Category Archives: News

From the President

As spring arrives, albeit with a little delay here in Philadelphia, it is time to write my first column for the Newsletter in my new role as President of the Society—though I’ve been involved in the association over the past decades in other capacities, as Director-at-Large and Book Review Editor, and have participated, like many of us, in each and every Atkins conference. I am truly honored to have been elected by the membership first as Vice President and now as President, and am dedicated to serving and fostering what I (and I am definitely not alone in this) believe is the best and most vital scholarly association. Your activities related to Goethe and his age prove that our field is flourishing, diverse, and fruitful. I am very excited to work alongside the other members of the Executive Board, including the most recently elected officers: Heather Sullivan (Vice President), Bill Carter (Treasurer), and Vance Byrd and Eleanor ter Horst (Directors-at-Large). I am also exceedingly grateful to past President Daniel Purdy for his quantities of support, good cheer, and advice.

A big part of what makes the GSNA exceptional is that it is so open and welcoming to scholars at all stages of their careers, from graduate students who present at the Atkins conference or participate in the dissertation workshops, to emeritus colleagues who hail from all kinds of institutions, including independent scholars. At a moment when the humanities, and especially language and literature programs, are under ever greater pressure at many of our institutions, it is all the more important to join together in celebrating the innovative collaborations, conversations, and publications that have been made possible by the GSNA and that cross so many disciplinary and geographical borders. Indeed, one of the ideas that emerged from the last Atkins conference was to find a productive way of opening the conference to participation by undergraduate students as well as graduate students. I am fairly certain that I would never have made my own way into Goethe Studies if I had not been the beneficiary of Roger Stephenson’s charismatic teaching and encouragement when I was an undergraduate at the University of Glasgow. Do remember to spread the word about the GSNA: for graduate students it is the best deal in town at $10.60 for annual membership.

Please let us know about your activities and accomplishments. I would like to mention two richly-deserved awards in closing this column.

Director-at-Large Vance Byrd has recently been awarded an Andrew W. Mellon New Directions Fellowship. These fellowships allow scholars in humanistic fields to obtain additional formal training to conduct high-quality interdisciplinary projects. Vance’s project, “Handmade History: Panoramas and Nineteenth-Century Global Cultures of Commemoration,” will examine the untold history of the transatlantic business of memorials of the American Civil War and Franco-Prussian war, which contributed to American national identity, the formation of the German empire, and the complicated legacies of race, slavery, and colonialism in both countries. The award will allow Vance to study art history and Civil War history during a year-long leave spent at Northwestern University.

In recognition of his groundbreaking contributions to Goethe scholarship, David Wellbery will receive the Golden Goethe Medal from the Goethe Society on June 13, 2019, at the Nationaltheater in Weimar.

Congratulations, on behalf of the Society!

Catriona MacLeod
University of Pennsylvania

GSNA Essay Prize: Call for Nominations

The executive committee seeks nominations or self-nominations for its annual GSNA Essay Prize that honors the best essays on Goethe, his times, and/or contemporary figures, published in the year 2018. Each prize carries an award of $500.

Please submit a copy of the essay (electronic version preferred) by April 30, 2019 to the Society’s Vice-President, Professor Heather Sullivan, Department of Modern Languages and Literatures, Trinity University, One Trinity Place, San Antonio, TX 78212, hsulliva@trinity.edu.

The following articles are eligible:

  1. articles written by a North American scholar (defined by institutional affiliation at the time of publication); or
  2. articles written by a current member of the GSNA; or
  3. articles published in the Goethe Yearbook.

NB: Articles by current GSNA board members are not eligible. GSNA members are encouraged to submit their own articles for consideration.

Sussman Prize: Call for Nominations

The executive committee seeks nominations or self-nominations for its annual Richard Sussman Essay Prize for the best essay published in 2018 on Goethe’s contributions to the sciences and on Goethe in the history of science.

Please submit a copy of the essay (electronic version preferred) by April 30, 2018 to the Society’s Vice-President, Professor Heather Sullivan, Department of Modern Languages and Literatures, Trinity University, One Trinity Place, San Antonio, TX 78212, hsulliva@trinity.edu.

