Seminar on rotating special topics dealing with the impact of particular thinkers, movements, or philosophical problems in German culture.
Nature Discourses I
I am calling this seminar “Nature Discourses I” in the hope that there might be a “Nature Discourses II” in a future year that will deal with more current material. “Nature Discourses I” serves as introduction to the field of environmental criticism and lays the foundation for eco-critical work in the systematic study of the German tradition of “Naturphilosophie” and its resonance in German-language literature (primarily Romantic and post-romantic narratives). The discussion will be oriented around the themes of forest, landscape, mountains, the interior of the Earth, atmosphere, plants and animals, minerals, water, and human nature which surface in images and texts of the late eighteenth century and culminate in the Romantic period and the later nineteenth century. Eco-criticism, as it is practiced primarily in English Departments, is frequently ignorant of the philosophical roots of environmental thought and the concepts of nature in the tradition of dialectical thinking and aesthetics. We will try to pair the study of philosophical texts with literature and, to a minor extent, art in order to assess the full impact of the discourse on nature on German letters.
Student learning goals
General method of instruction
Class assignments and grading
Students will be responsible for their weekly readings and will write a critical research paper. We will try to put together a special issue for a graduate student journal and will go through all the steps together (submitting abstracts, contacting editors, developing a competitive contribution, responding to peer review, revisions, etc.).