University of Calgary

Lecture series

March 25, 2010

Lecture series celebrates Nobel Laureate in Literature

Karin BauerEach year the Faculty of Humanities presents a free public talk on the current Nobel Laureate in Literature. This year, McGill University's Karin Bauer will give the Humanities Nobel Lecture on Romanian-born German writer Herta Müller, whose depiction of oppressed life in Communist Romania earned her the 2009 Nobel Prize in Literature.

Bauer is Chair of the Department of German Studies at McGill University. Her current research focuses on Müller and narrative and visual strategies of dissent. In "Toward a Poetics of Resistance: The Work of Herta Müller", Bauer explores the profound anti-totalitarian impulse of Müller's writing.

As a novelist, poet and essayist, Müller draws on her experiences living under the regime of Nicolae Ceauşescu. She depicts the repression of everyday existence in her native Romania, the pressure to conform and the terror of living in a totalitarian state. In her poetic resistance to deception, duplicity and betrayal, Müller's writing represents—amid the most hopelessly inhumane conditions—uncompromising affirmations of humanity.

"What makes Herta Mueller's work unique is her ability to bring into focus and into the present an experience of history that is shared by many Central and Eastern Europeans—that of dictatorship, annihilation and resistance—and she does it with analytical precision and poetic imagination," says Florentine Strzelczyk, an associate professor of German in the Department of Germanic, Slavic and East Asian Studies.

Born in 1953 in a German-speaking village in western Romania, Müller studied literature at the University of Timişoara, where she joined a group of writers dedicated to seeking freedom of speech under the Ceauşescu dictatorship. While employed as a translator at a machine factory, Müller was fired when she refused to co-operate with Romania's secret police. Because of her criticism of Ceauşescu's dictatorship, Müller was banned from publishing in Romania.

Müller's works include Nadirs, The Passport, The Land of Green Plums, Traveling on One Leg, and The Appointment, about a young woman summoned by the secret police for sewing notes that say "marry me" into the lining of men's suits.

The Humanities Nobel Lecture is free and will take place on March 29 at 7:30 p.m. at The Nickle Arts Museum, U of C. A reception will follow the lecture.

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