About us

I first started thinking about Speculative Poetics while writing my book Phänomenologie ironischen Geistes. Ethik, Poetik und Politik der Moderne, and then increasingly since 2010 while working with my colleague Anke Hennig on a book project. The epilogue of the book Present Tense: A Poetics, which came out in 2012, raises some very general questions—first, about poetics from the point of view of a philosophy of language; second, about the decline of literary theory, a decline merely hidden by the rise of a number of eminent literary scholars; and third, about the happiness that comes with writing books.
All this finally prompted us in 2011 to join forces once more to co-author a book on Metanoia, the power of reading and its fundamental ability to open up worlds.
At the same time I began to organize events with colleagues in Berlin and elsewhere, events that dealt with--at least to a certain extent-- new experimental setups for research in literary studies and for reflection in philosophy. I also started documenting the entire speculative project on this website.
After a first very productive year full of events mostly in Berlin and in the United States, the focus from 2013 on was on publishing a variety of texts. These include the book series Speculations, which has been started by MERVE press, as well as guest-editor for the series 21st Century Theory in the bilingual art journal Spike and as guest-editor for art journals like Texte zur Kunst. Since 2014 many of my projects take place within an art context (conferences, curatorial projects, visiting professorships).

Armen Avanessian

Concept, Theory and Co-Organizer of the events

Avanessianneu SW 

Foto: Johan Sandberg

Born in Vienna, I studied philosophy and political science in Vienna and in Paris with Jacques Rancière. After completing my dissertation in literature, "Phenomenology of the Ironic Spirit: Ethics, Poetics, and Politics of Modernity" (in Bielefeld, Germany, with Karl Heinz Bohrer), for a few wonderful years I worked as a freelance journalist and editor (at Le Philosophoire) in Paris, and then in publishing in London. In 2007 I returned to academia to work at the Free University Berlin (the Peter Szondi Institute for Comparative Literature). In 2011 I was a Visiting Fellow in the German Department at Columbia University and in 2012 at the German Department at Yale University. Since 2013 I have been Visiting Professor and guest lecturer at various Art-Academies (Nuremberg, Vienna, Basel, Kopenhagen), and since 2014 I am Editorial Director at MERVE publishing Berlin.
Currently, I am concluding work on two books in english, Irony and the Logic of Modernity and Überschrift. Ethik des Wissens – Poetik der Existenz (forthcoming Sternberg, 2015).





Anke Hennig

Theory  and Co-Organizer Gesprächsreihe 'Poesie und Begriff'




I was born in 1971 in Cottbus, East Germany, first attended school in Kiev, Ukraine, and later received my doctorate from the Peter Szondi Institute for General and Comparative Literature at Free University Berlin with the dissertation, "Soviet Cinematic Dramaturgy: Lines of Conflict between Soviet Literature and Film in the 1930s."





Jan Niklas Howe

Co-Organizer 'Ringvorlesung 'Poetik' (2012)




Jan Niklas Howe studied Comparative Literature, Philosophy, and German
Literature at Freie Universität Berlin, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin,
Université Paris 8 and Johns Hopkins University. From 2008 to 2011 he was
enrolled in the Graduate Program "Friedrich Schlegel Graduate School for
Literary Studies" (FU Berlin). Since April 2011, he has worked as a
Research and Teaching Assistant for Comparative Literature at Freie
Universität Berlin.



Steffen Popp

Co-Organizer Gesprächsreihe 'Poesie und Begriff' (2012/13)



Steffen Popp, *1978 in Greifswald, lebt in Berlin. Er promoviert über Forschungsmodi und -erträge in der zeitgenössischen Lyrik. Seine Gedichtbände Wie Alpen (2004), Kolonie Zur Sonne (2008) und der Roman Ohrenberg oder der Weg dorthin (2006) sind bei Kookbooks erschienen. Er übersetzte die US-amerikanischen Lyriker Christian Hawkey und Ben Lerner und initiierte die kollaborative Poetik Helm aus Phlox. Zur Theorie des schlechtesten Werkzeugs (Merve 2011).

                      Andreas Töpfer

                               Graphic Designer and Artist


Andreas Töpfer was born in Berlin in 1971. He studied industrial, book and
communication design at the Burg Giebichenstein University of Arts in Halle , Royal
College of Art London and Berlin's University of the Arts Weissensee, where he was a
master student in painting in 1999. In 2000, he received a DAAD grant for the Emily
Carr Institute of Art and Design in Vancouver in the area of integrated media und
animation. Since then he has been working as a freelance graphic designer, designer,
visual essayist, live drawing artist and art director. In addition to his work for,
among others, at Adbusters, for pasculli, with Vagant and at atelier : milchhof, he
also works as a designer and drawing artist at the Berlin publisher kookbooks, which
he founded in 2003 together with poet and editor Daniela Seel.
He is house illustrator and visual essayist for the Norwegian Cultural magazine Vagant.
Töpfer's graphic work has been exhibited at many locations, among these Berlin,
London, Vancouver, Leipzig, Linz, Moscow, Tokyo, Munich, Frankfurt/Main and Bregenz.
His works were rewarded at the 100 Best Posters Germany, Switzerland and Austria,
Best German Booksdesign, Best Norwegian Bookdesign, the German Photobook Award,
iF-Award and Kurt-Wolff-Promotional Price.
Excerpts from his extensive portfolio can be seen on his websites
(www.andreastoepfer.blogspot.com, www.salon.io/vektorbarock). Töpfer lives in