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Instructor Class Description

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Richard Block
C LIT 496
Seattle Campus

Special Studies in Comparative Literature

Offered occasionally by visitors or resident faculty. Content varies.

Class description

German 497. Summer 2010. Richard Block Duino Elegies

Long considered a classic of Modernism, Rainier Maria Rilke’s Duino Elegies, as well as the author himself, have fallen into critical disfavor. One reason, which will not concern us here in the least, is that Rilke is no longer fashionable. Another reason—and this will be of paramount significance for us—is the critique of his work first formulated by Martin Heidegger and later by such critics as Paul deMan. Although highly problematic and tendentious, Heidegger’s studies of Rilke open up to a problem that continues to have currency; namely, what are poets for? In a post-metaphysical age when poetic measure is no longer given, how can poetry discover for itself a measure that does not rely upon a compensatory metaphysics? Stated otherwise, how does the open, “das Offene,? as that which allows world and things to come into being, escape metaphysical closure and thus be anything but an open? In pursuing responses to this question, we will pay particular attention to three aspects of Rilke’s poetry and the Elegies in particular: 1) “das Weltinnenraum? or world inner space, 2) the figure of the angel, and 3) the significance of the poetic act.

Each class will be devoted to one elegy. Students should come to the first class having already read the first elegy. Students will be asked to lead a discussion of one of the elegies. As a final project, students will submit a class plan, detailing how they would present one of the elegies to undergraduates. Readings are in German. Discussions in English.

Student learning goals

General method of instruction

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Class assignments and grading


The information above is intended to be helpful in choosing courses. Because the instructor may further develop his/her plans for this course, its characteristics are subject to change without notice. In most cases, the official course syllabus will be distributed on the first day of class.
Last Update by Richard Block
Date: 05/17/2010