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Burg Hülshoff – Center for Literature

Some basic information in English – as preview to a translated version of this website.

Welcome to Burg Hülshoff – Center for Literature

Burg Hülshoff is the ancestral seat of an old, noble Westphalian family who significantly influenced the history of the Prince-Bishopric and the city of Münster. The Droste zu Hülshoff’s were one of the elite families of Münster. They produced city councilmen and mayors and held offices within the administration of the Prince-Bishopric.

The most well-known member of the family by far, however, was the great German writer Annette von Droste-Hülshoff. She was born here in this castle in 1797. She made literary history with her novella Die Judenbuche, or, The Jew's Beech, with her lyrical cycle Heidebildern, or Heath Pictures, as well as other poems.

Annette von Droste lived here in the castle for nearly 30 years, until her father died unexpectedly in 1826. Then her brother Werner took over the inheritance and the castle. The Rüschhaus, five kilometers away from the castle, had been recently purchased as a widow’s seat, and was made available for the mother and her daughters Jenny and Annette.

On the site of Burg Hülshoff and the Rüschhaus, the Annette von Droste-Hülshoff Foundation is currently establishing the international and transdisciplinary Center for Literature.

Burg Hülshoff – Center for Literature is a project made possible through funding programs from Landschaftsverband Westfalen-Lippe (LWL) and from the state of North Rhine-Westphalia (Ministry of Culture and Science).

Mission Statement

Burg Hülshoff – Center for Literature understands literature as a celebration and as a dialogue; a dialogue with the other arts, with science and with societal discussions, groups and projects.

As an interdisciplinary institution, the CfL brings literature together with film, dance, music, media and digital art, architecture and other art forms. As a producing institution, it creates connections between local, regional and international writers, other artists and the audience.

Together with our guests, we would like to explore what the public dimension of literature could be today: should there still even be readings today? And – if so – how exactly should they be realized? How can we discover the poetry in lines and images, in sounds and bodies, in movements and in our World Wide World (the Internet)? How does literature change the moment we stop reading it silently but instead publicly? What could be poetics of the public and public space?

Two hundred years ago, Burg Hülshoff was not only the birthplace of the great poet Annette von Droste-Hülshoff, but also the birthplace of outstanding poetic art and perceptive reflection upon the world. During the time of Annette Droste-Hülshoff, in the turbulent era of the early 19th century, the castle also served as a place of refuge for the family.

Today, in a society that is democratic and diverse (and simultaneously exposed to confusion and complexity), the castle has transformed into a public and open space. The Center for Literature is a laboratory that unites artistic and social processes.

By the year 2022, using funds from the German Federal National Urban Planning Project, the castle will become a state-of-the-art event venue with overnight accommodations. Parallel to this, the team and the audience will build the Center for Literature together. A Droste Research Institute is also planned.

An essential component of the Center for Literature is a cooperation with Kölner Kunsthochschule für Medien (KHM). Students within the literary writing course of study will come to Burg Hülshoff, write their texts here, participate in workshops and develop event formats together with the team of CfL.

Burg Hülshoff and its entire estate, as well as Rüschhaus, the later home of Annette von Droste zu Hülshoff, will become the site for performances, text concerts, experimental tours, literary double and triple features, festivals, conferences, workshops, digital explorations and much more – beginning in the late summer of 2018. Within a network with literary institutions, museums, sociocultural initiatives and web projects, a multitude of formats will be created that have seldom occurred within German literature until now.

In doing so, the Center for Literature follows themes that also drove Annette von Droste-Hülshoff. These include: the difference between city and countryside, the shrinking and growing of the world, multilingualism, nature and its changes, faith, welfare, magic and a few more.

We do not, however, seek to hold on to Droste-Hülshoff, we do not want to suffocate her with our presence. We are, of course, certainly not like Droste-Hülshoff. But sometimes when her poetry hits us like a bolt of lightning (at places we did not know before), the words of Droste-Hülshoff are present for a moment … and gone again the next. After all, there is always a gap, always distance. And as long as there is this difference, we can look each other in the eyes.

That is: there is nothing that already has to be known. There is everything to experience – for us, with us and at our home.

Burg Hülshoff – Center for Literature invites all to contemplate about the present - and about our shared future. Sometimes with words from past times. Sometimes with words that are precisely today, now, here. Sometimes with words that still have to be invented - somewhere between those we already believe we have. For


„[t]he language of the world can only be translation"

— François Jullien


With Burg Hülshoff and its entire estate as well as Rüschhaus, the Center for Literature has two locations. Both are associated with the life of Annette von Droste-Hülshoff: she was born in Burg Hülshoff and lived in Rüschhaus (after the death of her father) beginning at the age of 29 .

In the coming years, the Center for Literature will also work at other places beyond these two locations, depending upon the people, initiatives and projects it is connecting with.

