In publica commoda

Professor Heinrich Detering elected to the Order Pour le mérite

No. 37.3 - 31.08.2023

The literary scholar Professor Heinrich Detering of the University of Göttingen has been elected to the Order Pour le mérite for sciences and arts. Professor Detering has held the Chair of Modern German and Comparative Literature at the Faculty of Humanities since 2005.


To be elected to the Order Pour le mérite, is one of the highest honours in art and science in Germany. The Order in its current form was founded in 1842 by King Frederick William IV of Prussia and revived and renewed in 1952 by Federal President Theodor Heuss. It lies under the sponsorship of the President of the Federal Republic of Germany. The first Chancellor of the Order was the naturalist, Alexander von Humboldt. The Order Pour le mérite currently has 39 German and 39 international members, including 17 Nobel laureates. The Minister of State for Culture and the Media finances the Order and oversees its organisation.


Detering, born in 1959, studied German linguistics, theology, Scandinavian studies, and philosophy in Göttingen, Heidelberg and Odense. He received his doctorate in 1988 and his habilitation in 1993. He then held a professorship in comparative literature at the Ludwig Maximilian University in Munich. From 1995 to 2005 he held the chair of Modern German Literature and Modern Nordic Literatures at the University of Kiel, and since 2005 he has been carrying out research and teaching at the University of Göttingen.


Professor Detering is a member of the Göttingen Academy of Sciences and Humanities, the Mainz Academy of Sciences and Literature and the Royal Danish Academy of Sciences and Letters. From 2011 to 2017, he was President of the German Academy for Language and Poetry. Visiting professorships have taken him to the University of California at Irvine, Boulder State University and Washington University St. Louis (USA), the Universities of Aarhus and Odense (Denmark) and the Universities of Bergen and Trondheim (Norway). Since 2010, he has held a continuous visiting professorship at Huazhong University of Science and Technology (HUST) in Wuhan, China.