Germanic Languages | History of German Literature II
G573 | 25007 | Fritz Breithaupt
TR 4-5:15 Meets
Topic: Hegel on Form: Eighteenth-Century Genre
This course will reexamine the question of “genre” or “form” in the
eighteenth century and beyond. Why does “form” matter and what does
“form” do? Does “form” do anything or is it the very end of doing?
Our point of departure will be Hegel’s Vorlesungen über die Ästhetik.
Against Kant’s theory of aesthetical judgment, Hegel famously offers
an aesthetic of form and formation. For Hegel, “form” is
simultaneously the stabilizing force and the very seed for his
technology of transformation, that is, his dialectics. Hegel will help
us to situate the question of form in categories beyond the simple
distinction of form & content.
We will both discuss the intense debates surrounding genre in the long
eighteenth century and will engage in the reading of specific literary
texts that fall into the category of “Einfache Form,” such as the
fairy-tale, legend, the case-study, or parable. How can one best
describe the force that allows a form to be simple? How can a text be
complete and end? Is it a cognitive operation that shapes a minor
genre? Or is it a speech-act, as Andre Jolles has claimed? We will
also include those literary texts that test genre from within, such as
certain ballads, Goethe’s and Hölderlin’s prose-poetry, Schlegel’s
fragments, and Kleist’s anecdotes.
Class discussions will be in English or German, depending on students’
G. W. F. Hegel, Einführung über die Ästhetik I (Frankfurt: Suhrkamp
Verlag) ISBN 3518282131
Andre Jolles, Einfache Formen (Tübingen: Niemeyer Verlag)