The following articles are eligible:

  1. articles written by a North American scholar (defined by institutional affiliation at the time of publication); or
  2. articles written by a current member of the GSNA; or
  3. articles published in the Goethe Yearbook.

NB: Articles by current GSNA board members are not eligible. GSNA members are encouraged to submit their own articles for consideration.

From the Executive Secretary

Goethe Society members and friends have a great deal to look forward to at the 2019-20 GSA and MLA conferences. GSNA-sponsored sessions span a wide range of topics and approaches from Goethe’s heterodox thought and Karl Philipp Moritz’s interdisciplinarity to broader themes of realism, colonialism and decolonization. They also encompass an equally wide range of formats, including a panel, a panel series, a seminar, and a roundtable. This diverse range not only of what we are talking about, but how we are talking with one another, speaks to the Experimentierfreude that is alive and well among the community of scholars affiliated with the GSNA.

For the German Studies Association convention in Portland, Jan Jost-Fritz (East Tennessee State University) and Christian Weber (Florida State University) have co-organized a four-part panel series on “Realism in the Age of Goethe and Its Legacy,” bringing together over 20 scholars. Clark Muenzer (University of Pittsburgh), Karin Schutjer (University of Oklahoma), and John H. Smith (University of California, Irvine) are convening a seminar at the GSA on “Goethe as a Heterodox Thinker” that likewise gathers about 20 participants around a topic that attracted intense interest at last year’s GSA in Pittsburgh. Mattias Pirholt (Södertörn University) has also put together a fascinating panel for the GSA on “Karl Philipp Moritz’s Interdisciplinary Stance.” Together, these GSA sessions include participants from institutions in the US, Canada, Germany, Sweden, Switzerland, the UK, and Australia. For the 2020 Modern Language Association convention in Seattle, Jason Groves (University of Washington) and Ervin Malakaj (University of British Columbia) have collaborated to assemble a truly impressive roundtable comprised of 8 panelists addressing “Decolonization and the Age of Goethe.”

I want to thank each of these organizers for all their excellent and innovative work.  As a result of their hard effort, 2019-20 promises to be a banner year for the Goethe Society at both the GSA and the MLA. I hope that many of you will be able to join us in Portland and Seattle!

As always, if you are interested in organizing a panel sponsored by the Goethe Society at one of the annual (incl. regional) meetings of ASECS, GSA, or MLA, please contact me.

Elliott Schreiber
German Studies Department
Box 72
Vassar College
Poughkeepsie, NY 12604
Telephone: (845) 437-5687
elschreiber@vassar.edu

Note the deadlines for submission of panel proposals.

  • GSA, 15 November 2019 for the 2020 convention
  • MLA, 1 December 2019 for the 2021 convention
  • ASECS, 15 March 2020 for the 2021 convention

We encourage all presenters to become members of the GSNA.

Elliot Schreiber
Vassar College

Minutes of the 2018 Business Meeting

September 29, 2018
German Studies Association Conference
Wyndham Grand Hotel, Pittsburgh

Present:

  1. Catriona Macleod, Vice President
  2. Daniel Purdy, President
  3. Elliott Schreiber, Executive Secretary
  4. Karin Schutjer, Editor, New Studies in the Age of Goethe
  5. Patricia Simpson, Co-Editor, Goethe Yearbook
  6. John Smith, Director-at-Large
  7. Birgit Tautz, Co-Editor, Goethe Yearbook
  8. Christian Weber, Secretary-Treasurer

Daniel Purdy announced the election results: Heather Sullivan (Vice President, 2019-22), Vance Byrd and Eleonor ter Horst (Directors-at-Large, 2019-22), William Carter (Secretary-Treasurer, 2019-22). 52 members voted.

Catriona Macleod announced GSNA Prizes. GSNA Essay Prize: Gabriel Trop for best essay; Leif Weatherby honorary mention. Tove Holmes: Richard Sussman Essay Prize.  Discussion ensued on how best to get the word out about the Richard Sussman Essay Prize. John Smith will announce the prize at a literature and science conference in Toronto. It will continue to be announced on relevant listservs.

