Published online by Cambridge University Press: 06 October 2020
THE CONTRIBUTIONS IN THIS third part critically assess the importance and relevance of a German-language contribution to the world, where the world refers not merely to the geographical but to a plurality of cultural practices and forms of social transformation. Each explores how knowledge of German-language cultural products, ideas, and traditions has provoked and driven activity beyond the academy, and how this has impacted on the communities that come into contact with them. The chapters thus question what the world of art, culture, and society takes from German-language culture, exploring which language(s), which traditions, and which intellectual insights are required to undertake the work they do. In assessing these cultural and community contexts, these chapters also question what role, if any, academic work might have in supporting or articulating this cultural response to “Germanness”—and what academia might learn in turn from work undertaken in the cultural and community sectors.
In his opening chapter, James Hodkinson explores how processes of collaboration and co-creation have extended the reach of his research into two new worlds: first, “away from the physical space of campus and academic modes of discourse,” and second, “transnationally, by making culturally remote (German and historical) material relevant to the contemporary UK context.” Some of these materials indeed return us to a figure familiar from earlier parts of this book—namely, Goethe—with one of Hodkinson's most innovative examples of “impact” revolving around responses to the Hafez-Goethe monument in Weimar, inspired by Goethe's West-östlicher Divan (West-Eastern Divan, 1819) and his imagined encounter with the Persian poet Hafez of Shiraz. In looking at Goethe and others, Hodkinson's chapter thus demonstrates the “abiding value of German cultural products to make culturally specific contributions to contemporary debates.” At the same time, however, he showcases different models of impact and knowledge exchange, such as public lectures, exhibitions, work with schools, and artistic collaborations with figures such as the Bangladeshi artist Mohammed Ali and the Iranian-born Birmingham painter Mohsen Keiany. In exploring how we might “evaluate” these collaborations in quantitative and qualitative ways, Hodkinson ultimately argues that these collaborations and networks “beyond the world of the academy” reveal how “academics can equally benefit from engaging with nonacademic constituencies.”