A special tribute in the memory of Prof.Gerhart von Graevenitz, the chairman of our Board


We are mourning the untimely death of our dear colleague and friend, and the first Chair of the Martin Buber Society of Fellow's board, Professor Gerhart von Graevenitz. Born 1944, he studied both German and English Language and Literature as well as History of the Arts. His research focuses on History of literature from the 17th to the 19th century, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Theodor Fontane, History of media and Culture in the 20th century, literature and anthropology. Professor von Gravenitz was not only a first rate literary scholar, but a central persona in the Higher Education system in Germany and beyond. With his huge experience (see below) and keen understanding of both the Humanities and the Social Sciences, his devotion to the advancement of knowledge, enthusiasm and sense of humor, he was a joy to work with for the directors of the program and the Board's members. We will ever remember him as a man of vision endowed with magnanimous heart and spirit, and a true friend. It is largely due to his far-sighted, creative vision, and also to his ability to navigate successfully the intricacies of the German academic and governmental world, that the Martin Buber Society came into being; and he wisely shepherded the Society through its earliest days and years, always as a source of enthusiastic support and humane understanding. Thanks to his gracious presence, our annual Board meetings, over which he presided, were always happy and lively moments, full of interest and also effective in immediate practical ways. This combination of pragmatic ability and deep humanistic sensibility characterized his whole life.
Here are some of the posts he filled during his long career: From 1988 to 2009, he served as professor for contemporary German literature and general literature science at the University of Konstanz, Germany. From 1996 to 2000, he held the position as permanent guest professor at the Karl-University of Prague, Czech Republic. From 2000 to 2009, he was rector of the University of Konstanz. From 2006 to 2009, he was chairperson of the cooperation council of the International Bodenseeschule. From 2006 to 2009, he served as chairperson of the regional conference of rectors of the German federal state of Baden-Württemberg. From 2003 to 2009, he was a member of the commission “Studies and Teaching” at the conference of rectors of the institutions of higher education. Since 2007, he has been a member of the board of the DAAD (German Academic Exchange Service). Since 2008, he has served as a member of the council of the second German TV-channel. Since 2009, he has been a member of the advisory committee of the Humboldt University Berlin. Since 2009 and until the last months of his life he was the chairperson of the endowment fund Martin-Buber-Fellows at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Recently he officiate also as the co-editor of the German “Vierteljahresschrift für Literaturwissenschaft und Geistesgeschichte”.
Among his publications one finds: Eduard Morike: Die Kunst Der Sunde: Zur Geschichte Des Literarischen Individuums, 1978; Kreativität ohne Fesseln, 2008 (with Jürgen Mittelstraß); Poetik und Hermeneutik, Bd.17, Kontingenz, 1998 (with Odo Marquard), and his last magnum opus: Theodor Fontane: Ängstliche Moderne. Über das Imaginäre, 2014.
In 2004, Gerhart von Graevenitz was awarded an honorary doctorate from the Alexandru Ioan Cuza University of Iași in Romania. In 2010, he was awarded the Officer’s Cross Order of Merit from the Federal Republic of Germany.