“Heidelberg Has a Very Long Tradition of Excellence”
Dr. Jennifer Bates, Associate Professor of Philosophy at Duquesne University, Pittsburgh/USA
1992/1993 Research Stay (German Academic Exchange Service / DAAD) at Department of Philosophy at Heidelberg University for a Ph.D. on the philosophy of G. W. F. Hegel, revisiting Heidelberg through HAIreconnect in June 2013
Why did you decide to come to Heidelberg University?
I chose Heidelberg because the university has a very long tradition of excellence, the Department of Philosophy is famous (Hegel taught there), the Seminar’s library is a tremendously rich resource, and I wished to work under the well-known Hegel scholar Prof. Hans Friedrich Fulda.
What were your experiences in Heidelberg?
I had a wonderful time! Not only did I make many friends and learn a great deal, my experience in Heidelberg was absolutely formative of my Ph.D. dissertation and my career. I prepared and presented a philosophy paper for Prof. Fulda's Graduate Seminar Kolloquium. The paper was entitled "Die Einbildungskraft in Hegels Philosophie des Geistes." That paper presentation turned out to be the foundation of my doctoral dissertation (entitled The Genesis and Spirit of Imagination (Hegel's Theory of Imagination Between 1801-1807), directed by Henry S. Harris, Kenneth Schmitz, at the University of Toronto). I later revised that dissertation into a published book entitled Hegel’s Theory of Imagination (State University of New York Press, 2004). The feedback I got from Professor Fulda and his graduate students was tremendously important to my thinking and development as a philosopher. To this day, when I teach Hegel, I tell the students to approach the text “in the Heidelberg style” – paying close attention to what is written and moving slowly together through the text.
How did your career continue after your time in Heidelberg?
After Heidelberg, I taught Hegel and 19th c. philosophy as a Visiting Assistant Professor (three years at Victoria University, British Columbia, Canada; and then three years at the University of Guelph, Ontario, Canada). In 2007, I accepted a tenure-track assistant professor position in the Philosophy Department at Duquesne University, Pittsburgh, USA and in 2010 I was made Associate Professor with tenure at Duquesne University. I have published and presented many papers in Continental Philosophy, most notably a second book, Hegel and Shakespeare on Moral Imagination (State University of New York Press 2010), and with Richard Wilson, a volume of collected work by specialists in philosophy and in Shakespeare Studies, entitled Shakespeare and Continental Philosophy (forthcoming Edinburgh University Press). I have also directed a Ph.D. Dissertation, by Kamal Shlbei, entitled Sadra and Hegel on the Relationship Between Essence/Existence and Subject/Object.
Do you recommend a research visit to Heidelberg University to your students or to colleagues in your scientific network?
Yes, absolutely. Our Department of Philosophy at Duquesne University is famous for specializing in Continental Philosophy and the History of Philosophy, so Heidelberg University, and especially the Philosophishes Seminar with its amazing history, faculty and library, is a destination of choice for our students and for faculty. One of our Ph.D. students, Stephanie Adair, has spent the last two years of her Ph.D. at Heidelberg; she is now teaching a course at the Philosophisches Seminar on Feminist Philosophy. I was at Heidelberg University this past June: I gave a paper at the Philosophisches Seminar Kolloquium (entitled “Hegel and the Concept of Extinction) while also doing some research, thanks to a Heidelberg Alumni International Reconnect grant. While I was there, I finished organizing the Duquesne-Heidelberg student exchange project. There are many opportunities for collaboration and individual research.
You are Research-Alumni Ambassador for Heidelberg as a location of research – what are your experiences and plans?
Over the past year, in conjunction with Professor Anton Koch of the Philosophisches Seminar, and Professors Ronald Polansky and Dan Selcer of the Philosophy Department at Duquesne University, I set up a student exchange program between Duquesne University and Heidelberg University. Each year, three students from each university can attend the other university. This year, two philosophy Ph.D. students from Duquesne University are going to Heidelberg University, a student from Heidelberg is to come to Duquesne in the spring 2014. I have created a Duquesne-Heidelberg Committee in the Philosophy Department at Duquesne to determine candidates for future exchange years; that Committee chose two more Ph.D. students to go to Heidelberg next year, for fall 2014 and spring 2015. We are also working on a Faculty exchange between the Philosophisches Seminar and the Duquesne University Department of Philosophy. Also, research is underway for an undergraduate Spring Break Away course to be taught at Duquesne University in 2015 on a humanities topic related to Heidelberg; the students taking that course would travel to Heidelberg for their spring break. When I was in Heidelberg this past June, I met with Professor Fulda and gave me permission to translate some of his published work into English. So there is a lot of wonderful collaborating currently under way and proposed for the future, between Duquesne University and Heidelberg University. I am very pleased to be involved in helping to make these happen.