Monthly Archives: October 2016

From the President

Members of the Goethe Society gathered this year in San Diego at the German Studies Association convention where there were inspiring panels on Goethe, some sponsored by the Society such as “Goethe at Play,” others emerging spontaneously. Vice President Catriona MacLeod together with the Directors at large, Heidi Schlipphacke and John Smith, awarded prizes for the best essay at the annual reception. This year we thank Elizabeth Powers, long-time Goethe Society member and scholar, for her endowment of the Richard Sussman Essay Prize for the best essay on Goethe’s contribution to the sciences and the history of science during the Goethezeit.

Many of us are sad to see Simon Richter step away from the editorial board of the Goethe Book Series at Bucknell University Press. Simon has had tremendous influence on the growth of the Goethe Society. He was the first editor of the Goethe Yearbook after Thomas Saine retired. Later he became president of the Society. Simon has always been very conscious of his responsibility to carry forward the intellectual aspirations of the first members of the Goethe Society and he has been kind in passing along that sense of continuity to the scholars who have come after him. With an ear to Simon’s recollections about the older generation, we sent out a call for recollections about the first years of the Goethe Society. Meredith Lee and Ehrhard Bahr have gathered together their memories to recount the practical and intellectual goals in founding the North American Goethe Society. You can find their histories included here in this newsletter.

The next conference of the Goethe Society will be held November 3-4, 2017 at Penn State University. A full description of the overarching topic “Re-Orientations around Goethe” was included in the previous newsletter and a formal Call for Papers will be published later this fall. We look forward to your joining us next year. Penn State University is serviced by the University Park Airport (SCE), which has connections to major airline hubs. We look forward to proposals for individual papers and collective panels. More information will be coming soon.

Daniel Purdy
Pennsylvania State University

From the Executive Secretary

Greetings from Maine (where we have another gorgeous fall)!

Writing this note, I am still inspired by the great panels on “Goethe and Play” at this year’s GSA (organized by Elliott Schreiber and Edgar Landgraf). But it is already time to think ahead to next year! GSA will meet in Atlanta, October 5-8, 2017. Please send me proposals for GSA panels no later than November 15th, 2016!

Meanwhile, we can look forward to two exciting panels at the MLA 2017: one, on “Goethe and Refugees,” organized by Karin Schutjer and me, and one on “What Goethe Heard,” organized by Mary Helen Dupree in collaboration with the Executive Committee on 18th and early 19th century literature. Panel proposals for MLA 2018 will be due December 1st, 2016!

Informal discussions at GSA suggested that there are many ideas for new initiatives, as well as questions and suggestions, hibernating among you! Please send all of them my way, including but not limited to new programming, ideas on recruiting more members, collaboration and support. Email me at btautz@bowdoin.edu.

Best wishes, Birgit

Birgit Tautz
Bowdoin College

2016 Business Meeting

On October 1, 2016, members of GSNA gathered at the GSA conference for our annual business meeting and cash bar. President Daniel Purdy ran the business meeting, beginning with a report on overall standing of the society, programming initiatives such as Global Goethe and the preparation of the next Atkins Goethe Conference. The conference will take place November 3-4, 2017 on the campus of Penn State University. Daniel, and our two directors-at-large, Heidi Schlipphacke and John Smith, have begun the planning process. Heidi and John are looking forward to paper and panel submissions on “Re-Orientations around Goethe.”

Heidi, John, and Vice President Catriona MacLeod formed the Prize and Awards committee this summer, reading many excellent essays on Goethe, his century, and interdisciplinary inquiries of Goethezeit. Catriona read the wonderful citations detailed in her report. She presented the prizes to two winners in attendance, Heather Sullivan and Howard M. Pollak-Milgate. We all were gratified to honor such robust and exciting scholarship, not only in the award-winning essays but also in the Goethe Yearbook and in the book series.

Elisabeth Krimmer reported on the upcoming volume of the Goethe YB, and I read Karin Schutjer’s report on the book series. Please see Catriona’s, Elisabeth’s, and Karin’s reports in this newsletter to read about all the recent and forthcoming innovative projects.

Finally, Christian Weber assured us of the society’s financial strengths in his report, including discussions about introducing multi-year membership options. Attendees floated various ideas of interest and concern to the GSNA, and we wrapped up by my calling attention to recent books by members and upcoming, society-sponsored conference panels at MLA and ASECS, all of which are an excellent complement to the stellar panel series at GSA (on Goethe and play, organized by Elliott Schreiber and Edgar Landgraf).

Birgit Tautz
Bowdoin College

News from Members

Proserpina by Goethe and Seckendorff had not been performed since its 1778 premiere in Weimar. But on October 14 it was heard again on the Weis Center Stage at Bucknell University along with a new electro-acoustic composition on Goethe’s text by Paul Botelho. This is all part of GSNA member Annie Randall’s project Proserpina: Two Monodramas (1777 and 2016).

proserpina

Here’s what Proserpina looks like in the Goethe/Seckendorff version of 1777-78—not seen by anyone since that time (!!)—played by the New York Baroque Orchestra: www.youtube.com/watch?v=XmpfI0A2d0s. And here’s what she looks like in the 2016 electro-acoustic version: www.youtube.com/watch?v=AqL2hhyNLSs.

