Ernst Osterkamp

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Ernst Osterkamp (born May 24, 1950 in Tecklenburg on the farm "Osterkamp") is a German German philologist , university professor and literary critic .


Ernst Osterkamp studied German , social sciences and philosophy in Münster from 1968 to 1977 , where he received his doctorate in 1977 with a study of the history of motifs on "forms of representation of evil" using the example of the devil as a lightbringer . The formative influences of the student years were Theodor W. Adorno's Aesthetic Theory and Hans Blumenberg's lectures.

He then worked for a year as a freelance publisher and in 1979 became a research assistant at the Institute for German Studies at the University of Regensburg . In 1988 he completed his habilitation in Regensburg and worked there as a private lecturer until 1992 .

This was followed in 1992 by a visiting professorship at the University of Würzburg and a professorship for German literature at the Humboldt University in Berlin , after he had rejected offers to the universities in Kiel and Bochum . The rebuilding of the Institute for German Literature at the Humboldt University - all employees had to reapply - at the beginning of the 1990s offered Ernst Osterkamp an "experimental field" that was "highly attractive". After applying for a one-year extension, Ernst Osterkamp retired in November 2016.

Ernst Osterkamp's academic interest is in the literature of the Baroque (including Johann Christian Günther ), the Early Enlightenment, the Classical (in addition to Goethe - the "author who worried me most" - also Winckelmann , Schiller as well as Caroline and Wilhelm von Humboldt ) and the Modernism (especially George , Borchardt ) as well as the interrelationships between poetry, fine art and opera.

Since around 1990 his “literary-critical relationship to the texts”, which he has as a “passionate reader”, has led to the fact that he has written numerous reviews for the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung .

He is a full member of the Academies of Science in Mainz (since 2003), in Berlin-Brandenburg (since 2006) and the German Academy for Language and Poetry (since 2010; elected President in October 2017).

Ernst Osterkamp describes himself as an “insatiable reader” and the most important reading experience of his childhood was a travel story by Karl May : “The unbelievable happiness that the one book I was given for Christmas is still not only in my memory, but in mine whole body stored: The treasure in the Silbersee with a real leather back and ribbon bookmark, furnished and sold by the German Book Community in the most wonderful taste uncertainty : That was a treasure that you could not only read, but also smell, taste and caress, especially if you were took him to bed. ”His“ favorite book ”is Gottfried Keller's novel The Green Heinrich .

Fonts (selection)


  • Lucifer. Stations of a motif (=  comparative studies. Volume 9). de Gruyter, Berlin / New York 1979, ISBN 3-11-084641-1 (also dissertation Münster (Westphalia), Univ., Department 07 Philosophy 1977).
  • In the letter image. Studies on the process of Goethean image descriptions. Metzler, Stuttgart 1991, ISBN 3-476-00764-2 (also habilitation paper).
  • Lonliness. About a problem in the life and work of the late Goethe (=  Academy of Sciences and Literature, Mainz. Treatises of the humanities and social science class. Year 2008, No. 1). Steiner, Mainz / Stuttgart 2008, ISBN 978-3-515-09198-5 .
  • Empty center poetry. Stefan Georges New Reich (=  Edition Akzente ). Carl Hanser, Munich 2010, ISBN 978-3-446-23500-7 .
  • Edna St. Vincent Millay . Deutscher Kunstverlag, Berlin / Munich 2014, ISBN 978-3-422-07240-4 .

Edited anthologies

Published series and magazines


Web links

Individual evidence

  1. a b c d e f g h Ernst Osterkamp: Introductory speech (2010). In: Website of the German Academy for Language and Poetry. accessed on January 15, 2018.
  2. a b c d Prof. Dr. phil. Ernst Osterkamp in the membership directory of the Academy of Sciences and Literature in Mainz; accessed on January 10, 2018.
  3. Internet page on Ernst Osterkamp. In: Website of the Institute for German Literature at the Humboldt University in Berlin. Scientific Biography Section , accessed January 10, 2018.
  4. a b Amory Burchard: Humboldt's index fossils. German literary history, pride in our academic home - that connects. In: Der Tagesspiegel . October 2, 2015; accessed on January 10, 2018.
  5. Internet page on Ernst Osterkamp. In: Website of the Institute for German Literature at the Humboldt University in Berlin. Section teaching and research priorities , accessed on January 10, 2018.
  6. a b Ernst Osterkamp is the new President of the German Academy for Language and Poetry . Press release of the German Academy for Language and Poetry of October 27, 2017; accessed on January 10, 2018.
  7. Ernst Osterkamp: My favorite book: "The green Heinrich". In: Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung . August 10, 2004, No. 184, p. 33; accessed on January 10, 2018.