Monthly Archives: March 2016

From the Editor of the Book Series

As I step into this new position, I’m thrilled to announce that not only will our three current editorial board members—Martha Helfer, Simon Richter, and Astrida Tantillo—continue to serve, but our outgoing editor Jane Brown has agreed to stay on as well as a member of the board. We’re all very pleased that the series will continue to profit from Jane’s keen editorial judgment and marvelous intellectual insight. Both previous editors, Jane and Astrida, have built a strong, collaborative foundation on which the series can grow.

As a reminder, here is the series description from the Bucknell UP website:

New Studies in the Age of Goethe, sponsored by the Goethe Society of North America, aims to publish innovative research that contextualizes the “Age of Goethe,” whether within the fields of literature, history (including art history and history of science), philosophy, art, music, or politics. We encourage the submission of high-quality manuscripts and welcome all approaches and perspectives. We are especially interested in interdisciplinary projects, creative approaches to archival or original source materials, theoretically informed scholarship, work that introduces previously undiscovered materials, or projects that re-examine traditional epochal boundaries or open new channels of interpretations.”

Currently we have three manuscripts at various stages in the pipeline and are always eager to receive more. Consider submitting your own work and meanwhile spread the word! The series offers unique advantages for its authors: from our excellent board, a highly attentive, collegial review process; from the GSNA, supplementary funds for advertising and design, special opportunities for publicity, and, in general, the benefit of the society’s wonderful scholarly network.

Please direct proposals or inquiries to me at I hope to hear from you!

Karin Schutjer
University of Oklahoma

From the Yearbook Editors

As Volume 23 of the Goethe Yearbook is getting ready for publication, we are busy putting together what is looking to be an even larger 24th volume. A special section on “Space and Place in the Goethezeit,” guest-edited by John Lyon and Elliott Schreiber, will collect six essays by eminent and up-and-coming scholars. Eight contributions outside of this focus will bring together scholars from a broad range of disciplinary backgrounds and career stages. The review section, edited for the first time by Sean Franzel, will provide an overview of new publications on Goethe and his age.

We continue to be excited by the way in which the Yearbook manages to reflect the diversity among scholars of the Goethezeit, and the immense spirit of intellectual community that shines through in the reviews. In that spirit, we continue to ask scholars at any stage of their career to get in touch, to submit their work, and to review.

Manuscript submissions should reach us by late May, preferably earlier. Submissions should follow the Chicago Manual of Style and confine themselves to less than 35 pages. For specific questions about scholarly citations, please consult the Yearbook’s style sheet.

Note that the entire run of back issues is available on Project MUSE.

Adrian Daub
Stanford University

Elisabeth Krimmer
University of California at Davis

2016 GSA Panels

Special GSNA Sessions at the Annual Meeting of the German Studies Association
San Diego, Sept. 29-Oct. 2, 2016

Organized by Edgar Landgraf and Elliott Schreiber

Goethe at Play: Theories, Narratives, and Practices of Play in the Goethezeit (1)

Moderator: Elliott Schreiber (Vassar)
Commentator: Edgar Landgraf (Bowling Green)

  1. Ian McNeely (U of Oregon), “Kant for Kindergarteners: The Pedagogy of Play during the German Educational Revolution”
  2. Christiane Frey (NYU), “The Games of the Rule: Knowing and Playing 1799/1800”
  3. Nicholas Rennie (Rutgers), “Play with Memory: Faust
Goethe at Play: Theories, Narratives, and Practices of Play in the Goethezeit (2)

Moderator: Nicholas Rennie (Rutgers)
Commentator: Nicole Calian (U of Washington)

  1. Patricia Simpson (U of Montana), “Playthings: Goethe’s Favorite Toys”
  2. Elliott Schreiber (Bowling Green), “Literary Fairytales and Imaginative Play (Goethe, Tieck, Andersen)”
  3. Michael Powers (Tufts), “Play, or the First Poetry”
  4. Christian Weber (Florida State), “Erotic Play in Poetry: Uz, Klopstock, Goethe”
Goethe at Play: Theories, Narratives, and Practices of Play in the Goethezeit (3)

Moderator: Michael Powers (Tufts)
Commentator: Christian Weber (Florida State)

  1. Sam Heidepriem (U of Michigan), “Free Play in Kant, Schiller, and Poststructuralism”
  2. Christoph Rauen (U Kiel), “Das Spiel als Modell autonomer Kunst um 1800 (Nicolai, Musäus, Schiller, Goethe)”
  3. David Martyn (Macalester), “Authorship as Play: Schleiermacher’s Translingual Poetics”


From the Executive Secretary

I am delighted to continue my work for GSNA as your new executive secretary!

