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For the winter semester 2021/22

Announcement Fellowships

The Erich Auerbach Institute for Advanced Studies at the University of Cologne invites applications for two three-month fellowships in the winter semester 2021/22. Applications are open to hosts from the Faculty of Arts and Humanities together with a guest (“Fellow”) and a joint research project.

The Erich Auerbach Institute for Advanced Studies

The Auerbach Institute offers faculty members the space to develop innovative research concepts in collaboration with international colleagues and to explore interdisciplinary overlaps. As a central research institution in the humanities and cultural studies, the Institute sees its task in helping to build the profile of interdisciplinary research at the Faculty of Arts and Humanities, to establish international academic contacts, and to support the international exchange of interdisciplinary research in the humanities at the University of Cologne through networking and the promotion of cooperation.

Research focus in the winter semester 2021/22

The research focus at the Auerbach Institute in the winter semester is on the “Presence of the Future.” After several decades in which the social and cultural sciences have dealt with theories and practices of memory and remembrance in a highly differentiated and successful manner, questions about the future are increasingly becoming the focus of interdisciplinary research in cultural studies in view of current global discourses on crises and catastrophes. In contrast to scientifically oriented modeling, cultural studies usually take a second-order observer position by asking, for example, which historically and culturally conditioned concepts of the future societies produce, how knowledge of and about the future emerges, which forms of contingency handling (Kontingenzbewältigung) and steering knowledge (Steuerungswissen) are associated with these concepts of the future, and what part the imaginary plays in modeling these orientations to the future. The “present future” (Luhmann/Esposito) addresses a not-real or not-yet-real that is in principle dependent on media representations in order to be kept present as something absent. Accordingly, different narratives of the future, social and cultural practices, techniques, media, and artifacts shape the individual and collective imaginative constructs on which outlines of the future rest, at different times and in different cultures. In the paradoxical form of a “present absent” (eines “anwesenden Abwesenden”), the present future for collectives and individuals is connected to the possibility of action, orientation and planning as well as to diffuse expectations, fears and hopes. The aim of this year’s focus is to get closer to the different narratives, media and practices of the future within the framework of an interdisciplinary analysis. In doing so, we are interested in different cultural conceptions of the future as well as in the historical change of what is meant by the term “future.”


For the winter semester 2021/22, two fellowships will be granted to researchers from abroad who apply together with a partner from Cologne. The call is therefore addressed to colleagues of the Faculty of Arts and Humanities who can submit an application in consultation with a colleague in the position of Assistant Professor or Junior Professor, Associate Professor or Full Professor. Joint project outlines should be within the horizon of the research focus “On the Presence of the Future.”

In addition to project-related research with the inviting colleague, fellows are expected to participate in a public lecture series at the Auerbach Institute during their stay in Cologne. They will be given the opportunity to participate in or contribute to internal colloquia and, if necessary, jointly prepared workshops of the Institute, provided that the fellow project intersects with other projects at the Institute, the aims of the fellow program and the international focus of the Faculty of Arts and Humanities. The fellowship is intended to provide the free space to work on the project and to establish and expand contacts with colleagues at the Faculty. Fellows will be provided with office space including work facilities.

The period of the fellowship should be aligned with the Cologne lecture period from October 4, 2021 to January 28, 2022.


The Selection criteria for the Fellowships are academic qualification and originality of the proposed joint project. The selection is made by the Advisory Board of the Auerbach Institute.  


Applications should consist of:

  • a 1- to 2-page cover letter
  • a curriculum vitae of the proposed fellow
  • a list of publications of the host and the planned fellow
  • a proposal for a joint research project of max. 2000 word
  • a summary of max. 200 words, which illustrates the significance of the project, even for those not familiar with the subject

Only researchers from the Faculty of Arts and Humanities at the University of Cologne are eligible to apply.

The application deadline is April 30, 2020.

Please send applications in digital form to the Associate Director of the Auerbach Institute, who will also be available to answer any questions you may have:

PD Dr. Martin Roussel