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Anthonya Visser: 'Freiburg is a dream research environment'

Anthonya (Thony) Visser, Leiden Professor of German Language and Literature, is spending six months as a senior fellow at the Freiburg Institute for Advanced Studies. 'Possibly the most important thing of all is that I have time.'

What are you doing in Freiburg?

The Freiburg Institute for Advanced Studies
The Freiburg Institute for Advanced Studies

'At the FRIAS I am writing a book about the role of combined memories of national socialism and the GDR in the narrative construction of group identity. My research focuses on literary texts, but I am also looking at interviews with survivors of the Holocaust in the Spielberg Archive, and at video art.' 

Any differences between Leiden and Freiburg?

'As we all know, the level of investment by the Dutch government in research is generally low, and non-applied and humanities research in particular are underfunded. By contrast, in 2007 Freiburg was awarded funding from the “Exzellenzinitiatieve”, a programme with lots of money provided by the central government and the Bundesländer specifically for excellent research plans at universities and research institutes. In spite of stiff competition, Freiburg has been awarded subsidies for all three of the funding areas: Graduate Schools, Clusters of Excellence and Institutional Strategies, in German “Zukunftskonzepte”. The Freiburg concept is called 'Windows for Research'. The FRIAS was set up as part of this concept, and researchers from the humanities, social sciences and physical sciences work here.'  

'Something I could only dream of in Leiden'

The Liefmannhaus, the university guest house
The Liefmannhaus, the university guest house

'All in all, this is a research environment that I could only dream of in Leiden! As well as excellent research facilities, I also have a lovely apartment in the university guest house in one of the most beautiful streets in Freiburg, an excellent office, a student assistant (which means I no longer have to go to the library myself!), lunch is provided three times a week for the whole research group, there is a weekly seminar in my research field, there are lectures, conferences and seminars in all the different disciplines covered at the Institute, and I have some excellent colleagues with whom I have contact on a daily basis.'

And most important of all.....

Professor Anthonya Visser
Professor Anthonya Visser

'Most important of all is probably that I have time. Time for research, time to think, time to read works that I would otherwise never get around to, some directly related to my work and some on the periphery.  In other words, I am charging my batteries. And enjoying some wonderful walks!'

Any interesting news?

'In April my book Körper und Intertextualität. Strategien des kulturellen Gedächtnisses in der Gegenwartsliteratur was published. And I've also started to use Twitter in an attempt to reach a different section of the public.'

And what will you bring back with you?

'Energy, research plans and enthusiasm for the coming academic year.'

(18 June 2012 / Anthonya Visser - MLH)


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