Let me start with many thanks: to Karin Schutjer, for doing such a marvelous job and helping along the transition, everybody at the executive committee and particularly Burkhard Henke for helping me keep deadlines and disseminate information. Thanks to all of you for sending me ideas, suggestions, and conference panel proposals – but please no books or reviews. Please send them to Sean Franzel, who is doing a marvelous job.

The call for panel proposals for MLA 2017 has gone out already, but here is a list of current and upcoming deadlines:

  • ASECS, 15 March 2016 for the 2017 convention
  • GSA, 15 November 2016 for the 2017 convention
  • MLA, 1 December 2016 for the 2018 convention

For the 2016 GSA, Elliott Schreiber and Edgar Landgraf have arranged an impressive series of panels on Goethe at Play. Three panels, sponsored by our society, have been submitted to the program committee. You can see details below. Clearly, we’ll be well represented in San Diego!

In the meantime, happy spring and please do not hesitate to contact me!

Birgit Tautz
Bowdoin College

From the President

As we commence this new term in the Goethe Society, I would like to thank the outgoing officers who have worked so hard over the last years. President Clark Muenzer initiated the Society’s international cooperation with Weimar, while organizing a wonderful conference in Pittsburgh, where after the lively panels we were able to visit the Andy Warhol Museum to contemplate Goethe as a Pop Art icon. For all his service to the Society from its very inception, we thank Clark and look forward to his continued presence in our gathering. As Executive Secretary, Karin Schutjer managed the Society’s many operations, maintained a clear memory of how we had done things in the past, and proposed elegant solutions to complex questions. As the Book Series editor, Jane Brown, set the standard for Goethe scholarship in the Society’s publications. In meetings, we always looked to her for the wise recommendation, just as we were inspired by her ground-breaking keynote address at the conference. Claire Baldwin kept us all honest, up-to-date, and running smoothly as Treasurer by maintaining the membership roll and tending the Society’s endowment. As Directors-at-large, Heather Sullivan and Horst Lange wore many hats to pull off multiple feats of administration and scholarship. They were instrumental in organizing the conference and adjudicating the essay prize. As Book Review Editor, Birgit Tautz encouraged and reminded the members of their scholarly commitments. By guiding the Yearbook’s reviews, she pulled together our republic of Goethe scholars.

The Society’s offices will be filled by both new and familiar colleagues. Catriona MacLeod brings her experience in Goethe scholarship and in the Society to the office of Vice President. She will organize the essay prizes, which are now growing in number, as well as the dissertation workshop for the upcoming conference. The new Directors-at-Large, Heidi Schlipphacke and John Smith, will contribute their expertise to organizing the Society’s conference and essay prizes as well. Christian Weber will bring his disciplined focus to the position of Treasurer. We look forward to Birgit Tautz serving as Executive Secretary. Adrian Daub and Elisabeth Krimmer will continue to edit the Goethe Yearbook. Their next volume will be much anticipated. Sean Franzel steps in as the new Book Review editor. Karin Schutjer will assume the responsibilities of the Book Series. And most subtly of all, Burkhard Henke will continue directing the Society’s media operations as Webmaster and Editor of the Newsletter.

Goethe Society History

As the Society has been in existence for more than a generation and the newest members have only a distant image of the Goethe Society’s founding, we will start writing a history of the Goethe Society. Thus we will call on the earliest members to send us their written memories or photographs of the first years. If you have any recommendations, please contact me at

Global Goethe Initiative

The Goethe Society will undertake a new digital humanities project: Global Goethe.

