Spring 2016 Colloquium Series: No Future? The Anti-Teleological Experimentation of the Prenzlauer Berg Poets

April 29, 2016

Anna Horakova

Anna Horakova

In her IGCS colloquium presentation “No Future? The Anti-Teleological Experimentation of the Prenzlauer Berg Poets,” Anna Horakova (Cornell University) discussed how the collective of writers and artists situated in Berlin’s Prenzlauer Berg during the GDR’s last decade played with multimedial manipulation of found poetic language in order to wrest the notion of hope away from official party politics and reclaim it for the GDR’s cultural underground. [Read more…]

The Transition from the Infinite to the Finite: Religion and German Literature, 1700-1770

April 20, 2016

John Smith

John Smith

On April 20, 2016, the ICGS hosted John H. Smith (European Languages and Studies, UC Irvine) for a special seminar entitled “The Transition from the Infinite to the Finite: Religion and German Literature, 1700-1770.”  Smith pre-circulated a paper on the role of eighteenth-century religious poetry in transforming concepts of the finite and the infinite, opening the seminar by contextualizing this transformation within the scientific and mathematic developments of the time period.   [Read more…]

Spring 2016 Colloquium Series: Autobiographie und Religion. Zugänge und Konzepte

April 8, 2016

Jens Kugele

Jens Kugele

The penultimate colloquium of the Spring semester was given by Jens Kugele (Justus-Liebig-Universität Giessen), who presented a paper titled “Autobiographie und Religion. Zugänge und Konzepte.” Kugele’s paper approached the intersection of religion and literature from a new perspective within cultural and ethnographical studies. In the first part of the paper, Kugele gave an overview on the current discourse in cultural studies on the role of aesthetic representations of religion and its practices in contemporary secular times, and showed how the specific entanglement of religion and culture has shifted in recent years. The second part of the paper offered a close reading of Ruth Klüger’s autobiography weiter leben (1992). [Read more…]

Technologies of the Human: Modern Figures of Thought

March 19, 2016

The workshop “Technologies of the Human: Modern Figures of Thought” on March 19, 2016, was organized by Paul Fleming (Cornell University) and Carl Gelderloos (Binghamton University) and sponsored by the Institute for German Cultural Studies and the Department of German Studies at Cornell. It featured presentations by Carl Gelderloos, Jocelyn Holland (UC Santa Barbara), June Hwang (University of Rochester), Jeffrey Kirkwood (Binghamton University), Elisabeth Strowick (Johns Hopkins University), Leif Weatherby (New York University), and Harald Zils (Binghamton University). [Read more…]

The Frankfurt School on Israel

March 14, 2016

Jack Jacobs

Jack Jacobs

On March 14, 2016, Jack Jacobs (Political Science, John Jay College – CUNY) presented a paper titled “The Frankfurt School on Israel.” The lecture began with Jacobs’s explanation of the fact that the Institute for Social Research at the Goethe University in Frankfurt was never an explicitly Jewish institution. At first it concerned itself primarily with topics related to the labor movement, socialism, and economic history. From 1931 onward – during Max Horkheimer’s tenure as the institute’s director when Critical Theory also began to crystallize – the institute’s desire was to promote interdisciplinary research on major questions. [Read more…]

Schoenberg’s Broken Medium: Rethinking the Rule of Form after Wagner

March 11, 2016

Sarah Pourciau

Sarah Pourciau

On March 11, 2016, Sarah Pourciau (Princeton University) presented her paper “Schoenberg’s Broken Medium: Rethinking the Rule of Form after Wagner” in the IGCS colloquium. Carefully reading theoretical works by Richard Wagner and Arnold Schoenberg, Pourciau considered how both composers overcome teleology in their specific handling of musical form in relation to music as a time-dependent artistic medium. In creating the twelve-tone compositional technique, Pourciau argues, Schoenberg establishes an entirely new way for musical matter to attain a form in its temporal unfolding. [Read more…]

Relationality at the Boundary: Kant’s Other-Freedom

February 25, 2016

Gabriela Basterra

Gabriela Basterra

On February 25, 2016, Gabriela Basterra (NYU) presented a lecture at the A.D. White House titled “Relationality at the Boundary: Kant’s Other-Freedom,” co-sponsored by the department of Africana Studies. In her talk, Basterra examined Kant’s Third Antinomy in the Critique of Pure Reason, arguing that Kant’s notion of freedom ostensibly maintains the integrity of the non-alienated subject over natural necessity. [Read more…]

Spring 2016 Colloquium Series: Brains: Forms of Life in German Modernism

February 19, 2016

Andreas Gailus

Andreas Gailus

In a colloquium on February 19, 2016, Andreas Gailus (University of Michigan) presented a paper titled “Brains: Forms of Life in German Modernism,” which is part of his current book project, titled Forms of Life.  The project analyzes and critically examines the co-emergence of aesthetics and biology at the end of the eighteenth century in the context of a particularly German obsession with organicist and vitalist figures of thought.  [Read more…]

Spring 2016 Colloquium Series: Medientheorien des Buches

February 5, 2016

Carlos Spoerhase

Carlos Spoerhase

In his colloquium presentation “Medientheorien des Buches,” Carlos Spoerhase (Humboldt University, Berlin) examined Paul Valéry, Walter Benjamin, and Laszlo Moholy-Nagy’s respective theorizations of the book as medium. These reflections, Spoerhase noted, were written during the 1920s when aesthetic considerations of print media increasingly turned to the more “ephemeral” forms of the newspaper and the poster. Following Valéry’s essay “Two Virtues of a Book,” Spoerhase suggested that there were “two fundamental modes of perceiving book-formed [buchförmige] literature,” geometrically corresponding to the “line” and the “plane.”  Books are, on the one hand, “perfect machines” for linear, incremental reading. [Read more…]

Walter Benjamin in Voice Land

January 28, 2016

Philippe Baudouin

Philippe Baudouin

Philippe Baudouin, philosopher and broadcast director at France Culture (Radio France/Paris) and author of Au microphone – Dr. Walter Benjamin, presented his current work on critical theorist Walter Benjamin and radio, “Walter Benjamin in Voice Land,” at Cornell on January 28, 2016. Baudouin discussed not only Benjamin’s theorization of the medium of radio, on which Benjamin has comparatively few writings, but also Benjamin’s career on the radio, which spanned from August 1929 to January 1935. [Read more…]