It was an excellent idea of the committee set up to organise the celebrations and events of 2009 – the year in which the founding of the University of Leipzig 600 years ago is to be commemorated – to entrust historians with the task of presenting a wider audience with chapters from the university’s long history. In this context, Morgenstern has succeeded in writing a concise, yet detailed history of English Studies in Leipzig up to the onset of the socialist redefinition of the contents and forms of university teaching and administration. The subject of this book is bound to be of interest far beyond local and regional academic circles as the University of Leipzig was, up to the end of the war, the home of one of the most important centres of English Studies in Germany with Richard Wülker, Max Förster and Levin Schücking as its shaping influences. Not surprisingly, then, Morgenstern organizes his material into chronological sections, each dominated by one of these great scholars (with Schücking’s career being divided into three subsections – his Leipzig years in the Weimar Republic, in Nazi Germany, and during Word War II, respectively).
Morgenstern transforms his sources (most of them unprinted) into a vivid narrative which conveys very well a sense of events unfolding in time along evolutionary lines, as set out by the rise of English Studies in Germany generally; and yet, again and again, he has to present the course of events as being changed by dramatic ruptures, due to political influences. What emerges, finally, is a rise-and-fall pattern, framed by Wülker’s gaining a professorship in Leipzig in 1875 and establishing English as an academic subject in its own right in 1891, and the physical destruction of the English department in 1943 when all that remained of the Leipzig Seminar was a bomb site.
Seiten 432 - 434
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