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GERMAN 533 A: Seminar In Eighteenth-Century Literature

LESSING & MENDELSSOHN: ANCIENT QUARREL / MODERN FRIENDSHIP BETWEEN POETRY AND PHILOSOPHY

Meeting Time: 
MW 1:30pm - 3:20pm
Location: 
DEN 313
SLN: 
14703
Instructor:
Ellwood Wiggins

Syllabus Description:

Lessing and Mendelssohn:

Ancient Quarrel / Modern Friendship between Poetry and Philosophy?

 

Ever since Plato’s Socrates invoked the “ancient quarrel between poetry and philosophy,” poets and philosophers have felt compelled to defend or dismiss the claim of the other discipline on their own. In the eighteenth century in general, and especially in the personal lifelong friendship between G.E. Lessing and Moses Mendelssohn, the ancient quarrel seems to have resolved into an amicable symbiosis. In this seminar, we will read the works of both writers with an eye to prying open the fault-lines and fissures between their poetical and philosophical personae. What does it mean for a poetical work to have philosophical implications? What is at stake when a philosophical text is cast in a fictional frame? In addition to tracts on the obvious meeting ground between philosophy and poetics in aesthetics, we will discuss Lessing’s plays and Mendelssohn’s metaphysical texts.

Students in the course will also participate in the micro-seminar Toleration and Justification: The Philosophy of Rainer Forst (HUM 597a), which will address precisely the problems of tolerance and judgment that Lessing and Mendelssohn contended with throughout their careers.  This micro-seminar will take the place of four of the Wednesday meetings of our seminar. Two of them involve readings by Rainer Forst, one consists in lunch with Forst, and the third is an opportunity for final discussion. This is an excellent opportunity to be introduced to the latest generation of the Frankfurt School, and will provide us with a foil against which Lessing's and Mendelssohn's ideas about tolerance will become more clear.

Students who register for German 533 should ALSO register for Hum 597.  Be sure to do so right away!

Additional Details:

Ever since Plato’s Socrates invoked the “ancient quarrel between poetry and philosophy,” poets and philosophers have felt compelled to defend or dismiss the claim of the other discipline on their own. In the eighteenth century in general, and especially in the personal lifelong friendship between G.E. Lessing and Moses Mendelssohn, the ancient quarrel seems to have resolved into an amicable symbiosis. In this seminar, we will read the works of both writers with an eye to prying open the fault-lines and fissures between their poetical and philosophical personae. What does it mean for a poetical work to have philosophical implications? What is at stake when a philosophical text is cast in a fictional frame? In addition to tracts on the obvious meeting ground between philosophy and poetics in aesthetics, we will discuss Lessing’s plays and Mendelssohn’s metaphysical texts.

Catalog Description: 
Study of one or more of the literary movements: Enlightenment, sentimentalism, anacreontics, storm and stress, classicism, early romanticism, and works by principal authors such as Gottsched, Bodmer, Gellert, Lessing, Wieland, Klopstock, Herder, Lenz, Goethe, Schiller, Jean Paul.
GE Requirements: 
Other Requirements Met: 
Status: 
Active
Last updated: 
April 28, 2016 - 3:22pm
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