Tag Archives: Featured

Prof. Dr. Daniel Weidner (Humboldt-U, Berlin)

“The Spirit, the Letter, and the Life of the Text: Schleiermacher’s Hermeneutics Revisited”

East Pyne 205
March 12 @ 4:30 pm

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.


Daniel Weidner (Institut für Kulturwissenschaft der Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin; Acting Director of the Zentrum für Literatur- und Kulturforschung, Berlin)

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.

Reading the Social: Lenz, Moritz, Karsch

Princeton University’s Department of German presents:
Nacim Ghanbari (jun. Prof., Univ. Siegen; Visiting Prof., Princeton German Dept.)
Reading the Social: Lenz, Moritz, Karsch

Date: September 20, 2017
Location: East Pyne, Room 205
Time: 4:30pm –

Is there a ‘new social’ in the literary and media history of 18th century? And if this is the case, what would the ‘old social’ have been? I will discuss these questions by drawing on current research on collaborative writing and epistolary network cultures. By juxtaposing Karl Philipp Moritz’ highly canonized novel “Anton Reiser” with Anna Louisa Karsch’s letters as well as marginalized works subsumed as ‘prose’ by Jacob Michael Reinhold Lenz, this talk considers the significance of patronage in the history of modern authorship, and comes to the conclusion that the ‘new social’ is much more hierarchical and media-driven than the apologists of the ‘old social’ would imagine.

Nacim Ghanbari is Assistant Professor for German Literature at the University of Siegen and principal investigator in the Collaborative Research Centre “Media of Cooperation”. She has published on German literature and culture from the eighteenth to twentieth century. Her work has been recognized with a Humboldt Foundation Feodor Lynen Fellowship for research at the University of Chicago, and a research fellowship at “IFK Internationales Forschungszentrum Kulturwissenschaften” in Vienna

Weimar Cinema: Nosferatu – Eine Symphonie Des Grauens

The Department of German presents:

Nosferatu – Eine Symphonie Des Grauens

F.W. MURNAU, 1922; 93 MINS
This unauthorized Expressionist adaptation of Bram
Stoker’s Dracula, often described as the first horror film, is here
presented in a restored and tinted print with German intertitles,
English subtitles and the original soundtrack by Hans Erdmann.

Oct 3rd, 7-9pm
East Pyne 010

Open to the Public

Speech Unbound. Prose and the Problem of Form

Princeton University
Department of German

Susanne Lüdemann, Professor of German and Comparative Literature, LMU (Munich)
currently Carlotte M. Craig Distinguished Visiting Professor, Department of German, Rutgers University

Monday April 10, 4:30 pm

205 East Pyne Building

In modernity, and also in the historical narratives of modernity, ‘prose’ has never been a neutral or a purely descriptive concept. On the one hand, the “prosaic state of the world” (Hegel) is part of a narrative of decline and disappointment (or disenchantment), linked to the “end of art“ and to the repression or loss of a “poetic“ state of mind in the instrumental rationality of modern state and society. On the other hand, the concept of ‘prose’ is part of a narrative of hope and freedom, linked to the idea of free or “unbound“ speech, and to polyphony (the plurality of ‘voices’ or ‘votes’) as an aesthetic as well as a political value. The semantics of “unbound speech“ (ungebundene Rede) is thus, across languages and from the beginning of modernity, bound to the question of the social bond, of what binds free speech and modern society, of both linguistic (grammatical, syntactical) and social or genealogical bonding, of the ‘weaving’ of modernity and its representations. Against this semantic background, Prof. Lüdemann’s talk will discuss prose as a problem of form in both literature and historiography. Special emphasis will be placed on Hannah Arendt’s reflections on “thinking without a banister” and on literary modes of writing history after the break with tradition.

