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“A Baroque Tale of Male Erasure” – Sonja Andersen, Princeton Research Day Ten-Minute Talk

Date: Thursday May 10, 2018
Time: 10:30am – 5:00pm
Location: Frist Campus Center

“A Baroque Tale of Male Erasure”
Sonja Andersen, Princeton Research Day Ten-Minute Talk

How did 17th-century women in Europe write about their experiences in a war-torn and male-dominant environment? Women who dared to go against the grain of rigid expectations by publishing religiously controversial material or overstepping their prescribed education levels could expect to be publicly shamed and disowned by their former allies. An even more ubiquitous form of subjugation was that of male erasure, or the appropriation and alteration of women’s intellectual work by men. This talk looks at examples of male erasure that occurred in the career of the Austrian-German poet Catharina Regina von Greiffenberg (1633–94). Despite the fact that male supervisors strove to curb women’s political and creative expression, how did women like Greiffenberg succeed in publishing highly original poetry and political treatises? Indeed, can we understand Greiffenberg’s poetry as an outlet to process the trauma of sexual coercion she experienced throughout her life, starting in her youth? This presentation makes a feminist intervention into the existing scholarly conversation, and ventures to see if Greiffenberg’s poetry and political writings might illuminate a broader narrative, both of her time and ours.
Princeton Research Day Website

A Familiar Face Curates Major Exhibition – on Faces

Following her retirement as the Director of the Zentrum for Literatur- und Kulturforschung [Research Center of Literature and Culture (ZfL)] in Berlin, Prof. Sigrid Weigel, the much-beloved permanent visiting professor in the German Department from 2005-2016, has remained just as incredibly active professionally as she always was. Besides co-editing two major volumes in 2017 on Testimony and Empathy respectively (details below), Prof. Weigel most recently curated a major exhibition “Das Gesicht: Eine Spurensuche” [The Face: A Search for Clues] which was on view from August 19th 2017 to February 25th, 2018 at the renowned Deutsche Hygiene-Museum in Dresden. Weigel also edited the accompanying catalogue Das Gesicht: Bilder, Medien, Formate [The Face: Images, Media, Formats], published in August 2017 by the Wallstein Verlag, which features essays by no less than twenty-seven different authors on specific images, media and formats that engage the many fascinating issues – emotional, technological, cultural, and artistic – raised by faces.
By means of a thoughtful montage of an extraordinary range of work including videos, photographs, historical documents, collages, surveillance feeds, painted portraits, anthropometric mug shots, and advertising materials (for a sample click here), this important exhibition raises issues that are at once centuries old and still deeply contemporary – questions that were also the focus of an undergraduate seminar (GER314 “Reading Faces – Methods of Deciphering in Literature, Sciences and Art) that Prof. Weigel taught at Princeton in the Spring semester of 2014. Not surprisingly, the show was widely reviewed and very well received, as evidenced by the selection of print, radio and television reports that can be explored here. Coming full circle, there is even a very thoughtful review written by Mladen Gladić, the editor for “Kultur und Alltag” at the Berlin paper Der Freitag. who had taken one of Weigel’s seminars during his years as a graduate student in Princeton’s German Department.

In the same year as the “Faces” exhibition, Prof. Weigel also published no less than two further co-edited volumes. The first, with Sybille Krämer, is a collection entitled Testimony/Bearing Witness Epistemology, Ethics, History and Culture (Rowman & Littlefield International, 2017) that “establishes a dialogue between the different approaches to testimony in epistemology, historiography, law, art, media studies and psychiatry. With examples including the Holocaust, the Khmer Rouge and the Armenian genocide the volume discusses the chances and limits of communicating epistemological and ethical, philosophical and cultural-historical, past and present perspectives on the phenomenon and concept of bearing witness.” The second, co-edited with Vanessa Lux, is entitled Empathy: Epistemic Problems and Cultural-Historical Perspectives of a Cross-Disciplinary Concept and was published by Palgrave/Macmillan in 2017. An outgrowth of an undergraduate seminar Weigel taught at Princeton in Spring 2013 (GER306 – Compassion, Pity, Empathy), this timely volume on the complex archaeology of empathy investigates (according to the publisher’s blurb) “controversies, epistemic problems and unanswered questions encapsulated within its cross-disciplinary history. The authors ask how a neutral innate capacity to directly understand the actions and feelings of others becomes charged with emotion and moral values associated with altruism or caregiving. They explore how the discovery of the mirror neuron system and its interpretation as the neurobiological basis of empathy has stimulated such an enormous body of research and how in a number of these studies, the moral values and social attitudes underlying empathy in human perception and action are conceptualized as universal traits. It is argued that in the humanities the historical, cultural and scientific genealogies of empathy and its forerunners, such as Einfühlung, have been shown to depend on historical preconditions, cultural procedures, and symbolic systems of production. The multiple semantics of empathy and related concepts are discussed in the context of their cultural and historical foundations, raising questions about these cross-disciplinary constellations.”

