Fall 2017 Colloquium Series: Time in a Text(ile): Gertrude the Great’s Easter Vision

October 20, 2017

Racha Kirakosian

On October 20, 2017 Racha Kirakosian (Harvard University) continued the Fall IGCS Colloquium Series with her paper: “Time in a Text(ile): Gertrude the Great’s Easter Vision.”  In her paper, Kirakosian investigated aspects of materiality in the earliest transmitted German translation of Legatus Divinae Pietatis (The Herald of Divine Piety) by Gertrude of Helfta, or Gertrude the Great. This late 13th century Latin text is a communal production by the nuns of the Helfta cloister, containing an account of Gertrude’s Easter vision of a marvelous dress, fashioned out of all the thoughts and deeds of her life in chronological succession. [Read more…]

Harbingers and Echoes of the Shoah: A Century of Concentration Camps

October 17, 2017

Andrea Pitzer

On October 17th author and journalist Andrea Pitzer gave a talk entitled: “Harbingers and Echoes of the Shoah.”  Pitzer’s recent work traces the historical, linguistic and geographical origins of the term “concentration camp,” and seeks to better understand how the term develops across modern discourses.  In her talk, she analyzed the origins of the term up to its horrifying implementation in WWII, and then noted the ways in which contemporary society is still deeply entangled with this concept. [Read more…]

German Culture News, 25th Anniversary Issue, Fall 2017


Fall 2017 Colloquium Series: Gespiegelte Welten. Reflektionen des Kinos

September 29, 2017

Manuel Köppen

On September 29th, 2017 Manuel Köppen (Humboldt University), professor of film and media studies, gave a presentation on the first chapter of his current book project on mirrored worlds, Gespiegelte Welten. Köppen discussed a number possible functions mirrors could have for cinema, but focused his talk on five main “fields” related to the phenomenon of mirror-reflections. He related mirror-reflections in film to an epistemological problem—a “mise-en-scène”—while also considering their role as spatial entities bearing the hidden presence of the other (Foucault), yet never being the other space itself. [Read more…]

Anti-Academicism: Old and New, German and American

September 13, 2017

Eva Geulen

On September 13, 2017 an interdisciplinary crowd of students and scholars gathered at the A.D. White House to listen to the highly anticipated IGCS 25th Anniversary Lecture given by Eva Geulen (Director of the Zentrum für Literatur- und Kulturforschung, Berlin).  Her talk, titled “Anti-Academicism: Old and New, German and American,” was co-sponsored by the Institute for German Cultural Studies, the Department of German Studies and the Society for Humanities. [Read more…]

Fall 2017 Colloquium Series: Kant and Posthumanism

September 8, 2017

Carl Strathausen

Whereas the outside temperature almost reached a historical low for early September, the second colloquium of the academic year proved that a good and intense academic discussion can provide some warmth and heat on cold Ithaca days. On September 8, Carsten Strathausen (University of Missouri) presented his forceful and polemical paper titled “Kant and Posthumanism.” It came as no surprise that the discussion following his introductory remarks often transcended the scope of German Studies as such to touch upon the role and responsibility of the Humanities more generally in today’s polarized and highly fragmented political landscape. [Read more…]

Fall 2017 Colloquium Series: Historicism, Anthropology and Goethe’s Idea of World Literature

August 25, 2017

Stephen Klemm

On August 25, 2017, Stephen Klemm (Cornell) presented his paper “Historicism, Anthropology and Goethe’s Idea of World Literature,” which offers a focused interpretation of Goethe’s views on Weltliteratur in light of his emerging historicist world view. In his conversations with Eckermann, Goethe states that the epoch of world literature has arrived, yet in evaluating national literatures we must still always look back to the Greeks insofar as their works exemplify the concept of beauty. In the responses to this statement, Klemm saw two opposing interpretations: [Read more…]

Spring 2017 Colloquium Series: Sounding Culture from the Pulpit

May 5, 2017

Tanvi Solanki

On May 5, 2017, Tanvi Solanki (Cornell University) concluded this year’s IGCS Colloquium Series with a paper titled: “Sounding Culture from the Pulpit.” Solanki’s research draws on a range of discourses to consider how the medium of sound features prominently in Herder’s theological and cultural writings. Central to her inquiry was Herder’s development of a phenomenological theory of acoustics, which he thought could be used to strengthen the bonds of religious community in Weimar and beyond. [Read more…]

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…]