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20 October 2004

This Year's Author-in-Residence at the University of Heidelberg: Patrick Roth

The Los Angeles-based writer will be continuing his Frankfurt Lectures (2001) at the University from 28 October to 12 November 2004 - All lectures and the panel discussion can be followed live on the internet

Patrick Roth is the 11th author-in-residence at Heidelberg University (28 October to 12 November 2004). Among German authors Roth is the "film director" par excellence. His texts are organised like feature films. They operate with elements typical of the cinematic idiom and in their composition are stringently geared to the climaxes. They are skilfully dramatised and aim at intensity and immediate effect. In a way only encountered otherwise in the cinema, the readers are drawn into Roth's stories with a view to achieving a high degree of emotional identification. In Heidelberg Patrick Roth will be revealing what he has learned from Alfred Hitchcock in terms of suspense and timing.

The three-part lecture series is headed "The Town on the Sea" and is a continuation of the Frankfurt Lectures "The Valley of Shadows" (published in 2002). Whereas in Frankfurt the focus was on assembling material, the Heidelberg lectures will investigate the ways in which the material finds its way into the reality of the texts. The earlier explorations on the sources of artistic creativity in dreams and the mind are now addressed entirely to the material from which the "Town on the Sea" is to be constructed. What happens to the material drawn up from the depths of the mind in the light of conscious awareness? What operations does it have to be subjected to if the desired effect is to be obtained? And what does the material do with its author? Does it constantly get in the way of the controlling and self-controlled artistic personality?

The panel discussion "Are You Experienced?" (7 p.m., 12 November) assembles a number of literary studies experts and literary critics for a discussion of the foundations Roth's writing is based on. To an extent unmatched by any other author, Roth accords his own unconscious supreme significance for his literary production. He regards his literature as "paving the way" for something else that awaits his readers in his stories. The lectures and the panel discussion will be accessible on the internet as a live video. For more information and a detailed programme go to

Patrick Roth was born in Freiburg/Breisgau in 1953 and grew up in Karlsruhe. He has been living in Los Angeles since 1975, where he trained as an actor and worked as a director and scriptwriter. Roth's writing is markedly cineastic. Texts like "My Journey to Chaplin" (1997), "The Night of the Timeless" (2001) or "Starlite Terrace" (204) make use of cinematic stylistic resources such as zoom, flashback, quick edits and fade-over techniques. The scrupulously crafted stories are set in the everyday world of Californian freeways, delis, film studios and apartment blocks. Childhood memories, dream sequences and film narratives are woven into these mundane situations in such a way that the different levels of reality dissolve into one another. A scene from "Vertigo" is just as real as the things that happen to the narrator on Mulholland Drive. Unexpectedly, mythological patterns shine through the "customary insanity" of everyday life. Roth's heroes are all "ordinary people", but they all have apparently eccentric mysteries behind which existential issues reveal themselves: guilt, redemption, love and death.

The Heidelberg author-in-residence tradition began in 1993 as a collaboration between the City of Heidelberg and the University. It is organised by the Department of Germanic Studies and financed by the "City of Heidelberg Foundation." Lectures, readings and discussion provide insights into creative artistic processes and information on current literary tendencies and problems. The list of authors invited (Martin Walser, Ulla Hahn, Dieter Kühn, Volker Braun, Brigitte Kronauer, Hanns-Josef Ortheil, Michael Rutschky, Eckhard Henscheid, Ulla Berkéwicz, authors of pop literature) shows that in poetological terms the Heidelberg author-in-residence enterprise is open to all comers.

A photo of Patrick Roth can be requested from the organisers.

Please address any inquiries to
PD Dr. Michaela Kopp-Marx
Department of Germanic Studies
University of Heidelberg
Hauptstr. 207-209
69117 Heidelberg
phone/fax: 06221/543365

For journalists:
Dr. Michael Schwarz
Press Officer of the University of Heidelberg
phone: 06221/542310, fax: 54317

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