"The Devil Made Me Do It" : Goethe's Faust
Perhaps, no other work in the Western tradition needs as little introduction as Goethe’s Faust. His own reworking of the Volksbuch, which occupied him for virtually his entire adult life, has itself become a prototype for countless re-workings in all media in and all parts of the world for no other reason than it is—and perhaps always will be—about everything that is supposed to matter in the world and the universe: life, love, history, God, science, mothers, money, and of course, salvation and damnation. What is not clear is whether the work offers any answers, whether it was ever intended to do so. Therein lies the greatness and grandeur of its theater—or more properly its theatricality: a spectacular staging of the world that never lifts the curtain completely on the problem underwriting its possibility. To that end, we will read Faust I as preparing the ground for the tragedy of the second part, or conversely, how Faust II asks the questions Faust I did not ask.
Required Readings, Goethe, Faust I and II. Bown, J. K. Faust; Theater of the World.
NOTE: Seminar is open to students who do not read German. A translation will be available. Discussions in English.