Looking for a German professor with with a well developed sense of humour? A (German) university teacher who was not ashamed of writing a commercially successful novel? A man interested in useful knowledge who does not care for disciplinary boundaries? Alas, you will not find him anymore, for he died last month. His name was Dietrich Schwanitz (for short obituaries see here or here).
During the first year of my degree course in English literature I was on the brink of despair, because all the knowledge on offer seemed to come out of neat little pigeon holes while I wanted the whole world explained. Then I attended Schwanitz' lectures. He did not do hommage to the holy shrine of literature. He used literary theories as tools for explaining phenomena, instead of teaching them as ends in themselves. He was a fearless, refreshingly reckless intellectual. And he introduced his students - and everyone else who would listen - to Luhmanns Systems Theory.
And although this may not be immediately obvious from this blog - systems theory has kept me sane ever since.
Indeed, it is a great boon to have known Dietrich Schwanitz.