Professor Inka Mülder-Bach, one of three Permanent Visiting Professors on the German Department faculty, will be in residence in Princeton for the Spring semester 2015 during which she will teach a graduate seminar (GER 515/COM512) entitled “Studies in 19th-Century Literature and Culture: The Art of the Plot” and an undergraduate class (GER 306) on “Labyrinths of Literature.”
Prof. Mülder-Bach’s graduate seminar will take place on Wednesday afternoons from 1:30-4:20pm and will be conducted in both English and German. She describes the class — which will consider works such as Euripides’ Iphigenia in Tauris, Shakespeare’s Othello, Schiller’s Die Verschwörung des Fiesco zu Genua and Wallenstein, Goethe’s Iphigenie, and Büchner’s Dantons Tod — as follows:
Though plotters and intriguers usually are up to no good, their scheming is closely related to the art of drama and narrative. Storytellers and dramatists create entanglements, set snares and tie knots which then somehow have to be disentangled and untied. The Aristotelian notion of plot (mythos) as “construction of events” thus encompasses the two complementary operations of desis and lysis, “complication” and “denouement.” The seminar will examine plot structures, figures of the intriguer, metaphors of intriguing and their transformation in tragedies and historical dramas from Greek antiquity to German literature of the early 19th century.
Regarding the undergraduate class, which will be taught on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons from 1:30-2:50pm, Prof. Mülder-Bach writes:
In literature, art, dance and architecture the labyrinth delineates a path that has been interpreted in various ways, as a figuration of the polarity of chaos and order, for example, or as a trajectory of initiation symbolizing the experience of separation, disorientation and rebirth. On the basis of selected pictorial material as well as selected readings of the myths of Theseus and Dedalus, the seminar will focus on the relation between the structure of the maze and narrative structures in 20th century German literature.
The reading list for this seminar, which will be taught in English, includes Ovid’s Metamorphoses (selections), Joyce’s Ulysses ((selections; 1922) Kafka’s Der Bau (1923/24), Robert Walser’s Der Räuber (1925), Walter Benjamin’s Berliner Kindheit um 1900 (1932ff) and Thomas Bernhard’s Das Kalkwerk (1970).
Prof. Mülder-Bach received her PhD from the University of Tübingen after academic training at Tübingen, Oslo, and Berkeley. Before joining the Institute of German Philology at Ludwig Maximilian Universität (LMU) in Munich in 1998, she held positions at the Freie Universität and the Zentrum für Literaturforschung in Berlin. Mülder-Bach has been a visiting professor at Columbia University (New York), the IFK (International Research Center for Cultural Studies, Vienna), the Heinrich-Heine-Universität (Düsseldorf), and New York University. Her research focuses on German literature from the 18th to the 20th century in a comparative perspective, traditions of aesthetics and poetics, theories of narration, scenes of origins and constructions of the beginning of modernity, and Robert Musil. She is editor of the works of Siegfried Kracauer and co-editor of POETICA.
Prof. Mülder-Bach is a Vertrauensdozentin der Studienstiftung des deutschen Volkes. In 2008-09 and 2010-11 she held an Excellence-in-Research professorship at the LMU Munich, and from 2009-2010, served as Vice-President of the LMU. In 2013 she was awarded the Federal Cross of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany.