Germanic Languages | Studies in German Authors: Goethe
G416 | 2800 | Professor Breithaupt


(3 cr.) Goethe–whose works have shaped generations of writers and
readers in Germany and around the world–has a surprising modern mind
whose questions are as relevant today as they were 200 years ago. This
course will provide an overview of his key literary and scientific
works, and we will stress the connection between science and
literature in Goethe's literary works. He published works in many
scientific fields, including optics, geology, and biology, and
considered his Farbenlehre his most important work, surpassing his
literary achievements. In his literary works, Goethe introduces
scientific materials to explain human actions and emotions. For
example, in the Wahlverwandtschaften, Goethe presents love in terms of
chemistry. This does not mean that he believes that the forces of
nature determine man. Rather, our understanding of nature and natural
sciences serves as a mirror image of ourselves.
	The key issues we will discuss when reading Goethe's works
include:
	1) The relationship between fiction and reality: How are we
manipulated by images? And is there a chance to get away from
deceiving images? As we will see, Goethe holds that images are our
reality so that it would be a fruitless effort to search for a reality
not corrupted by fiction and images.
	2) The split personality and the origins of will: By
discussing the Faust-Mephistopheles figure, we will examine the source
of Faust's energy and drive. Faust wages with the devil that he will
never rest, but to continue to work, search, and question. Our
examination of this wager will lead us to the question of the nature
of the self or ego.
	3) Love: Why do people love? What's the structure of love? Is
love the goal of life? Love occupied Goethe in almost all of his works
and he never simply presented it as a fact of life. Rather, he views
it as a specific cultural practice influenced by other cultural
practices and rituals.
	We will read Die Leiden des jungen Werther, Tasso, Faust, die
Wahlverwandtschaften, selected poems, scientific essays, and
selections of Goethe's autobiography.
	This is a reading intensive course (the readings amount to
something like 600 pages). Especially in the beginning of the
semester, I anticipate that we will spend some time deciphering the
German texts. Usually, the discussions will take place in German, but
we will have occasional sessions in English. Students are expected to
write three short papers of 5-8 pages, at least one of them in German.
	If you have or are willing to buy a good edition of Goethe's
complete works, you can order the excellent Hamburger Ausgabe, 14
volumes by dtv at www.ibiservice.com for the German price around $100
plus US ground shipping;  ISBN: 3-423-59038-6. Otherwise, the
required books are:

Texts:  Goethe Faust Reclam ISBN 3-15-00001
Goethe	Leiden des jungen Werther Reclam ISBN 3-15-00067
Goethe Schriften zur Naturwissenschaft Reclam ISBN 3-15-09866
Goethe	Torquato Tasso Reclam ISBN 3-15-00088
Goethe	Die Wahlverwandtschaften Reclam ISBN 3-15-07835