Archive by Author

Natalie Binczek (Bochum) to lecture on Roland Barthes’ “The Preparation of the Novel”

barthesIn conjunction with the 2014 Princeton-Weimar Summer School for Media Studies, Natalie Binczek, Professor of Neugermanistik, insbesondere Theorie und Geschichte literarischer Kommunikation und ihrer Medien at the Ruhr-Universität Bochum and Visiting Professional Research Associate at Princeton’s German department will give a lecture on Roland Barthes’ “La Préparation du Roman.” The talk will explore how this late work by the renowned French literary theorist reflects on both the form of the lecture as well as the relationship between the lecture and literature. Binczek’s talk will take place on Wednesday, June 18th at 7pm in the Rocky/Mathey theater, Rockefeller College and is free and open to the public.

Renowned Filmmaker Harun Farocki to Discuss Recent Work June 17th at 8pm

parkplAs part of the 2014 Princeton-Weimar Media Studies Summer School, the fourth instance of this annual event that brings together graduate students from around to world for a series of intense seminars and workshops, the renowned German filmmaker Harun Farocki will screen and discuss some of his recent work. The event, which is free and open to the public, will take place Tuesday, June 17th at 8.00pm in the Rocky/Mathey Theater, Rockefeller College; early arrival is encouraged as seating is limited.

Harun Farocki, undoubtedly one of the most renowned filmmakers in the field of experimental political documentary, has written, directed and produced a total of over ninety films whose influences can be felt across a wide range of disciplines. Born in 1944, he began his studies at the Deutsche Film- und Fernsehakademie in 1966. Simultaneously he began to do free-lance work for cinema, television, and art spaces, a tri-pronged production strategy he has pursued to this date. The editor of the important German film journal Filmkritik from 1974-1983, Farocki has held numerous academic positions including a visiting professorship at UC Berkeley (1993-1999), a professorship for Media Studies at the Universität der Künste, Berlin (2000-2001), a professorship for Media Arts at the Akademie der Bildenden Künste, Vienna (2004-2011), and a guest professorship at Harvard University in 2011. Farocki’s work has been shown in a wide variety of spaces including the most renowned art museums of the Western world. The influence of his films, writings and multi-screen video installations –which have been shown to date in over three hundred exhibitions – 40 solo shows and over 270 group shows – have made Farocki into an important voice in contemporary art, cinema, and media theory.

Following his participation in CTRL [Space], a vast interdisciplinary exhibition at the Zentrum für Kunst und Medien (ZKM) Karlsruhe curated by Thomas Y. Levin (one of the co-founders of the Princeton-Weimar Summer School), Farocki’s work was also part of another exhibition curated by Levin at the Princeton University Art Museum entitled “Anxious Omniscience: Surveillance and Contemporary Cultural Practice” (January -April 2002).

Colleagues from History, Religion and Politics appointed as Associated Faculty Members

Alongside its already highly interdisciplinary full-time faculty, the German Department also has a very active and highly distinguished group of Associated Faculty in departments ranging from Art & Archaeology and Comparative Literature to History, Music and Philosophy. The Department is delighted to announce that this group, which works closely not only with the regular faculty but also with both undergraduate and graduate students, has just been expanded by an additional three members: Profs. Katja Guenther (History), Leora F. Batnitsky (Religion) and Jan-Werner Müller (Politics).

guentherKatja Guenther, an Assistant Professor of History and the Johanna and Alfred Hurley University Preceptor, mobilizes her training as a physician, neuroscientist and historian to study the history of modern medicine and the mind sciences. Trained as an M.D. in Germany before she earned a Ph.D. in the history of science from Harvard University, Guenther also holds an M.Sc. in neuroscience from the University of Oxford. She has published articles on the history of psychoanalysis, neurology, and medical therapy. The co-editor and translator of Sigmund Freud’s 1882 manuscript “Critical Introduction to Neuropathology, ” Professor Guenther’s research focuses on the history of subjectivity and the ways in which modern ideas of the self have been constituted through the interplay of cultural and scientific norms. Her book project, Localization and Its Discontents – A Genealogy of Psychoanalysis and the Neuro Disciplines, c. 1850-1950, explores divergent practices and shared theoretical assumptions within the medicine of mind and brain. Re-conceptualizing the reflex as a clinical and hermeneutic principle, she shows a common heritage for such diverse specialties as neurology, neurosurgery, psychiatry and psychoanalysis, and provides new ways for thinking about the relationship between mind and brain in modernity.

