jörg’s work in literature and multi-media art, take a look at the following vids on YouTube:

Liebe in Zeiten der Fehlermeldung

The Stranger in Me (Neulich, in der Panikothek)

sechshundert kameras und dennoch bekommt dich der movie plot

Shake Your Tree Edition Nr. 3

And the websoap “Andy Girls” by copy&waste

Currently, Jörg is Writer in Residence (Stadtschreiber) in the Austrian city of Graz. To find out more, go here.

And go here for a portrait of Jörg Albrecht review of his novel “Drei Herzen” published in Der Spiegel in 2006.

German literature at the Birmingham Book Festival!

On Tuesday, October 19, our own Uwe Schütte will introduce Birmingham to the exciting German writer Jörg Albrecht, who will talk about his work and trends in Germany’s young literary scene.

To quote the Birmingham Book Festival website:

Jörg Albrecht-phonofix

“Jörg Albrecht lives in Berlin and is one of the most exciting young writers to emerge from Germany. He writes novels and for the stage. His roots are in slam poetry, and he has produced radio plays, given multi-media performances with his band phonofix and has also written a libretto for Hanover State Opera. His latest novel Sternstaub, Goldfunk, Silberstreif was a considerable success.”

For a full festival programme, click here.

Aston orangeJörg will also spend a week at Aston as the German Writer in Residence, sponsored by the DAAD, where he will hold workshops with students and read from his published works.

To see an example of a former Writer in Residence’s work with our students, click here.