Prof. Claus Pias (Leuphana Universität, Lüneburg) will spend Spring Semester 2017 as Visiting Professor in Princeton

Prof. Claus Pias, one of the leading figures in the field of German Media Theory, will be a Visiting Professor in the German Department in the Spring Semester 2017 during which he will teach a graduate seminar (GER517/MOD517) on “Digital Cultures

After studies in Electrical Engineering at RWTH Aachen and in Art History, German Literature, and Philosophy at the Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn, Pias received a PhD from Bauhaus-Universität in 2000 for his study of the pre-history of the computer game, published in 2002 as Computer Spiel Welten, forthcoming in an English translation as Computer Game Worlds, (Amsterdam UP 2016). Before joining the faculty in Leuphana in 2010 as the holder of the chair in the History and Epistemology of Media, Pias was Associate Professor for Media Technology and Media Philosophy at the Ruhr-University Bochum, Professor for Communication and Media Studies at the University of Essen, Professor for Epistemology and Philosophy of Digital Media at the University of Vienna as well as Visiting Professor at the universities of Basel, Berlin, Karlsruhe and St. Gallen. Pias is a member of the prestigious Young Academy of the Berlin-Brandenburgian Academy of Science and the German Academy of Natural Scientists Leopoldina, and the former co-editor of Zeitschrift für Medienwissenschaft and of Kursbuch Medienkultur: Die massgeblichen Theorien von Brecht bis Baudrillard (1999).

A prolific scholar, Pias is the author and editor of over twenty books, a number of which have recently been published in English including the co-edited volumes Social Media – New Masses (Univ. of Chicago Press, 2016) and Cybernetics/Kybernetik. The Macy-Conferences 1946-1953 (Univ. of Chicago Press, 2015). Pias is also the author of a volume of positions on media studies, Was waren Medien? (2010)

One of the most successful academic institution builders in Germany today, Pias founded and directed both the Lüneburg Digital Cultures Research Lab and the Institute for Advanced Study in Media Cultures of Simulation [MECS].

Challenges of Media Anthropology- Princeton-Weimar Summer School for Media Studies 2017

Challenges of Media Anthropology
Princeton-Weimar Summer School for Media Studies
Bauhaus-Universität Weimar—Internationales Kolleg für Kulturtechnikforschung und Medienphilosophie
Princeton University—German Department

Weimar, June 11–17, 2017

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 Weimar in 2017 for its seventh installment. This year’s session will be concerned with the dynamics at work between the forms and practices of human being on the one hand and media operations and orderings on the other. Interested in far more than the mere study of media appropriation in different cultures or media usage by various disciplines, the summer school will focus on the co-agency and co-reflexivity of media and human existence, a commonality that renders impossible any division of the latter pair as separate entities.

The summer school will be directed by Lorenz Engell (Weimar) and Thomas Y. Levin (Princeton). The faculty will include Jane Bennett (Baltimore), Elisabeth Bronfen (Zürich), Beatriz Colomina (Princeton), Erin Manning/Brian Massumi (Montreal), Avital Ronell (New York), Christiane Voß (Weimar) and others.

The Princeton-Weimar Summer School for Media Studies invites applications internationally from outstanding doctoral candidates working 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.

2017 Topic: Challenges of Media Anthropology

Media anthropology is generally understood, especially in the Anglo-American realm, as the investigation of different forms of media appropriations and media usages across cultures, sub-cultures, or societies, including of course the medial practices of anthropological research itself. However, as relevant as such topics are, they raise a host of much bigger and more complex issues that urgently demand careful theoretical interrogation.

Within the realm of media studies, the position of what used to be called “the human” is both delicate and highly disputed. On the one hand, some theorists challenge the validity of the very category of “the human” and thereby also the conceptual and empirical foundations of the above-mentioned approaches. According to the basic concepts of radical materialist media theory and media archeology—perhaps most paradigmatically in the work of Friedrich Kittler—the “so-called human being” is manifest, if at all, only as an epiphenomenal effect. In this view, time will ultimately expose the fundamental contingency of the construction of “the human,” as Michel Foucault insisted with his famous image of the footprint on the beach that is washed away by the next wave. For media theory, there is no such thing as human exceptionality—no “soul,” no “spirit,” no “ingenuity,” no “inventiveness,” no “intelligence” that could not be described either as the product of discursive, epistemic and laboratory practices, or as technically reproducible by means of implemented mathematics. Nevertheless, there are elements of media theory and philosophy, even in some of its most advanced forms, that remain haunted by the shadow of the—now forbidden—anthropological question. Indeed, somewhat surprisingly, this anti-anthropological move was preceded and paralleled by the rejection of explicitly anthropological positions in works of post-Nietzschean modern philosophy by authors as diverse as Theodor W. Adorno and Martin Heidegger.

