09/25/2015, Conference: “Alexander von Humboldt-Tag 2015: Wissenschaft aus der Bewegung [Alexander-von-Humboldt-Day 2015: Science on the Move]“, Berlin

Program (in German):

Plate XLII, Vue du Cayambe, in: Humboldt, Alexander von ([1810-]1813): Vues des Cordillères et monumens des peuples indigènes de l'Amérique. Paris: Schoell.

Plate XLII, Vue du Cayambe, in: Humboldt, Alexander von ([1810-]1813): Vues des Cordillères et monumens des peuples indigènes de l’Amérique. Paris: Schoell.

14.00: Uhr: Einführung
Ottmar Ette (Universität Potsdam, Akademiemitglied)

14.30 Uhr: “Zur Digitalisierung der Alexander von Humboldt-Forschung”, Tobias Kraft (BBAW), Alexander Czmiel (BBAW)

15.00 Uhr: “Alexander von Humboldt und Franz Julius Ferdinand Meyen: Zwischen Poesie und totem Zoo”, Petra Werner (BBAW)

15.30 Uhr: “Das große A und andere Fundstücke: Zur  (Un-)Ordnung in Humboldts Tagebüchern”, Ulrike Leitner (BBAW)

16.00 Uhr: Pause

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05/27/2015, Symposium: “2nd Alexander von Humboldt Symposium: Research and Edition (Forschen und Edieren)”, Potsdam

A Symposium in the context of ART (“Alexander von Humboldt’s American Travel Diaries”), funded by the German Federal Ministry of Research and Education.

The Humboldt Symposium wants to connect projects and researchers focussing on Alexander von Humboldt. In this context, members of the joint research project ART (“Alexander von Humboldt’s American Travel Diaries”), based at the University of Potsdam and the Berlin State Library, as well as members of the long-term project “Travelling Humboldt – Science on the Move”, situated at the Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences and Humanities, will present and discuss their respective work. The debate will include issues concerning edition, as well as literary, cultural and historical research. The importance of Alexander von Humboldt and his writings for the 21st century and the scientific examination of his estate are further topics of the meeting.

Concept and Organization: Ottmar Ette and Julian Drews.

Program (in German)

Presentations in German and French.

2nd AvH-Symposion: Research and Edition

2nd AvH-Symposion: Research and Edition

09:00-09:15Uhr Begrüßung und Einführung Ottmar Ette und Julian Drews.

09:15-09:45 Uhr Matthias Thiele (Dortmund): “‘Im Angesicht der Dinge’: Ambulatorische Aufzeichnungspraktiken und Schreibtechniken des Notierens bei Alexander von Humboldt und Adelbert von Chamisso”.

09:45-10:15 Uhr Julian Drews (Potsdam): “Colomb: (auto)biographisches Schreiben zu Alexander von Humboldt”.

10:15-10:45 Uhr Julia Voss (Frankfurt am Main): “Alexander von Humboldt als Zeichner”.

10:45-11:15 Uhr Kaffeepause. Continue reading

Alexander von Humboldt: A nomad and researcher in the focus of two projects

“Travelling Humboldt – Science on the Move” (AvH–R), based at the Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences and Humanities; “Humboldt’s American Travel Diaries” (ART), based at the University of Potsdam and at the German State Library – Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation [Deutsche Version]

Studies on Alexander von Humboldt face new challenges and chances: Two projects are dedicated to the digitization, edition and research of those documents and texts that Alexander von Humboldt (1769-1859) wrote during his travels with the object of further investigation and documentation of his scientific understanding that is still unknown in many aspects.

Julius Schrader (1859): Baron Alexander von Humboldt (1769-–1859), Oil on canvas, 158.8 x 138.1 cm, New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Julius Schrader (1859): Baron Alexander von Humboldt (1769-–1859), Oil on canvas, 158.8 x 138.1 cm, New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Both projects pursue a transdisciplinary approach to one of the most prominent scientists, writers and philosophers of the nineteenth century. Their goal is to further unravel Humboldt’s understanding of nature and humankind as deeply intertwined with his experiences as a lifelong traveller.

While there still is much to learn about Alexander von Humboldt, there are also some aspects to disband: the separation of “Humboldt the scholar” versus “Humboldt the scientist” isn’t able to meet an approach that shows the inseparable linkage between nature and culture in Humboldt’s works; the historical fixation of Humboldt as last reminiscence of pre-modern science and his monumentalization as the “last polymath” can’t comply with his ways of practicing and linking the ever-expanding branches of modern sciences.

Based on the travel diaries, which in case of the Academy project include the diaries of Humboldt’s trip to the Americas (1799-1804) as well as those of his Russian Expedition (1829), both projects aim to show how movement and travel are clearly interdependent within Humboldt’s theory of knowledge and how his writing could show the possible path to a still up-to-date understanding and conceptualization of a dynamic idea of science.

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AvH-R: Long-term editorial research project on Humboldt’s travel manuscript to start in 2015 – job opening

“Alexander von Humboldt auf Reisen – Wissenschaft aus der Bewegung [Travelling Humboldt: Science on the Move]” (AvH-R)

Plate XLII "42_Vue du Cayambe" in: Humboldt, Alexander von ([1810-]1813): Vues des Cordillères et monumens des peuples indigènes de l'Amérique. Paris: Schoell.

Plate XLII “42_Vue du Cayambe” in: Humboldt, Alexander von ([1810-]1813): Vues des Cordillères et monumens des peuples indigènes de l’Amérique. Paris: Schoell.

On October 30, 2014, the Berlin-Brandenburgian Academy of Sciences and Humanities (BBAW) announced the launch of its new long-term editorial research project “Alexander von Humboldt auf Reisen – Wissenschaft aus der Bewegung [Travelling Humboldt: Science on the Move]” (AvH-R).

The editorial project forms part of a current national and international research community that has recently been given new incentives by the high-profile acquisition of Alexander von Humboldt’s Travel Diaries by the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation (SPK) through means of public-private sponsorship.

With AvH-R, BBAW builds on its long tradition of in-house Alexander von Humboldt scholarship under the direction of Eberhard Knobloch (co-submitter for AvH-R). The project’s director will be Ottmar Ette, Professor of Romance and Comparative Literature at the Universität Potsdam.

Current Job Opening for AvH-R

Job opening for the Head of Research Group at AvH-R (Arbeitsstellenleiter/in im Akademienvorhaben Alexander von Humboldt auf Reisen)

Full-time employment, E 14 (Berlin)

Deadline for applications: November 30, 2014 Continue reading

Academic honours for Ottmar Ette in Germany, USA, and Mexico

Ottmar Ette recently received high honours for his academic work and influence in the field of literary and cultural studies, on Alexander von Humboldt Studies, as well as literary and cultural theory.

Ottmar Ette

Ottmar Ette

Honorary Member (2014)
Modern Language Association of America (MLA)

Voting on the 2014 ratification ballot concluded at midnight on 1 June. Members ratified the election of Ottmar Ette to honorary membership in the association and the election of Maryse Condé, Amitav Ghosh, and Suzan-Lori Parks to honorary fellowship in the association. Each candidate received support from over 95% of the members who voted in that section of the ballot. All four candidates will be invited to accept the honor.

List of all current Honorary Members


Reconocimiento Escuela Nacional de Altos Estudios (2014)
Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México

Entrega reconocimiento Escuela Nacional de Altos Estudios
Categoría “Académico externo a la UNAM”


Ordinary Member, Humanities Class (2013)
Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences and Humanities (BBAW)

Ette’s profile at BBAW

Press bulletin by BBAW on new elected members of 2013