Global Goethe will ask how Goethe operates as a transnational brand. How does the name translate into cultural capital? Does the invocation of Goethe ease the barriers to cross-border dialogue?

Global Goethe will ask if the discussion of world literature as a concept and a practice has turned Goethe into a new type of icon. To what extent do references to Goethe serve to legitimate world literature as an academic discourse? How important is the illusion that Goethe as an historical figure stood outside the current system of capital, migration, and global competition? To what extent was Goethe’s own writing already defined within an international reception of culture, from Tasso and Shakespeare onwards? Our well-honed instinct to resist culture industries should not prevent our appreciation of how literary prestige helps facilitate writing and art. Nor should we presume that our present has produced the first iteration of Goethe as global icon. The global representation of Goethe has its own history.

We will consider to what extent Goethe was engaged in creating himself into an international celebrity, at least along the lines of Byron’s nineteenth-century fame. How do global allusions to Goethe go beyond the familiar legends of cultural legitimacy? Do the familiar tropes of globalization overwhelm critical engagement with Goethe’s writing? What values and ideologies does the invocation of Goethe sustain? How many different cosmopolitan invocations of Goethe can we find? Are there variations between local, national, metropolitan, and international adaptations of Goethe’s writing? How important are translations in enabling these different cultural regimes? To what extent does the global Goethe operate in conjuncture with German institutions? Can we write a history of the many different Goethes that have been given official sanction since at least 1832?

While we surely must acknowledge the ideological investment in authenticity, we would ideally like to gather together an archive of multivalent local perspectives deploying Goethe’s work. What different interpretations of Goethe are being developed across Asia, Africa, Europe, South and North America? To that end, we will start to work together with other institutions, organizations, and German scholars to develop a network of comparative studies, performances and translations of Goethe’s work.

Over the next years, we will create a digital archive of performances, translations, critiques, and visualizations from around the world so that we can develop a multifaceted critical understanding of world literature in and through Goethe’s writing. At the same time the North American Goethe Society, in conjunction with allied organizations, will develop conferences, panels, seminars, and publications more precisely defining the global implications of Goethe’s work. Most importantly we will establish collaborations with partner institutions—other Goethe Societies, and not just those in Germany—with whom we could elaborate new projects on this theme. More information will be announced in the coming months. Anyone with specific proposals or questions, please write to me at

Upcoming Atkins Conference

Re-Orientations around Goethe

The next tri-annual Atkins conference of the North American Goethe Society will be held November 3-4, 2017 on the campus of Penn State University.

From Kant’s Copernican Revolution and France’s political earthquake to Goethe’s rediscovery of the Orient, spatial metaphors, such as re-orientation allow us to examine how art, politics, philosophy, and science were redefined in the seminal decades around 1800. Not only does “Reorientation” invoke the important revolutions of the era, but it also encourages us to reconsider our understanding of the historical period’s distinguishing characteristics. How do we decide what the essential features of the Goethezeit are? By focusing on the artistic, social, and philosophic changes during Goethe’s lifetime, can we isolate the era’s unique qualities? The spatial focus of this tri-annual Goethe Society conference leads us to reconsider the intellectual practices that caused writers to set and erase conceptual boundaries, from Enlightenment epistemology to the Romantic fascination with losing one’s way, to the invention of World Literature. With an inevitable dialectical turn, the logic of spatial categories also invites us to reconsider the temporal organization of history, so that we may find different temporalities and experiences of time by looking back.

Reorientations will expand the already burgeoning scholarship on the relationship of German culture with Europe’s expanding domination over the globe. We will encourage scholars to re-evaluate the place of German thought within the broader discourses of science, trade, and colonialism throughout the world. Goethe’s espousal of world literature is most certainly a re-orientation of media networks away from the national.

