GERMAN 592 A: Cultural Studies

Winter 2024
T 1:30pm - 4:20pm / DEN 359
Section Type:
Syllabus Description (from Canvas):

Speaking for Others: Advocacy and Representation


Die Orestie, Schauspiel Frankfurt (2020)

German 592, Winter 2024

Ellwood Wiggins

The plight of the most oppressed is often only given voice by others, more privileged, speaking for their interests. This structure of advocacy is very clear in the German word Fürsprache (speaking for), and is the literal root of the Latin advocatus, from which our English term derives. But what does it mean to speak for another?  Who has that right? Who can—or should—speak for whom? What ethical and epistemological challenges does advocacy entail?

In this course, we will explore these questions through readings in literature and rhetoric. We’ll begin with Aeschylus’ Eumenides, which stages the first trial by jury. Katrin Trüstedt, leading scholar of advocacy, notes that three important institutions come into being when the god Apollo steps up to speak on behalf of the matricide Orestes: the justice system; religious intercession; and the theater itself.

From ancient Greek tragedy and rhetoric, we’ll work our way up to the thorny problems of advocacy for those affected by today’s most trenchant crises: speaking for refugees and for the non-human environment. 

Discussion in English. Reading of texts in original languages (Greek, German, English) is encouraged, but not required. All texts available in English translation.

Course Syllabus was developed in our first meeting in collaboration with students.

  • Jan 9:         Intro: Gorgias & Kafka
  • Jan 16:       Aeschylus Eumenides
  • Jan 23:       Aristotle, Rhetoric
  • Jan 30:       Shakespeare, Merchant of Venice
  • Feb 6:        Büchner, Death of Danton
  • Feb 13:      Nietzsche, Birth of Tragedy
  • Feb 20:      Arendt, “We Refugees” + Agamben + Nayeri
  • Feb 27:      Spivak, Can the Subaltern Speak?
  • Mar 5:       Conference! 
Catalog Description:
Seminar on rotating special topics dealing with periods, themes, or particular problems in German life and culture.
Last updated:
April 18, 2024 - 7:39 pm