Ruhr-Universität Bochum interviews Volkhard Krech


Anything but out of date: Under the title “Mehr als dicke Bücher” (More than voluminous books) the Ruhr-Universität Bochum portrays scholars of humanities in brief interviews. How do RUB-researchers in the humanities are currently working? How do they envision the future of their own discipline? Today, the interview is with Volkhard Krech, professor for Religious Studies and director of CERES.

My everyday research is shaped by:

Just as usual for the humanities, my day-to-day work in Religious Studies is dominated by reading, thinking, and writing. Additionally, methods of digital humanities are increasing in terms of importance. Even in the humanities the opportunities computers provide are not limited to writing anymore but can be expanded to methods for analysing empirical material. For a few years now, I am promoting the introduction of techniques of Digital Humanities into Religious Studies. The latest example is an initiative application for a Collaborative Research Centre addressing the subject of “Metaphors of Religion”.

What it is good for:

The value of the humanities as a whole and of Religious Studies in particular arises primarily from their existence. They reflect on and preserve the cultural heritage of humanity while at the same time, make it available for renewing present day’s self-conceptions and for future social trends. Consequently, the social transfer of knowledge constitutes an important task, besides the basic research. At CERES we have a particular branch for this — the knowledge transfer — and we intend to generate similar initiatives for the planned research centre.

The most annoying prejudice about scholars in the humanities…

…is, that they simply babble. I have to admit, often they talk and write in an overblown way. But that is mainly an expression for their searching for new insights, similar to trials and errors in the sciences.

Fifteen years from now, the humanities …

… will be integrated more strongly than today, due to collaborative research and thematic focus. In addition, the combination of hermeneutical approaches and standardized techniques of Digital Humanities will become normal. With our application for the Collaborative Research Centre “Metaphors of Religion” we want to contribute to this very development.

(The interview was led by Meike Drießen, RUB. The interview was first published in German here. Translation by Alina Krentz & Ulf Plessentin)