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Yet, on closer inspection, there is a blind spot in this relation in that fashion seems rather to be the other of modernity. The modern discourse of fashion testifies to the ambivalences and paradoxes in this relation. From the beginning until now, it is strangely split: there is fashion and fashion. The perfectly functional suit without superfluous adornment is, in its world-wide constancy through the centuries, almost invariably classical.

Its staggering universal success is due to the fact that it is the ideal modern dress: beautiful, because functional. Fashion therefore seems to be the locus of a strange intimation of the political set against the common politics of modernity.

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The course will center around this blind spot between fashion and modernity and the new gendering of fashion in the bourgeois, post-feudal era. There will be a reader for the students. Spring , Barbara Vinken.

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Prophecy and Poetry in Bible and Literature. Biblical prophecy belongs to the poetic parts of scripture, and poetry often assumes the authority of being prophetic. Spring , Daniel Weidner. Gerhard Neumann Hg. For this class, reading and listening ability in German are required. Discussions will be in German and English.

The Paradox of Rights.

The Stories of Heinrich von Kleist: Fictions of Security by Sean Allan, Hardcover | Barnes & Noble®

The form of "individual rights" "subjektive Rechte" is the distinctive feature of modern legal, and in a broader sense normative orders. It develops out of the tradition of Roman Law by breaking with its most fundamental assumption of a conceptual and normative alliance between law and ethics.

The importance of the idea of a "right" lies in a reflective rearrangement of the relation between the social and the natural: by its very form, "rights" guarantee an inner-social space to the non-social "natural" freedom or "interests". Rights are thereby the form of a revolutionary break in the history of Western societies which is deeply ambivalent. As Max Weber has claimed, rights are paradoxical: they are instruments of liberation which establish new and even more intense forms of social domination.

This paradox of rights can be studied by exploring how they establish the dualisms that are at the centre of modern political, legal, and social thought: the dualisms of state and civil or bourgeois society, of democracy and capitalism, of the individual and community, of nature and society, and so on. While the form of rights remains unanalyzed in contemporary liberalism which takes it for granted and thereby neutralizes or naturalizes it , it has been a central topic of the thinking of modernity in philosophy and legal theory since the late 18th century.

Spring , Christoph Menke. The seminar will be conducted in German. Spring , David Wellbery and Albrecht Koschorke. Genealogies of Media Theory. Concerning media, a peculiar historical discrepancy exists between the phenomenon and its theorization. Media of communication are as old as culture itself. In fact, there would be no human community without communication. Yet, media theory emerged as a venue for inquiry only with the advent of modernity, and even later as an academic discipline, namely after World War II. How is this to be explained?

Why did media remain largely invisible as objects of theoretical and historical inquiry? And why did they come into focus at precise historical junctures? Moreover, we will explore how different conceptualizations of mediality are conditioned by the media-historical contexts in which they formulated. Exploring the genealogoies of media theory, as we will do in this seminar, entails not only to survey the various attempts to theorie technologies and cultures of communication, but trace the different discursive formations in philosophy, theology, and aesthetics that prefigured modern media theory.

Although we will try to touch on all transformative shifts in media history, such as the transition from orality to literacy, the invention of print, and the advent of the different technical media, our focus will be on the various approaches to theorize media that were prompted by these sea changes.

Heinrich von Kleist and Modernity

This course examines a series of filmic, dramatic, literary, and site-specific commemorative works which engage the conjunction of narrative representation, historical catastrophe, and political as well as aesthetic resistance. Our consideration of these works will be augmented by a series of critical essays on the limits of representation, the problematics of mediation and aesthetic adequation, the possibilities of commemoration, and the promises of aesthetic resistance. In addition, we will consider a number of theoretical works on the operations of cinematic identification and narrative comprehension that are important to an understanding of the formal operations of film, theater, and poetry.

The course will be conducted in English and no fluency in German or the languages of cultural and film criticism is required. Cavell on Literature.


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James Conant Philosophy. Students may participate in this seminar, however, without having taken the Fall seminar. The aim of this seminar is to delineate and assess Cavell's contributions to literary studies. Winter , David Wellbery and James Conant. Figures of the Sublime. The course is designed for graduate students of all levels.

All readings and discussion will be in English. MAPH students are especially encouraged to participate. Kleist's "Invisible Theater. The seminar takes as its starting point Goethe's remark about Kleist's play "Der Zerbrochne Krug" that it is "unsichtbares Theater," i.

The critical tenor of this paradoxical formulation suggests further that Kleist's dramatic and theatrical project sets itself apart from the aesthetics of Goethe's Weimar court theater as well as from the aesthetics of the contemporary bourgeois theater - and thus was 'ahead' of its time.


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Therefore, our close readings of Kleist's 'invisible' dramas will need to be contextualized within the dominant theatrical cultures around As marks the year anniversary of Kleist's untimely death, the department will orgainze and host an international conference with the same thematic focus as our seminar. The conference will take place Dec. Texts in German; possible discussion session in German. Primal Scenes of Mediality.

click The history of media has existed as a scholarly discipline for less than one century. Most often it has assumed the form of a history of techniques and technical innovations: writing, printing, photography, film, radio, electronic and digital media. Although recently a cultural-studies approach has emerged that investigates a diversity of material forms and symbolic formations all of which could be described as media, the isolated examination of single media remains the dominant mode of inquiry — single media whose genuine character constitutes something like the blind spot of the examination.

In order to bring about such a reorientation of inquiry, we need to direct our attention not only to the picture that media give us of the world, but also to our imaginings of what media could be. We have to examine the history of the imagination of media — and this is precisely the project that our seminar will attempt to realize.

Our procedure will be to study carefully texts that have played a formative role in shaping the imagination of media in the West. The texts are drawn from various discourses religious, literary, philosophical, fantastic and from vastly different historical contexts. But what they share is a certain legibility as emplotments of the medial relations constitutive of their historically specific cultural moment. This course is the first course in a two-course sequence to be offered jointly by Professors James Conant and David Wellbery.

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The first course will be taught primarily by Prof. Conant and the second course primarily by Prof.

We will also read related essays by Cavell on these topics and figures, as well as some writings by these figures themselves. Post-Classical Goethe. This seminar will consider Goethe's work after with the aim of delineating the characteristics of Goethe's post-classical style and thought. It has become a commonplace in the study of Goethe to refer to the "allegorical" nature of his late works.

We shall contest this reading. Fall , David Wellbery.


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Mysticism and Modernist Writing.