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Spring 2018 Lecture Series Program now available

Spring 2018 Lecture Series Program now available

Please mark your calendars: the German Department program of lectures, workshops and symposia for the Spring semester 2018, organized by Profs. Thomas Y. Levin and Johannes Wankhammer, has just been announced. Featuring talks by visiting Old Dominion Fellow Prof. Jane Newman (UC Irvine), Prof. Ingrid Christian (Univ. of Chicago), Prof. Rebecca Comay (U. of Toronto), Daniel Weidner (Humboldt Univ./ZfL-Berlin) and Prof. Geoffrey Winthrop-Young (UBC, Vancouver) it also includes a Graduate Student workshop on the job market, a two-day graduate student seminar on Goethe’s Hermann und Dorothea with Inka Mülder-Bach (Munich/Princeton), Dorothea von Mücke (Columbia ) and David E. Wellbery (Chicago), and a day-long symposium on the problems and methods of conceptualizing periods of literary emergence around the world. Unless otherwise indicated all events take place in East Pyne 205 at 4:30pm, and are free and open to the public.

Unless otherwise noted, all lectures will take place at 4:30pm in East Pyne 205, will be held in English and are free and open to the public.

Monday Feb 12th
Jane Newman (Comparative Literature, UC Irvine; Visiting Professor in the Humanities Council and Old Dominion Fellow in German, Princeton University)
“Auerbach’s Augustine: Existential Realism and the Low Style”

This lecture situates Auerbach in the context of the Christian Existentialism of Marburg during his (pre-Istanbul) time there and then sets his readings of Augustine in conversation with the Augustines of Arendt and Hans Jonas (both influenced by Heidegger’s Augustine, as both Arendt and Jonas of course had also been in Marburg). In the process it will extricate Auerbach out of the critical impasse he has been wedged into between a pre-post colonial Saidianism and a DWM New Critical stance. The talk also discusses the Catholic New Criticism so prevalent in the U.S. academy at the time, which accounts for the incredible popularity of his Mimesis, deeply informed as it was by Auerbach’s Marburg sojourn, when it was published in English translation in 1953.

Tuesday Feb 20th
Ingrid Christian (Germanic Studies, Univ. of Chicago)
“Aesthetic Ecologies: Air and the Space of Art around 1900”

This talk explores air as the material space surrounding an artwork – its “Milieu,” “Umgebung” and “Umwelt.” It takes as its starting point evocations of air within and without an artwork, thus, evocations that cut across the separate realms of reference between artwork as image and as material object. The talk examines artworks that “overspill their form” and become continuous with the space environing them, in order to ask: What would an intellectual history of the environment look like when told from the perspective of the literature of art history?

Wednesday Feb 21st
Ingrid Christian (Germanic Studies, Univ. of Chicago)
Graduate Student Workshop on the Job Market

Thursday March 8th
Rebecca Comay (Philosophy and Comparative Literature, U. of Toronto)
Rebecca Comay Graduate Workshop EP 205

Monday March 12th
Daniel Weidner (Institut für Kulturwissenschaft der Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin; Acting Director of the Zentrum für Literatur- und Kulturforschung, Berlin)
“The Spirit, the Letter, and the Life of the Text: Schleiermacher’s Hermeneutics Revisited”

Schleiermacher’s hermeneutics are usually considered ‘idealist’, ‘romantic’, or essentially ‘Christian’. And indeed, they began as a series of lectures on the hermeneutics of the New Testament, a context that is usually neglected. Upon closer inspection, however, it becomes clear that Schleiermacher hardly uses spiritual exegesis or Einfühlung here, but rather deals with specific material problems raised by Biblical Criticism – the (Aramaic-Greek) mixed language of the New Testaments, its insecure textual basis and its composition from fragments. All these features of the New Testament are serious obstacles for grasping the text and transform Schleiermacher’s idealist and logocentric idea of understanding towards a hermeneutics of (written) scripture. The lecture insists on the need for a re-reading of Schleiermacher as a material hermeneutics and argues for a more complex conception of how the religious heritage influences hermeneutic theory.

Friday/Saturday March 30th-31st
Graduate Student Seminar on Goethe’s Hermann und Dorothea with Inka Mülder-Bach (Munich/Princeton), Dorothea von Mücke (Columbia ) and David E. Wellbery (Chicago).
Goethe Workshop EP205

In four seminars over two days devoted to one of Goethe’s most historically influential and currently topical texts, this gathering will focus on the ambiguous generic status of Hermann und Dorothea as epic/idyll/pastoral; its representation of a political refugee community; and its gender-thematic concern with defloration and marriage.