See an overview of the project.

In other news, we are pleased to announce that Past President W. Daniel Wilson has been awarded the Reimar Lüst Award for International Scholarly and Cultural Exchange from the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation. Supported by the German Foreign Office and the Fritz Thyssen Foundation, the award carries a prize of 60,000 euros. It also entails an invitation to collaborate with other scholars at the University of Göttingen and the Foundation for Weimar Classicism.

Dan Wilson’s research focuses on literature, culture and society of eighteenth and nineteenth-century Germany. He is currently researching a book on the politics of the Goethe-Gesellschaft in the Weimar Republic and the Third Reich. He reports that he has come across some interesting things about the Goethe Society of America (in New York), which was an Ortsgruppe of the Goethe-Gesellschaft. It turns out that the American “branch” was very important for Nazi cultural politics. More to come!

www.royalholloway.ac.uk/aboutus/newsandevents/news/newsarticles/danwilsonmajoraward.aspx

 

 

From the Editor of the Book Series

The monograph series currently has several projects at different stages in the pipeline. Meanwhile we were very busy over the summer reviewing proposals.

We have one announcement:  Simon Richter has resigned from the board because of his workload related to other important commitments. The choice was hard for Simon: he has been involved with the series since its founding. He deserves our tremendous thanks for this service as well as for all of his many other contributions to the ongoing vitality of the GSNA. I’m also very grateful to our continuing hardworking board members: Jane Brown, Martha Helfer, and Astrida Tantillo.

We remain, as always, very eager to see your proposals. Please send a prospectus and sample chapter to me by email. You’re also welcome to send an optional introduction, if available. Our entire editorial board evaluates proposals and generally responds within 4-6 weeks.

Please direct proposals or inquiries to me at kschutjer@ou.edu. I hope to hear from you!

Karin Schutjer
University of Oklahoma

From the Yearbook Editors

Vol. 24 of the Goethe Yearbook is currently being copy-edited and will be on its way to the printer soon. This volume will feature a special section co-edited by John Lyon and Elliott Schreiber on the “Poetics of Space in the Goethezeit,” with contributions on blind spots as projection spaces in Goethe’s Elective Affinities (Tove Holmes); on the topography and topoi of Goethe’s autobiographical childhood (Anthony Mahler); on disorientation and the subterranean in Novalis (John Lyon); on selfhood, sovereignty, and public space in Die italienische Reise, “Das Rochus-Fest zu Bingen,” and Dichtung und Wahrheit (Joseph O’Neil); on Goethe’s theater of anamnesis and the exposure of the temporal subject in Wilhelm Meisters Lehrjahre (Colin Benert); and on spatial mobilization and tactical displacements in Kleist’s Berliner Abendblätter and the “Tagesbegebenheiten” (Christian Weber).

In addition, there are original contributions on the horror of coming home in Caroline de la Motte Fouqué’s “Der Abtrünnige” (Sara Luly) and on Friedrich Heinrich Jacobi’s Eduard Allwills Papiere (Monika Nenon); on genre and mourning practices in two poems by Karoline von Günderrode (Stephanie Galasso) and on absolute signification and ontological inconsistency in E.T.A. Hoffmann’s Der Sandmann (Gabriel Trop).

We are extremely pleased that the Goethe Yearbook is able to collect so many far-ranging contributions from a diverse group of scholars year after year. Thank you to all who have submitted, thank you to all who read submissions for us. We are now accepting contributions to Vol. 25. As always, we hope to hear from many of you and particularly welcome contributions by younger scholars.

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

2015 Essay Prizes

This year we were in the fortunate position to be able to award two prizes for the Goethe Society Prize for the best essay on Goethe or the Goethezeit published in 2015. (Find previous award winners here.)

Our first of two prizes goes to Stephanie Hilger for her original and fascinating article “Orientation and Supplementation: Locating the ‘Hermaphrodite’ in the Encyclopédie,” published in Volume 22 of the Goethe Yearbook (2015). In her essay, she looks closely at entries on the hermaphrodite in various editions of the Encyclopèdie, ou Dictionnaire rasionné des sciences, des arts et des métiers (1751-72). Hilger deftly situates her analysis of attempts to represent the hermaphrodite within the contemporary discussion of queer phenomenology, that is, positionality and orientation. In an elegant, bold and convincing manner, Hilger highlights the tortured project of defining and representing the hermaphrodite, a figure that, according to Enlightenment thought, should not really exist. Hilger masterfully lays out the placement and optics of various entries on the hermaphrodite, revealing the seemingly competing tendencies of referencing mythical representations of hermaphrodites and representing ambiguously gendered anatomies in accord with the 18th-century scientific turn. In light of her nuanced readings of Enlightenment attempts to fix and understand the intersex body, Hilger concludes that the “Encyclopedic Age – what Foucault calls the Classical Age – is classical also in the sense that it reveals its anchoring in those Western foundational myths that it purports to transcend” (183). For those of us interested in encylopedism and the organization of knowledge as well, we will find here intriguing observations concerning the hybrid/ hermaphroditic form of the encyclopedia itself. Hilger’s essay provides a compelling intervention into scholarly discussions of the hermaphrodite that usually focus on this figure in the 19th– and 20th centuries, offering a window onto this figure’s pivotal place within shifting paradigms for understanding the human body, sex and gender.

