Ottmar Ette

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Ottmar Ette (born 14 December 1956 in Zell am Harmersbach, Black Forest, Germany) is Professor of Romance languages and Comparative literature at the University of Potsdam.

Biographical notes[edit]

In 1990, Ottmar Ette completed his dissertation at Freiburg University on the Spanish-American modernist and Cuban national icon José Martí. In 1995, his habilitation on French post-modern theorist Roland Barthes was accepted at Eichstätt University. In 2001, Ette received the "Hugo Friedrich und Erich Köhler"-award for his work on Roland Barthes from Freiburg University. Twice, he has been granted fellowships in advanced-study institutions. He has lectured and taught in a number of Latin-American and European countries, as well as in the USA. He has been a full professor Romance literature and comparative literature in Potsdam since 1995. To Ottmar Ette, Romance philology is a wide-ranging and inclusive academic field of inquiry which connects a number of disciplines and languages as it tells us about literary knowledge of human life.

Ottmar Ette is Chevalier in the Ordre des Palmes Académiques (France) since 2012. He has been a regular member of the Academia Europaea since 2010. Also in 2010, he was a fellow at the Freiburg Institute for Advanced Studies. This was after having already received a fellowship at the Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin Institute for Advanced Study in 2004/2005. He has been involved in establishing a number of state-funded "Graduiertenkolleg"-graduate schools at German universities. He is a co-founder of a research-network on Latin-America in the wider Berlin area, ForLaBB (Forschungsverbund Lateinamerika Berlin-Brandenburg).[1]

He is founder and co-editor of the electronic journal HiN - Alexander von Humboldt im Netz (ISSN 1617-5239) and an online platform dedicated to von Humboldt - Humboldt Informationen online. Ette is also co-editor of the journal Iberoamericana (Madrid - Frankfurt am Main). Since 2009, he has also been co-editor of the electronic journal Istmo (Revista virtual de estudios literarios y culturales centroamericanos, ISSN [// 1535-2315)]. Since 2013, Ottmar Ette is member of the Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences and Humanities. In 2014, he was elected as honorary member of the Modern Language Association of America.[2] In 2014, Ottmar Ette received the Mexican Research Award "Escuela Nacional de Altos Estudios" from the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México.[3]


The research and teaching of Ottmar Ette focus on: Alexander von Humboldt,[4] literary studies as a science of life,[5] living-together or "conviviality",[6] and TransArea Studies: poetics of movement and Francophone and Hispanophone literatures inside and outside Europe.[7] Since 2014, Ottmar Ette is the head of the research project "Alexander von Humboldts Amerikanische Reisetagebücher".[8]

Interests and Influence[edit]

Ottmar Ette's programmatic essay "Literaturwissenschaft als Lebenswissenschaft - Eine Programmschrift im Jahr der Geisteswissenschaften"[9] sparked wide-ranging reactions and discussion in Germany. Among many other publications, the theme reappeared in the national weekly paper Die Zeit.[10] The basic thrust of Ette's argument is to reconceptualize literary studies in terms of a science of life or "life science": "Lebenswissenschaft". Literature, Ette claims, is an essential repository of human knowledge on life, especially with respect to ethically relevant experiences such as living-together or "conviviality", migration and belonging, or survival in times of existential danger. The term "Lebenswissenschaft" is coined to oppose and call into question the increasing dominance of the biological or medical "life sciences", that have begun to monopolize and reduce concept and semantics of human life. Ette recently presented his argument in English in the Modern Language Association's PMLA.[11]

Ottmar Ette has also received much attention for his work on and editions of the writings of Alexander von Humboldt. He is considered a leading specialist on Humboldt's original scientific approach and extremely prolific work. Whereas Alexander von Humboldt has always been a well-known figure in the Americas, German reception had been heavily focused on the philological work of his older brother, Wilhelm von Humboldt. Ette's new editions of Alexander's colourful reports from his voyages have led to a more evenly balanced reception of the work of the two polymaths Alexander and Wilhelm von Humboldt. As early as 1987, Ette's work on Alexander von Humboldt earned him the "Heinz-Maier-Leibnitz" Award from the German Ministry of Culture and the German Research Association DFG. In the English-speaking world, Ottmar Ette and Vera M. Kutzinski (Vanderbildt University) recently published two critical editions of Humboldt's works: in 2011, the "Political Essay on the Island of Cuba; in 2012, the "Views of the Cordilleras and Monuments of the Indigenous Peoples of the Americas", both titles published with the University of Chicago Press.[12]


