Graduate Seminars

Graduate Seminars 

Winter 2020

German 1G: Introduction to Reading German (for Graduate Students)

Instructor: Gisela Kommerell 

A two-quarter sequence that introduces graduate students to the essentials of the German language with emphasis on aspects of structure that are indispensable for reading skills. We will be translating academic, literary, philosophical, scientific, and journalistic texts. Open to students with graduate standing in any field.

German 1G — Winter 2020 MW 12:30-1:45PM - HSSB 1215
German 2G — Spring 2020


German 210/ Comparative Literature 200
Tuesdays, 3-5:50, Phelps

Introduction to Hans Blumenberg’s Philosophizing in a New Key: Texts and Contexts


Instructor: Visiting Kade Professor Dr. Eva Geulen (Leibniz-Zentrum für Literatur- und Kulturforschung, Berlin)

Hans Blumenberg (1919-1996), Jewish born German philosopher raised in Catholicism, has primarily been known as the author of voluminous erudite books covering the history of philosophical metaphors such as the cave, the shipwreck or the ‘book of nature’ from antiquity through the Middle Ages and the Renaissance to his own present. His discussions of equally vast topics such as the history of myth, the Copernican revolution or his refutation of the secularization thesis possess similar scope. Until recently much of the international debate had focussed on the question what ‘school’ (Husserlian or Heideggerian) he belonged to and whether he actually developed his own philosophical program or whether his work is 'just' historiographical reconstruction. In the past decade, however, as ever more material has come to light posthumously, Blumenberg has emerged as a theoretician in his own right who forged a new and different path between philosophical anthropology, Husserlian phenomenology and Heidegger’s ontology. In particular, his reflections on the shared history of aesthetics and technology have attracted increasing attention as both a corrective and an alternative to the dominant historical account of philosophical aesthetics since Baumgarten and Kant. Moreover, it has also become increasingly clear that Blumenberg enriched the genres of philosophy by including aphorisms, anecdotes, fables and other literary forms, both on the level of his primary sources and in his own writing.

The seminar will familiarize students with a thinker who enables and forces us to reconsider the way the map of postwar European thought is usually drawn. Blumenberg offers a theory of modernity that deviates both from ‘left’ accounts (Benjamin, Adorno, Kracauer, Habermas, Derrida) as well as those from the ‘right’ (Gehlen, Arendt, Koselleck, Marquard). The seminar will bypass the larger works in favor of shorter, often more poignant and generally more accessible texts. Thematically, the class will concentrate on questions of aesthetics and the relationship between philosophy and literature. Primary Blumenberg readings are accompanied by related materials from other authors such as Koselleck, Kracauer and Benjamin.

The seminar presents a unique opportunity for students to read as of yet unpublished materials in English, since Visiting Kade Professor Eva Geulen has access to them and will share them with the class.

German-speaking students will have the opportunity of an additional weekly meeting with Dr. Geulen held in German.