image: Verso: Statuette von Christian Daniel Rauch 1828

Goethe and the Postclassical:
Literature, Science, Art, and Philosophy 1805-1815

Pittsburgh, 6-9 November 2008

Clark Muenzer, Simon Richter, or Karin Schutjer

Copyright © 2008 Goethe Society of North America. Copyright image © Goethezeitportal.


Conference Report

Pittsburgh, 6 Feburary 2009

Our first international conference, generously supported by the DAAD and co-sponsored by the University of Pittsburgh’s German Department, the European Union Center, and the Program in Cultural Studies, took place Nov 6-9 on the campus of the University Pittsburgh. Simon Richter, Karin Schutjer, and Clark Muenzer organized a lively program that focused on the decade of 1805-1815 and explored the activities of Goethe and his contemporaries under the rubric of the “post classical.” The two keynote speakers, Ulrich Gaier (Konstanz) and Robert J. Richards (University of Chicago), were both awarded honorary GSNA memberships. In addition to an opening panel of past presidents Benjamin Bennett, Jane Brown (Respondent), Ellis Dye, Meredith Lee (Moderator), and Dan Wilson, who celebrated the 200th anniversary of the publication of Faust I, more than 50 papers were presented. With the participation of more than 100 Goethe scholars, including 13 graduate student members of the GSNA (several of whom gave papers), all agreed that the event was a resounding success and the Board has decided to institutionalize it on a three-year cycle.

Representatives of the Goethe-Dictionary, Hamburg, as well as the Goethe-Museum Düsseldorf, also attended. The majority of participants were from North American universities and colleges, but colleagues from Switzerland, Germany, Australia, Ireland, and the United Kingdom participated as well. Disciplines represented included German, history of science, philosophy, and musicology. The full conference program can be viewed on our web site.

The GSNA has a tradition of supporting and encouraging young scholars whose work falls into the Age of Goethe. In addition to enabling broad participation of graduate students and assistant professors in the conference, two workshops for six competitively selected students in the dissertation stage were conducted on the morning of Nov 9. Each of the students received a GSNA Gloria Flaherty Prize of $250 and conference fee waiver. Each had submitted one or two chapters of their dissertations in advance, and on Sunday morning, groups of three students met for three hours with three experts in the relevant Goethe-era fields for detailed feedback. Reports about the experience from the participating students and scholars have been very positive.

Conference participants have been invited to revise and submit their papers in article form to the annual GSNA publication, the Goethe Yearbook. Along with Daniel Purdy, Clark Muenzer and Karin Schutjer are serving as special editors.

One of the thematic strengths of the conference was Goethe, philosophy, and science (especially Kant, Hegel, and Schelling). A number of participants, including Robert Richards (Chicago), Elizabeth Millán-Zaibert (DePaul), and John H. Smith (Irvine), have established a working group that is planning a colloquium on the topic. This is a very promising development, especially since it crosses disciplinary lines. We hope to have an update on the project in the next newsletter.

Clark Muenzer
University of Pittsburgh