Monographs (selected titles)[edit]

  • José Martí. (Niemeyer 1991; trans. Mexico: UNAM 1995)
  • Roland Barthes. (Frankfurt: Suhrkamp 1998)
  • Literatur in Bewegung. (Velbrück Wissenschaft 2001; trans. Literature on the move. New York, Amsterdam: Rodopi; Spanish: Literatura en movimiento. Madrid: CSIC 2008)
  • Weltbewusstsein. Alexander von Humboldt und das unvollendete Projekt einer anderen Moderne. (Weilerswist: Velbrück Wissenschaft 2002)
  • ÜberLebenswissen. Die Aufgabe der Philologie. (Berlin: Kadmos 2004)
  • ZwischenWeltenSchreiben. Literaturen ohne festen Wohnsitz (ÜberLebenswissen II). (Berlin: Kadmos 2005)
  • Alexander von Humboldt und die Globalisierung. (Frankfurt: Insel 2009)
  • Del macrocosmos al microrrelato. Literatura y creación – nuevas perspectivas transareales (Guatemala: F&G Editores 2009)
  • ZusammenLebensWissen. List, Last und Lust literarischer Konvivenz im globalen Maßstab (ÜberLebenswissen III). (Berlin: Kulturverlag Kadmos 2010).
  • LebensZeichen. Roland Barthes zur Einführung. (Hamburg: Junius 2011)
  • Konvivenz. Literatur und Leben nach dem Paradies. (Berlin: Kadmos 2012).
  • TransArea. Eine literarische Globalisierungsgeschichte. (Berlin, Boston: De Gruyter 2012).
  • Viellogische Philologie. Die Literaturen der Welt und das Beispiel einer transarealen peruanischen Literatur. (Berlin: Walter Frey 2013).
  • Roland Barthes: Landschaften der Theorie. (Paderborn: Konstanz University Press 2013).
  • Anton Wilhelm Amo: Philosophieren ohne festen Wohnsitz. (Berlin: Kadmos 2014).
  • SaberSobreViver: A (o) missão da filologia. (Paraná: Editora UFPR 2015).

(Co-)Edited volumes (selected titles)[edit]

  • La escritura de la memoria. Reinaldo Arenas: Textos, estudios y documentación. (Madrid, Frankfurt am Main: Vervuert 1992)
  • José Martí 1895 / 1995. Literatura - Política - Filosofía - Estética. (Madrid, Frankfurt am Main: Vervuert 1994)
  • Ansichten Amerikas. Neuere Studien zu Alexander von Humboldt. (Madrid, Frankfurt am Main: Vervuert 2001)
  • Dossier: Max Aub: Inéditos y Revelaciones. (Madrid: Revista de Occidente 265, June 2003)
  • ArabAmericas. Literary Entanglements of the American Hemisphere and the Arab World. (Madrid, Frankfurt am Main: Vervuert 2006)
  • Caribbeans on the Move. Archipiélagos literarios del Caribe. A TransArea Symposium. (Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang 2008)
  • EuropeAmericas. Transatlantische Beziehungen. (Madrid, Frankfurt am Main: Vervuert 2008)
  • Literaturwissenschaft als Lebenswissenschaft. Programm - Projekte - Perspektiven. (Tübingen: Narr Francke Attempto 2010)
  • Caleidoscopios coloniales. Transferencias culturales en el Caribe del siglo XIX. Kaléidoscopes coloniaux. Transferts culturels dans les Caraïbes au XIXe siècle. (Madrid, Frankfurt am Main: Vervuert 2010)
  • Trans(it)Areas. Convivencias en Centroamérica y el Caribe. Un simposio transareal. (Berlin: Walter Frey - edition tranvía 2011)
  • Wissensformen und Wissensnormen des ZusammenLebens. Literatur - Kultur - Geschichte - Medien (Berlin, Boston: De Gruyter 2012).
  • El Caribe como paradigma. Convivencias y coincidencias históricas, culturales y estéticas. Un simposio transareal (Berlin: Walter Frey - edition tranvía 2012)
  • Alexander von Humboldt and the Americas (Berlin: Walter Frey - edition tranvía, 2012).
  • Worldwide. Archipels de la mondialisation. Archipiélagos de la globalización. A TransArea Symposium (Madrid, Frankfurt am Main: Vervuert, 2012).
  • Wort Macht Stamm. Rassismus und Determinismus in der Philologie (18. / 19. Jh.) (München: Fink, 2013).
  • LebensMittel. Essen und Trinken in den Künsten und Kulturen (Zürich: diaphanes, 2013).
  • TransPacífico. Conexiones y convivencias en AsiAméricas. Un simposio transareal (Berlin: Walter Frey - edition tranvía, 2013).
  • Imaginarios del miedo. Estudios desde la historia (Berlin: Walter Frey - edition tranvía, 2013).
  • Unfälle der Sprache. Literarische und philologische Erkundungen der Katastrophe (Wien/Berlin: Turia + Kant, 2014).
  • Nach der Hybridität. Zukünfte der Kulturtheorie (Berlin - edition tranvía, 2014).
  • Paisajes vitales. Conflictos, catástrofes y convivencias en Centroamérica y el Caribe (Berlin: edition tranvía, 2014).
  • Europa als Archipel / L'Europe comme archipel.In: Lendemains (Tübingen) XXXIX, 154 - 155 (2014), pp. 226–266.
  • La filología como ciencia de la vida. (Mexiko D. F.: Universidad Iberoamericana, 2015).
  • Visualisierung, Visibilisierung und Verschriftlichung. Schrift-Bilder und Bild-Schriften im Frankreich des 19. Jahrhunderts. (Berlin: edition tranvía, 2015).