Christian Weber distributed a summary of the GSNA budget and expenses. He noted that $48 are unaccounted for, and offered to contribute it from his own pocket, which the other members of the Executive Board rejected. He suggested that the GSNA find productive ways to spend its budget, e.g. helping to subsidize Clark Muenzer’s lexicon project. Daniel Purdy asked whether it would be worth spending approximately $70 per month for website security, and there appeared to be a consensus that this would be a good investment. Birgit Tautz suggested that funds could be appropriated for a website linked with the Goethe Yearbook for the purpose of displaying high-resolution images and figures included or referenced in Yearbook articles. She noted that it would be important to find a reliable partner (such as a publisher or educational institution) that could ensure the longevity of such a project. Karin Schutjer proposed giving a stipend to the GSNA Webmaster and Newsletter editor.

Christian noted strong membership numbers. About 50% have elected a 3-year membership. As an aid to recruiting more members, Christian suggested that a list of contributors to the Goethe Yearbook be made available by the editors or publisher to the Treasurer. There also appeared to be consensus on sending a copy of the Goethe Yearbook to each article author.

Birgit Tautz and Patricia Simpson reported on the Goethe Yearbook. They highlighted that things are going well. The current volume (Vol. 26) is quite full. They turned down about a half dozen articles. The articles that they have assembled work well together. There is a special section on “Goethe’s Narrative Events” edited by Fritz Breithaupt. Birgit noted that the editors might try introducing a discussion forum in the Yearbook. John Smith proposed a special forum in the Yearbook that might collect references to Goethe (e.g., a reference to Goethe and Eckermann in Moby Dick that was recently brought to his attention). Birgit suggested that an enhanced GSNA website might be a better platform, one that might also include pre-published book reviews.

Karin Schutjer reported on the book series. She proposed that the Bucknell books be displayed at next year’s GSA together with the Scholar’s Choice books. She noted the relatively reasonable prices of books in the series. She wonders if we should try to publish more books (currently the focus is on younger and less established authors), and if the books could be published at a faster pace. Currently the production schedule from delivery of the final manuscript to the publisher to publication takes about 12 months. It was remarked that this is a fairly expeditious pace, but that some presses (such as Penn State) have a somewhat tighter schedule (approximately 9 months).

John Smith reported on the Lexicon project that he and Clark Muenzer are heading. He noted that Clark has received a grant of about $50 k from the University of Pittsburgh to help realize the project. There is still discussion about the best platform for the project (digital and/or print). The members of the Executive Board expressed their encouragement for and excitement about the project.

Other business: Birgit Tautz mentioned the possibility of hosting a symposium at Bowdoin College in connection with the Goethe Yearbook. Catriona Macleod mentioned that someone has contacted her with the offer to gift a bronze Goethe bust to the GSNA. She raised the question about where it could be housed.

See photos here.

Elliott Schreiber
Vassar College

From the Yearbook Editors

Volume 26 of the Goethe Yearbook, featuring a special section on Goethe’s narrative events and also showcasing work presented at the 2017 Atkins Goethe Conference, will reach the readership soon. Volume 27 is well underway.

For the first time, the Goethe Yearbook is implementing a new format for scholarship and discussion, beginning with a Forum. The working title is “The Canon versus the ‘Great Unread’ (M. Cohen).” With this topic, we hope to prompt a vibrant discussion about the impact of Digital Humanities (DH) and “computational criticism” on Goethe scholarship and 18th-century German Studies. The editors have secured the cooperation of prominent and emerging scholars in the field to contemplate questions such as: What is the relationship between “mining” thousands of texts through algorithms and scholarship “merely” based on interpretation of select literary works? What are the consequences of digitizing primary materials? How do DH methodologies and analytical practices enhance and/or endanger the study of the canon? How does “close reading” versus “distant reading” affect the legacy of canonical authors and their impact on the construction of national literary historiography in the 19th century? What is at stake for the discipline of literary study—for the act of (close) reading—when we ask the question about the canon versus the “great unread”?

The contributions uncover many approaches to the topic that go beyond established scholarly methods v. data sciences, including but not limited to questions of “digital canons” and “forgotten canons,” the significance of paratexts and metadata, alternative reading histories, and DH as a way of navigating the gendered fault-lines of canon formation. Others tackle um 1800 as a primary archaeological site for the digital or reveal the massive amounts of Goethe corpus that are never cited.

