German Literature Institute Leipzig

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Entrance to the German Literature Institute, Wächterstrasse 34 (2010)

The German Literature Institute Leipzig (DLL) at the University of Leipzig offers university training for writers in the German-speaking area. In addition to the “ Creative Writing and Cultural Journalism ” course at the University of Hildesheim and the “Language Art” course at the University of Applied Arts Vienna , the Literature Institute is the only way to study literary writing at a German-speaking university. The six-semester course comprises the subjects of prose, poetry and drama / new media. Since the winter semester 2006/2007 is a Bachelor / Master - study regulations in force. The DLL is located in the music district in Villa Wächterstrasse 34.


Literature Institute "Johannes R. Becher"

Former Villa Reißig at Karl-Tauchnitz-Straße 8, into which the literary institute "Johannes R. Becher" moved in 1955 (1952)

In 1955 the Institute for Literature was founded in Leipzig after a secretarial decision by the Central Committee of the SED with the aim of promoting the ideological and artistic training of writers. The institute received university status in 1958 and was named after Johannes R. Becher in 1959 . From 1955 to 1993 it was located at Karl-Tauchnitz-Straße 8. Teaching at the institute was linked to the interests of young authors: seminars for poetry, prose and drama were the focus of the training. In addition, courses were offered that broadened intellectual horizons and stimulated literary creation: German literature, world literature , Soviet literature, aesthetics , cultural studies , stylistics , literary criticism , art and music history, as well as the subject Marxism-Leninism, which is mandatory at all GDR universities .

The course also included annual internships at the VEB Braunkohlenwerk Regis . The highlights of the semester were workshop readings in front of the institute plenum, in which students presented their texts without any additional comments and exposed them to public criticism.

In addition to direct studies at the literature institute, there was also the option of distance learning (postgraduate studies). Students of this type of study met every four weeks for face-to-face events on three weekend days.

The institute's task was to educate writers on socialist realism as defined by the SED . Nevertheless, there was an atmosphere of relative openness in the shelter of the state institute, which produced a considerable number of internationally recognized authors.

For a decade and a half, the central figure of the institute was the poet Georg Maurer , who led the poetry seminars from 1955 to 1970 and shaped a whole generation of young GDR poets ( Saxon Poet School ).

In the summer of 1968 a group of students from the Literature Institute, including Heidemarie Härtl , Gert Neumann , Siegmar Faust and Andreas Reimann , organized an illegal poetry reading on the Elster reservoir in Leipzig . At this reading Wolfgang Hilbig was "discovered" as a talented poet. The Ministry of State Security rated the event, which was planned as a harmless poetic exchange, as subversive activity and resulted in the de-registration, exclusion from the party and the imprisonment of some students.

The Free State of Saxony dissolved the literature institute by resolution on December 31, 1990, on the grounds that the courses offered did not meet the requirements of a free society or a democratic constitutional state and a social market economy . The lessons were based on the ideology and the state and social order of actually existing socialism . The last graduates of the literary institute received a "diploma for literary writing".

Due to student protests (including the occupation of the institute from January 1 to 6, 1991), resistance from parliamentarians, academics and numerous writers, including Hans Mayer and Walter Jens , the Saxon State Ministry had to rethink the Institute for Literature. The result was a concept according to which the old institute should be dissolved and a new one founded. In 1993, ongoing teaching operations were completed.

German Literature Institute

The German Literature Institute , which began teaching in 1995, was re-established under the umbrella of the University of Leipzig . Since 1999, the function of management has been performed by a managing director, in which the professors of the institute take turns. In the 2006/2007 winter semester, the bachelor's degree in literary writing replaced the diploma degree. The range of courses is divided into theoretical and practical seminars. The basics of literary history and theory are the prerequisites for students to understand and criticize the structure of texts. In addition to concrete work on texts, workshop seminars serve to expand critical skills. The students are given the opportunity to try out different text forms. In addition to seminars on prose, poetry and drama, there are events on journalistic writing, radio plays, or z. B. for copywriting. Since only around 20 applicants are accepted each year and most of the courses take place in the same building, there is a lively exchange among the students.

Once a year the anthology “Tippgemeinschaft” appears, in which the students introduce themselves to the readership.

In 2005 the institute was awarded the German Critics' Prize.

Institute directors


As lecturers are or were u. a. active:

Well-known graduates (Johannes-R.-Becher-Institute)

Well-known graduates (German Literature Institute)


  • Institute for Literature "Johannes R. Becher" (Ed.): Interim report. Notes and bibliography for the Institute for Literature "Johannes R. Becher", Leipzig . Bibliographisches Institut, Leipzig 1980 (chronology, opening speech, directory of employees, directory of graduates with their lists of publications, etc.).
  • Gerrit Bartels: Punk rock as a breeding ground. In: Bella triste ( ISSN  1618-1727 ), year 2005, no.12 .
  • Josef Haslinger , Hans-Ulrich Treichel (Ed.): How do I become a damn good writer? Edition Suhrkamp, ​​Frankfurt am Main 2005, ISBN 3-518-12395-5 .
  • Michael Lentz (Ed.): Learning to write in Leipzig. German Literature Institute Leipzig. In: Akzente , year 2007, issue 2 (April 2007).
  • Michael Lentz (Ed.): New Rundschau : Prosa Leipzig. Issue 1/2010. Fischer, Frankfurt am Main 2010.
  • Petra Rantsch: The German Literature Institute Leipzig . In: The Leipzig Music Quarter . Verlag im Wissenschaftszentrum Leipzig, 1997, ISBN 3-930433-18-4 , p. 90 ff.
  • Isabelle Lehn , Sascha Macht and Katja Stopka: Learning to write in socialism. The Institute for Literature "Johannes R. Becher" . Göttingen 2018, ISBN 978-3-8353-3232-4 .

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Michael Lentz: Foreword. In: Neue Rundschau: Prosa Leipzig. Issue 1/2010. Fischer, Frankfurt am Main 2010, p. 9.
  2. Ralph Grüneberger / Society for Contemporary Poetry : Catalog for the exhibition “Against the Current”, 2004.
  3. Hans-Joachim Föller: Yesterday IM, today editor at MDR . In: Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung of October 30, 2000, page 51
  4. Isabelle Lehn, Sascha Macht, Katja Stopka: Learning to write in socialism: The Institute for Literature "Johannes R. Becher" , Wallstein-Verlag 2018

Coordinates: 51 ° 20 ′ 1.7 ″  N , 12 ° 22 ′ 3 ″  E