The Curse of Desire

April 24, 2017

Was it the inheritance of her grandfather’s curse or the curse of inheritance that forced Medea to practice infanticide and annihilate her dynasty, asks Frauke Berndt (Univerity of Zurich) in her provocative reading of Frank Grillparzer’s The Golden Fleece/ Das Goldene Vlies from 1819. Berndt brushes Grillparzer’s tragic interpretation of the antique Medea myth against the grain. Her analysis of the poetic structure of the literary text breaks with the ancient understanding of the curse as a linear and causal relationship, an understanding that regards the curse as a negative form of the wish. [Read more…]

Foucault to the Second Power: the Posthumous in the Present

April 21-22, 2017

On Friday, April 21, scholars from throughout the United States gathered at Cornell’s A.D. White House for a two-day conference on the work of Michel Foucault. Co-organized by Tim Campbell, Paul Fleming, Amanda Goldstein, and Tom McEnaney, the event aimed to identify the influence and, above all, contemporary relevance of the French philosopher with a special emphasis on the socio-political aspects of his work. This emphasis had become all the more relevant after the presidential elections last November, which inaugurated a new political era that not only fetishizes the free market, but combines this with nationalist, homo- and xenophobic and masculinist rhetoric. For anyone even only partially familiar with Foucault, it is not difficult to see that typical Foucauldian notions such as discipline, governmentality and biopolitics have lost none of their relevance. [Read more…]

Lampedusa in Winter

April 19, 2017

Jakob Brossmann

On April 19, 2017, Cornell Cinema screened the award-winning documentary Lampedusa in Winter by Jakob Brossmann, which premiered at the Locarno Film Festival in 2015. Both the director Brossmann and the film’s translator and interpreter Stefania Schenk Vitale were present for riveting discussion with a diverse audience. The event was introduced by Sabine Haenni (Performing and Media Arts), who,together with Leslie A. Adelson (German Studies) taught this year’s University Course titled “Imagining Migration in Film and Literature.” Brossmann and Vitale had been invited to campus in connection with that course and extended their multifaceted discussion of the film the next day in class. [Read more…]

Spring 2017 Colloquium Series: Kulturwissenschaftliche Gedächtnisforschung im Dialog mit den Kognitions- und Neurowissenschaften. Aktuelle Ansätze und Untersuchungsfelder

April 14, 2017

Carsten Gansel

Carsten Gansel (Justus-Liebig-Universtät Giessen, Institut für Germanistik) presented work in progress titled “Kulturwissenschaftliche Gedächtnisforschung im (versuchten) Dialog mit den Kognitions- und Neurowissenschaften? – Drei Fallbeispiele” in the IGCS Colloquium Series on April 14, 2017. As the title indicates, his paper was situated between cultural-literary studies and cognitive science with the hope of bringing the findings of these disparate fields into contact. Specifically, three case studies focused on the relationship between memory and narrative, on aspects of episodic and autobiographical memory, and on ways in which these narrative processes are related to questions of coming to terms with traumatic experience. [Read more…]

Germany Before the Election 2017: What to Watch

March 29, 2017

Jens Alberts

On March 29, 2017, Jens Alberts (Head of Press Department, Consul, Consulate General of the Federal Republic of Germany) delivered a lecture titled “Germany Before the Election 2017: What to Watch.” Alberts provided an overview of the German federal electoral system in comparison with the American system. He proceeded to address the political circumstances surrounding the upcoming German federal election in September 2017, which will determine the membership of the Bundestag and the chancellorship. [Read more…]

In Praise of Depth: or, How I Stopped Worrying and Learned to Love the Hidden

March 23, 2017

Joshua Landy

On March 23, 2017, Joshua Landy (Stanford University) presented a lecture titled “In Praise of Depth: or, How I Stopped Worrying and Learned to Love the Hidden.” This event was organized by the Comparative Cultures and Literature Forum and co-sponsored by the Institute for German Cultural Studies.

Landy sought to recover the concept of depth to understand better what he calls the formative function of certain texts. Originating in the hermeneutic tradition, as he began by noting, depth has been a much-maligned concept among literary theorists in recent years. On the one hand, it has been associated with an overly semantic way of looking at art, which overlooks aesthetic considerations such as form or materiality. [Read more…]

Spring 2017 Colloquium Series: Über Blendung: The Idea of Prose in Walter Benjamin’s Reading of German Romanticism

March 17, 2017

With his IGCS colloquium presentation, “Über Blendung: The Idea of Prose in Walter Benjamin’s Reading of German Romanticism,” Jörg Kreienbrock (Northwestern University) suggested that Benjamin seeks neither to unify poetry and prose, nor to distinguish one form from the other, but to trace the moment of their disruption. Benjamin’s task, argued Kreienbrock, is to underscore the “precarious proximity” of poetry and prose, “the milieu in which their difference dissolves.” For Benjamin, prose becomes associated with a mode of sobriety in contrast to the “enthusiasm of lyrical-versified discourse.” [Read more…]

Yield Troubled Shadows: Bach and Modern Society

March 17, 2017

David Yearsley

On Friday March 17, 2017, a special event organized by the Department of Music and co-sponsored by the ICGS celebrated the continued power and relevance of the music of Johann Sebastian Bach. Entitled “Yield Troubled Shadows: Bach and Modern Society,” the event featured performances by the Cornell Early Music Lab and the Cornell Chamber Singers, as well as lectures by Profs. David Yearsley (of the Music Department) and Robert Hockett (of the Law School) connecting themes in the librettos and structures of the music to perennial issues of everyday life, issues as relevant in Bach’s time as in ours. [Read more…]

Spring 2017 Colloquium Series: Literarische Unschärfe: Zu ihrer Poetik und ihrem frühneuzeitlichen Debüt

February 24, 2017

Christian Metz

Christian Metz, who is Feodor Lynen Fellow in the Department of German Studies at Cornell University for the academic year 2016-17 under the auspices of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, opened the spring semester’s colloquium series on February 24, 2017, with a paper titled Literarische Unschärfe: Zu ihrer Poetik und ihrem frühneuzeitlichen Debüt (“Literary Blurriness: On Its Poetics and Its Early Modern Debut”). Taking the apparent omnipresence of blurry images in contemporary culture as a point of entry into his multifaceted project, [Read more…]

Patrizia McBride Presents Her New Book, The Chatter of the Visible

February 15, 2017

Patrizia McBride

On February 15, 2017, Patrizia McBride (Cornell University) participated in Cornell’s faculty publication series, “Chats in the Stacks: Book Talks at the Library,” in which she introduced her recently published monograph, The Chatter of the Visible: Montage and Narrative in Weimar Germany (University of Michigan Press, 2016) to an interdisciplinary audience. [Read more…]