An evening of Kammermusik, March 2, 2018

Students, faculty and friends of the German Department in collaboration with the Princeton Chamber Music Society presented an evening of chamber music and poetry by German composers and authors. The evening included selections from Bach, Brahms, Schubert, Shumann and Strauss. In spite of the snow, wind and frosty weather outside, the event was well-attended and enjoyed by all. We look forward to continuing this collaboration in another event soon.

Prof. Inka Mülder-Bach (LMU Munich) to teach two Seminars in Spring Semester 2018

Professor Inka Mülder-Bach, one of the popular Permanent Visiting Professors on the German Department faculty, will be in residence in Princeton for the Spring semester 2018 during which she will teach a graduate seminar (GER 526) entitled “Small Narrative Forms: Anecdote, Case Story, and Novella” and an undergraduate class (GER 307) on “German Literature in the Fin de Siècle.”

Prof. Mülder-Bach’s graduate seminar (GER 526) 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 Friedrich Schiller’s Der Verbrecher aus verlorener Ehre, Johann Wolfgang Goethe’s Unterhaltungen deutscher Ausgewanderten, Heinrich Kleist’s Anekdote aus dem letzten preußischen Krieg, Georg Büchner’s Lenz, Franz Kafka’s Das Urteil, and Robert Musil’s Die Portugiesin — as follows:

Since the late 18th century small narrative forms such as the novella, the anecdote and the case story have enjoyed increasing popularity among the readership and gained increasing importance for the field of narrative genres and the development of techniques of narration. What is at stake in the poetics of these forms and how can we describe their specific possibilites, functions and achievements? The seminar will explore these questions in readings of texts ranging from the late 18th to the early 20th century.

Prof. Mülder-Bach’s undergraduate class (GER 307) “Between Decadence and Renewal: German Literature in the Fin de siècle,” will take place on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons from 1:30-2:50pm. Her description of the seminar, whose readings will be in German with class discussion in both German and English, reads as follows:

The turn of the 19th to the 20th century, the so-called Fin de siècle, is a formative period for modern German literature. It is marked by radical social and technological transformations, a simultaneity of heterogeneous artistic movements and tendencies and a cultural discourse in which notions of end and beginning, decadence and renewal are paradoxically blended. The course will give an overview over the cultural topographies of this period and study it in exemplary literary and theoretical manifestations.

The reading list for the class includes Friedrich Nietzsche: Vom Nutzen und Nachteil der Historie für das Leben (excerpts), Georg Simmel: Die Großstädte und das Geistesleben, Arthur Schnitzler: Leutnant Gustl, Sigmund Freud: Die Traumdeutung (excerpts), Thomas Mann: Buddenbrooks, and Hugo von Hofmannsthal: Ein Brief.

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, narratology, scenes of origins, poetics of the novel and theories of prose. She is editor of the works of Siegfried Kracauer and co-editor of the journal POETICA. Her most recent book publications include a widely acclaimed monograph on Robert Musil’s novel The Man without Qualities (Robert Musil. Der Mann ohne Eigenschaften. Ein Versuch über den Roman, 2013) and a 2015 volume on case stories (Casus und lapsus, coedited with Michael Ott). Mülder-Bach is the speaker of the interdisciplinary research program „Writing prose“ at the Center of Advanced Studies at LMU and a member of the new DFG Research Group “Philologie des Abenteuers” [Philology of Adventure], within which she directs a research project on the “Transformations of Adventure in the Bildungsroman and Novella.” Further information about Prof. Mülder-Bach’s research can be found in an intellectual portrait published in 2016 in the journal Einsichten.

