As my Europe ’22 tour winds down, I’m heading back to Munich today after a very quick visit to the North German Hanseatic city of Bremen, where I saw no tourist attractions and didn’t make it to the Baltic coast, just a bit farther north. Instead I visited the University of Bremen, as a guest of Dr. Mohammed Muharram, to speak to his colleagues and the students in his Ocean cultures class. Dr. Muharram, currently an Alexander Humboldt Fellow in the Scholars at Risk program, has been in Germany with his family since 2021; they left war-torn Yemen to come here. All of us #bluehumanities folks on twitter know him from his active feed, where he’s been chronicling recent publications and announcements in this fast-flowing discourse.
I came to Bremen to meet Mohammed, with whom I’ve been corresponding, and with whom I’m planning to collaborate on a future Blue Humanities book project (watch this space!). I also came to meet Mohammed’s mentor at Bremen, Dr. Norbert Sheffeld, who works on Shakespeare adaptations as well as blue-er projects. Prof Dr. Shaffeld – in Germany they use the double honorific, even for me (as my poster shows) – has had a distinguished career as administrator and manager of large research projects. I continue to be fascinated at the different ways that research, especially interdisciplinary and mult-university research, gets funded and organized in Europe.
My talk was pretty similar to the talk I’ve been giving this fall, though I did remember to have a signed copy of Swim Poems on hand so that I could present it to Mohammed in front of his students and colleagues during the lecture. I was impressed with the student questions after the talk, and also with the projects they are undertaking, about video game narration, ocean pollution and robotics, seabed mining, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea; and 2012 and Tsunamis, among other things. I got thoughtful and engaged questions from faculty members Prof. Kerstin Knopf and Dr. Karin Esders who were there, and further discussion with Mohammed and Norbert over a delicious lunch of various kinds of wurst over creamed kale (a local speciality?).
The northbound ICE from Munich on Monday had entangled me despite my best efforts. I booked a reserved seat on a direct train – what could go wrong? – and then watched with amazement as the video monitor, which had been showing the train’s destination as “Bremen Hpf” (ie, Bremen Hauptbahnhof, Central Station Bremen) suddenly showed a line through those words. For reasons never explained, the train terminated in Hannover, about 60 km south of Bremen, where I had to switch to a crowded local. But I got there, made it to my strangely named “Atlantic Hotel” (Bremen is near the North Sea, and closer to the Baltic than the open Atlantic), and was ready to go in the morning.
We’ll see what happens on the same train Munich-bound today!