Think German Wales visiting Film Director: Hüseyin Tabak

upported by the Institute for Modern Languages Research, University of London

Wednesday 7 March: 7.30pm Presentation of film Deine Schönheit ist nichts wert / Your Beauty is Worth Nothing at Cinema & Co, Swansea High Street.  The film unfortunately has no English sub-titles.

Thursday 8 March:  7.30pm: Hüseyin Tabak in conversation at the Dylan Thomas Birthplace, 5 Cwmdonkin Drive (tickets required).

Hüseyin Tabak (b.1981) is a German film director of Turkish-Kurdish heritage who has worked extensively in Austria. He has made three films to date, two of which will be presented on his visit to Wales.

For more details, contact: Julian Preece (

1st English biographical study of Nobel Prize-winning writer, Günter Grass

Swansea University's Professor Julian Preece will see his latest book, "Günter Grass", published on 12 February 2018. The book will introduce Grass's key works and chronicle his interaction with major literary and public figures.

Günter Grass (1927–2015) was Germany’s foremost writer for more than half a century, and his books were and remain best-sellers across the world.  The Tin Drum was made into an Oscar-winning film in 1979 and the memoir Peeling the Onion in 2006 astounded readers by revealing that Grass had been drafted into the most criminal component of the Nazi war machine, the Waffen ss, in the closing months of the Second World War. He also wrote memorably about the student movement, feminism and German reunification, and was a key influence on magic realist authors such as Gabriel García Márquez and Salman Rushdie, as well as the popular novelist John Irving. Grass redefined the role of ‘literary commitment’, campaigning as a citizen for the German Social Democrats and helping the anti-Nazi Willy Brandt become Chancellor in 1969.

Written by Julian Preece, Günter Grass is the first biographical study in English of this Nobel Prize-winning writer.  Grass’s key works are introduced, and the book chronicles his interaction with major figures from literary and public life, including Chancellor Helmut Kohl, critic Marcel Reich-Ranicki, the poet Paul Celan and co-founder of the Red Army Faction Ulrike Meinhof,  placing his fiction and public campaigning in the context of Cold War European politics and post-unification Germany.

"Julian Preece offers an incisive survey of Nobel Laureate Günter Grass’s long career as well as new perspectives on his major works, from The Tin Drum to the complex word-fest of Grimms' Words. Preece broadens our view of the multi-faceted artist, writer, and engaged citizen by means of innovative discussions of the aesthetic influences and political events that shaped Grass’s oeuvre."

Nicole Thesz, University of Miam

Julian Preece is Professor of German Studies at Swansea University. His other books include The Life and Work of Günter Grass: Literature, History, Politics (2nd edn, 2004) and Baader-Meinhof and the Novel: Narratives of the Nation, Fantasies of the Revolution (2012). 

The book will be published on 12 February 2018 by Reaktion Books Limited.  For further information click here

Heinrich Böll Centenary Lecture

To mark the centenary of the birth of Heinrich Böll (1917-85) on 21 December 2017, Stephen Murphy, who is writing a thesis on Böll’s ‘Aesthetics of the Humane’, will give a lecture on the author’s most famous short novel, Die verlorene Ehre der Katharina Blum / The Lost Honour of Katharina Blum entitled: ‘The Aesthetics of the Humane in Heinrich Böll’s Die verlorene Ehre der Katharina Blum’. 

Date: 13 December  

Time: 3pm  

Venue: Keir Hardie 021  

The paper will be followed by a screening of Volker Schlöndorff’s film adaptation.


Die verlorene Ehre der Katharina Blum tells the story of a 27-year-old freelance housekeeper who has a romantic encounter with a young man who is on the run from the law, helps him flee, and is subsequently exposed to a vituperative tabloid campaign of smears and fabrications that deprives her of her “honour” and leads, ultimately, to an act of shocking violence.  The novel was written at a time that West Germany was gripped by the perceived threat of the Baader-Meinhof Group.  Given the degree to which Böll considered himself a writer informed by the Zeitgeist – to say nothing of several coincidences and allusions in the book to the wider events in reality – it is little surprise that critiques of the novel have concentrated on its connection to the then unfolding civil emergency.  These critiques, however, by and large neglect other readings. My talk, in contrast, relates the novel to Böll’s call, during his Frankfurt Lectures of 1964, for literature to assume an “aesthetic of the humane” as counterweight to the tilt of West Germany into an atomised and instrumental society.  I explain how, in Die verlorene Ehre der Katharina Blum,Böll compares and contrasts humane and inhumane conceptions of four of the seven elements of everyday existence that make up his aesthetic, namely “dwelling (Wohnen), “neighbourhood” (Nachbarschaft), “homeland” (Heimat) and “love” (Liebe)

Herta Müller and the Currents of European History: A Conference

Dr Brigid Haines (Swansea University and a member of the CCGC), along with Prof Michel Mallet (Université de Monction) and Jenny Watson (Sheffield University) is part of the organising committee for the forthcoming 'Herta Müller and the Currents of European History' conference at the University of London. 

CCGC director delivers talk to Welsh think-tank, Gorwel

On Tuesday 27 June  2017 in the Venue Old Chamber, Ty Hwyel, National Assembly for Wales, Cardiff Bay, Professor Julian Preece gave a talk on “The Changing Shape of Germany, EU-Hegemon or ‘Hippy State’? Issues and Personalities in the Federal Elections of 2017”. He is pictured here after the lecture with Professor Russell Deacon, who is Gorwel's administrative director.

In the talk Professor Preece noted that after Brexit, Trump, Macron, electoral politics in the western democracies are changing in unprecedented ways as voter allegiances shift, established parties crumble, and old battle lines are re-drawn. How will Germans respond when they go to the polls on 17 September 2017 he asked? In the summer of 2015, Chancellor Angela Merkel, in office since 2005, looked set to equal records established by fellow Christian Democrats Konrad Adenauer (1949-63) and Helmut Kohl (1982-98) and win a fourth successive victory. Then came the extraordinary events of the ‘migrant crisis’, the rise of the Pegida movement and the far-right party, ‘Die Alternative für Deutschland’. In January this year, the Social Democrats nominated EU Parliament President Martin Schulz their chancellor candidate and his poll ratings soared.

In the talk Professor Preece also noted that the SPD’s Frank-Walter Steinmeier was elected Federal President in March, only the third Social Democrat to hold this office in the history of the republic. The SPD then crashed in state elections in the Saarland, Schleswig-Holstein and North-Rhine Westphalia. The smaller parties as ever in Germany play key roles: Europe’s largest Green Party, Die Grünen, once a haven for radicals, now firmly embourgeoisé; the rump of the old East German state communist party, Die Linke, currently the third largest force in the Bundestag; the resurgent Free Democrats; and of course the AfD which may achieve what has eluded any party to the right of the CDU and cross the 5% hurdle at a national election. Professor Preece concluded by providing his analysis of how events are likely to unfold over the final months of the campaign and what the flavour of the new government in Berlin is likely to be.

Consultancy Work

The Centre has recently undertaken consultancy work for murmur research ( and the advertising agency Wieden & Kennedy ( on social attitudes and mental behaviour in German-speaking Europe. We welcome enquiries from commercial researchers interested in the biggest market in Europe. 

Conference: Grass and International Literature

Grass and International Literature / Grass und seine Weltliteratur 15th-16th September

Over the course of 15th-16th September 2017 a range of esteemed academics from across Europe, Asia and the United States spoke in both English and in German as part of a very special conference hosted in Swansea to mark the 90th birthday of the late literary giant Günter Grass.