Wednesday, April 4th
Geoffrey Winthrop-Young (Department of Central, Eastern and Northern European Studies,
University of British Columbia, Vancouver)
“Why a Student is a Willing Termite rather than an Irish Elk: Karl Escherich and the (De)Nazification of Universities and Social Insects”

Friday, April 13th – location EP 010
How Literatures Begin: A Comparative Approach to Problems and Methods

Denis Feeney (Department of Classics) & Joel Lande (Department of German)
This symposium on periods of literary emergence from across the globe and throughout time seeks to articulate the differences that obtain among different literatures, as time- and space-specific creations, but also to draw out the surprising commonalities among the practices, technologies, and institutions that led to the formation of distinct literary traditions.


The German Department Presents:
FRITZ LANG, 1933; 121 MINS

January 9th @ 7pm – 9pm
Location: East Pyne 010

Event Open to the Public


The German Department Presents:
Film Screening and Discussion
Location: East Pyne 010
December 12th, 2017
Time: 7:00- 9:30pm

A Poetry Reading by author & critic Michael Speier -EP 205

Princeton University German Department presents:

A Poetry Reading by author Michael Speier
Date: December 12th, 2017
Time: 4:30pm to 5:30pm
Location: East Pyne Room 205

Michael Speier is a literary scholar, poet and translator, living in Berlin. He holds the Staatsexamen and a Ph.D. in German Literature from the Freie Universität Berlin. Having taught at the Freie Universität Berlin, the University at Leipzig, and several U.S. universities (Dartmouth College and Georgetown University among them), Michael Speier is also Adjunct Professor at the German Department of the University of Cincinnati. In addition to having published a number of anthologies and translated modern English, French, and Italian poetry, he is the founding editor of the Paul Celan-Jahrbuch and the literary magazine Park.

His primary scholarly interests include symbolism, expressionistic prose, translation theory and practice, the image of the city in literature, and modern poetry, especially Paul Celan. His teaching interests also include creative writing. The author of numerous articles and reviews, he has written or edited the following books: Die Ästhetik Jean Pauls (1979), Kehr um im Bild (with Dieter Straub, 1983); Im Übersetzen leben. Übersetzen und Textvergleich (with Klaus Berger, 1986); Berlin!Berlin! Eine Großstadt im Gedicht (1987); Poesie der Metropole (1990); Berlin mit deinen frechen Feuern (1998); Interpretationen: Gedichte von Paul Celan (2002); and Berlin, du bist die Stadt (2011).

He has published nine volumes of poetry (most recently: Laokoons Laptop, 2015; Haupt/Stadt/Studio, 2012; Welt/Raum/Reisen, 2007). His work has appeared in over 50 anthologies and has been translated into twelve languages. He received the Schiller Award (Weimar), the Alfred-Döblin-Grant (Akademie der Künste, Berlin), Hermann-Hesse-Grant, Stichting Culturele Uitwisseling-Grant and was writer in residence in the USA, France and Hungary. He was awarded the “Literaturpreis der A + A Kulturstiftung” in Spring 2011 and is Honorary Fellow of the American Association of Teachers of German.


The German Department Presents:
Film Screening and Discussion
December 5th @ 7:00 pm – 9:00 pm
East Pyne Room 010

Will there still be singing – A Hanns Eisler Cabaret

New York soprano Karyn Levitt comes to Princeton University’s
Taplin Auditorium with her celebrated program

Will there still be singing – A Hanns Eisler Cabaret

on December 1, 2017 at 7:30 pm

After a tremendous success at the Brecht Haus in Berlin and at different venues in New York City, incl. the Metropolitan Room, Karyn Levitt and her pianist Eric Ostling are excited to bring the program to Princeton University. Their show of Hanns Eisler songs and music with the words from Bertolt Brecht in English translation by Eric Bentley was premiered in Manhattan at the famous Café Sabarsky at the Neue Galerie at Central Park.

With its stirring songs, the show takes you back to last century’s Europe, its oppressive yet vibrant political times and through the life of Hanns Eisler, Brecht’s favorite collaborator, Schoenberg’s best student and Kurt Weill’s contemporary.

Karyn Levitt is THE performer of the English Eisler/Brecht repertoire of our time. Her close working relationship with her mentor, Brecht translator and friend Eric Bentley gives her the opportunity to consult with a contemporary witness and the source of the acclaimed translations to excite the next generation with Hanns Eisler’s music and Bertolt Brecht’s lyrics. Eric Bentley lives in New York and celebrated his 101st birthday this year.

