From Bayreuth to New York: Interview with Katharina Schramm

(Excerpt from Interview with Christian Wißler)

Since October 2022, you have held the Theodor Heuss Professorship at the New School in New York, a U.S. university with a special tradition: founded in 1919 as the New School for Social Research, after 1933 it gave numerous persecuted social and political scientists who had emigrated to the U.S. the opportunity to continue their research work in exile, including Alfred Schütz, Wilhelm Reich, Karen Horney, Karl Löwith, Hannah Arendt and Hans Jonas. Against this background, the Federal Republic of Germany has sponsored the Theodor Heuss Professorship, named after its first Federal President, since 1962. The professorship is awarded for one year at a time to scholars from Germany, primarily in the fields of philosophy, psychology, and the social, political, and economic sciences. As Theodor Heuss Professor, you have had prominent predecessors, such as Jürgen Habermas, Iring Fetscher, Niklas Luhmann, and more recently Rahel Jaeggi and Richard Rottenburg. Is the great tradition of the New School with its academic connections to Europe still noticeable on campus today?

Katharina Schramm: The New School is not a traditional American campus university, rather the buildings are located in the middle of the city around Union Square. That means the intellectual activities are also scattered, and the effects of the pandemic are felt beyond that. It is only this semester that academic activity is slowly going back to “normal.” The New School nowadays consists of several departments, including the Parsons School of Design and the Mannes School of Music. The Heuss Professorship is located at the New School of Social Research (NSSR). Here, there are still numerous connections to Europe and also to Germany. This is evident not only in concrete research collaborations, but also in the special appreciation for critical theory as well as in the New School’s rather progressive, left-leaning political self-image, which is based on these critical traditions. 

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