The Forum will appear along with a series of articles on Rahel Levin Varnhagen, Friedrich Hölderlin, Goethe’s self-marketing, Goethe and visual culture, eighteenth-century refugee discourse, and others.

Patricia Anne Simpson
University of Nebraska

Birgit Tautz
Bowdoin College

From the Editor of the Book Series

We are proud to announce the recent publication of two excellent new volumes in the series New Studies in the Age of Goethe:

Odysseys of Recognition:  Performing Intersubjectivity in Homer, Aristotle, Shakespeare, Goethe, and Kleist
By Ellwood Wiggins (University of Washington, Seattle)
www.rutgersuniversitypress.org/odysseys-of-recognition/9781684480371

Wiggins

“This is an intelligent, serious, patient, and innovative work. It is also beautifully written: nimble, unaffected, crystal-clear, and often entertaining.” (Nicholas Rennie, Rutgers University)

Literary recognition is a technical term for a climactic plot device. Odysseys of Recognition claims that interpersonal recognition is constituted by performance, and brings performance theory into dialogue with poetics, politics, and philosophy. By observing Odysseus figures from Homer to Kleist, Ellwood Wiggins offers an alternative to conventional intellectual histories that situate the invention of the interior self in modernity. Through strategic readings of Aristotle, this elegantly written, innovative study recovers an understanding of interpersonal recognition that has become strange and counterintuitive. Penelope in Homer’s Odyssey offers a model for agency in ethical knowledge that has a lot to teach us today. Early modern and eighteenth-century characters, meanwhile, discover themselves not deep within an impenetrable self, but in the interpersonal space between people in the world. Recognition, Wiggins contends, is the moment in which epistemology and ethics coincide: in which what we know becomes manifest in what we do.

And:

Pretexts for Writing:  German Romantic Prefaces, Literature, and Philosophy
By Seán M. Williams (University of Sheffield, UK)
www.rutgersuniversitypress.org/pretexts-for-writing/9781684480524

Williams

Pretexts for Writing discusses the history of the literary and philosophical self-authored preface in the German speaking world around 1800 with an intensity and analytical depth previously unachieved in scholarship.” (Till Dembeck, University of Luxembourg)

Around 1800, print culture became a particularly rich source for metaphors about thinking as well as writing, nowhere more so than in the German tradition of Dichter und Denker. Goethe, Jean Paul, and Hegel (among many others) used the preface in order to reflect on the problems of writing itself, and its interpretation. If Sterne teaches us that a material book enables mind games as much as it gives expression to them, the Germans made these games more theoretical still. Weaving in authors from Antiquity to Agamben, Williams shows how European – and, above all, German – Romanticism was a watershed in the history of the preface. The playful, paradoxical strategies that Romantic writers invented are later played out in continental philosophy, and in post-Structuralist literature. The preface is a prompt for playful thinking with texts, as much as it is conventionally the prosaic product of such an exercise.

As always, we’re eager to entertain your proposals, whether for a single-authored monograph or a collection of essays. Contact Karin Schutjer kschutjer@ou.edu. I hope to hear from you!

Karin Schutjer
University of Oklahoma

From the Editors of the Goethe-Lexicon

From May 2-5, 2019, the first International Workshop for the Goethe-Lexicon of Philosophical Concepts (GLPC) will be held at the University of Pittsburgh. Organized by the lexicon’s co-editors, Clark Muenzer (University of Pittsburgh) and John H. Smith (UC Irvine), this gathering of 20 collaborators from the US, England, Germany, and Switzerland, will build on the 4 GSA panels on “Goethe as a Heterodox Thinker” (which drew more than 150 conferees to its sessions last October). It also looks forward to the GSA Seminar on the same topic in the Fall, as well as the second International Workshop at Cambridge University in the summer of 2020.

