Germanic Languages | New Literary Theory and the German Text
G505 | 28952 | W. Rasch


Topic: Max Weber and His (German) Legacy: Rationality,
Rationalization, Technology

In important ways that concern the German/Western reflection on what
we conventionally call modernity, all roads lead through Max Weber.
We could trace roots in his neo-Kantian contemporaries as well as in
Nietzsche, Marx, and Kant, but we won’t.  Instead – though backward
glances will be necessary – we start with Weber and then direct our
gaze at the German 20th century, following issues that Weber set as
some of his major themes: the development of capitalism and a
purportedly unique (for better or worse) European rationality, the
rationalization and disenchantment of (potentially) all aspects of
modern society, and the role science (Wissenschaft) and the various
technologies (scientific/physical, institutional, spiritual) play in
framing our lives.
The course is designed to be introductory.  Though many of the
selected texts are philosophically sophisticated and will require
concentrated reading and collective discussion at a high level, they
are crucial for a better understanding of many contemporary ways of
seeing the world, including (but not limited to) Frankfurt School
Marxism and its successors, philosophical phenomenology, social
systems sociology, and the radical critiques of reason associated with
poststructuralism.
Writing assignments will (most likely) include a series (ca. 3 or 4)
of 3-5-page analytic summaries/critiques of select readings and
(again, most likely) an annotated bibliography of secondary literature
concerning a chosen text or theme.
The course will be taught in English and all texts are available in
English translation.  Those with reading knowledge of German are
encouraged to consult the originals.