Ernst Jünger’s Intercultural Encounters

 

People involved in this project

Principal investigator:

School Modern Languages
Department German
Dates 01 October 2012 – 30 September 2014
Funder EU FP7 Marie Curie IEF
Contact person Dr Christophe Fricker

More about this project

Ernst Jünger (1895-1998) is one of the most significant writers and thinkers of 20th-century Europe. This project is concerned with the extensive travel diaries that Jünger wrote after World War II and with their depictions of intercultural encounters. The project will contribute significantly to one of the key developing strands of Jünger scholarship, the exploration of his decades-long inquiries into the mysteries of a world beyond rationalist and imperialist conceptions of centre and periphery. The project will show that, for Jünger, the existence of the cultural differences revealed so strongly in his travels is a mark of a liberal, ‘un-modern’ lifestyle, by which is meant a lifestyle not in thrall to material modernity. This is less a position predicated on nostalgia than a sceptical, critical position – itself therefore in fact in many senses a ‘modern’ view. Being based on recent research in phenomenology, the project will highlight the literary and interpretive (historically situated, complex, open-ended) qualities of an intercultural encounter.

The project is original in its choice of subject-matter (Jünger’s travel writings) and its central concepts (applying phenomenological research to hermeneutic literature). It includes an archival research component to highlight hermeneutic processes on the level of textual genesis. The project will have implications for the definition of the European project‘s cultural dimensions. European integration – a key concern of Jünger’s – was, for Jünger, a way of safeguarding difference through the recognition of cultural identities under a stable intellectual and institutional roof. Calls for a fundamental re-evaluation of Jünger’s writing, two extensive and commercially successful biographies, and a large exhibition centred on Jünger’s papers indicate a major shift in the reception of Jünger’s works – a shift that will require the detailed examination of his travel writings, the long-neglected backbone of his work. .