Nobel Prize Winners Attack Cuts in Modern Languages; GERMAN WRITERS SPEAK OUT AGAINST UNIVERSITY'S PLANS
Byline: ROBIN TURNER
TWO Nobel Prize winners are among 15 German-speaking poets, writers and novelists who have publicly lambasted a Welsh university's planned cuts in its modern languages programme.
Modern languages staff at Swansea University were informed their jobs were at risk in August, following management proposals to cut lecturer posts from 22 to 10, with the inclusion of two new Welsh-medium positions.
If the university council approves the reorganisation, the department's 22 staff would effectively be competing for just eight posts.
Now the writers, including Nobel Prize for Literature winners Elfriede Jelinek and Herta Muller have written to the university asking what "the problem you British have with learning the languages of your European neighbours" is.
The writers said: "We are dismayed to hear of proposals to cut the staff in modern languages at Swansea University by more than half.
"Why is this area being singled out for the first, biggest, fastest cuts? "As German-language writers and poets, our particular concern is for the university''s Centre for Contemporary German Literature.
"Founded in 1993, it has greatly increased awareness in the English-speaking world of the work of many living German writers. The studies published by Swansea academics have had international impact - even in Germany and Austria.
"Swansea is a flagship centre for German-British cultural understanding.
Reducing the number of staff in German by half will put this excellent institution at risk."
Swansea University's modern language provision includes degree courses in French, German, Italian, Spanish and translation studies.
The writers who penned the letter are Zdenka Becker, J|rg Bernig, Volker Braun, Esther Dischereit, Ulrike Draesner, Herbert Gr|nemeyer , Elfriede Jelinek, Christian Kracht, Herta Mller, Albert Ostermaier, Peter Schneider, Gnter Senkel, Zafer Senocak, Ilija Trojanow and Feridun Zaimoglu. …