Fall 1998

German 392 (Unique # 34560)

Competing for the Public Sphere: The Politics of the Aesthetic, 1740-1820

Instructor: Katherine Arens
Office: E. P. Schoch 3.128
Office Hours: TTH 9-10:30 and by appointment
Course Schedule: TTH 5-6:30, EPS 4.104


The Frankfurt School introduced the idea of the Dialectic of the Enlightenment as the era in which a bourgeois public sphere was created. More recently, Terry Eagleton continued their work as what he termed the Ideology of the Aesthetic. This course will use these two ideas to pursue various ways in which a "public sphere" of German culture was created in the century between the Enlightenment and its arguable last gasp in the early educational efforts of the Jungdeutschen. It will work around a set of case studies about what it meant to "go public" in the era -- to shift from local and community-centered Gemeinschaft to a national Gesellschaft maintained by various social institutions.

Each case study will focus on an institution that (re)produced new forms of community, and will trace how that institution mutated over the era in question. Each case study will combine essays and literary texts whenever possible; literary-historical context will be anchored in readings from standard literary histories (Frenzel, Martini, deBoor/Newald). The goal of this presentation is to introduce the major cultural and aesthetic debates at the basis of the emerging image of Germany as "Land der Dichter und Denker," not as a continuous evolution, but as a series of interrelated projects each sustained by some particular institution or social class that emerged in the era.

Topics to be treated (with a preliminary suggestions on readings) are:

1. Defining the Enlightenment
-Adorno, Horkheimer, Habermas

2. Journals and the Public Sphere

-Eagleton; Schmidt, What is Enlightenment?, Gottsched, Bodmer, Breitinger, Winckelmann, Lessing, Wieland

3. Theater and Other Forms of Public Culture

-Schiller, A.W. Schlegel, F. Schlegel

-Shakespeare DebateLessing, Schiller, Goethe, Herder

4. Reisen and the Other: History and Geography as Public Character

Haller, Klopstock, Goethe, Herder, Schnabel, Bürger

5. Religion & Quasi-Religious Forms of Innerlichkeit:

From Public Devotion to Public Self-Fashioning

-Brockes, Haller, Zinzendorf, Klopstock, Hammann, Hölderlin, Goethe

-Religion and Art: Wackenroder, Bonaventura, Novalis, Schlegel, Kleist

-People: Bitter Healing, Gellert, la Roche, Eichendorff, Brentano, Jung- Stilling, Moritz, Novalis, Jean Paul, Hoffmann


Assignments and Grading

two (2) oral text introductions = 5% each = 10% of final grade

nine (9) precis = 4 % each = 36%

one (1) abstract and bibliography = 19%

one (1) longer paper (rewrite of one earlier precis) = 35%