The Pittsburgh Workshop will be an important step towards realizing our goal of publishing 10 entries by the end of 2019. Participants will engage in a variety of activities to address different aspects of our collective undertaking, including an ongoing conversation about the very nature of the project. The intensive, 2-day program will include:

  1. a panel discussion placing the GLPC in relation to other exemplary lexica, handbooks, and dictionaries, including the Goethe-Handbuch, the Dictionary of Untranslatables, the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Mauthner’s Wörterbuch der Philosophie, Aesthetische Grundbegriffe, and Keywords for Today;
  2. a second panel, organized by our digital editor Bryan Klausmeyer (Virginia Tech), with presentations on “technical” matters, including a first look at the platform we will be using. Because the GLPC will be a dynamic reference work, we have included information science experts to introduce us to possible options;
  3. presentations and discussions of 12 sample entries that will be made available to all participants in advance;
  4. breakout sessions to discuss in small groups ideas about how the entries can be framed in general for the Lexicon. While the GLPC cannot be designed by committee, it will be productive to solicit the input of collaborators on such issues as the ideal length for entries, their style, structure, and content, as well as the kinds of Goethean concepts we want to include;
  5. a public lecture by Gabriel Trop (University of North Carolina) on “Kraft: On the Potential of a Concept”; and, of course
  6. a festive banquet!

In order to work as closely as possible with each other, we have limited the size of our workshops to 20 participants. Importantly, our selection criteria considered scholars at all phases of their careers, as well as geographical and cultural diversity. Members of the GSNA, which as one of the project’s official sponsors has provided some financial assistance, are welcome to contact the editors with their ideas and, of course, their willingness to become collaborators. A Call for the second International Workshop in Cambridge, England, will go out early next winter. Please let us know if you would like to get involved, especially if you have any experience in the digital humanities. If the last 12 months is an indication, there will be many opportunities in the future to come on board. And keep your eye on the next issue of the Goethe Yearbook, where we plan to publish 2 sample entries for the GLPC.

Participants in the Pittsburgh workshop are: Colin Allen (Pittsburgh, History and Philosophy of Science); Jonathan Arac (Pittsburgh, Humanities Center and English); Matthew Bell (King’s College London, German); Frauke Berndt (Zurich, German); Fritz Breithaupt (Indiana, German); Aaron Brenner (Pittsburgh University Library System); Daniel Carranza (Chicago, German); Eckart Förster (Johns Hopkins, German and Philosophy); Jonathan Fine (Brown, German); Bryan Klausmeyer (Virginia Tech, German); Horst Lange (Central Arkansas, German); Charlotte Lee (Cambridge, German); John Lyon (Pittsburgh, German); Catriona MacLeod (University of Pennsylvania, German); Sebastian Meixner (Zurich, German); Clark Muenzer (Pittsburgh, German); Angus Nicholls (Queen Mary’s University, London); John H. Smith (Irvine, German); Gabriel Trop (North Carolina, German); Christian Weber (Florida, German); Christian Wildberg (Pittsburgh, Classics).

The concepts for discussion are: Aperçu (Förster); dämonisch (Nicholls); Eigen-/Selbstliebe (Bell); Gleichnis (Weber); Gott (Lange); Geduld (Carranza); Gewissen (Breithaupt); Pantheismusstreit (Fine); Rhythmus (Lee); Schattenriß (MacLeod); Symbol (Berndt); and Urphänomen (Meixner).

From the Secretary-Treasurer

My first order of business in my new capacity as Secretary-Treasurer was to invest a significant portion of our funds into Bitcoin. The GSNA now owns a handful of them. Just kidding, but do continue to read!

Please remember to pay your 2019 dues. If you have not yet paid your 2018 dues (and would like to receive Goethe Yearbook 26), time is running out!

Please submit your payment via PayPal under the Membership tab of the GSNA website or by mail to Prof. William Carter, Department of World Languages and Cultures, Iowa State University, 3102 Pearson Hall, Ames, IA 50011. Please make checks payable to: “Goethe Society of North America.”

If you are paying by mail for 2018, please also send me an email so I can reserve a copy of Goethe Yearbook 26 for you. Should you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me: wcarter@iastate.edu.