Levitt also recorded the repertoire on her acclaimed CD Eric Bentley’s Brecht-Eisler Song Book.

“A highly successful new release… by Karyn Levitt, Eric Ostling, Brecht, Eisler and Eric Bentley – it comes with a warm recommendation, not only to English-speaking audiences.” – Peter Deeg, International Hanns Eisler Society, Berlin

Her future plans include Songs for Mother Courage with music by Darius Milhaud and words by Bertolt Brecht in English versions by Eric Bentley. A program which was only once performed by her in the world premiere at the Centennial Tribute to Eric Bentley at New York’s Town Hall in 2016.

For more information please visit and


The German Department Presents:

Film Screening and Discussion Double Bill of Queer Weimar Film.

Reconstruction of this banned and highly controversial first film about homosexuality co-written
by the pioneering sexologist Dr. Magnus Hirschfeld; English intertitles; improvised piano score
by Joachim Bärenz.

This feature-length drama about Prussian gender politics in a boarding school for girls is based
on Christa Winsloe’s theater piece Gestern und heute, considered one of the first plays of the Weimar
Republic that engaged issues of lesbianism; in German with English subtitles.

Location: East Pyne 010
Time: 7pm – 9pm
Date: Novermber 28th, 2017

Reshaping the Humanities and Sciences: The Berlin Lautabteilung in the 1920s

Princeton University German Department
Fall 2017 Lecture Series

Date: Thursday, November 16, 2016
Time: 4:30pm
Location: 205 East Pyne

Viktoria Tkaczyk (Humboldt U., Berlin; Max Plank Institute for the History of Science, Berlin)
“Reshaping the Humanities and Sciences: The Berlin Lautabteilung in the 1920s”

This talk’s focus is the Lautabteilung (“sound department”) of the Prussian State Library, directed by the language teacher and phonetician Wilhelm Doegen in the 1920s. In terms of academic infrastructures, I trace how the Lautabteilung emerged from the Royal Prussian Phonographic Commission, led by Doegen with the aim of recording prisoners of war interned near Berlin during 1915 and 1918. Doegen’s later Sound Department continued to serve several state authorities in interwar Germany, and attempted to unite the potentials of a scholarly sound collection and an acoustic laboratory. It aimed to establish the gramophone as a novel research technology that could unite multiple disciplines ranging from linguistics and language studies to musicology, ethnology, anthropology, zoology, criminology, medicine, and psychology. I will look more closely at two projects incorporated by the department, in applied psychology (led by psychologist Fritz Giese) and applied linguistics (led by linguist Theodor Siebs), which reveal regulative and future-oriented projections of German labor policy and language use. These two projects marked an important shift from earlier visions of scientific sound archives, motivated by a historicist desire for exhaustiveness and conceived as serving the purposes of analysis, toward an understanding of sound archiving as applied research.

Viktoria Tkaczyk leads the Research Group “Epistemes of Modern Acoustics” at the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science, Berlin, and is a professor at the Institut für Kulturwissenschaft, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin. She is currently working on the emergence of new techniques of “thinking with sound” in a range of disciplines around 1900, and on a long history of architectural acoustics.

Weimar Cinema: METROPOLIS

The German Department Presents:

FRITZ LANG, 1927; 148 MINS

A new 4K restoration of the
2010 “complete” reconstruction
of this pioneering expressionist
sci-fi political allegory; German
intertitles with English subtitles
and the original orchestral score
by Gottfried Huppertz.

When: November 7th
Where: East Pyne 010
Time: 7-9pm

Appearance: Fragments of a Political Phenomenology

Princeton University’s Department of German presents:

Appearance: Fragments of a Political Phenomenology

Juliane Rebentisch

Date: October 2nd, 2017
Location: East Pyne 010
Time: 4:30pm –

What does it mean to make a public appearance? If one believes Hannah Arendt, it involves very particular conditions; those of a specific space in which this appearance will be perceived by others. A “space of appearance,” as Arendt calls it, by no means automatically exists in every place where people gather as a crowd. Instead it is constituted wherever “people are together in the manner of speech and action.” It is only in this being together that an intersubjective “interstitial space” is created in which people exist not merely as things that are indifferent to one another but explicitly make their appearance in front of and for one another. The talk will critically develop the aesthetic, ethical and political dimensions of Arendt’s concept of a “space of appearance” in the context of contemporary debates on democracy and media.