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.

Four Undergraduate Majors Awarded Munificent Mary Cunningham Humphreys Prize

At the annual German Department Holiday Party on December 6th, the Departmental Representative Prof. Thomas Y. Levin awarded The Mary Cunningham Humphreys Junior German Prize to four members of the Class of 2019 for outstanding academic work in the German Department during their junior year. While the prize is normally bestowed upon the top two German majors, this year the astonishingly strong academic records of the top four members of the Class of 2019 – Marc Decitre, Allison Fleming, Spencer Hadley, Alexander Robinson – were mathematically indistinguishable, resulting in a four-way tie.

The Mary Cunningham Humphreys Junior German Prizes fund was established in March 1898 by former Princeton professor and head of the German Dept. Willard Humphreys with a series of gifts in memory of his mother. The first prizes of $25 and $15 respectively represented the income on $1000, his first gift. Humphreys continued to give $1000 on the first of October during his lifetime, but requested that as long as he was alive the source of the prizes be kept a strict secret. According to the language of the gift (articulated in a letter on March 3rd, 1898), the income was to be “awarded to those members of the Junior Class (Academic) who, having taken the regular German course for at least two years, shall at the close of the second term pass the best examinations on the work of the term and on the life of the author whose works have been the principal subject of the years of study.” Professor Humphreys died in 1902 just months after accidentally taking “an almost fatal dose of choral [a popular late-19th century anesthetic] while trying to allay the pangs of toothache,” according to a front-page story of the New York Times on September 25, 1902.

Over a century later, this early act of departmental philanthropy has resulted in a prize which, even when split four ways, rewards its winners with a magnanimous four-figure sum. A fifth German Department Major, Sang Lee, was awarded a runner-up prize consisting of the renowned six-volume Stuttgart Edition of the works of Friedrich Hölderlin, a handsome set that was previously owned by the father of Dorothea von Moltke, the co-owner of Princeton’s Labyrinth Books, who in turn was the son of the famous Helmut James Graf von Moltke.

The entire German Department faculty extends its most heartfelt congratulations to all of the German Majors of the Class of 2019.

Topic Announced for the 2018 Summer School for Media Studies

Scaling. What happens when we scale things up or down?
Princeton-Weimar Summer School for Media Studies
Internationales Kolleg für Kulturtechnikforschung und Medienphilosophie
(Bauhaus-Universität Weimar)
German Department (Princeton University)
Princeton, New Jersey, June 16–24, 2018

The Princeton-Weimar Summer School for Media Studies -a collaboration between Bauhaus-Universität Weimar (Internationales Kolleg für Kulturtechnikforschung und Medienphilosophie, IKKM) and Princeton University (German Department)-returns to Princeton in 2018 for its eighth installment. The 2018 session will be devoted to the investigation of scale and scaling as operative concepts for the analysis of media. What happens when we scale? Does anything really change? Can scaling ever impact the inner blueprint of an object? Are there laws of scaling? Or does scaling resist any attempt at calculability, such that, to investigate it, we can only ever look at individual events of scaling? As a media practice, scaling is widely used. But, in contrast to the ubiquity of operations, scaling is hardly ever viewed on its own terms as a basic concept of media analysis. The Princeton-Weimar Summer School for Media Studies 2018 will attempt to map out approaches to scaling as a basic media-analytical tool.

The summer school will be directed by Bernhard Siegert (Weimar) and Nikolaus Wegmann (Princeton). The Princeton-Weimar Summer School for Media Studies invites applications from outstanding doctoral students throughout the world in media studies and related fields such as film studies, literary studies, philosophy, art history, architecture, sociology, politics, the history of science and visual culture.

For the most up-to-date information on the program and faculty of the Princeton-Weimar Summer School for Media Studies please visit

All application materials should be sent via email to: and must be received no later than December 22nd, 2017.

Katharina Rein (Weimar), Ron Sadan (Princeton)
Please submit all inquiries to:

Click here for Princeton-Weimar Summer School for Media Studies 2018 PDF.

