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Escape to Life: German Intellectuals in New York City

Abstract:

Planned to take place 65 years after the end of World War II, the symposium at NYU is intended to present a series of portraits to a wider audience. In New York, the US gave shelter to a large number of leading intellectuals from the German-speaking world, saved their lives in most of the cases. These public figures either stayed in New York where most of them arrived or moved on to California or other places like Princeton. Some of them, Brecht, Mann, and Horkheimer for example, returned to Europe soon after 1945.

The lectures of this symposium are meant to explore the impact the US, and New York, had on these authors/artists, and on their work. The speakers are also invited to analyze the influence these intellectuals had on American culture and the transformations which happened to their thoughts when translating them into another language, culture, and intellectual arena and addressing them to the American audience. Finally the symposium will discuss how those who returned passed on ›the American experience‹ to Europe. The speakers may feel completely free to choose the specific angle (biography, theory, politics) or aspect (a single work, a personal constellation), they do regard as elucidating.

The conference is accompanied by an exhibition of portraits by Fred Stein.

A collaboration between the German Department at NYU, the German Center for Research and Innovation, NYU’s Humanities Initiative, and the Center for Literary and Cultural Studies (Berlin).

 

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