Events | Lecture with Stefan Keppler-Tasaki: “Zen in America”

Los Angeles | November 5, 2019 | 12:15 PM – 1:15 PM

Zen in America: Doris Dörrie’s Documentary Film How to Cook Your Life (2007)

© megahertz productions (Munich)

Featuring the American Zen Buddhist priest Edward Espe Brown in her documentary film How to Cook Your Life (2007), German director Doris Dörrie brings two prominent lines of her work together: the lessons from American (film) culture at the starting point of her career and her interest in Japan both as an affective geography and a culture of emotional control. The camera observes the Zen chef as he is teaching cooking classes mainly at the San Francisco Zen Center founded by his teacher Shunryu Suzuki, a major figure of international Buddhism. We encounter a Zen master who not only quotes keenly from Buddhist classics such as Dōgen’s Instructions for the Cook (1237), but who also struggles with strong emotions such as anger and despair. Humor is the overall sentiment. By these characteristics, Brown makes a typical hero of Dörrie’s cinema at the intersection between arthouse, comedy and melodrama.

“When you are cooking you’re not just cooking, not just working on food, you are also working on yourself, on other people.” — Edward Espe Brown


Stefan Keppler-Tasaki | © Anthony Wood

Stefan Keppler-Tasaki, born in 1973 in Wertheim, scholarship holder of the Studienstiftung des deutschen Volkes from 1993 to 1999 and again from 2000 to 2003, assistant professor for modern German literature at the Julius-Maximilians-Universität Würzburg from 2002 to 2005 and at the FU Berlin from 2005 to 2008, taught as Junior Professor for Modern German Literature at the Friedrich Schlegel Graduate School of the FUB from 2008 to 2012. In 2012, he became professor for Modern German Literature at the University of Tokyo, Faculty of Letters / Graduate School of Humanities and Sociology. In 2014, Keppler-Tasaki was appointed Einstein Visiting Fellow at the FUB. Author of Grenzen des Ich. Die Verfassung des Subjekts in Goethes Roman und Erzählungen. (De Gruyter, 2006) and of Alfred Döblin. Massen, Medien, Metropolen. (Königshausen & Neumann, 2018). Co-Founder/co-publisher of the book series WeltLiteraturen (De Gruyter) and Rezeptionskulturen (Königshausen & Neumann).


Oldenborg Luncheon Colloquium
Pomona College
350 N. College Way
Claremont, CA 91711

Villa Aurora & Thomas Mann House e. V. is supported by the German Federal Foreign Office and Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and the Media.



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