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