Archive | Events

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).

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.


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.

John Hamilton (Harvard) to lecture on “Celan, Gadamer and Dickinson” on March 6th

HamiltonAmong the numerous public presentations by John Hamilton (Comparative Literature & German, Chair, Germanic Languages and Literatures, Harvard University) during his week-long stay at Princeton as the Whitney J. Oates Fellow in the Humanities Council hosted by the Classics Department, the polymath Comparatist, Classicist and renowned guitarist/vocalist of the Hoboken-based band Tiny Lights will also give a lecture in the German Department entitled “Poetic Obscurity and the Philology of the Flesh: Celan, Gadamer, and Dickinson.” Hamilton describes the lecture as follows: “In his Meridian speech (1960), Paul Celan quotes Blaise Pascal out of context in order to encourage an approach to poetic obscurity that would correct any position that reproaches poets for their darkness. The implicit tension between proximity to and distance from obscurity re-engages the primary motif that organizes Celan’s earlier poem, “Tenebrae” (1957), where key elements of Christian doctrine–namely, kenosis, condescension, and incarnation–are cited in the strongest sense: “shaken” (citus) from the theological context. A close reading results in outlining a “philology of the flesh,” which specifies Celan’s approach as one of carnal obscurity, a practice that comes to the fore in his contemporaneous translations of Emily Dickinson’s poems, which also quote theological materials in a manner that interrogates and complicates their salvific, carnivorous grounding.” The lecture, which will take place at 4:30pm on March 6th in 205 East Pyne, is free and open to the public.

John Hamilton Lecture

On March 4th Hamilton will also give another lecture, sponsored by the Department of Classics and Council of the Humanities, entitled “Repetitio Sententiarum, Repetitio Verborum: Kant, Hamann, and the Implications of Citation”; the talk, which will take place at 4:30pm in 010 East Pyne, is free and open to the public.

Jennings & Foster to discuss the life of Walter Benjamin at Labyrinth Books on Feb 27

Labyrinth BooksCriticalLife in Princeton is hosting a conversation about the life of Walter Benjamin between the co-author of the new biography published by Harvard UP, Michael Jennings, and celebrated art historian and critic Hal Foster. The event, which will take place at the bookstore at 6pm on Thursday, February 27th, is free and open to the public.

Walter Benjamin is one of the twentieth century’s most important intellectuals, and also one of its most elusive. His writings — mosaics incorporating philosophy, literary criticism, Marxist analysis, and a syncretistic theology –defy simple categorization, and his mobile, often improvised existence has proven irresistible to mythologizers. His writing career moved from the brilliant esotericism of his early writings through his emergence as a central voice in Weimar culture and on to the exile years, with its pioneering studies of modern media and the rise of urban commodity capitalism in Paris. That career was played out amid some of the most catastrophic decades of modern European history: the horror of the First World War, the turbulence of the Weimar Republic, and the lengthening shadow of fascism. Now, a major new biography from two of the world’s foremost Benjamin scholars reaches beyond the mosaic and the mythical to present this intriguing figure in full.

Benjamin: A Critical Life makes available for the first time a rich store of information which augments and corrects the record of an extraordinary life. The book offers a comprehensive portrait of Benjamin and his times as well as extensive commentaries on his major works, including “The Work of Art in the Age of Its Technological Reproducibility,” the essays on Baudelaire, and the great study of the German Trauerspiel.

Michael Jennings is Professor in the German Department at Princeton. He is the author of a previous book on Walter Benjamin: Dialectical Images: Walter Benjamin’s Theory of Literary Criticism. He also serves as the general editor of the standard English-language edition of Benjamin’s works, and the editor of a series of collections of Benjamin’s essays intended for classroom use. Hal Foster is Professor of Art and Archaeology at Princeton and a prolific author. Recent books include The Art-Architecture Complex; The First Pop Age: Painting and Subjectivity in the Art of Hamilton, Lichtenstein, Warhol, Richter, and Ruscha; Art Since 1900; Prosthetic Gods; and Design and Crime. Foster writes regularly for October (which he co-edits), Artforum, and the London Review of Books.