Germanic Languages | Special Topics in Germanic Studies
E371 | 32097 | Chaouli

Topic: The Enlightenment and Its Shadows

Since the eighteenth century, the European Enlightenment has set the
tone for most intellectual debates in the West (and increasingly
world-wide), in the sense that its ideas have both nourished new ways
of thinking and writing and provoked them into opposition. As core
Enlightenment ideas—the critique of the social and cosmic orders,
scientific rationality, new legal norms, all ratified through the use
of reason—have become part of the fabric of our lives, they have been
continually under revision and attack. This course introduces you to
some of the main expressions of Enlightenment thinking and examines
some of the major narratives that explore its shadows, both in the
German tradition. One area of focus will consist in the relationship
between literary writings and philosophical conceptions. What can
literature be understood to do to or with philosophy's Enlightenment
project: illustrate it, supplement it, oppose it, displace it, ignore
it, …? You will practice your analytic and interpretive skills with a
range of texts.

I will try to strike a balance between lectures and discussion.

Attentive, careful reading of all assigned texts; contribution to
class discussion; three take-home exams.

• attendance, participation: 25 percent
• three take-home exams: 25 percent each
Please let me know in advance if you need to miss a class.

Sigmund Freud, Introductory Lectures on Psychoanalysis (Liveright,
ISBN: 0871401185).

Sigmund Freud, Beyond the Pleasure Principle (Norton, ISBN: 0393007693).

Franz Kafka, The Trial (Schocken, ISBN: 0805209999).

Heinrich von Kleist, Selected Writings (Hackett, ISBN: 0872207439).

Gotthold Ephraim Lessing, Nathan the Wise, Minna von Barnhelm, and
Other Plays and Writings (Continuum, ISBN: 0826407072).

Friedrich Nietzsche, The Twilight of the Idols and The Anti-Christ
(Penguin, ISBN: 0140445145).