Book Review. Hans Ulrich Gumbrecht,. With his book Production of Presence , Hans Ulrich Gumbrecht puts presence at the center of future academic practice in the arts and humanities. Gumbrecht, a professor of literature at Stanford University, recounts the rise of interpretation to its current dominant position in humanistic activities. He then explores the much different lived experience of presence.
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Hans Ulrich " Sepp " Gumbrecht born is a literary theorist whose work spans philology , philosophy, semiotics , literary and cultural history, and epistemologies of the everyday. Gumbrecht's writing on philosophy and modern thought extends from the Middle Ages to today and incorporates an array of disciplines and styles, at times combining historical and philosophical inquiry with elements of memoir.
Much of Gumbrecht's scholarship has focused on national literatures in French, Spanish, Portuguese, and German, and he is known for his work on the Western philosophical tradition, the materiality of presence, shifting views of the Enlightenment , forms of aesthetic experience, and the joys of watching sports. As well as publishing academic works and teaching graduate and undergraduate students at Stanford, Gumbrecht is recognized as a public intellectual in Europe and South America and contributes to a range of newspapers and journals in English, German, Portuguese, and Spanish.
He specialized in Romance Philology and German Literature , but also studied philosophy and sociology during his university years, which took him to Munich , Regensburg , Salamanca , Pavia , and Konstanz. Gumbrecht was a Full Professor at the University of Bochum from to , and from to at the University Siegen, where he founded the first Humanities Graduate Program in Germany, which was dedicated to the topic "Forms of Communication as Forms of Life.
Over forty scholars of theory, philosophy, and literary studies who had worked with Gumbrecht attended the conference. Stanford football coach David Shaw also attended. As an Emeritus, Gumbrecht continues to write, participate in campus life, and meet with students. Gumbrecht has written extensively on " Stimmung " , a German word also referencing the tuning of musical instruments, but more commonly meaning " mood " and as such used by Gumbrecht to indicate the mood or atmosphere of a particular era or artistic work.
By identifying specific moods as temporal in nature, he attempts to capture the spirit of particular time periods and to recreate how they were experienced by people living at those times. Gumbrecht's first work to locate a temporal mood was In Living at the Edge of Time , which associates excitement and anticipation with the emergence of new and faster-paced activities, forms of entertainment, and ways of thinking. Events described range from boxing matches to bar conversations, and Gumbrecht profiles artistic greats and public figures alongside workers, farmers, and engineers to depict the emergence of new sensibilities that transcended boundaries of class, race, gender, or nation.
In After Latency as Origin of the Present , Gumbrecht explores the legacy of World War II through an investigation of a widespread cultural mood, primarily in Germany but also relating to a broader response to the aftermath of war. He describes a climate Stimmung in which "a disposition of violent nervousness permeates the seemingly quiet postwar world, which points to a latent state of affairs. While these are two of Gumbrecht's more detailed elaborations on temporal moods, Stimmung relates also to a broader concept of moods that can be triggered by aesthetic experiences to produce a sense of "presence.
Through the concept of Stimmung, Gumbrecht has argued that certain cultural events and aesthetic experiences can become "present," or have a tangible effect on human senses, emotions, and bodies.
Throughout his writing, Gumbrecht emphasizes the importance of material experience to consuming literature and art. In Atmosphere, Mood, Stimmung: On a Hidden Potential of Literature , Gumbrecht applies the concept of mood to the process of reading literary works.
He argues that the function of literature is to "make present," and treats aesthetic experiences as concrete encounters that affect a reader or viewer's physical environment or body.
By connecting presence to art, especially the art of literature, in his description of language as a material component of the world, Gumbrecht returns to his roots in the study of philology, moving beyond Deconstruction 's concept of language. He writes, "'Reading for Stimmung' always means paying attention to the textual dimension of the forms that envelop us and our bodies as a physical reality—something that can catalyze inner feelings without matters of representation necessarily being involved.
Focusing on the atmosphere produced by a work of literature and experienced by the work's reader, he argues, is crucial to the intellectual practice of reading and analyzing literature. In a interview with Gumbrecht, Ulrik Ekman describes Gumbrecht's work on presence as an "extremely intricate oscillation between a move, perhaps unavoidable, towards epistemological sense-making and conceptualization on the one hand, and, on the other, an at least formally opening move in the direction of ontological concerns.
Gumbrecht's focus on presence in the reading of literature is significant for his elaboration of a "post- hermeneutic " form of literary criticism. He has argued that the emphasis on interpretation in academic intellectual practices is incomplete, and that the "meaning-only" model of understanding it produces does not account for the subjective experience of the arts.
In Production of Presence , Gumbrecht criticizes the status of literary study in university settings, arguing that the humanities over-emphasize the importance of interpretation, or "the reconstruction and attribution of meaning. Gumbrecht traces the emphasis on meaning and interpretation back to Early Modernity , drawing from Martin Heidegger 's concept of "Being" and commenting on the work of many other scholars, including Jacques Derrida 's writing on overcoming metaphysics.