William Carter
Iowa State University

Call for Papers: MLA 2020

Goethe Society Sponsored Roundtable at MLA 2020 (Seattle)
Organizers: Jason Groves (University of Washington) and Ervin Malakaj (University of British Columbia)

Decolonization and the Age of Goethe

This roundtable seeks to establish productive connections between the scholarship on the Age of Goethe and recent conversations on decolonization in the academy generally as well as German Studies in particular. Broadly, work in decolonization of the academy calls for an acknowledgement of the role its constituent disciplines have played in the consecration and naturalization of violent discourses. In this light, scholars like Dalia Gebrial have shown how European Enlightenment and post-Enlightenment thought was “constituted through and alongside imperialism and slavery.” Along the same lines, scholars, such as contributors to Sara Eigen and Mark Larrimore’s volume The German Invention of Race (2006), have demonstrated how 18th- and early 19th-century German cultural pundits were major contributors to various debates on race ostensibly prefiguring 19th-century race science.

Although German-speaking lands are, strictly speaking, precolonial in the Age of Goethe, its literature and art was shot through with colonial fantasies of discovery and exploration, as Susanne Zantop and others have shown. If reality caught up with the imagination, in terms of Germany’s early 19th-century colonial ambitions, was there also a decolonial counter-discourse and counter-imaginary in this age that later became realized?  Relatedly, where and how have the later writers and thinkers who were instrumental in decolonization movements drawn from writers and thinkers of the Goethezeit? At the same time, it would be important to explore how and where the legacies of this age’s colonial imagination remain both unquestioned within the academy and active in contemporary societies.

On the one hand, we are interested in seeking out critical voices during the age and on the other we are seeking out decoloniality models for the age. We particularly welcome contributions that theorize effective frameworks for grasping the intersectional complexity of power configurations in literary and visual cultures or that establish links to various intellectual traditions by way of generating fruitful pathways for decoloniality and its cultural producers. In order to include a range of voices and perspectives on an issue currently generating considerable interest in the field, this session will be organized as a roundtable. Though each presenter will have approximately 8-10 minutes, we hope that the roundtable as a whole will be more inclusive and generative than a panel.

Please send abstracts of ca. 250 words and a short bio to both Jason Groves (jagroves@uw.edu) and Ervin Malakaj (ervin.malakaj@ubc.ca) by March 15, 2019. Inquiries welcome.

Goethe Exhibition in Bonn, May-Sept. 2019

Goethe. Transformation of the World

Bundeskunsthalle, Bonn, Germany
17 May – 15 September 2019

Johann Wolfgang Goethe is the world’s best-known poet of the German tongue. A literary celebrity by the age of 25, he lived to see his fame spread all over Europe. His works were translated into countless languages. Figures like Werther or Faust found their way into every creative discipline and all sectors of popular culture. More than any other artist of his time, Goethe reflected the dramatic changes that sent shockwaves through the political, economical and cultural foundations of Europe around 1800. Goethe was not only a critical observer of the dawn of the modern world, but also a versatile artist who continues to inspire writers, painters, sculptors, composers, photographers and film directors.

The Bundeskunsthalle and the Klassik Stiftung Weimar are devoting a major exhibition to the artist Goethe. Around three hundred objects in the exhibition shed light on his biography, his age at the dawn of our modern era and the uniquely powerful impact of his work

An exhibition of the Bundeskunsthalle and the Klassik Stiftung Weimar in cooperation with the Freies Deutsches Hochstift, Frankfurt, the Goethe-Museum Düsseldorf and the Museo Casa di Goethe, Rom under the patronage of the Federal President of Germany.

bundeskunsthalle

Invitation to Submit your Work to the GYB

Dear colleagues,

With vol. 26 in production, we want to reach out again and invite you to submit your work for consideration in the next Goethe Yearbook (to appear in 2020). Please send us manuscripts by February 15, 2019.

As always, we welcome manuscripts on any and all aspects of Goethe, his contemporaries, and the 18th century broadly conceived, including the century’s legacy. We also are interested in broadening the discussion, in organizing special sections, and experimenting with new forms and genres of scholarly writing. Please contact us with any and all suggestions at editors@goethesociety.org!

Note that the Goethe Yearbook is a double-blind, peer-reviewed publication, widely indexed, and published with DOIs. All manuscripts should be prepared in MS Word, and in accordance with the Yearbook’s style sheet and anonymized for review. Manuscript submissions should be no longer than 8,500 words.

