Syllabus, Fall 1998

German 392 (Unique # 34560)

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


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%

The assignments in this course are designed to introduce how the high culture of the Enlightenment has been treated in German-language scholarship, then to introduce alternate approaches drawn from eighteenth-century scholarship on France and England as alternate approaches to the German texts.



FOR THEORY READINGS: be ready to summarize the main approach (do a precis, if at all in doubt -- we'll do them on the board in class), and then to translate them to issues within the German-language cultural sphere. In other words, what spins on these issues are likely to show in German-language cultures?

The book list for the course makes specific suggestions about which texts would be good purchases. All theory texts are on reserve in PCL; those NOT recommended for purchase have copies of excerpts in the Reading Gallery

FOR LITERATURE AND ESSAYISTIC READINGS: I am relying on your self-sufficiency -- go to the library to find Schiller, Goethe, Lessing, and other very common texts. Excerpts from rarer works are on reserve (check the book list for indications of which ones are included in the copy package in the Reading Gallery, and which are in PCL). You'll have to find your own copies of the complete texts, if you decide to do your papers on them. Ask if the only copies of rarer texts are not in PCL -- I probably have them.

Each class will start with student presentations (see below) about how the text will/ will not fit the theoretical points made in that section. Note that, in most cases, there are texts from different literary-historical epochs. The rest of the class will be spent in one or more close readings, as a start on how each text reflects a certain aprproach to Enlightenment high culture.


**WEEKLY ASSIGNMENTS FOR GER 392 are a combination of two precis types (see attached description of Precis):

-for the first set of texts (contemporary theories of the Enlightenment, and 18th-century texts on it), you will do an analytic precis of one of the theory texts written (including an implication about its usefulness, weakness, or distinctive properties)

-after that, you are to do interpretive precis, applying the theory of the section to one of the authentic texts read.

The goal of these assignments is twofold:

-to get you used to working with theory texts as models (that is, learning to distill the philosophical premises of each school in a clear fashion); and

-to get you used to using theory as a model for interpretation (that is, learning how to apply a model's premises in the spirit in which they were designed, not in a randomly eclectic manner -- to interpret texts the way a particular school would, not the way you necessarily want to).

Grading of Precis is indicated on the attached sheet.


The two oral text introductions are two- to three-minute introductions to the texts that will be discussed as part of the case studies. Over the course of the semester, you will give two of these presentations, one each in German and English. There will be a sign-up sheet passed around in class for you to schedule your presentations; try to choose two different genres.

Content: each class day during the case studies, there are two or more texts. Your mission is to state briefly how the theoretical texts studied at the beginning of the section could apply to one of them. You are, in essence, speaking a draft of a precis.

**These assignments are probably less than 400 words each! You run over, you will NOT get credit for a successful assignment. Otherwise, each one is credit/no credit; wrong language is minus one-half.


The paper is based on one of your precis. It will be done in three steps: the precis, the abstract and bibliography (FIRST DRAFT), and then the finished paper. Due dates as indicated on syllabus.

THE FIRST DRAFT consists of an ABSTRACT (see attached description), a BIBLIOGRAPHY, and a 1-paragraph statement of HOW YOU GOT THE BIBLIOGRAPHY.

The FULL PAPER is 15 pages, in MLA style with full bibliography and page cites. Turn the abstract and preliminary bibliography in with the finished product, so that I can check for consistency and evoltuion.

Grading as for precis.