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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Hellmut H Ammerlahn
GERMAN 591
Seattle Campus

Studies in German Intellectual History

Seminar on rotating special topics dealing with interactions of history, literature, and culture in the German tradition.

Class description

GOETHE'S FAUST DRAMA AND THE MYTH OF PROMETHEUS: INTELLECTUAL REVOLT, CREATIVITY, AND CULTURAL TRANSFORMATION

This seminar deals with the ambiguity, heroism and cultural-literary significance of Prometheus and Faust. Originally conceived as trickster figures par excellence, their extraordinary quests and audacious feats of consequence, coupled with rebellion against established authorities, have made them symbols for major historical transitions. While Greek mythology credits the titan Prometheus with creating humans and stealing fire from heaven to provide them with artifacts and culture, the Renaissance gave birth to Faust(us) who harnessed the forces of darkness into his service for knowledge and power. The severe punishments meted out to Prometheus and Faust for their “violations” of socially or divinely-ordained boundaries, gave rise to a plethora of questioning perspectives in subsequent generations. Authors and philosophers since the 18th century have transformed these rebel-heroes into paradoxical pioneers, artist-creators, multi-dimensional cultural icons, and mirrors for self-identification and reflection.

After reading Aeschylus’ tragedy, Prometheus Bound, Marlowe’s Dr. Faustus, and brief excerpts from Shaftesbury’s theoretical writings, Parts I and II of Goethe’s world-class drama Faust will be the focus of our studies. A discussion of selected Prometheus poems and fragments by Goethe and Byron as well as the latter’s drama Manfred will also be included.

Student learning goals

General method of instruction

Seminar discussions, one class report, one seminar paper

Recommended preparation

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 Hellmut H Ammerlahn
Date: 02/10/2009