Even as Reorientations urges us to explore spatial turns within literature, it also acknowledges that recent scholarship has also moved from the geographical to the atmospheric realm, so that meteorological and climactic concerns in poetry and prose have found a crucial new importance. By reconsidering these familiar terms we can draw connections between the culture around Weimar and our own environmental crises and informational ecologies. Reorientations will examine both how the era from 1749 to 1832 brought with it massive political, intellectual, and artistic revolutions, but also how scholarship on this period has refocused critical analysis on questions such as the interaction of humans with their environment, or the inter-dependencies between philosophy and science. Is the reorientation of aesthetics onto Naturphilosophie also a redeployment of images and terms from religious discourse? To what extent does the increasing prominence of concepts such as “fluidity,” “porosity,” or “plasticity” reflect a new orientation in the scientific study of nature and aesthetics?

Reorientations emboldens us to find a new understanding of Romantic irony and Idealist self-consciousness. The term speaks to Idealism’s critical self examination of philosophical consciousness: the basic notion that subjectivity is not only orientated towards the outside world, but also back onto itself so that it engages in observations about its own subject-object relationships.

Reorientations spurs us to reconcile the era’s devotion to Classical culture with modern notions of progress and advancement. We will consider how literature re-orients itself away from the conventions of established genres onto the experiences of subjectivity. How were the ends of the Enlightenment, which Kant, Lessing, and Mendelssohn considered far from attained, re-directed by subsequent generations? How were established literary genres, such as tragedy, rerouted from the misfortunes of monarchs to the misadventures of more humble individuals? How did the novel become ever more minutely concerned with the socialization of the individual? On the level of the text, Reorientations also calls attention to the sudden redirections in plot within familiar narratives—the unexpected turn of events that reveals previously unrecognized truths.

Reorientations rouses us to consider the demise of the Holy Roman Empire and the redrawing of Central European boundaries under Napoleon and the Congress of Vienna. Reorientations speaks to the domestic politics of an era that also called for the emancipation of women, Jews, and slaves. Anthropological thinkers fixated on previously unrecognized features in order to reorient the classificatory systems used to define the “human.” The era saw the discovery of childhood as well as the first formulations of racial theories organizing humans according to skin color. We will also question the extent to which literature reflects the era’s transformation of social institutions, whereby groups such as the nuclear family were re-codified in order to fulfill specialized biological and pedagogical purposes. To what extent did the literature of the Goethezeit reorient gender identity and sexuality?

In the end, a Goethe conference focused on Reorientations will find new objects of study, so that we may develop new viewpoints on familiar and well-established questions of the Goethezeit. It encourages us to look back for a sense of direction in overcoming the contradictions and dead ends in our own era, while also raising the expectation that we permit the present to set a new course in Goethe Studies.

Reorientation contains within itself a tension, even a contradiction, which we wish to exploit. On the one hand, it refers to the act of returning to one’s original path as a response to the ways in which modernity has led us astray, so that we might rediscover stable means of engaging with society, nature, and art. On the other, reorientation urges us to revive the Goethezeit’s revolutionary aesthetics, politics, and philosophy.

Please submit paper (250 words) and panel proposals to Heidi Schlipphacke,, and John Smith,, by April 15, 2017. Decisions about submissions will be announced by May 15, 2017.

Daniel Purdy
Pennsylvania State University

New Books by Members

Gustafson, Susan E. Goethe’s Families of the Heart. New Directions in German Studies. New York: Bloomsbury, 2016.


Throughout his literary work Goethe portrays characters who defy and reject 18th and 19th century ideals of aristocratic and civil families, notions of heritage, assumptions about biological connections, expectations about heterosexuality, and legal mandates concerning marriage. The questions Goethe’s plays and novels pose are often modern and challenging: Do social conventions, family expectations, and legal mandates matter? Can two men or two women pair together and be parents? How many partners or parents should there be? Two? One? A group? Can parents love children not biologically related to them? Do biological parents always love their children? What is the nature of adoptive parents, children, and families? Ultimately, what is the fundamental essence of love and family?

Gustafson demonstrates that Goethe’s conception of the elective affinities is certainly not limited to heterosexual spouses or occasionally to men desiring men. A close analysis of Goethe’s explication of affinities throughout his literary production reveals his rejection of loveless relationships (for example, arranged marriages) and his acceptance and promotion of all relationships formed through spontaneous affinities and love (including heterosexual, same-sex, nonexclusive, group, parental, and adoptive).