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Lecture series

Lecture series "Magic Mountain - Visits to the present"

100 years of Thomas Mann's "The Magic Mountain"

ETH Library Zurich, Thomas Mann Archive Photographer Unknown TMA_0076

100 years after its publication, Thomas Mann's The Magic Mountain is at the centre of a public lecture series in Lübeck. In the anniversary year 2024, the city of the author's birth will take a contemporary look at the thematic diversity of the novel: in "Visits to the Present", the central questions of the relationship between life, illness and death will be explored and the various literary, contemporary, medical-historical and musical aspects of the novel will be addressed.

High-calibre speakers have been invited to Lübeck for the event: Among others, the renowned Thomas Mann researcher and former director of the Lübeck museums Hans Wißkirchen will speak about sources and contemporary contexts of the novel, the musicologist Christiane Tewinkel will talk about the music in the novel and the physician and literary scholar Yvonne Wübben will shed light on the conversations between doctor and patient. The evenings of the lecture series will be framed by musical works that play a central role in The Magic Mountain. In this way, the University of Music will make the novel tangible to the senses and audible to music.

The lecture series "Magic Mountain - Visits to the Present" will take place every four weeks from 21 February at the Centre for Cultural Studies Research Lübeck (ZKFL) in Königstraße 42. The evenings begin at 18:30. Afterwards, we invite you to join us for a chat over wine and water.

Admission is free. Registration is not required.

The "Magic Mountain" series of events is being realised by the Lübeck University of Music (MHL) and the University of Lübeck (UzL) as part of Lübeck hoch 3 as a cooperation project with the Buddenbrookhaus/Heinrich-und-Thomas-Mann-Zentrum.

The lectures will be recorded and made available online afterwards.

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Prof Dr Hans Wißkirchen, Copyright: Private

21 February 2024

From the baptismal bowl to the thunderclap. Origin, sources and contemporary contexts of The Magic Mountain

Thomas Mann worked on The Magic Mountain between 1912 and 1924. During this time of far-reaching social upheaval, he also had to reorientate himself intellectually. The lecture will explain the role played by The Magic Mountain, how the genesis of the novel reflects this difficult process and how the completed work finally found its intellectual place during the Weimar Republic. It will also take a look at the sources that Thomas Mann used and which were instrumental in this process of change.

Hans Wißkirchen wrote his doctoral thesis on works by Thomas Mann, played a key role in establishing the Buddenbrookhaus as a memorial and research centre and, as Director of the Kulturstiftung Hansestadt Lübeck, is responsible for the city's museums until the end of 2022. He is President of the German Thomas Mann Society and Honorary Professor of Modern German Literature at the University of Lübeck. He has written numerous books and essays on the Mann family, was co-editor of the Heinrich Mann Yearbook for many years and is co-editor of the Thomas Mann Yearbook.

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20 March 2024

Sounding time. Thomas Mann's Magic Mountain and music

Composed music plays an important role in The Magic Mountain, but the significance of musical, sonic and even noisy events in this particular novel goes much deeper: it is inextricably linked to the storytelling in time and about time that has made The Magic Mountain so famous. The lecture focuses on the role of real compositions by Claude Debussy or Franz Schubert, for example, as well as the powerful, often enigmatic soundscape that surrounds those "up here" in the sanatorium.

Christiane Tewinkel has been Professor of Musicology at the Lübeck University of Music since 2021. She studied at the Freiburg University of Music and at Harvard University, completed her doctorate at the University of Würzburg with a thesis on Robert Schumann's Liederkreis op. 39 after Joseph von Eichendorff and habilitated at the Berlin University of the Arts with a dissertation on the history of musical knowledge since 1945.

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Prof Dr Christiane Tewinkel, Copyright: Heide Scherm

Prof. Dr Dr Yvonne Wübben; Copyright: Wübben

17 April 2024

Double glare: The doctor-patient dialogue in The Magic Mountain

Many authors of classical modernism were aware of the peculiarities of the doctor-patient dialogue. They tell of delusion and reality, of misunderstandings and the myth in white. Thomas Mann also depicts numerous doctor-patient consultations in The Magic Mountain and shows how two worlds collide there. On the one hand, doctors try to keep their mostly flawed diagnoses secret from their patients. On the other hand, the patients play along with the game, which they have often long since seen through. These double blinds provide the novel with its own comedy, which, as the lecture will show in detail, unfolds in the many multi-faceted dialogue situations.

