Editor’s note: Christian Riedel is a professor at the University of Flensburg in Flensburg, Germany who is visiting Knox for the term. His interview was conducted in English.
The Knox Student (TKS): Where did you go to college?
Christian Riedel (CR): I studied German Language and Literature and Comparative Literature at the Universities of Mainz [in] Germany and Lund [in] Sweden.
TKS: What made you decide to become an academic?
CR: There was not one specific moment when I thought, “I have to be an academic.” I always loved reading novels, and during my time as a student, I was lucky to meet some interesting people. It was inspiring to see what these people could do with texts, and I suddenly realized that a very good novel can be far more than just an ‘interesting’ or ‘entertaining’ story. Literature today may not have the importance it used to have. But I still believe it can change a lot — maybe not the world, but still the lives of certain people. So research gives me [the] opportunity to work closely with texts, and being a teacher gives me the opportunity to discuss them.
TKS: What are your academic interests?
CR: What I really love is doing research on contemporary literature. Of course, it’s also important to know many of the classics as well, and I love to work with them too, but I’m always interested in current developments in literature today and in new writers.
TKS: How did you end up at Knox?
CR: It does not feel like [I] “ended up” here at Knox. It’s a pleasure to work here. Knox is the fourth university at which I have worked. After two short periods of teaching classes at the German departments at Mainz University and Shumen [University in] Bulgaria, I got my university job at Flensburg University in 2009. And, as some people here on campus probably already know, there’s an exchange program between Knox and Flensburg University. It is through this exchange program that I had the opportunity to come to Knox.
TKS: What courses are you teaching this term?
CR: I teach two courses in the third year of German. One course is about the contemporary German family novel. The other is called Advanced Conversation and Composition. The students are great. They manage reading quite a load of German every week and they are very good at discussions. It’s fun to work with them.
TKS: What do you think of Knox so far? What do you like best?
CR: I like it very much here; it’s a fine place to live and to learn with friendly people and excellent conditions for doing research. The campus is great: good equipment, short distances and I really love the library. [It has] nice rooms, which are inspiring for work and being creative. You can have a really good time here. And though the town of Galesburg isn’t very big, I already found some nice places to go to. And then there are two things I have never before seen as much in my life as during the past weeks: freight trains and squirrels.