Gumbrecht critiques the emphasis on reason and rationality that originated with the Age of Enlightenment ,  and in particular, references Immanuel Kant 's Critique of Pure Reason , Critique of Practical Reason , and Critique of Judgment , as well as the Cartesian tendency to exclude presence from metaphysics.
Gumbrecht highlights the importance of modes of "world-appropriation" that do not focus on locating or discerning meaning. These are epiphany , presentification, and deixis. Epiphany refers to a moment of intensity or loss of control related to viewing an artistic work; presentification refers to immersing oneself in the past moment of the artwork's production; deixis involves the "lived experience" of artistic work, rather than the imposition of meaning.
Gumbrecht has also written on the spectatorship of sport , using philosophy and the history of athletics to present an analytical perspective on the precise ways sport is consumed and appreciated. Most notably in his book In Praise of Athletic Beauty , but also in articles such as "Epiphany of Form: On the Beauty of Team Sports"  and interviews with newspapers and academic sources, he examines the widespread cultural fascination with athletics in the 21st century and in historical contexts.
Gumbrecht's project is to provide a new mode for exploring and understanding the aesthetic experience of sports spectatorship, or what precisely makes certain athletic moves and plays "beautiful. Among other elements, Gumbrecht also presents as key elements of spectatorship the importance of styles of communication and sociality among fans and the spectators' sense of gratitude toward players.
That gratitude is sparked by "special moments of intensity" when athletes appear to go beyond the limits of human performance—which, in Ancient Greek culture, was seen as occurring in the presence of the gods. Gumbrecht's writing on sport interconnects with his concepts of presence and materiality insofar as the activity of watching takes on a communal character, offering spectators "opportunities to immerse themselves in the realm of presence.
Gumbrecht acknowledges the occurrence of fights and hooliganism at sporting events, but focuses instead on the sense of communion that watching athletics can produce—for example, through acts of cheering, chanting, or even doing "the Wave. The energy of the crowd, in combination with the other aesthetic and emotional responses evoked by watching athletic aptitude, leads to the range of "fascinations" Gumbrecht incorporates into his method for describing and expressing appreciation for sport.
In addition to his work on presence, materiality, and hermeneutics in the humanities , Gumbrecht's main areas of research, teaching, and publishing include:. Gumbrecht's publications are extensive and in many languages. He wrote primarily in German during his early career, and in English after moving to the United States in He also writes in Spanish and Portuguese , and his works are regularly translated into French , Hungarian , Korean , Russian , and several other languages.
Although Gumbrecht continues to teach at Stanford, he is affiliated with other universities and is a visiting professor or associate professor at institutions worldwide. The professors initiated the group in to provide students and faculty with an opportunity to engage in philosophical close reading and analytical discussion on a weekly basis.
Over an academic quarter , the Group discusses one contemporary or historical text from the Western philosophical tradition.
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Hans Ulrich Gumbrecht. Retrieved Stanford Humanities. Gumbrecht" PDF. Retrieved October 26, Stanford: Stanford University Press. In Living on the Edge of Time. After Latency as Origin of the Present. New York: Columbia University Press. New Literary History. In Praise of Athletic Beauty. World Cultural Council. Archived from the original on December 18, Retrieved August 13, Categories : births German literary critics University of Konstanz alumni German non-fiction writers Living people Stanford University Department of Comparative Literature faculty German emigrants to the United States Literature educators American literary critics Comparative literature academics German male non-fiction writers.
Production of Presence : What Meaning Cannot Convey
Hans Ulrich Gumbrecht. Production of Presence is a comprehensive version of the thinking of Hans Ulrich Gumbrecht, one of the most consistently original literary scholars writing today. It offers a personalized account of some of the central theoretical movements in literary studies and in the humanities over the past thirty years, together with an equally personal view of a possible future. Based on this assessment of the past and the future of literary studies and the humanities, the book develops the provocative thesis that, through their exclusive dedication to interpretation, i.
Hans Ulrich Gumbrecht
Hans Ulrich " Sepp " Gumbrecht born is a literary theorist whose work spans philology , philosophy, semiotics , literary and cultural history, and epistemologies of the everyday. Gumbrecht's writing on philosophy and modern thought extends from the Middle Ages to today and incorporates an array of disciplines and styles, at times combining historical and philosophical inquiry with elements of memoir. Much of Gumbrecht's scholarship has focused on national literatures in French, Spanish, Portuguese, and German, and he is known for his work on the Western philosophical tradition, the materiality of presence, shifting views of the Enlightenment , forms of aesthetic experience, and the joys of watching sports. As well as publishing academic works and teaching graduate and undergraduate students at Stanford, Gumbrecht is recognized as a public intellectual in Europe and South America and contributes to a range of newspapers and journals in English, German, Portuguese, and Spanish.