Käte Hamburger International Centres

The Heidelberg Käte Hamburger Centre for Apocalyptic and Postapocalyptic Studies is one of a total of 14 Käte Hamburger Centers established by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF). The first ten collegia have been funded since 2007 as part of the BMBF initiative “Freiraum für die Geisteswissenschaften” (Freedom for the Humanities). They were or are dedicated to topics of the humanities. In a new funding round announced in 2019, the BMBF is now additionally promoting transdisciplinary projects that address areas of research in collaboration between the humanities and the life, natural, technical or engineering sciences. CAPAS is one of the first two BMBF-funded Käte Hamburger Center with such a transdisciplinary approach.


With the Käte Hamburger collegia, the BMBF is strengthening top-level research in the humanities in Germany with the aim of increasing its worldwide visibility. The collegia are intended to promote interdisciplinary cooperation between German universities and intensify their networking with excellent research centers, universities and academies in Europe and around the world. As places of free research, they enable the development of new research questions as well as their testing.

The programmatic focus of each Käte Hamburger International Centre is dedicated to a topic or problem area that requires an international or comparative research perspective. Scientists from all over the world – so-called fellows – are invited to conduct research free of other obligations for a period of up to one year on the respective main topics of the collegia.


Käte Hamburger (1896-1992) is a significant German philologist, philosopher and literary theorist. She was initially enrolled in art history, history and literary history in Berlin, and later in philosophy in Munich. In 1922, she received her doctorate with a dissertation on "Schillers Analyse des Menschen als Grundlegung seiner Kultur- und Geschichtsphilosophie". Due to her Jewish origin, Käte Hamburger was forced to emigrate to Swedish exile in 1934, where she worked as a journalist, writer and German teacher. From 1957, one year after her return to Germany, until 1977, she taught as an adjunct professor of literary studies and aesthetics at the Technical University of Stuttgart.

Käte Hamburger became known for her volume “Die Logik der Dichtung”, published in 1957, which established her international standing within literary studies. Her work is characterised by a great diversity of methods and topics. Her studies on Schiller, Rilke, Tolstoy, Ibsen, and Thomas Mann, to only name a few, have had a significant influence on literary studies of the postwar period. In her research, Käte Hamburger always went beyond the boundaries of her subject. She addressed topics across various disciplines such as philosophical and aesthetic questions, the relationship between literature and ethics, contemporary theater, and the new medium of film.