Jonathan Martin to receive AATG German Quarterly Graduate Student Paper Award

Jonathan S. Martin

Sixth-year graduate student Jonathan Martin’s scholarship has been recognized with the AATG German Quarterly Graduate Student Paper Award for his article “Monopolizing Violence: Gewalt, Self-Control, and the Law in Heinrich von Veldeke’s Eneasroman.” This award is given annually to the best research paper by a graduate student on any topic related to German Studies, to be published in The German Quarterly. Jonathan’s article will appear in print early next year. He will be recognized in a ceremony at the AATG’s annual meeting in Nashville on November 18 this year.

In Memoriam: Michael Curschmann 1936-2017

Michael Curschmann

Michael Curschmann joined the Department of Germanic Languages and Literatures as an Assistant Professor in 1963—soon after the department had been separated in 1958 from the earlier Modern Languages Department. Trained in German, English, and History at the Ludwig-Maximillians-Universität in Munich, Curschmann served in 1962-63 as an Assistant Professor attached to the chair in Munich of the distinguished medievalist Hugo Kuhn.

At Princeton, where he was promoted to Associate Professor in 1966 and Professor in 1969, Curschmann established himself as one of the leading European medievalists of his generation. His central contributions came in the study of German medieval literature. He co-edited the now standard three-volume edition (Deutsche Dichtung der Mittelalters, 1980-81), made signal contributions to the understanding of late medieval German minstrel poetry (Spielmannespik) and, later in his career, produced pioneering work on the relationship between text and image in the medieval manuscript tradition.

His work brought him widespread acclaim. He was one of only three Germanists to be elected to the Medieval Academy of America; he was a member of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences; and was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship. In the course of his career, he served as visiting professor at the universities of Hamburg, Fribourg (Switzerland), Tübingen, Munich, and the University of Pennsylvania.

Curschmann served as chair of the German Department from 1979-1982 and from 1986-1989, as Director of the Program in Medieval Studies from 1976-1982 and 1993-2000, and as Chair of the Committee on the Index of Christian Art (which has just been renamed Index of Medieval Art) from 1982-1988 and sporadically thereafter.

Michael will be remembered by friends and colleagues alike not just for his remarkable intellect but for his warmth, his vision, and his professionalism. He will be greatly missed.

Fall 2017 Film Series to focus on Weimar Cinema

The German Department Film Series for the Fall semester 2017 will be devoted to a program of striking new copies of both classic and lesser-known films from the period of the Weimar Republic. Curated by Prof. Thomas Y. Levin in conjunction with his undergraduate seminar GER308/ECS307 “Regimes of Spectacle in Weimar Cinema,” the Blu-Ray and DVD projections will feature newly restored and digitally remastered prints, many with the period tinting and the original soundtrack composed for the films, along with German text frames or the original German soundtrack and English subtitles. The masterpieces of expressionist, documentary, proletarian, avant-garde, queer, horror, and paranoid-thriller cinema that will be shown range from Robert Reinert’s rarely seen 1919 study of post-war WWI trauma “Nerven” and a reconstruction of “Anders als die Anderen: §175” (Richard Oswald, 1919), effectively the first film about homosexuality co-written by the pioneering sexologist Magnus Hirschfeld (who also appears in the film), to a restoration of Arnold Fank’s 1926 “Der heilige Berg,” a classic of the “mountain film” genre that features the filmic debut of the young dancer Leni Riefenstahl, and the “complete” (148-minute) reconstruction of Fritz Lang’s 1927 “Metropolis.”

All screenings will take place in East Pyne 010 on Tuesday nights at 7pm, are free and open to the public and will be followed by a discussion. A PDF of the semester-long film program can be downloaded by clicking here.

National Humanities Center Fellow Award 2017-2018

The Department of Germanic Languages at Princeton University would like to
congratulate Sara Poor as a fellow of the National Humanities Center Fellow Award for 2017-2018:

Sara Poor
Medieval Studies, Princeton University
Telling Tales of Clever Women: Authorship and the Devotional Book in Late Medieval Germany
NEH Fellowship; Josephus Daniels Fellowship of the Research Triangle Foundation”