Special Seminar: Goethe's "Torquato Tasso"

April 10, 12 & 13, 2017

The Department of Germanic Studies presents:

A Special Seminar with

Prof. Juliane Vogel (Universität Konstanz)

Goethe’s Torquato Tasso
The Transformation of Dramatic Form

Seminar Schedule:

I. Tragedy without Finality (April 10)
The replacement of the tragic death with a more complex model of socialization that locates the challenge in the entrance into life and being in life. Here we can investigate how Goethe overlays the end-oriented structures of traditional tragic form (e.g, catharsis, resolution) with an alternative schema of action that is conceived as originating in the beginning of life and as open in its forward movement. The settings “Garten” and “Gartensaal” as well as the pre- and post-lapsarian garden scenes suggest that a beginning is being prepared and delayed and that the catastrophe that comes about takes place at the beginning rather than the end of life. Thus the question becomes to what degree Tasso is more an exposition than the achievement of finality.

2. Form and License (April 12)
In this context we will discuss the crisis-potential of courtly-aristocratic semiotic    orders as well as the status of rule-based works post-Sturm und Drang. Here it is no longer a question of transgressing rules, but rather a question of the specific achievements and orientational function of rules in social as well as aesthetic/poetological contexts, which here seem to have become lost or rejected (as too boring?). Of course, in the play a violation of rules/norms is worked through within a rule-based form.

3. The Unfinishable Book (April 13)
Finally, we shall discuss the status of Tasso’s manuscript, -- perhaps in relation to Carlos Spoerhase’s article “Manuskript für Freunde.” The question here is: How are we to understand the fact that what is at stake in a formally ‘closed’ work is nothing other than a work that cannot achieve completion, cannot be “rounded to a whole.” What is the status of a preliminary and in principle modifiable manuscript, hesitatingly released and circulated among only a limited group in a play in which “form is predominant” and in which the tectonic stability of a classical drama seems to hold sway?

All meetings will be held at 6pm in Wieboldt 206.

Copies of the play are available from many sources including the database GOETHES WERKE available through the University of Chicago Library.

Participation by Graduate Students, Faculty, Post Docs, and Guests is welcome! If you cannot attend all meetings, feel free to attend those you can.

If you have a disability and/or need assistance, please contact Ingrid Sagor at isagor@uchicago.edu