LLS New York City

Lifelong Learning at  Swarthmore: New York City

Fall 2015:


Goethe and His Time (LLS 170NY)
Meets Thursdays, 6:45 - 9:15 p.m.
Sept. 17 – Oct. 2 & Oct. 22 – Nov. 19, 2015
1095 6th Ave. (bet. 41st & 42nd), 28th floor, @ Dechert LLP

Goethe’s literary work and persona tower above all other German writers. An international literary sensation at the age of 24, he revolutionized German poetry, drama, and the novel, and his Faust remains a landmark of world literature.

Many of the issues Goethe addresses in his works—e.g., secularization and the diminishing role of religion, technology and capitalism’s effect on the social and political order-remain deeply important to this day.

In Goethe's wake, a reoriented German literature found its best early expression in the works of E. T. A. Hoffmann and Heinrich von Kleist. Hoffmann explored new genres such as fantasy and the crime story. Kleist's revolutionary plays and stories, rejected at the time, are now among the most read and admired works of German literature.

Major topics:

  • Sturm und Drang
  • Society and politics in late 18th-early 19th-century Germany
  • Romanticism and congeniality
  • The crisis of consciousness
  • Limitations of the Enlightenment
  • Music and language
  • The uncanny (Hoffmann and Freud)
  • Romantic dead ends

The Professor:

Hansjakob Werlen teaches German language and literature, with special emphasis on Goethe and Romanticism, as well as contemporary literature. In his research he is currently working on the Austrian novelist Thomas Glavinic. He previously enjoyed teaching an LLS course on The Magic Mountain and The Tin Drum.

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