The Center for Literature will work with the estate of Burg Hülshoff and Rüschhaus in a site-specific manner. The method of working in a site-specific manner comes from the visual and performing arts. It takes the authentic living space of the Annette von Droste zu Hülshoff and the buildings added later by the family and charges them with themes. In a site-specific production, Burg Hülshoff and the other buildings are no longer only authentic – they also perform alongside, thus extending beyond themselves. For example, when the focused is placed on the context of ecology and construction in 2019, there will be numerous formats that move between the baroque park and the construction site in the outer bailey.

During festivals, the individual parts of the estates and buildings will always be renamed. There will also be new temporary buildings – using tents, installations and piles of rubble.

The event of the Center for Literature will continuously use the spaces of Burg Hülshoff and Rüschhaus in new ways. It will do so with texts, installations, festivals, exhibitions on important topics that concerned Annette von Droste-Hülshoff back then and that continue to drive our society today. People will walk through rooms that have changed by art and the very act of walking through rooms and themes functions itself as an individual and collective reading of literature from the past and present.

Cooperation with KHM

The Center for Literature collaborates closely with Kunsthochschule für Medien Köln (KHM). Together, they form a laboratory for literature and the literary formats of the future.

Since the 2017/2018 winter semester, KHM has offered the course of study literary writing, over the course of which the students come to Burg Hülshoff as emerging authors. The current professors of literary writing at KHM are the writers Navid Kermani and Ulrich Peltzer.

During the residencies, the team of Burg Hülshoff – Center for Literature supports the students in finding their way into professional artistic practice. This takes place over the course of workshops where the focus is placed on the performance of the individual (or also of groups) during readings, continues into the shared development of innovative formats taking place in the borders between literature, live art, Internet art, film, et cetera and also includes the organization of small tours of the students with these formats.

In this context, the Center for Literature has activated the network literaturland westfalen in order to give the students the option of sharing their work at a variety of locations within the Westphalian literature landscape.


As an innovative literary institution, the Center for Literature sees itself less as a center of power than a point of contact. It works locally, regional, nationally as well as internationally and creates partnerships on all of these levels.

Burg Hülshoff – Center for Literature is part of literaturland westfalen. Numerous literary institutions, initiatives and dedicated individuals have come together in this network to raise the public awareness of the quality and diversity of literature in and from Westphalia. Alongside three literature offices, the network also includes Kulturgut Haus Nottbeck in Oelde and the Literature Commission for Westphalia.

A transnational production network is also currently being established. With partners including the house for literature Lettrétage Berlin, Theater Rampe Stuttgart, Schauspielhaus Wien, uniT Graz, and Poëziecentrum Nederland, the Center for Literature searches for new forms of literary events that combine performance and communication and, at times, the production of texts.


The Annette von Droste zu Hülshoff Foundation was founded in the fall of 2012 under the leadership of Landschaftsverband Westfalen-Lippe (LWL). A primary goal of the foundation is to permanently open Burg Hülshoff in Havixbeck together with Haus Rüschhaus in Münster-Nienberge to the public and establish them as cultural organizations. Further goals are the preservation and communication of the cultural and historical values associated with the name Droste zu Hülshoff as well as the support of art and culture, education and research.

More than 20 donors contributed to the foundation endowed with 19.3 million EUR in founding capital. The project associated with the forming of the foundation to transform this significant cultural historical location into a literature and culture center has been met with wide public acceptance and a broad cultural policy consensus in the region of Westfalen-Lippe as well as on both the state and federal levels. The earnings from the existing capital stocks cover the costs for the maintenance and operation of the Burg Hülshoff and Haus Rüschhaus in their current condition.

The family estate Burg Hülshoff, together with its library and collections of art and furnishing as well as all other estates, were given to the Annette von Droste zu Hülshoff Foundation by the last owner, Jutta Freifrau von Droste zu Hülshoff (1926-2015). The stately home consists of a moated castle already mentioned in documents from the 11th century with a Renaissance-era manor house, an outer bailey, farm buildings and an extensive park.

The second Westphalian residence of Annette von Droste-Hülshoff was also entrusted to the foundation, Haus Rüschhaus, located only five kilometers from Hülshoff. It was purchased by Nordrhein-Westfalen-Stiftung Naturschutz, Heimat- und Kulturpflege and provided to the Annette von Droste zu Hülshoff Foundation for permanent use. In this architectural oasis, constructed by baroque architect Johann Conrad Schlaun which has a special appeal as a mixture between a manor house and farmhouse, Annette von Droste-Hülshoff wrote, amongst other works, her world famous novel Die Judenbuche, or The Jew's Beech.

The economic enterprises of the Annette von Droste zu Hülshoff Foundation, primarily consisting of gastronomy (café-restaurant in Burg Hülshoff) and museum operations (Droste Museum on Burg Hülshoff as well as public tours of Haus Rüschhaus) comprise an important pillar of the foundation.