Comparative Literature | Romanticism: The Narrative and the Non-Narrative
C533 | 26128 | Prof. Breithaupt


W   5:45-8:15
Meets with G825

This is a course in experimental humanities. Building on some
cognitive science work on the “narrative mind hypothesis,” the course
will aim to do a better job in figuring out what precisely narrative
is, what a narrative mind could be, and finally how the world of a
narrative mind would look like. At the same time, we will treat the
notion of the non-narrative seriously as a true alternative. Our aim
is to specutively construct a human being who is completely defined by
his narrative mind and one human being who is defined by his complete
lack of narrative thinking.
The discussions will cover a broad spectrum of questions. For
example: “Do we have ethics (or: religion) because we have
narrative(s)?”, “How does memory (or: experience) without narrative
operate?”, “How does film narrate differently from text fictions?”
and, of course, “What precisely is a narrative?” A focus of our
discussion will be texts written around the end of the
eighteenth-century and the beginning of the nineteenth century. The
precise syllabus will be discussed with all participants according to
their interests & projects. I would be happy to receive suggestions.
Among the more canonical works that I will propose are:

Aristotle, Poetics
Wolfram von Eschenbach, Parzifal
Lessing, Laokoon
Goethe (esp. excp. from Lehrjahre, Wahlverwandtschaften,
Wanderjahre, Die Novelle)
Kleist, anecdotes and a novella
Nietzsche, Geburt der Tragödie
Walter Benjamin, Der Erzähler
Roland Barthes, La Préparation du Roman

The course is offered in Germanic Studies and cross-listed with
Comparative Literature. For those who can read German, I recommend
using the German texts. All texts exist in English versions as well.
Participants will be expected to produce a minimum of 25 pages for the
course, broken down in as many individual texts as desired. The
written work should include at least one (possibly quite short)
speculation of one feature of the narrative or the non-narrative man.