In mid-February, Notre Dame became the first stop on the United States tour of an exhibit that had already triggered in Europeans varied recollections and reflections about the experience of war and the vocation of writing. Visitors to the mezzanine level of the Hesburgh Library might have been drawn into this multimedia presentation, “Writing Against War,” when they saw words calling for peace appear letter by letter on a large screen while simultaneously they heard the clacking sound of them being typed, or when they read the poster honoring Ingeborg Bachmann (1926-1973) as “one of Austria’s most celebrated modern writers.”
The exhibit, which had been traveling throughout Europe since 2003, sought to focus Notre Dame visitors on a central statement—“I want the war to end.” One could see in the available books, displays, videos, and other media how that phrase dominated Bachmann’s life and times and resonated in her poetry, novels, radio plays, and other writings.
“Writing Against War” had its opening at Hesburgh Library on Feb.12, with a reading by Peter Filkins, a poet and Bachmann translator on the Bard College faculty. Notre Dame assistant professor of German, Anita McChesney, organized this stop for the traveling exhibit. On-campus sponsors included the Nanovic Institute for European Studies, the Institute for Scholarship in the Liberal Arts, the College of Arts and Letters, and the Department of German and Russian Languages and Literatures. The exhibit was provided by the Austrian Federal Ministry for Foreign Affairs.