Text Editions and Translations (selected titles)[edit]

  • A.v.Humboldt: Reise in die Äquinoktial-Gegenden. (2 vols., Frankfurt am Main: Insel 1991)
  • José Enrique Rodó: Ariel. (Mainz: Dieterich'sche Verlagsbuchhandlung 1994)
  • A.v.Humboldt: Kosmos. Ed. together with O. Lubrich (Frankfurt am Main: Eichborn 2004)
  • A.v.Humboldt: Ansichten der Kordilleren und Monumente der eingeborenen Völker Amerikas. Ed. together with O. Lubrich (Frankfurt am Main: Eichborn Verlag 2004)
  • A.v.Humboldt: Über einen Versuch den Gipfel des Chimborazo zu ersteigen. Ed. together with O. Lubrich (Frankfurt am Main: Eichborn Verlag 2006)
  • A.v.Humboldt: Kritische Untersuchung zur historischen Entwicklung der geographischen Kenntnisse von der Neuen Welt und den Fortschritten der nautischen Astronomie im 15. und 16. Jahrhundert. (Frankfurt am Main: Insel Verlag 2009)
  • Barthes, Roland: Die Lust am Text. (Berlin: Suhrkamp Verlag 2010)
  • A.v.Humboldt: Political Essay on the Island of Cuba. A Critical Edition. Ed. together with V. M. Kutzinski (Chicago - London: The University of Chicago Press 2011)
  • A.v.Humboldt: Views of the Cordilleras and Monuments of the Indigenous Peoples of the Americas. A Critical Edition. Ed. together with V. M. Kutzinski (Chicago - London: The University of Chicago Press 2012)

Journal and book articles (selected titles in English)[edit]

