The University of Tartu has conferred the degree of Honorary Doctor of Literary Studies on Professor Heinrich Detering for his outstanding achievements in literary research and his long-term successful cooperation with the University of Tartu Faculty of Arts and Humanities in forming the new generation of researchers of German studies.
Heinrich Detering was born on 1 November 1959 in Neumünster, Germany. From 1979 to 1988, he studied German philology, theology, Scandinavian studies and philosophy in Göttingen, Heidelberg and Odense. In 1988, he defended his dissertation at the University of Göttingen and habilitated in 1993.
After his studies, Heinrich Detering first worked as a temporary professor for comparative literature at the University of Munich before taking up a full professorship for modern German literature and contemporary Scandinavian literature at Kiel University in 1995. In 2005, he was elected professor of modern German literature and comparative literature at the University of Göttingen.
Detering has held visiting professorships at many universities, including the University of California, Irvine, Washington University in St. Louis, the University of Colorado Boulder (USA), Aarhus University and Odense University (Denmark), the University of Bergen and the University of Trondheim (Norway). Since 2010, he holds a continuous visiting professorship at Huazhong University of Science and Technology (HUST) in Wuhan, China. He is Honorary Doctor at Aarhus University.
Heinrich Detering is one of the most renowned German literary scholars and is also known as a literary critic, translator and poet. He is a member of the German Academy for Language and Literature (2011–2017 President of the Academy) as well as the Göttingen Academy of Sciences, the Mainz Academy of Sciences and Literature and the Royal Danish Academy of Sciences and Letters. He has been awarded numerous scientific prizes, including the Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz Prize, the most prestigious scientific award in Germany. He was awarded the Order of the Dannebrog.
Professor Detering's research focuses on the works of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Friedrich Nietzsche, Theodor Storm, Thomas Mann and Bertold Brecht. He has also researched the works of Hans Christian Andersen and the poet and Nobel Prize winner Bob Dylan. He is particularly interested in the relationship between literature and ecology as well as the border areas between literature, theology and the history of religion.
Detering has published more than 250 scientific papers, including 24 monographs. He has authored eight volumes of poetry and 14 translated works. His poems, essays and translations have been awarded various literary prizes, including the Julius Campe Prize, the Hans Christian Andersen Award and the Gleim Prize for Literature.
Heinrich Detering has a long-standing cooperation relationship with scholars of German studies and comparative literature at the University of Tartu. He has been a frequent guest at the university for about twenty years, both at seminars and lectures and as a conference speaker.
From 2008 to 2021, with the support of the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD), he coordinated a cooperation programme between the German studies institutes of Tartu and Göttingen, which over the last three years focused on the promotion of doctoral students and young researchers. In cooperation with the University of Göttingen, six interdisciplinary German studies conferences have been organised in Tartu.
Heinrich Detering's activities and influence in Estonia have not been limited to the University of Tartu. He is a great friend of Estonian literature and has done a lot to strengthen Estonian-German literary contacts. As President of the German Academy for Language and Literature, he organised the Academy's Spring Conference in Tartu in May 2013, which brought over 80 German writers and literary scholars to Estonia.
Heinrich Detering has actively contributed to the development of scientific and literary contacts between Estonia and Germany for more than 20 years. He has made a significant contribution to the development of the University of Tartu Department of German Studies and the development of the new generation of scholars.