Patricia Anne Simpson
University of Nebraska

Birgit Tautz
Bowdoin College

With very best wishes for the holiday season and 2019,
Birgit and Patty

Call for Papers: GSA 2019

GSNA-Sponsored Seminar for the 2019 GSA Conference, Portland, OR, 3-6 October 2019
Deadline:  26 January 2019

Goethe as a Heterodox Thinker

Conveners: Clark Muenzer, University of Pittsburgh, clark.muenzer@gmail.com
Karin Schutjer, University of Oklahoma, kschutjer@ou.edu
John H. Smith, University of California, Irvine, jhsmith@uci.edu

This seminar will explore Goethe’s unique contribution to philosophical discourse. During the 2018 GSA, four panels were dedicated to “Goethe’s Philosophical Concepts.” They launched a multi-year project, a Goethe Lexicon of Philosophical Concepts, that will provide an ongoing online and print-on-demand collection of articles highlighting the novelty of Goethe’s thought. The project is inspired in part by Gilles Deleuze’s understanding of philosophy as the “creation of concepts,” and in part by Goethe himself, who wrote: “Kein Wort steht still sondern es rückt durch den Gebrauch von seinem anfänglichen Platz eher hinab als hinauf, eher ins Schlechtere als ins Bessere, ins Engere als ins Weitere, und an der Wandelbarkeit des Worts läßt sich die Wandelbarkeit der Begriffe erkennen” (Max. und Reflex. 983). The success of the panels encourages us to gather Goethezeit scholars of all ranks to discuss Goethe as heterodox thinker against the background of philosophical doxa.

Format: Each convener will provide a short reading by Goethe or from the philosophical tradition with a brief explanation of the selection. Each participant will write a short position paper on one of the readings (500-1000 words) to be distributed in advance. Each day of the seminar, one convener is responsible for moderating the discussion.

Call for Papers: GSA 2019

GSNA-Sponsored Panel for the 2019 GSA Conference, Portland, OR, 3-6 October 2019

Realism in the Age of Goethe and Its Legacy

In a conversation with Eckermann in December 1826, Goethe expressed contempt for readers of his 1796 epic poem Hermann und Dorothea who attempted to merely uncover the reality behind poetry: “Man will die Wahrheit, man will die Wirklichkeit und verdirbt dadurch die Poesie” (Goethe HA, 2:738). This contempt for a plain realism as a trajectory for poetry with its implicit assertion of poetry’s own epistemic value, however, is not just an echo of Schiller’s earlier claim that poetry has to free herself of all historical contingencies in order to constitute a poetic truth of her own right. Encompassing both aesthetics and his idea of sciences, Goethe by contrast maintained his idea of “hartnäckige[r] Realismus” (ibid., 10:541.). The romantics’ position towards realism and idealism was perhaps more ambivalent, but they too came to favor what Manfred Frank describes as “erkenntnistheoretischen Realismus” (Unendliche Annäherung, p. 663).

The renegotiation of the relationship between poetry and reality was first necessitated by the liquidation of traditional concepts of rhetoric and allegory in the course of the 18th century; major systems of reference for poetic concepts of truth and meaning had eroded by 1800, making way for various competing schemes, which were unified, however, in their affirmative or critical stance towards idealism. Thus, Goethe’s apodictic proposition (and the conceptualization of poetry in general behind it) certainly has reinforced the alleged divide behind Weimar Classicism and Romanticism on the one hand, and 19th century literary Realism on the other in modern periodization of literary history with its claim of two distinct literary epistemologies of the two periods.

This panel explores how poets from 1800 on conceptualized reality in and of literature. We want to address questions of how philosophical concepts of realism and idealism shaped and calibrated poetic forms of realism in Classicism and Romanticism, and how these literary movements approached their own historical reality to which they certainly reacted (and which, in turn, they shaped). And, by contrast, we will ask how ‘realistic’ Realism actually is, and to what end (if at all) Realism utilizes earlier poetic strategies / models for its own constitution of poetic reality.

Please send an abstract of no more than 350 words to Jan Oliver Jost-Fritz (jostfritz@etsu.edu) and Christian Weber (cweber@fsu.edu) by 31 January 2019.