Peter Utz
28 February 2014

Catastrophe in Swiss literature

Catastrophe can play a central role in the annual theme of Studio Roma. In addition to field research and anthropological and social reflections, Peter Utz explores the literary dimension of catastrophe. On the borderline between nature and culture, we are seeing collapses and yieldings which are defined as “catastrophes”. Swiss literatures seem to cultivate natural disasters as the other side of the coin of the Alpine idyll, giving them the dual function of emotionally engaging us in events while inscribing them in cultural memory. Depicting what could be “the worst possible turn of events” literature unleashes, in the form of aesthetic creativity, the energy with which catastrophe disrupts all limits.


Peter Utz

Professor of German Literature at the Department of Literature of the University of Lausanne. Specialized in the work of Robert Walser, he has worked at length on the publication of a critical essay on this author, with the title Tanz auf den Rändern: Robert Walsers “Jetztzeitstil” (Suhrkamp, 1998), later translated into French as Robert Walser: Danser dans les marges (Zoé, 2001). Peter Utz is also very interested in the process of translation, which is the focus of his work Anders gesagt – autrement dit – in other words. Übersetzt gelesen: Hoffmann, Fontane, Kafka, Musil (Carl Hanser, 2007). Recently his studies have focused on the culture of catastrophe in Swiss literature: Kultivierung der Katastrophe: Literarische Untergangsszenarien aus der Schweiz (Fink, 2013).

Friday 28 February
Istituto Svizzero di Roma



Peter Utz reads
Il terremoto in Cile by Heinrich von Kleist
(invited participants only)



La cultura della catastrofe
Come le letterature svizzere coltivano gli scenari dei disastri

Gallery: Peter Utz – Reading – 28 February 2014