The Heidelberg Author in Residence programme is a scheme run jointly since 1993 by the University and the City of Heidelberg. Its main aims are to further contacts between authors and their audience and to give budding literary scholars insight, at "close quarters", into the processes underlying a writer's "work in progress". The events in the programme are designed to be accessible for a general audience and to provide as comprehensive a view as possible of the works of the authors in question. This year's author in residence is Michael Rutschky, who will be in Heidelberg from 17 November to 3 December. His predecessors in the intervening years were Martin Walser, Ulla Hahn, Dieter Kühn, Volker Braun, Brigitte Kronauer and Hanns-Josef Ortheil, a list ranging from firmly established contemporary "greats" to more obviously innovative and experimental writers. The Programme is organised by two recipients of scholarships awarded by the City of Heidelberg Foundation.
Born in Berlin in 1943, Rutschky studied German, sociology and philosophy in Frankfurt, Göttingen and Berlin. Among his teachers were Adorno and Habermas. Following a doctorate in 1978 at the Free University of Berlin on the psychoanalytic interpretation of literature he was one of the editors of Enzensberger's TransAtlantik magazine, moving from there to a similar post on the editorial board of the Merkur literary journal. Today Rutschky lives in Berlin as a freelance writer. In 1997 he was awarded that city's Heinrich Mann Prize.
Rutschky is widely regarded first and foremost as a chronicler and interpreter of the history of West German intellectualism in the post-1968 period. Critic Reinhard Baumgart warns that Rutschky's work is hardly for people in search of a "good book" in the conventional sense of the term. His writing is a mixture of genres, taking case studies, anecdotes about friends and prominent personalities, historical forays and reports on books he has read and lacing his descriptions with theoretical approaches ranging as far afield as Freud's interpretation of melancholy, Adorno's ideas on society and Jünger's philosophy of pain. In his work for journals and newspapers Rutschky is first of all an observer of everyday life. His latest book Lebensromane (1998) can be read as a potted sociology of everyday romanticism.
Rutschky's texts are an intermesh of narrative, argument, questions, assertions, journalistic colportage, philosophical reflection, case studies, theoretical explication. His markedly ethnographic perspective is inspired not least by the work of Siegfried Kracauer, Roland Barthes and Alexander Kluge. Against this background his love of photography comes as no surprise. To coincide with his presence in Heidelberg an exhibition of some of his photographic work will be on view at the Kunstverein (Hauptstrasse 97)from 24 November to 31 December.
The complete programme of events featuring author in residence Michael Rutschky can be found (in German) on the Internet under www.uni-heidelberg.de/Institute/fak9/gs/poetikdo/programm.htm