12. July 2023 | Press releases:

Inaugural lectures by Prof. Dr Julia Schöll and Prof. Dr Stefan Heuser Narrative and Ethics

Prof. Dr. Julia Schöll, Institute for German Studies, and Prof. Dr. Stefan Heuser, Institute for Protestant Theology and Religious Education, will give their inaugural lectures on

Wednesday, 19 July 2023, at 4:00 pm,

Haus der Wissenschaft, Aula, Pockelsstraße 11, 38106 Braunschweig.

Inaugural lecture “Erzählen und Ethik – Literaturwissenschaftliche Perspektiven” (Narrative and Ethics – Perspectives from Literary Studies) by Prof. Dr. Julia Schöll

In his most recent publication (2023), philosopher Byung-Chul Han speaks of a “crisis of narration”. Narration has lost its magic and we live in a “post-narrative age”, he diagnoses. This kind of narrative cultural pessimism is currently widespread – alone, current literary production punishes talk of the “end of narrative” lies. People tell stories, as they always have and always will, because storytelling, as an everyday and artistic cultural technique, is an essential part of the processes of personal and collective identity formation. Literature functions as a moral test, it designs utopian or dystopian perspectives of the future, it is a medium of political ethics or of collective memory. The inaugural lecture explores these processes through the complex interplay between literary narrative and the formation of ethical values.

About the person

Julia Schöll studied German language and literature, as well as psychology and history at the universities of Bamberg, Frankfurt/Main and Paris IV/Sorbonne, and received her doctorate with a thesis on Thomas Mann’s exile novel “Joseph und seine Brüder”. From 2004, she worked as a research associate, and later as an academic senior councillor, at the Chair of Neuere deutsche Literaturwissenschaft (Modern German Literary Studies) at the Otto-Friedrich-Universität Bamberg. As a Feodor Lynen Fellow of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, she conducted research at the University of California/Irvine in 2007/2008 and at the University of Basel in 2008/2009. After a substitute professorship at the University of Konstanz in 2017/2018 and a visiting professorship for transnational research at the Jakob Fugger Centre of the University of Augsburg, she was appointed to the W3 professorship for Neuere deutsche Literatur at TU Braunschweig in 2020.

Her research focuses on female authorship in the 18th century, literature and philosophy of the Goethe period, Thomas Mann, literature and poetologies of contemporary culture (21st century), ethics and narration, adaptation studies, and the intersection of narratology and identity theories.

Inaugural Lecture “Erzählen und Ethik – Theologische Perspektiven” (Narrative and Ethics – Theological Perspectives)
by Prof. Dr. Stefan Heuser

Based on the distinction between rule-based morality and practice-based ethos, which is fundamental to ethics, this inaugural lecture asks about the contribution of narrative practices, narrative locations and narratives to the transmission and learning of forms of life and their ethics. In conversation with Walter Benjamin and Paul Ricoeur, it will be shown how narratives can contribute to people contextualising their experiences in common ways of living. Narratives can also initiate new perceptions of reality, open up new possibilities for action and lead to a renewed formation of judgement. In this sense, narratives are also media for learning ethics. Inasmuch as narratives not only expand and shift the perception of reality, but also articulate inescapable and inconclusive experiences and communicate a new reality or reality in a new way, they are also the object of theological reflection. This reflection asks for the one story, the particular story, which in the diversity of its forms, but across the plurality of possible narratives, is absolutely to be told and retold. The lecture concludes with an outlook on the significance of this definition of the relationship between narrative and ethics for learning ethics in the context of technology, or more precisely: for the ethics of the interaction between humans and intelligent machines.

About the person

Dr Stefan Heuser, born in 1971, has been Professor of Systematic Theology with a focus on ethics at the Institute of Protestant Theology and Religious Education at Technische Universität Braunschweig since 2019. Previously, he was Professor of Ethics in Care at the Evangelische Hochschule in Darmstadt, a private lecturer at Goethe University in Frankfurt am Main and a pastor of the Evangelical Church in Hesse and Nassau. He completed his doctorate and habilitation at the Friedrich Alexander University in Erlangen, where he also worked as a private lecturer and took over a chair. His current research focuses on ethics of technology (especially ethical questions of the interaction of humans and intelligent machines), bioethics (especially ethical questions of reproductive medicine, molecular genetics, ageing, care and the end of life), social ethics (especially ethical questions of social forms of life and their crisis), educational ethics (especially ethical questions of interreligious-intercultural competence development and justice in schools) as well as theological ethics (especially ethical questions of liturgical practices, peace ethics as well as the ethics of good works).