Honorary Doctorate Awarded to Hans Ulrich Gumbrecht

photo: Hans-Werner Hausmann
Awarding the honorary doctorate to Hans Ulrich Gumbrecht, photo: Hans-Werner Hausmann
Porträt Hans Ulrich Gumbrecht
Portrait of Hans Ulrich Gumbrecht

Dean’s Office of the Faculty of Arts and Humanities
Ernst-Lohmeyer-Platz 3, 17489 Greifswald
Tel.: +49 3834 420 3001

On 14 May 2008, the Faculty of Arts and Humanities awarded an honorary doctorate to Hans Ulrich Gumbrecht, professor at Stanford University. This was to recognise his incisive research in the humanities in the field of General and Romance Literary Studies.

He is regarded as a provocateur and polariser and as an ever-present heckler in Germany's intellectual debate. His list of publications has more than 45 pages. His books have been published not only in German and English, but also in Chinese, Dutch, Portuguese, Russian and Spanish. The University of Greifswald’s Faculty of Arts and Humanities honoured the many years of service of Prof. Dr. Dr. h. c. mult. Hans Ulrich Gumbrecht by awarding him an honorary doctorate at a festive academic ceremony on 14 May 2008.

With this honorary award, the University of Greifswald recognises Gumbrecht's distinctive research in the humanities in the field of General and Romance Literary Studies. Through his extensive work and groundbreaking publications on the philosophy of understanding as well as the philosophy of presence, he opened up previously unimagined paths for the arts and humanities. 

Prof. Hans Ulrich Gumbrecht has been Chair of Comparative Literature (Chair of Italian, French and Comparative Literary Studies) at Stanford University since 1989. He studied Romance languages, German language and literature, philosophy and sociology in Germany, Italy and Spain. At the age of only 26, the arts and humanities scholar became a professor with professorial chair at the Ruhr University in Bochum, where he worked between 1975 and 1982. From 1983 to 1989 he taught and researched at the University of Siegen. Gumbrecht held guest professorships at numerous foreign universities. He has been a US citizen since March 2000. The academic, who has been associated with the Faculty of Arts and Humanities at the University of Greifswald for many years, was one of the founding members of the Greifswald University Council in 2004 (until 2007).

Gumbrecht is co-editor of Grundrisse der romanischen Literaturen des Mittelalters, Figurae - Readings in Medieval Culture, Writing Scene and Espaces Metisses. He regularly writes for the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung and for Merkur - Zeitschrift für europäisches Denken. In a ZEIT article from 2007, he describes receiving only little response as his greatest frustration.



Hans Ulrich Gumbrecht was born on 15 June 1948 in Würzburg as the child of two urologists.  As a school pupil, he spent some time in Paris. So it's not surprising that he spent periods of stay abroad in Spain and Italy during his university studies. As a scholarship holder of the Maximilianeum Foundation, he studied Romance languages and literature, German language and literature, sociology and philosophy in Munich and Regensburg. In 1975, at the age of only 26, he became a professor at the University of Bochum. In 1989, he moved on to Stanford University. There he held the Chair of Comparative Literature. He is also a permanent visiting professor at the Université de Montréal, the Collège de France, and the Zeppelin University in Friedrichshafen. 

He was a fellow of the Kolleg Friedrich Nietzsche in Weimar in 2012 and 2013. There he presented his drafts of a "Genealogy of the Western Intellectual".

To this day, the German-American Romance scholar is a respected literary scholar and historian, publicist and holder of the Albert Guérard Chair of Literature.

In his private life, Gumbrecht is married to his second wife and the father of four children.