  • (with Vera M. Kutzinski) "The Art of Science: Alexander von Humboldt's Views of the Cultures of the World." In: Humboldt, Alexander von: Views of the Cordilleras and Monuments of the Indigenous Peoples of the Americas. A Critical Edition. Edited with an Introduction by Vera M. Kutzinski and Ottmar Ette. Translated by J. Ryan Poynter. With Annotations by Giorleny D. Altamirano Rayo and Tobias Kraft. Chicago - London: The University of Chicago Press 2012, pp. xv-xxxv.
  • "Worldwide: Living in Transarchipelagic Worlds." In: Ette, Ottmar / Müller, Gesine (eds.): Worldwide. Archipels de la mondialisation. Archipiélagos de la globalización. A TransArea Symposium. Madrid - Frankfurt am Main: Iberoamericana - Vervuert 2012, pp. 21–59.
  • "TransTropics: Alexander von Humboldt and Hemispheric Constructions." In: Kutzinski, Vera M. / Ette, Ottmar / Walls, Laura Dassow (eds.): Alexander von Humboldt and the Americas. Berlin: Verlag Walter Frey - edition tranvía 2012, pp. 209–236.
  • "Archeologies of Globalization. European Reflections on Two Phases of Accelerated Globalization in Cornelius de Pauw, Georg Forster, Guillaume-Thomas Raynal and Alexander von Humboldt." In: Culture & History Digital Journal (Madrid) I, 1 (June 2012)
  • "Everything is interrelated, even the errors in the system: Alexander von Humboldtd and globalization." In: Kutzinski, Vera M. (ed.): Alexander von Humboldt's Transatlantic Personae. London - New York: Routledge - Taylor & Francis Group 2012, pp. 15–28.
  • "Listening to the Jungle or Life as Sound. Alexander von Humboldt's «Noctirnal Aniimal Life in the Jungle» and the Humboldt Effect." In: Wagner, Peter / Ogée, Frédéric (eds.): Taste and the Senses in the Eighteenth Century. Trier: Wissenschaftsverlag Trier 2011, pp. 221-238.
  • "Urbanity and Literature - Cities as Transareal Spaces of Movement in Assia Djebar, Emine Sevgi Özdamar and Cécile Wajsbrot." In: European Review (Cambridge) XIX, 3 (2011), pp. 367–383.
  • "Not just brought about by chance": reflections on globalisation in Cornelius de Pauw and Alexander von Humboldt." In: Studies in Travel Writing (Nottingham) XV, 1 (February 2011), pp. 3-25.
  • "Literature as Knowledge for Living, Literary Studies as Science for Living." Edited, translated, and with an introduction by Vera M. Kutzinski. In: Special Topic: «Literary Criticism for the Twenty-First Century», coordinated by Cathy Caruth and Jonathan Culler, in: PMLA. Publications of the Modern Language Association of America (New York) CXXV, 4 (October 2010), pp. 977–993.
  • "Everything is interrelated, even the errors in the system: Alexander von Humboldt and globalization." In: Atlantic Studies (London - New York) VII, 2 (June 2010), pp. 113–126.
  • "European Literature(s) in the Global Context - Literatures for Europe." In: D'haen, Theo / Goerlandt, Iannis (eds.): Literature for Europe? Amsterdam - New York: Rodopi 2009, pp. 123–160.
  • "A Literature of No Fixed Abode. Fictions and Frictions in Cuba's Literary Landscape." In: Hatzky, Christine / Zeuske, Michael (ed.): Cuba en 1902. Después del imperio - una nueva nación. Münster: LIT Verlag 2008, pp. 38–64.
  • "Arab-Caribbean origins: on the transareal dimension in Amin Maalouf's literary work. Coming home to the familiar unknown." In (idem., ed.): Caribbean(s) on the Move - Archipiélagos literarios del Caribe. A TransArea Symposium. Frankfurt am Main - New York - Oxford: Peter Lang 2008, pp. 143–165.
  • "Towards World Science? Humboldtian Science, World Concepts, and TransArea Studies." In: Rehrmann, Norbert / Ramírez Sáinz, Laura (eds.): Dos culturas en diálogo. Historia cultural de la naturaleza, la técnica y las ciencias naturales en España y América Latina. Madrid - Frankfurt am Main: Iberoamericana - Vervuert 2007, pp. 121–150.
  • "Islands, Borders and Vectors: The Fractal World of the Caribbean." In: D'hulst, Lieven / Moura, Jean-Marc / De Bleeker, Liesbeth / Lie, Nadia (eds.): Caribbean Interfaces. Amsterdam - New York: Rodopi 2007, pp. 109–151.
  • "Chronicle of a Clash Foretold? ArabAmerican Dimensions and Transareal Relations in Gabriel García Márquez and Elias Khoury." In: Ette, Ottmar / Pannewick, Friederike (eds.): ArabAmericas. Literary Entanglements of the American Hemisphere and the Arab World. Frankfurt am Main - Madrid: Vervuert Verlag - Iberoamericana 2006, pp. 215–262.
  • "Literatures without a Fixed Abode. Figures of Vectorial Imagination Beyond the Dichotomies of National and World Literature." In: Ette, Ottmar / Pannewick, Friederike (eds.): ArabAmericas. Literary Entanglements of the American Hemisphere and the Arab World. Frankfurt am Main - Madrid: Vervuert Verlag - Iberoamericana 2006, pp. 19–68.
  • "Gender Trouble: José Martí and Juana Borrero." In: Font, Mauricio A. / Quiroz, Alfonso W. (eds.): The Cuban Republic and José Martí. Reception and Use of a National Symbol. Lanham - Boulder - New York - Toronto - Oxford: Lexington Books 2006, pp. 180–193 u. 230-233.


External links[edit]