Improvisation in Theory and Literature
The practice of improvisation is not limited to rare moments of extraordinary Jazz solos. It finds itself at the heart of every creative process. As such it penetrates human life in all its instances. The seminar will ready and discuss recent theory on improvisation and search it at work within literary texts from Heinrich von Kleist to Franz Kafka, from postwar German literature like Thomas Bernhard to current projects of digital poetics like Florian Meimberg's "Tiny Tales" or Christiane Frohmann's "Tausend Tode schreiben." On this basis, a new conceptualization of knowledge, communication, and aesthetic experience may become possible.
Contemporary German Literature.
In this course, we will get acquainted with prominent figures of contemporary German literature. The following questions, among others, will guide our readings: How do recent literary texts reflect on their historical status in view of the end of “Nachkriegsliteratur”? How do they engage with the present as a thematic and narrative category? How can we explain the propensity of so many texts to depict the present time by mythologizing it? How do they represent crises and events as they unfold in the now? How do they relate to new media? We will read texts by Alexander Kluge, Jonas Lüscher, Thomas Kling, Kathrin Röggla, Peter Handke, Herta Müller, etc. in conjunction with films of the “Berliner Schule.”
Science Meets Literature: Elias Canetti’s Auto-da-Fé and Human Nature.
GRMN 48417, CHDV 48420
In this graduate seminar we will read the 1935 novel Auto-da-Fé by Elias Canetti (1981 Nobel Prize for Literature) and discuss it from the perspectives of different disciplines such as psychology and psychoanalysis, anthropology and sociology, history and philosophy, and literary criticism.
On Aesthetic Form.
GRMN 51917, SCTH 50605, PHIL 51903
This seminar is part of a joint research project (The Idealist Project: Self-Determining Form and the Foundation of the Humanities) sponsored by the Neubauer Collegium. The focus of the year’s activities is the topic of aesthetic form. There will be two conferences on this topic with the participation of leading international scholars in Fall 2016 and Spring 2017, with the conference participants returning for seminar sessions devoted to readings of their work. Particular (but not exclusive) attention will be paid to the theory of tragedy. Important points of reference are works by Goethe, Schelling, Hegel, Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, Benjamin, and Cavell.
David Wellbery, Robert Pippin and James Conant.
W.G. Sebald: On The Natural History of Destruction.
GRMN 25817/35817, FNDL 25817
The difficulty of categorizing the sort of literary practice Sebald engaged in is notorious. The genres and hybrid styles with which his “novels” have been identified include: travel writing, memoir, photo essay, documentary fiction, magical realism, postmodern pastiche, cultural-historical fantasy, among others. And given the fact that his work so often deals, if only indirectly, with the Holocaust and its aftershocks, his work has furthermore been associated with that highly problematic generic and historical constellation, “Holocaust literature.” The seminar will address all of Sebald’s major works in the hope of elucidating this singular intersection of historical and literary complexity. Texts will be available in English and German, discussion will be held in English. We will “accompany” our reading of Sebald with a reading of Lucretius’s poem, On Nature.
Opera in the Age of its Mechanical Reproducibility.
GRMN 27717/37717, TAPS 28422/38422, MUSI 24417/34417, CMST 28301/38301
Focusing on a diverse set of productions of Mozart’s *The Magic Flute* by Ingmar Bergman, William Kentridge, Martin Kusej, Simon McBurney, and Julie Taymor, we will seek to locate opera in the contemporary medial landscape, exploring some of the theoretical stakes, dramaturgical challenges, and interpretive achievements that characterize opera on film, DVD, and via live-streaming. Readings by W. Benjamin, T.W. Adorno, F. Jameson, M. Dolar, C. Abbate, P. Auslander, et al.
For German for Research Purposes (GRMN 33300), please refer to Language & Reading Courses.