Humboldt Kolleg: "Schlusspoetik: Goethes Spätwerk"

March 14-15, 2016

The Alexander von Humboldt Foundation and the University of Chicago Department of Germanic Studies present:

"Schlusspoetik: Goethes Spätwerk"

Monday, March 14 - Tuesday, March 15

Neubauer Collegium for Culture and Society
5701 S. Woodlawn Avenue
Chicago, Illinois 60637

An international conference devoted to the concept of “late style” as it applies especially to Goethe’s work. Papers and discussions will be in English and German. Please click here for the workshop schedule.

Because the category of ‘late style’ is extremely common in literary studies, it is often used uncritically. This is indicated by the simple fact that the relevant reference books have no entries on the concept. The upcoming Humboldt-Kolleg aims to delineate the (literary) phenomenon of late style as sharply as possible. Above all, we hope to go beyond the widespread use of the term as a biographical or epochal benchmark in order to determine the structural, aesthetic, and functional principles that govern its application. In this connection, Goethe’s work provides an outstanding field for theoretical exploration. This is not only because Goethe’s work was essential for the emergence of a discourse of ‘late style’ in the early twentieth century. On the contrary, research on Goethe’s late style continues to be – at least in some respects – a desideratum. Although scholars have examined the motifs, themes, and topics of most of Goethe's later works throughout the last sixty years, the question of lateness as a literary characteristic has rarely been raised. Within this framework, three aspects are of particular interest: 1) the intricate temporal structure of late style; 2) the specific literary form in which the author commits his life’s work to the ages to come; 3) the relationship between late style and a changing cultural understanding of time structures around 1800.

The Humboldt-Kolleg will combine intensive close readings of Goethe’s works with more general, problem-oriented reflections on the concept of late style.