The Faculty of Media confers honorary doctorate on Hanns Zischler
On Wednesday, 18 April 2018, the Faculty of Media of the Bauhaus-Universität Weimar awarded Hanns Zischler an honorary doctorate Dr. h. c. (honoris causa) for his outstanding achievements in the field of cultural and media science research at a festive ceremony in the Oberlichtsaal of the Bauhaus-Universität Weimar. Zischler, known above all as an international actor, is a renowned author of numerous scholarly publications at the intersection of art and the history of science as well as media and literary research.
In his opening remarks, Prof. Dr. Winfried Speitkamp, President of the Bauhaus-Universität Weimar, emphasised the special honour the university felt Zischler’s acceptance of the recognition by the faculty. Recognizing Zischler, he said, was backed by the entire university and enthusiastically embraced in intensive discussions in the Senate and the Presiding Committee. At the same time, he looked forward to the upcoming collaboration: »We are pleased that you are now formally connected with our university and will continue to maintain contact with the academic staff and students of the university in the future. With your experience, your knowledge, your insights, and your ways of thinking you will enrich the teaching at our university«, said Speitkamp. The Faculty of Media and academic staff from Media Studies are planning block seminars and public workshops on themes in Zischler's multifaceted work. His achievements will find a vital place in Weimar.
Prof. Dr. Bernhard Siegert, member of the graduate admissions committee of the Faculty of Media and director of the International College for Cultural Technology Research and Media Philosophy, underscored Zischler's importance for the Faculty of Media in his tribute: "With today's award of an honorary doctorate to Hanns Zischler in Weimar, the ethos of media and cultural studies at Weimar is decidedly enhanced. Not least in the sense that Zischler's publications and exhibits exemplify a constellation of methodological approaches that is fundamental to Weimar media and cultural research." Siegert also described Zischler as a tireless cultural archaeologist who has incessantly collected, transcribed, recorded and archived. Siegert concluded: "I hope that we, the staff and students of the Bauhaus-Universität Weimar, together with you [Hanns Zischler], will undertake many more forays out to the frontiers of the disciplines."
The visibly moved Zischler began his speech with the words: "Frankly, I could not have imagined returning to Weimar under these circumstances! After having been a fellow of the Faculty of Media almost one and a half years ago, I took advantage of the opportunity of moment and the location to organise an exciting conference on some enigmatic drawings by Adelbert von Chamisso in the halls of the Goethe Schiller Archive - and now this!" The "mercurial relationship between image and language," had always unsettled him, he said. Yet, he added, Weimar had always been a place of inspiration. Joined by his guests, he strolled through the Park an der Ilm after the celebration, where many years ago he had stumbled upon the benevolent exhortation to, "Raise your eyes and linger."
Hanns Zischler's outstanding academic achievements
The work, »Kafka geht ins Kino« (Kafka Goes to the Cinema), published in 1996, is worthy of a special mention. In this pioneering work, Zischler identifies in the daily press of several European cities (Prague, Berlin, Paris, Verona, etc.) and in the material stored in film archives, all of the films Kafka occasionally alludes to in his letters and diaries in the form of cryptic references. "For this book alone, Hanns Zischler could be awarded an honorary doctorate. It is a milestone in Kafka research," said Prof. Dr. Bernhard Siegert, Director of the International Research Institute for Cultural Techniques and Media Philosophy (IKKM) Weimar. The media-science book has been translated into nine languages.
The historical scientific publication " Der Schmetterlingskoffer: Die tropischen Expeditionen von Arnold Schultze" published in 2010 is also of major importance. In it Zischler examines the life and work of the forgotten butterfly researcher Arnold Schultze. It revolves around a steamer trunk filled with about 18,000 butterflies from the Colombian highlands, which Zischler happened upon in the Berlin Museum of Natural History. The book explores the question of what cultural techniques (e.g. travelling, observing and describing) transform a life into a collection.
The third work, recognised by the Faculty of Media with the honorary doctorate is the epochal translation of Jacques Derrida's magnum opus, "Grammatologie" (1974, in collaboration with Hans-Jörg Rheinberger).
Hanns Zischler studied ethnology, musicology, literature and other disciplines in Munich and works in a variety of fields at the crossroads of art and science; he is an actor, speaker, director, writer, translator, publisher, pinhole camera photographer and exhibition organiser. For decades he has devoted himself to topics from the history of science, media research, literary research and art. From October 2016 to March 2017 Zischler was a Senior Fellow at the International College for Cultural Technology Research and Media Philosophy (IKKM) at the Bauhaus University Weimar. He is a recipient of the Friedrich Baur Prize, the Thomas Mann Prize, the German Audio Book Prize and the German Federal Cross of Merit with Ribbon.