November 23, 1998

Research Magazine of Heidelberg University: "Literature around 1968: Political Protest and Postmodernist Potentialities"

"Ruperto Carola" 2/98 discusses in its title story literature as a source of inspiration for the 1968 student movement - Background: extensive reevaluation of the political culture of the Federal Republic and harsh criticisms leveled at it by the 1968 protest movement

The new edition of the research magazine of Heidelberg University is now available. Its title story discusses literature as a source of inspiration for the 1968 student movement. "Ruperto Carola 2/98" covers topics ranging from German Studies to nephrology, and Romance Studies to molecular biology. In a special feature titled "A Surprising Collage of Staccato Images" it also investigates the question: Where in the Internet does one find information on the ongoing research being done at Heidelberg University?

In the Editorial, vice-president Prof. Heinz Horner gives a broad-ranging overview of the opportunities provided by Heidelberg University's Internet services for information-seekers and scientists alike. Among other things, he makes reference to the lectures and seminars posted in the Internet and available for access outside the University, and also the "Upper Rhine Virtual University" and the "International Tele-University", both of which profit from active involvement from Heidelberg.

The title story centers on this year's annual exhibition at the German Literature Archives in Marbach on the Neckar. It was co-masterminded by Prof. Helmuth Kiesel's Chair of "Recent German Literary History", which concentrates its efforts on the 20th century. The aim of the exhibition is threefold, investigating the genesis and development of the 1968 protest wave, literature as a source of inspiration and a mouthpiece of the protest movement, and the interaction between political protest and nascent postmodernist impulses. The project takes place against the background of an extensive reevaluation of the political culture of the Federal Republic and the harsh criticisms leveled at it by the 1968 protest movement.

Gene Therapy: Prospects of Success in Treating Wilson's Disease

The next article is about the condition known as Wilson's disease. This rare congenital metabolic disorder is caused by a copper-binding deficiency in the organism, resulting in deposits of copper in the cells of the body. The majority of patients are adolescents and young adults. Deposits of copper can lead to cirrhosis of the liver and neurological disorders. Copper may also accumulate in other parts of the body such as the brain, the eyes, the heart, the blood, and the joints. Because of its rarity, the condition is frequently diagnosed too late and this can result in permanent serious health impairments. Effective medication is available dissipating the copper deposits, improving symptomatics, and normalizing life expectancy. But once contracted, cirrhosis of the liver is irreversible, and the frequently marked neurological disturbances are hardly susceptible of any very real improvement. As the gene responsible for the disorder has been identified, genetic therapy holds out promising prospects of success. But there is still a long way to go before it can actually be used on patients. In their article, Wolfgang Stremmel and Markus Möhler describe the steps being taken in this direction at Department IV of the Internal Medicine Division of the University Hospital in Heidelberg.

Dining with Balzac

Eating and drinking are part and parel of our everyday lives. But in many novels and short stories the characters indulge only rarely if at all, and some literary genres like lyric poetry and classical tragedy studiously avoid the topic altogether. In those rare cases where mention is made of our daily bread or sumptuous wining and dining, literary scholars prefer to remain obstinately abstemious, feeling perhaps that engagement with such earthly delights are irreconcilable with "things of the mind" and the rarefied asceticism generally expected of literary scholarship. In truth, however, literary texts making reference to this very central aspect of our existence do not merely describe the intake of food as a gratification of our primitive needs. They describe the way meals are prepared, codes of table manners, social occasions, and this not merely in the form of culture-historical documentation but as a source of literary inspiration in its own right. Not until the early 1970s did literary scholars relinquish their abstinence, in Heidelberg as elsewhere. At the Department of Romance Languages and Literatures, Arnold Rothe has been sampling Balzac's novels to see what's cooking there. In his "Ruperto Carola" article he describes his culinary discoveries.

Flipping the Gene Switch

At a conservative estimate, there are some 100,000 genes in our bodies containing the information required to turn a fertilized egg into a human organism and make sure it functions as it should. The controlled and coordinated flow of information to the locations where it can do its job is the precondition for everything from a functional digestive system to the capacity for learning, not to mention the upsurge of emotion we feel at the sight of a beloved individual. What exactly are these mysterious instructions stored in our genes? News reaches us every day of newly discovered genes, but the way they work is something we are still very much in the dark about. One strategy for casting light on the way genes function consists in interrupting the flow of information - "switching off" the gene in question - and then seeing what happens. Just how scientists go about doing this is the subject of the article by Hermann Bujard of Heidelberg University's Molecular Biology Center, whose laboratories have developed "gene switches" that experimenters can activate at will.

Surprising Collage of Staccato Images

Where in the Internet can you find out about the research work being done at Heidelberg University? The World Wide Web is gaining in importance all the time as a search instrument and a source of information about what goes on at universities. But how exactly do the various departments present themselves in the Web? Who puts the information there? Are websites anything more than electronic image brochures? How reliable and up-to-date is the information itself? "Ruperto Carola"'s editors have been cruising through the Internet to find out.

At Heidelberg University's Rehabilitation Center for patients with chronic kidney complaints (director Eberhard Ritz), a further harmful consequence of smoking has been discovered. Stephan R. Orth has been investigating the effects of cigarette-smoking on the course taken by an existing kidney disorder. His article is followed by the permanent columns of the research magazine, among them "News and Views," in which Reiner Wiehl looks at changes in the complexion of the University's "corporate identity" between 1968 and 1998.

"Ruperto Carola" is printed by Universitätsverlag C. Winter - Heidelberger Verlagsanstalt. Single copies cost DM 10,- (DM 5,- for students). Like the special support subscription (4 issues for DM 60,-), they can be ordered from: Pressestelle der Universität Heidelberg, Postfach 105760, D-69047 Heidelberg. Gratis copies of earlier issues are available for inspection in the foyer of the Old University or can be ordered by mail.

Please address inquiries to:
Dr. Michael Schwarz
Public Information Officer of the University of Heidelberg
Tel: +49 (0)6221 542310, fax: 542317
e-mail: michael.schwarz@rektorat.uni-heidelberg.de

You will find the full German texts of all issues of "Ruperto Carola" complete with abstracts in English under www.uni-heidelberg.de/uni/presse.
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