On the other hand, certain key positions of early media theory, as exemplified in the work of Marshall McLuhan, are purely anthropological in character, as evidenced in the primordial mutual involution of the human and the technological, in McLuhan’s conception of media as extended perception, and, from a more global perspective, in his gestures towards the different functions of technical media in non-Western cultures and traditions. Anthropological concerns also emerge as a less explicit but underlying concern of 20th-century philosophy, as manifest in the writings of Ludwig Wittgenstein and the philosopher of media Günter Anders. In philosophical terms, it has even been argued that non-anthropocentric thinking is simply impossible.

Recent developments such as global migration and ecological catastrophe demand that one rethink human existence as regards its forms, terms, operations, as well as its conditions and situatedness. This in turn makes imperative a reconsideration of the relation between the human and media. Yet the urgent contemporary discussion of “the Anthropocene” largely ignores the function of media and of technologies in general as co-agents in their own right. Important media-anthropoligical questions are also raised by the renewed debates on the relevance and reason of human and animal rights and the recurring concern in popular culture with the human in relation to machines, programs, robot technologies and other humanoid artifacts. In these contexts theoretical models of “symmetrical” (Bruno Latour) or “non-anthropic” anthropology (Robert Welsch) seem deeply appropriate, yet nevertheless fail to address the mediatic grounds on which any relational anthropology would have to take place.

Based on the premise that there is no human without media, the seventh annual Princeton-Weimar Summer School for Media Studies will focus on the diverse forms and operations of the coupling, the co-agency and the co-evolution of humans and media instead of their traditional distinction and separation. The conceptual challenges posed by such questions of human-media relatedness will be examined along four loosely defined sets of concerns:

1. Concepts and theories: How does the philosophical tradition conceive of the (non-)human and how is it conceptualized in media theory and related fields? Are there theoretical models that might contribute to an understanding of the reciprocally co-constitutive character of human existence and mediatic operations and orderings?

2. Knowledge production: How did and how does the shaping of the (non-)human work in experimental physiology, recent neurology, paleoanthropology, and other sciences? In their wake, how are specific technologies of observation and inscription involved in the production of what then is called “the human”?

3. Practices: In light of questions posed by “visual/sensory anthropology,” how are we to conceive of media in ethnography or, conversely, the ethnography of media? How do human-media interrelations generate sensorial activity and vice versa?

4. Aesthetics: How do media cooperate in the perception, representation, reproduction and experience of the (non-)human, and with what effects? How are the realms of aesthetics and aesthetic experience linked to the intertwined and mutually generating categories of the human and media?

For application instructions, please click here.

For more information, visit Challenges of Media Anthropology – Princeton-Weimar Summer School for Media Studies 2017.

For updates to the program and faculty of the Princeton-Weimar Summer School for Media Studies please visit http://german.princeton.edu/ssms and http://www.ikkm-weimar.de/.

All application materials should be sent by email to
and must be received by January 1st, 2017.

Katharina Rein (Weimar), William Stewart (Princeton)
Please submit all inquiries to: ikkm-conference@uni-weimar.de

Princeton in Munich

Princeton-in-Munich, the Department’s summer program in Munich, Germany will take place from May 30-June 29, 2017. We offer three courses every June: German 105G (third semester), German 107G (fourth semester), and German 312G – The Absurd, The Grotesque, and the Vulgar Experimental and Political Art in the 1960s-80s. These courses combine intensive instruction at the Goethe Institut with seminars on literature and culture led by Professors Joel Lande and Barbara Nagel.

Visit the Princeton in Munich homepage.