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You are here: FRIAS Fellows Fellows 2016/17 Prof. Dr. Oliver Lubrich

Prof. Dr. Oliver Lubrich

Every year, approximately 50 Fellows are invited to work on their projects at FRIAS for 2 to 12 months in an intellectually stimulating environment. Fellows that have already been at FRIAS before can return to FRIAS for 2 to 6 weeks within the framework of the Alumni Programme, for example in order to finish a project. Furthermore, junior and senior researchers are regularly invited as guest researchers.


Our Research Focus profited enormously from the international team of Fellows and guest researchers at FRIAS.

Prof. Dr. Tobias Schätz, ERC Consolidator Grant 2015, Research Focus Quantum Transport 2014/15

University of Bern
German and Comparative Literature
External Senior Fellow
May 2014 - July 2014


Oliver Lubrich is Professor of German and Comparative Literature at the University of Bern in Switzerland. Previously, he was junior Professor of Rhetoric at the Peter Szondi Institute of Comparative Literature and the Cluster of Excellence “Languages of Emotion” at Freie Universität Berlin. He has been a visiting professor at the University of Chicago; California State University, Long Beach; Tecnológico de Monterrey, Mexico; and Universidade de São Paulo, Brazil. He published books on Shakespeare’s Self-Deconstruction (2001) and Post-Colonial Poetics (2004, 20092).

Oliver Lubrich edited or co-edited Alexander von Humboldt‘s Central Asia (2009), Kosmos (20043) and the first German version of Vues des Cordillères (2004), the Chimborazo Diary (2006), the ethnographic and political essays (2009, 2010) as well as two volumes on Humboldt’s international reception: Alexander von Humboldt in World Literature (2012), Alexander von Humboldt in Cultural Criticism (2012). He is currently directing the edition of Humboldt’s essays (in ten volumes), funded by the Swiss National Foundation (2013–2016).

In his second research project Lubrich documents international testimonies from Nazi Germany: Reisen ins Reich, 1933–1945 (2004, 2009); Berichte aus der Abwurfzone, 1939–1945 (2007); John F. Kennedy. Unter Deutschen, 1937–1945 (2013). (Travels in the Reich was published by the University of Chicago Press in 2010.)

In cooperation with evolutionary biologists and ethnologists he investigates “The Researcher’s Affects” in a project funded by the Volkswagen Foundation (2013–2016). In cooperation with neuro­scientists he conducts studies in experimental rhetoric (e.g. on figurality in speeches by Barack Obama).


Selected Publications

  • Alexander von Humboldt, Zentral-Asien [Asie centrale, Paris 1843], re-translated and edited, Frankfurt: S. Fischer 2009.
  • Berichte aus der Abwurfzone. Ausländer erleben den Bombenkrieg in Deutschland 1939 bis 1945 [Reports from the Target Zone: Foreign Writers Witness the Air War in Germany, 1939–1945], Frankfurt: Die Andere Bibliothek 2007.
  • Reisen ins Reich, 1933–1945. Ausländische Autoren berichten aus Deutschland [Voyages into the Reich, 1933–1945: Foreign Authors Report from Germany], Frankfurt: Die Andere Bibliothek 2004.
  • Das Schwinden der Differenz. Postkoloniale Poetiken. [Vanishing Difference – Postcolonial Poetics], Bielefeld: Aisthesis 2004.
  • Shakespeares Selbstdekonstruktion [Shakespeare’s Self-Deconstruction], Würzburg: Königshausen & Neumann 2001.


FRIAS Research Project


The Researchers’ Affects: Travel Writing, Ethnography, Primatology

Affects are a problem for objective science and for representations of foreign cultures. They influence the process of research and writing, from the choice of subject and the observer's perception, to the process of generating, interpreting and communicating data or narratives. Instead of marginalizing them from academic discourse, how can we integrate them into, and critically evaluate them for scientific and literary practice?

Those who work in the field, travel writers and journalists, anthropologists and primatologists, are particularly receptive to affects that condition their observation, impact their comprehension and shape their theories and models of knowledge production. Out of their fieldwork has grown an extensive corpus of texts, such as diaries, letters, stories or novels, reports, ethnographies and primatological memoirs that are amenable to comparative analysis. This corpus brings together authors as different as V. S. Naipaul and Christoph Ransmayr, Bronislaw Malinowski and Claude Lévi-Strauss, Jane Goodall and Dian Fossey.

How can we explore the emotional dimension of fieldwork texts? What affective patterns and sequences recur in travel writing? Do they present themselves in specific grammar, rhetoric and imagery? Can we identify explicit and implicit articulations of emotions, even in documents that seek to neutralize them? What methods of qualitative and quantitative textual analysis shall we develop, adapt and refine? What can literary scholarship contribute to ‘fieldwork studies’? And what can it learn from anthropology, primatology or psychology in an interdisciplinary dialog that engages the humanities with the social and natural sciences?

FRIAS Fellow Oliver Lubrich (Comparative Literature, Berne) is co-director of the interdisciplinary project “The Researchers’ Affects” together with Katja Liebal (Evolutionary Biology, Berlin) and Thomas Stodulka (Anthropology, Yogyakarta, Indonesia). The project is funded by the Volkswagen Foundation (2013–2016).