The second winner of this year’s GSNA prize for best essay will not come as a surprise to most of us who have been reading new work in Goethe studies these past years, indeed decades. The prize goes to Heather Sullivan for her essay, “Nature and the ‘Dark Pastoral’ in Goethe’s Werther,” also published in the Goethe Yearbook 22. Heather has been at the forefront of employing ideas from “ecocriticism” and demonstrating the mutual benefits of reading Goethe through its lens. Far from a rote “application” of a method, however, she simultaneously thinks with Goethe’s own conceptions of nature. Most important in this essay, as in many of her others, she looks not just at Goethe’s theoretical pronouncements on science but on his literary production. She takes Timothy Morton’s statement seriously that in writing and thinking about ecology, the form matters as much as the content. In this essay in particular, she concentrates on what she terms “dark pastoral” in Goethe’s Werther—a term she coins after Morton’s “dark ecology.” This focus allows her to bring out the deep ambivalences in Goethe’s conception of nature (echoed in the varieties of natural descriptions). Furthermore, her reading challenges the typical subjectivist approach to the novel and to nature in the novel (as a mere reflection of poor Werther’s states of mind). Precisely her fusion of theory, science, and literature makes her essay stand out.

gsna-essay-prize-winner-heather-i-sullivan-with-vice-president-catriona-macleod
Heather I. Sullivan and Catriona MacLeod

We also decided to award an honorable mention to an exceptional paper by Jacob Denz, “Rigorous Mediacy: Addressing Mother in Hölderlin’s ‘Am Quell der Donau,’ ‘Die Wanderung,’ and ‘An die Madonna,’” which appeared in MLN.

Denz convincingly interprets the womb, via analyses of this figure in Kant and Hegel, as a synecdoche for the maternal, ultimately a synecdoche itself for a notion of organic totality that presents a crisis for Hölderlin. Denz’s sophisticated and highly original close readings of the Hölderlin poems are each a tour-de-force, offering a model for the kind of sustained close work with literature that yields profound insights into the creative and reading processes alike. Denz situates nuanced close analysis within a discussion of some of the pressing philosophical questions of the time in a manner that provides a riveting and utterly enlightening reading experience.

We are extremely fortunate to have a new prize this year, the Richard Sussman Prize for scholarship on Goethe or the Goethezeit more generally and science.

Howard M. Pollack-Milgate’s highly innovative essay “Gott ist bald 1 ∙ ∞ – bald 1/∞ – bald 0”: The Mathematical Infinite and the Absolute in Novalis” appeared in the journal Seminar in February 2015. In lucid prose, Pollack-Milgate offers an elegant exegesis of Novalis’ understanding of the infinite. Novalis’s concept of Potenzierung is daunting.  This essay is a tour de force of sorts, for it makes a clear and compelling case to scholars of Romanticism and lay readers alike for a reconceptualization of Romantic notions of the infinite in terms of an emerging science of calculus. Pollack-Milgate shows us that Novalis studied early texts on calculus and that he then borrowed the language and thought presented by mathematicians to conceive of the infinite in a dual manner, as the meeting, so to speak, of the curve and the line, of the differential and the integral. Pollack-Milgate deftly connects mathematical and philosophical conceptions of the infinite to poetic ones, showing us that “the infinite allows for contradictions to be resolved (as in the meeting point of parallel lines or asymptotes)” (68). As complex as this topic sounds, Pollack-Milgate’s masterful presentation of it manages easily to convince that calculus serves as an illuminating allegory for Romantic notions of the infinite.

gsna-with-howard-pollack-milgate-and-catriona-macleod
Howard Pollack-Milgate and Catriona MacLeod

Thanks to the special section of the Goethe Yearbook 22 on “Goethe and Environmentalism” there were numerous excellent essays on Goethe and science and so we are happy to offer, in addition to the inaugural Sussmann Prize, an honorable mention to Fred Amrine for his essay, “The Music of the Organism: Uexküll, Merleau-Ponty, Zuckerkandl, and Deleuze as Goethean Ecologists in Search of a New Paradigm.” Amrine brings together a wonderful range of 20th-century thinkers—the subtitle of his talk is quite a mouthful!—in order to demonstrate the way they have been exploring and “normalizing” a “paradigm shift” (à la Thomas Kuhn) that Goethe helped to initiate. All of them offer a different, non-mechanistic, non-binaristic approach to nature. In this essay, as in so much of his other work that likewise deserves honorable mention, Fred has made a powerful case for the Aktualität of Goethe. We could say that Goethe planted the seeds that have blossomed in so many later thinkers, or that Goethe played the theme that has undergone many wonderful variations. Indeed, that latter metaphor is particularly apt in this case because the specific way Fred ties these thinkers together is through their use of music as a way of talking about natural phenomena.

Catriona MacLeod
University of Pennsylvania