batnitzkyLeora F. Batnitzky is the Ronald O. Perelman Professor of Jewish Studies and Professor and Chair in the Department of Religion. Her teaching and research interests include philosophy of religion, modern Jewish thought, hermeneutics, and contemporary legal and political theory. She is the author of Idolatry and Representation: The Philosophy of Franz Rosenzweig Reconsidered (Princeton, 2000), Leo Strauss and Emmanuel Levinas: Philosophy and the Politics of Revelation (Cambridge, 2006), and How Judaism Became a Religion: An Introduction to Modern Jewish Thought (Princeton, 2011). Her current book project, tentatively titled “Conversion Before the Law: How Religion and Law Shape Each Other in the Modern World,” focuses on a number of contemporary legal cases concerning religious conversion in the U.S., Great Britain, Israel, and India. She is also currently completing an edited volume for the Brandeis Library of Modern Jewish Thought on modern Judaism and legal theory. The co-editor, with Peter Schäfer, of Jewish Studies Quarterly, Professor Batnitzky is also the Director of Princeton’s Tikvah Project on Jewish Thought.

muellerJan-Werner Mueller, Professor of Politics and Acting Director of the Program in Contemporary European Politics and Society, works on the history of modern political thought, liberalism and its critics, constitutionalism, religion and politics, and the normative dimensions of European integration. A prolific author and public intellectual (his public affairs commentary has appeared in the Neue Zürcher Zeitung, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Die Zeit, Sueddeutsche Zeitung, and Merkur: Deutsche Zeitschrift für europäisches Denken) he also directs the Project in the History of Political Thought at Princeton’s University Center for Human Values. Mueller is the author of Another Country: German Intellectuals, Unification and National Identity (Yale UP, 2000), A Dangerous Mind: Carl Schmitt in Post-War European Thought (Yale UP, 2003) and the editor of Memory and Power in Post-War Europe: Studies in the Presence of the Past, (Cambridge UP 2002) and German Ideologies since 1945: Studies in the Political Thought and Culture of the Bonn Republic (Palgrave 2003). An expanded and revised German edition of his more recent Constitutional Patriotism (Princeton UP 2007) was published by Suhrkamp in 2010.

May Day Lecture by Jürgen Habermas

HabermasThe theorist of communicative rationality and the public sphere, and heir to the project of the Frankfurt School Critical Theory, Jürgen Habermas (Johann Wolfgang Goethe-University, Frankfurt/M.) will give a lecture on International Worker’s Day entitled “The Transnationalization of Democracy: A European Experiment.” The lecture, which will take place on Thursday, May 1, 2014 at 4:30 p.m. in McCosh 50 is sponsored by the Program in Contemporary European Politics and Society and co-sponsored by the European Union Program; the Program in Russian, East European, and Eurasian Studies; and the University Center for Human Values. It will be streamed live at

Paul Fleming (Cornell) to lecture on Exemplum & Anecdote

The final lecture in the Spring Term 2014 Departmental Lecture Series will be given by Prof. Paul Fleming Prof. of German and Comparative Literature, and the Director of the Institute for German Cultural Studies at Cornell University. The lecture is part of Prof. Fleming’s current research project, tentatively titled “The Perfect Story,” which examines the philosophical use of the anecdote with respect to questions of exemplarity, evidence, and contingency. Fleming describes the stakes of his talk as follows: “In Futures Past, Reinhart Koselleck famously argues that only in the eighteenth century does the collective singular, die Geschichte, emerge to replace the older plural form, Geschichten, the reservoir of exempla by which history served as a ‘teacher of life.’ The demise of exempla, however, also gave rise to the anecdote as a genre uniquely poised at the nexus of the historical and the literary. While equally no longer a ‘teacher of life,’ the anecdote repeatedly challenges the integration of event into a larger context that makes modern universal history possible. This paper investigates the tense relation between the exemplum’s successors, history and anecdote, around 1800, particularly in the work of Heinrich von Kleist.”


Spring Open House on April 2nd for Potential Undergrad German Majors

Are you a Princeton freshman or sophomore who might be interested in becoming part of the German Department community? Would you like to learn more about the various paths to the German major and/or certificate? Perhaps you were wondering what people who major in German do after graduating (hint: everything from law, medical and graduate school to jobs in finance, journalism, and education)? Come meet faculty and current undergraduate majors for lively discussion and tasty snacks at our annual Spring Open House! We will gather on Wednesday, April 2nd, at 4:30, in East Pyne 207, to talk informally about what makes the German Department such a special and fun place–and about why being a German Major might just be the best way to take advantage of everything that Princeton has to offer. Feel free to bring your pals and to just stop by briefly. We look forward to meeting you.

Spring Open House Flyer Spring 2014

Spring 2014 Graduate Student Symposium

The German Department’s Spring 2014 Symposium featuring the work of three graduate students will take place from 2-5:30pm on the afternoon of Friday, March 7th in the Rocky-Mathey Theater, Rockefeller College. This semester’s symposium will feature presentations by Paul Babinski (“Presentations of Gebärdensprache in Wilhelm Meisters Lehrjahre“), Andrew Dechet (“The Work that Work Does: Arbeit in Rilke’s 1903 Rodin Monograph”) and Anat Benzvi (“Benjamin’s One Hundred Favorite Rascals: The Flâneur, the Hero, and Baudelaire”). There will be a brief response given by a faculty member to each paper, followed by animated discussion.

