Ten Years of Summer at King’s: A Pivotal Space

Professor Soelve I. Curdts, Heinrich-Heine-Universität Düsseldorf, and Visiting Lecturer at King’s in July 2010, reflects on the value of transitionality.

Incredibly, almost a decade has passed since I taught at King’s Undergraduate Summer School in 2010. The experience turned out to be pivotal in ways I could not have foreseen at the time, and its layers grow more multifarious with each passing year. In fact, such layering over time is one of the things we – hopefully – share with our students beyond the subjects we happen to be teaching.

Arrivals and Departures

For me, 2010-2011 was a time of transition. I had studied and taught in Germany, France, and the United States, and was in the process of contemplating where to go next, both literally and metaphorically. The world was all before me – a prospect that filled me with a sense of uncertainty, to be sure, but also of exhilaration. The latter was fostered both by London as a pivotal space, and by the Summer School at King’s College London as a place that brought together scholars, teachers, and students who reflected on (their) transitionality in intellectually stimulating and productive ways. In a world where we increasingly discover states of transition as the norm they have perhaps always been, such reflection, which the summer school at King’s College London is uniquely positioned to enable by creating rare constellations of international students and teachers, is of crucial significance. In my own teaching and scholarship, I try to sustain a sense of those very moments of transition which, precisely as they claim neither origin nor end point, are constitutive of thought.

“The summer school offered a privileged space, where students could explore areas of inquiry they would not otherwise have engaged in.” Soelve Curdts

Thinking between arrivals and departures happened quite literally that summer at King’s, as a community of scholars and students gathered for a brief period of time. Our students came from—and would go back to—not only different parts of the world, but often entirely different fields of study. In this, too, the summer school offered a privileged space, where students could explore areas of inquiry they would not otherwise have engaged in. I would like to think that the occasional business student reading a work of literature, or the English major tackling the intricacies of a physics problem can make – has made – some kind of difference.

King’s College London welcomed me (back) to Europe after a long absence with a preciously open and heterogeneous vibrancy which spoke – to quote one of the poets I taught there – of something evermore about to be.

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