The final meeting of the Institute for German Cultural Studies Colloquium for this academic year took place on May 8th with a discussion of works in progress by Cornell German Studies’ own Emir Yigit and Jacy Tackett. The former employed a philosophy of the mind framework, drawing upon the work of Immanuel Kant, as well as a number of other German thinkers (such as Hegel, Marcuse, Adorno, and Marx) in the analysis of Edvard Munch’s 1893 Expressionist painting “The Scream.” Conversely, Tackett’s paper worked within narratological parameters to explore the intersection of contemporary German science fiction and dystopian novels, especially their depictions of scientific experimentation.
During the first part of the colloquium, discussing Tackett’s paper, the critical conversation focused on how far the genres of science fiction and dystopian writing usefully problematize their common thematic areas. Some provisional limits to these genres were suggested, as was the use of narratological terms such as focalization and multiperspectivalism. A further line of inquiry considered the significance of adaptation (from radio play to novel) in the works analyzed in the paper. In the second part of the discussion, the relationships between art, mass production, and the natural world were probed, along with the question of why aesthetics precedes art as suggested by Yigit in his paper. A further area of the paper which attracted much discussion was the status of objects of art in comparison to that of concept objects (such as geometrical figures). (Anna Pfeifer and Jason Archbold)