The biannual event, which is free and open to the public, will be followed by a reception in East Pyne.


Tübingen Medievalist to lecture on Heinrich von Morungen

The Department of German is pleased to co-sponsor the visit of Dr. Christiane Ackermann, currently a post-doctoral fellow at Harvard University, who will be delivering a talk on “Self-Reflections in the work of Heinrich von Morungen” as part of the Medieval Studies Lecture Series, “Names, Dates, and Signatures.” Heinrich is one of the most well known authors of medieval German courtly love lyric (Minnesang), poems that typically focused on the poet’s frustrated love for a distant lofty lady. As the attention given this ostensibly external object often masks a narcissistic positioning of the lyric subject, Dr. Ackermann will be exploring different forms of subjective mirroring in Heinrich’s poems as well as the particular signifying function of the gaze in this context. Dr. Ackermann, whose scholarship is informed by a sustained engagement with literary theory (especially psychoanalysis), is the author of Im Spannungsfeld von Ich und Körper: Subjektivität im ‘Parzival’ Wolframs von Eschenbach und im ‘Frauendienst’ Ulrichs von Liechtenstein (Köln/Weimar/Wien: Böhlau, 2009). Dr. Ackermann will also lead a lunchtime seminar/discussion on the often contested relationship between so-called “modern” theory and medieval literature which will take place at noon on Wednesday, March 26, 2014 in 207 East Pyne; lunch will be served. Please contact Yolanda Sullivan to register for the Wednesday seminar.


Literary & Media Theorist Binczek coming to Princeton in April as Visiting Researcher

BinczekNatalie Binczek, Professor of Neugermanistik, insbesondere Theorie und Geschichte literarischer Kommunikation und ihrer Medien at the Ruhr-Universität Bochum, will join the Department for a four-month research stay starting in early April, 2014. During her sojourn as a Visiting Professional Research Associate she will be working on her current project about the academic and poetic lecture as an important facet of acoustic literature. Binczek understands the lecture as a text that encompasses not only the script but also its oral performance as well as the transcripts or records made by the audience. This multiplicity of different operations must be analyzed as an interdependent complex combining different media such as writing, observing and speaking. The readings of the Gruppe 47 constitute an important case of this genre: on the one hand they continue the tradition of the poetic or literary reading. On the other hand they are also oriented toward the seminar and its specific forms of discussion. Binczek’s research will focus on the interaction between these two traditions or modes of communication – the literary reading and the seminar – and develop arguments about the academic lecture in relation to the literary lecture/reading through an analysis of the Princeton Gruppe 47 tapes.

Binczek, professor at the Ruhr-University Bochum since 2010, has also taught at the Universities of Siegen, Würzburg and Duisburg-Essen, as well as being a research fellow at the Franckesche Stiftungen in Halle/Saale. Her research interests lie especially in literary- and media-theory as well as in media history. Her current research is focused on the acoustic dimension of literature and the question of how to describe and analyze its specific textuality. Since 2012 she has been the co-editor of the journal Sprache und Literatur. Her books include Im Medium der Schrift. Zum dekonstruktiven Anteil in der Systemtheorie Niklas Luhmanns (München: Fink 2000) and Kontakt: Der Tastsinn in Texten der Aufklärung (Tübingen: Niemeyer 2007). Her most recent publications are: Handbuch Medien der Literatur, co-edited with Till Dembeck and Jörgen Schäfer (Berlin/Boston: de Gruyter 2013); Dank sagen. Politik, Semantik und Poetik der Verbindlichkeit, coedited with Remigius Bunia, Till Dembeck and Alexander Zons (München: Fink 2013); Das Hörbuch. Praktiken audioliteralen Schreibens und Verstehens, co-edited with Cornelia Epping-Jäger (München: Fink 2014).

Franz Kafka’s Metamorphosis: A Bug’s Life

On the occasion of the publication of the Modern Library Classics edition of Kafka’s Metamorphosis, translated, edited, and introduced by Stanley Corngold, Professor Corngold will be joined by Michael Jennings to discuss the work and some of its renowned readers, including Philip Roth, W. H Auden, and Walter Benjamin, who are also featured with essays in the new volume.

This Modern Library edition collects Stanley Corngold’s acclaimed English translation—long hailed as the gold standard by scholars and general readers alike—along with seven critical essays by important writers, as well as background and contextual material, and a new introduction from Corngold himself.

Stanley Corngold is Professor Emeritus of Comparative Literature at Princeton University. He has published widely on modern German writers and thinkers but is perhaps best known for his translations of and writings on the work of Franz Kafka. He is the author, together with Benno Wagner, of Franz Kafka: The Ghosts in the Machine, and co-editor of Kafka for the Twenty-First Century. His translation of Goethe’s The Sufferings of the Young Werther was published recently as a Norton Critical Edition.

The discussion, which will take place on Tuesday, March 11 at 6pm at Labyrinth Books (122 Nassau Street in Princeton) is free and open to the public. Full details about the event can be found here.