Obituary: Prof. Dr. Christoph Houswitschka

The Institute of English and American Studies at the University of Bamberg mourns the passing of its highly esteemed colleague, highly respected researcher and academic teacher, a remarkable human being, and a dear friend, Prof. Dr. Christoph Houswitschka, who died suddenly and unexpectedly on 10 February 2022 as a result of a pulmonary embolism.

Prof. Dr. Christoph Houswitschka

Christoph Houswitschka was born on 8 June 1961 in Frankfurt am Main. His family later moved to Lower Bavaria and the Upper Palatinate region. Supported by the German National Academic Foundation, he studied English and American Studies, German Studies and History at the University of Regensburg and the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. In 1991 he received his doctorate in Regensburg with a thesis on Sir Thomas Malory's late medieval prose collection Le Morte Darthur. Christoph Houswitschka spent his time as a research assistant at both the PH and the TU Dresden, where he gained his Habilitation in 2001 on the literature and culture surrounding the 1794 Treason Trials in England. Following a substitute professorship at the University of Freiburg in the Winter Semester of 2001-02, he was appointed Chair of English Literature at the University of Bamberg in 2002.

In his research, he devoted himself to late medieval literature, the writings of John Thelwall and other political authors of the Romantic period, the Age of Sensibility, contemporary drama, the subjects of migration and exile, and Jewish literature, especially around the Holocaust and the Kindertransport. A long list of further publications reveals a broad horizon of interests in both literary and cultural studies. An Introduction to English and American Studies, oriented towards the needs of students, can also be found among his published work.

Christoph Houswitschka covered an impressive range of topics in a wide array of inspiring and stimulating courses. In addition to our English Studies programmes, he was also increasingly involved in the University’s "Jewish Studies" Bachelor’s programme, as well the Master's programme "Religious Literacy". At the same time, his passionate commitment to the interests of students and younger academics went far beyond the job of imparting knowledge, sometimes extending even to forms of practical life advice and assistance. One of his outstanding achievements was the establishment of the international Joint Master's Programme. The idealism with which he promoted both this European project and the principle of intercultural understanding more generally showed him to be a truly cosmopolitan European.

Christoph Houswitschka was actively and intensively involved in University administration at various levels. He served as Dean and Vice-Dean, as Institute Director and as Chairman of the Administrative Council of the Student Union. He was the Spokesperson for the Academic Directorate of the Language Centre, a member of the Certification Commission on Course Accreditation, and a serving member of more than twenty different appointment committees. He played a leading role in both the Centre for Medieval Studies and the Centre for Interreligious Studies.

As a colleague, Christoph Houswitschka was highly regarded not only for his judgement, loyalty and reliability, but also for his humanity, tolerance, and humour. He combined a strong and charismatic personality with a complete lack of any pretentiousness.

It was a privilege to know Christoph Houswitschka. His death is an immeasurable loss and fills the Institute of English and American Studies with great sadness. We will cherish his memory with deep gratitude for all that he was and did, and we extend our deepest condolences to his wife and family.

Pascal Fischer & Manfred Krug
(on behalf of the Institute’s colleagues)