Yvonne Wübben holds two doctorates in literature and medicine. In 2011, she habilitated at the FU Berlin with the book "Poesie der Schizophrenie. Nosography and literary form". She has been a professor of literature and anthropological knowledge at the Ruhr University Bochum since 2017 and is currently a visiting professor for "Narration in Psychiatry" at the Charité in Berlin. Her research focuses on literature from the 18th to 20th centuries, literature and knowledge, scholarly practices and epistemic genres as well as the history of psychiatry.

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15 May 2024

A brief history of tuberculosis

"So the air here with us is good against the disease." This is the viewpoint of the doctors in The Magic Mountain. The air cure, which is prescribed here as a remedy, is just one of the many attempts over the course of time to treat tuberculosis. The history of this disease goes back a long way. It is tempting to assume that tuberculosis has been with humans, if not always, then at least since the time when they adopted domestic animals as their own. And to this day, this disease has not lost its significance and, unfortunately, its horror.

Tom Schaberg is a pulmonologist and infectiologist (doctorate 1983, habilitation 1994). He was head physician at the Centre for Pneumology at the Rotenburg Diakonieklinikum from 1997-2019 and was also an adjunct professor at the FU Berlin and the Hannover Medical School. He also edited the journal Pneumology for many years and has been a member of the Executive Committee of the German Central Committee against Tuberculosis since 2008.

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Prof. Dr Tom Schaberg, Copyright: Private

Dr Regina Ströbl and Dr Andreas Ströbl, Copyright: Private

26 June 2024

"...a coffin is an almost beautiful piece of furniture" - On the staging of the deceased

In their lecture, Regina and Andreas Ströbl introduce the audience to the sometimes pompous world of laying out and staging corpses from the high nobility to the bourgeoisie. In doing so, they emphasise how important a conscious farewell to the deceased was in historical times and still is today. Thomas Mann's work offers a rich source of material on the subject of death and mourning, which will also be presented in the lecture.

Regina and Andreas Ströbl are archaeologists and art historians. As the "Research Centre for Crypts" based in Lübeck, they document, process and rescue crypts and mausoleums from the early modern period throughout Germany.

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17 July 2024

"Lightning shall strike me when I lie" - Thomas Mann and "his occult experiences": a chapter in the history of parapsychology

In the winter of 1922/23, Thomas Mann took part in three 'occult séances' with the medium Willi Schneider (1903-1971) in the specially equipped laboratory of the Munich-based general practitioner and hypnotherapist Albert Freiherr von Schrenck-Notzing (1862-1929), the main representative of what was then known as 'scientific occultism', where he was a fascinated witness to several 'occult' phenomena such as materialisations and object elevations ('telekinesis'). He described his impressions in his lecture "Okkulte Erlebnisse" (1924), which was very well received by his audience at the time and was adapted into literature in the "Fragwürdigstes" section of Chapter 7 of The Magic Mountain. The lecture offers a historically informed insight into the cabinet of the "ghost baron" (Manfred Dierks) Schrenck-Notzing, including the phenomena usually shown there and their rituals in the 'occult' twilight, which left a lasting impression on Thomas Mann and challenged him to a literary reflection on the possibilities of an "empirical-experimental metaphysics".

Eberhard Bauer is a psychologist and has worked for many years as a researcher and consultant at the Institut für Grenzgebiete der Psychologie und Psychohygiene e.V. (IGPP) in Freiburg im Breisgau, which was founded in 1950 by Professor Hans Bender (1907-1991) and of which he is a board member. His research areas also include the cultural and scientific history of 'occult' (paranormal) phenomena and experiences since the 19th century.

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Dipl.-Psych. Eberhard Bauer, Copyright: IGPP

Claudio Steiger, Copyright: Margret Witzke

14 August 2024

The Magic Mountain. A novel of the Weimar Republic - 100 years later

Hans Castorp's Davos story ends with the outbreak of war in 1914. On the battlefield, "he is taken out of our sight". But when author Thomas Mann resumed work on The Magic Mountain in 1919, the war was already over. When the text was published in 1924, the present of the Weimar Republic had also been incorporated into it. The lecture will shed light on the extent to which the "pre-war story" is also a post-war story - a determination of position in the embattled first German democracy.

Claudio Steiger worked in the curatorial team at the Buddenbrookhaus and is currently a research assistant at the Friedrich Ebert Memorial Centre in Heidelberg.

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