at the Department of Anthropology and African Studies
The Jahn Library for African Literatures evolved from the private collection of Janheinz Jahn (1918-1973), whose interest in African literature arose during a public talk by the Senegalese poet and politician Léopold Sédar Senghor in Frankfurt in 1951. For the rest of his life, Jahn not only collected works of African literature but also translated and edited literary works by African writers. Furthermore, he compiled bibliographies and reference books and wrote scholarly works related to African literature and culture as well as a large number of newspaper articles. In this way, he significantly enhanced public awareness of African literature in Germany but also worldwide. The Jahn Library for African Literatures holds a unique collection of literary works in more than ninety languages, including the former colonial languages and world languages as well as many African languages. Many of the books are also interesting as objects, e.g. as first editions or copies with handwritten dedications by authors as well as in terms of what their design tells us about different contexts of publication. The Jahn Library is one of the earliest and most comprehensive research facilities for African literatures in Europe and beyond.
From time to time, the Department of Anthropology and African Studies organises events related to African literatures, including the International Janheinz Jahn Symposia, readings with writers from Africa or from African literary works, but also exhibitions, workshops, lectures, guided tours of the library.read more
Each Janheinz Jahn Symposium is devoted to a current topic in African Literature Studies. The topics of the most recent symposia were Africa in comics and comics in Africa (2018, with students), the African bildungsroman (2014), African crime fiction (2008), and creative writing in African languages (2004).read more
Each semester, the Department of Anthropology and African Studies offers at least three seminar courses related to African literatures, which form part of the department's B.A. and M.A. Ethnologie (Anthropology) as well as the university's interdisciplinary M.A. Weltliteratur (World Literature).read more