The intellectual is a modern figure emerging in the German social and political landscape around 1800. Straddling the roles of prophet, critic, political activist, scholar and artist, intellectuals defy clear cut categorization, but this "free floating existence" of the intellectual is part of the ongoing fascination surrounding this public figure. We will focus on original sources to gain access to the historical significance as well as the contemporary impact of this phenomenon. Taught in German.
Over recent decades, literary scholarship has shifted focus from a generalized or transcendental concept of writing to an analysis of its historically specific techniques. This has allowed for a clearer view of differences among communicative structures and settings. Through a coupling of case studies and theoretical models, this course aims to work through the implications of highly influential distinctions (orality v. literacy), practices (scribbling, collecting), institutions (bureaucracy, literature), as well as formats (fragment, biography). Co-taught with Professor Joel Lande...
Idyll is often seen as mere kitsch. But this might change. Today, the modes and styles of expressing personal and social "happiness" are no longer bound to an ambitious agenda for personal perfection or to an explicit political utopia. Could this result in a new interest in the idyll as a key form to address happiness? The seminar will examine key moments in the history of this genre from the 18th century to the present.
We will read, hear and/or watch notable speeches of the 19th and 20th century and analyze them from historical, political, rhetorical and media historical perspectives. After formulating their own analysis of a speech, students will discuss its immediate and long term effects. List of speakers: Luther, Goethe, Bismarck, Freud, Hitler, Adenauer, C. Wolf, Brandt, Dutschke, Merkel, etc.
According to the obvious line of investigation there are clear cut demarcation lines: Journalism is a business while literature is art or journalism is writing short, factual articles about events while literature is all about creating fictitious events. Contrary to these simple truths stands the history of literature: journalism and literature share the same roots and this common ground could explain why so many literary authors have been engaged in journalistic enterprises. The seminar will start with Wieland's Teutscher Merkur and end with Rainald Goetz and his Vanity Fair Blog: Abfall...
You have to read Goethe! But how is this possible, given that the "Goethe" in the Sophienausgabe is 142 volumes thick, and the literature on Goethe fills up entire libraries? The seminar departs from this problem in order to find entries into the textual cosmos called "Goethe". The selection and compilation of Goethe-texts is, following the methodical premise of the seminar, already part and parcel of the Goethe-reading.
Romanticism thought of itself as great: "Only it can become, like the epoch, a mirror of the entire world of its surroundings, an image of the era." (F. Schlegel) At the same time, Romanticism did not allow itself to be defined by this term, since it "could only become, it cannot be exhausted by any theory" (Athenäumsfragment 116). This seminar will nevertheless attempt to get a better idea: what is and what was Romanticism in Germany?
Germany knows neither a Glorious Revolution nor a French Revolution. Revolutions remain for the most part only attempted Revolutions -- and these attempts are most often bitter failures. This seminar will read these failed Revolutions through the lens of literary and historical texts: From the Mainzer Republik (1793) through the Revolutions of 1848 and 1918, on through the Nullpunkt of the year 1945 and up to the--perhaps successful--Wende of 1989. Conducted in German.
The German Democratic Republic is history since 1989. GDR literature is now a closed corpus of texts, which makes it into an ideal field for literary historians. How did literary production work in the GDR? How was literature distributed, and how was it read? Close readings of texts by Christa Wolf, Reimann, H. Müller, Sascha Anderson (among others).
Myths are a form of symbolic capital: they provide orientation and generate confidence. Myths are a complex construction of historical facts, their embeddedness in media, their cultural circulation, and their political exploitation. This seminar will study a variety of foundational German myths such as Nibelungen, Kaiser Barbarossa, Wirtschaftswunder. Conducted in German.
Aphoristic collections occupy a prominent place in the canon of German literature. One could argue that there were in fact two "Golden Ages" of the aphorism genre. In the first, around 1800, writers such as Lichtenberg, Goethe, or Klinger took an old tradition to a new height. In the second, around 1900, Nietzsche, Kafka, and Kraus wrote world literature in the form of German aphorism. The seminar will be organized as a historical and systematic survey of the genre within German literary history. Close readings will be informed by excursions into the poetics and theory of the aphorism.
Alexander Kluge, decorated with virtually every prize a writer, movie director and TV producer can receive in Germany, has always been a political author focused on the history and fate of Germany. His extensive and wide-ranging body of work can be considered as one vast library devoted to this topic. Drawing on this multi-media collection the seminar will read stories, films, television-programs and theoretical texts to develop a sense of just what Kluge's Germany looks like.
A survey of the history of autobiography as a genre. Course focusses on the different forms, patterns, techniques, and technologies exhibited by the texts. To gain access to a vast and (almost) over-researched field, participants will consult theory and practice close reading.
What is the political of political Romanticism? Since Carl Schmitt's writings on political Romanticism, it is commonplace to read Novalis, Adam Müller, F. Schlegel, and Eichendorff solely through a political lens. However, what "the political" is in relation to these authors and their texts is far from clear. Romantic authors are known for combining philosophical and aesthetic concepts with political ones. But the question of form remains troubling. The seminar will therefore place the political concepts within a history of political thought while analyzing the texts themselves as literary...
In an age of so-called "new" media, the question of how to theorize media has become more urgent than ever. To that end, this seminar will undertake a critical comparative examination of various models of media theory including the Toronto School (Ong, Innes, McLuhan), the Frankfurt School (Benjamin, Kracauer, Adorno/Horkheimer), and its British translation by the Birmingham School of cultural studies (Williams, Hall), systems theory (Luhmann), communications studies and American cultural studies, and finally the German paradigm of cultural technology studies (Kittler, Ernst, Vismann).
Prof. Dr. Nikolaus Wegmann
Professor of German 219 East Pyne Princeton, NJ 08544 Office Hours - Wednesday, 5:30-6:30 email