Graduate Courses

Autumn 2017

Creaturely Modernism: Freud, Kafka, Benjamin, Beckett
GRMN 23305/32305

The course will be dedicated to close readings of texts by all four writers in the hopes that the encounter between them will generate new interpretations of each. We will focus on texts that attend to the “creaturely” aspect of human life: Kafka’s animal stories along with The Castle; Freud’s “animal” case studies (Wolfman, Ratman, Little Hans); Benjamin’s Berlin Childhood along with selected essays; Beckett’s novel, The Unnameable.
This class meets Tues 2-4:50 every week; from 10/24- 11/14 we will have an additional meeting on Thursday evenings 6:30-9:00.
Eric Santner, Mladen Dolar.

Lyricology: Theories of Poetic Language
GRMN 40205

Several recent theoretical contributions (e.g., Culler, Hempfer) have argued, contrary to a nearly forty-year-old research consensus, that it indeed makes sense to consider lyric poetry a legitimate “mode” of literary making at the same level as epic and dramatic poetry. At the same time, important theoretical advances have been made in the treatment of rhythm and meter, especially as applied to free verse. In this seminar we will take these theoretical advances as a point of departure to consider the possibility of developing a “lyricology” that would stand on an equal footing with the broad-based disciplines of narratology and performance studies. The seminar will operate on two levels: 1) classic texts in the theory of poetic language from the disciplines of linguistics/semiotics, philosophy, anthropology, and literary criticism will be studied; authors studied include: Mukarovsky, Jakobson, Heidegger, Valéry, Stierle, Ruwet, Abraham, Martin; 2) theories will be tested on a range of poems including e.g., Sappho, Shakespeare, Goethe, Hölderlin, Baudelaire, Benn, Bishop, Meister. Thus, the seminar will oscillate between theoretical reflection and the disciplined reading of lyric texts.
David Wellbery.

Winter 2018

Kant’s Third Critique
GRMN 40210

A study of the Critique of the Power of Judgment. The philosophical undertaking of the book seems to have lost nothing of its daringness, and, if anything, only have gained relevance today: To join a theory of spontaneous life and a theory of natural life in a unified account. Please read the book in preparation for the seminar. Use Meiner or Suhrkamp editions, or the Guyer/Matthews translation at Cambridge UP.
Florian Klinger.

Spring 2018

Rilke’s Modernity
GRMN 25410/32310

The course will read a selection of Rainer Maria Rilke’s poetry (including the Duino Elegies and Sonnets to Orpheus) along with his novel, The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge. We will accompany the readings with texts about urban modernity by Walter Benjamin, Sigfried Kracauer, and Georg Simmel.
Eric Santner.

Oedipus and Hamlet: On the Philosophy of Tragedy
GRMN 40305

In this class we will consider closely attempts to understand tragedy philosophically. Sophocles’ Oedipus the King and Shakespeare’s Hamlet, two texts that have particularly attracted philosophical attention will serve as constant reference points, but other paradigmatic tragedies (Euripides Bacchae, Goethe’s Faust, Beckett’s Endgame) will also be considered. Among the philosophical contributions to be considered are works by Aristotle, Schiller, Schelling, Hegel, Schopenhauer, Nietzsche, Scheler, Schmitt, Benjamin, Murdoch, and Menke.  Major issues to be dealt with: the structure of tragic plot; the tragic affects; catharsis; ancient and modern tragedy; tragedy and the tragic; the aesthetics of tragedy; tragedy and society; tragedy and the sacred.
David Wellbery, Robert Pippin.

Kafka and Performance
GRMN 23110/32110

This laboratory seminar is devoted to exploring the texts of Franz Kafka through the lens of performance.  In addition to weekly scenic experiments and extensive critical readings (on Kafka as well as performance theory) we will explore the rich history of adapting Kafka in film, theater, puppetry, opera, and performance.
David Levin, Seth Bockley.