Germanic Languages | German Culture Studies I: Productions of Presence, Productions of Meaning: The 19th Century
G563 | 17091 | M. Weiner


The recent work of Hans Ulrich Gumbrecht has drawn attention to the
repercussions the development of a widespread, institutionally
sanctioned hermeneutic paradigm of interpretation has had on our
interaction with aesthetic works, arguing that the emphasis
philosophical and literary studies have placed on the decoding of a
signified has led to the devaluation of the physical, sensate
impressions vouchsafed by the signifier, by the “presence” of the
aesthetic minutiae of the work of art.  In his plea for a
recuperation of the material of the signifier, Gumbrecht has argued
for an appreciation of the experience of that material not in place
of, but in addition to the more traditional emphasis we have been
taught to place on the act of interpretation as the exegesis of (a
purportedly privileged, superior) hidden meaning.

As the course is primarily intended to provide an introduction to
diverse cultural, social, political, ideological, philosophical, and
aesthetic phenomena from the 19th century, we will organize our
objects of inquiry in a roughly chronological fashion and will
engage in analyses that seek to consider both models of
investigation mentioned above, and to ask ourselves to what extent
the interplay or tensions between them also informe(d) interaction
with extra-aesthetic phenomena as well.  In our discussions we will
consider the ramifications of specific genres—poetry, drama, music
drama, essay, polemic, diverse forms of aesthetic prose, and
painting--, as well as the on-going question of what
constitutes “legitimate,” i.e., “scholarly” aesthetic interaction
and the notion of “proof” within literary and cultural studies.

In lieu of a seminar paper, students will be asked to give a 20-
minute lecture (= ca. 10pp. of text) and lead a 15-minute discussion
in the final weeks of the semester on a topic mutually agreed upon
by the student and the Instructor by the end of the 9th week, and to
provide the class with a bibliography of works consulted.  This task
is intended to provide students with the opportunity to generate and
practice presenting a conference paper.

Course grades will be computed as follows: Participation 50%;
Presentation 50%.

Required Texts:  (* = On the Ph.D. Reading List)

Hauptmann, Gerhart.  Vor Sonnenaufgang. Soziales Drama.
Hoffmann, E.T.A.  Don Juan.
Hofmannsthal, Hugo von.  Der Brief des Lord Chandos. *
Kleist, Heinrich von:  Der zerbrochene Krug. Ein Lustspiel. *
Nietzsche, Friedrich.  Der Fall Wagner.
Novalis.  Hymnen an die Nacht. *
Raabe, Wilhelm:  Zum wilden Mann. Eine Erzählung.
Stifter, Adalbert.  Granit. Erzählung. *
Wagner, Richard:  Der Ring des Nibelungen. Zweiter Tag.  Siegfried. *

Recommended, but not Required:

Gumbrecht, Hans Ulrich.  Production of Presence: What Meaning Cannot
Convey. Stanford: Stanford UP, 2004.
ISBN 0-8047-4916-7