German 205 or Comp Lit 215: Mysticism and Modernity

Instructor: Professor Niklaus Largier

This course fulfills the Intellectual History or an elective requirement for the DE in REMS.

So-called ‘mystical’ forms of thought and experience have played a major role in the history of modern philosophy and literature from Hegel, Kierkegaard, and Schopenhauer to Lukàcs, Heidegger, Bataille, Benjamin, and Derrida; and from Novalis to Musil, Kafka, Celan, Bachmann, Klossowski, and Cage (to name just a few). In this seminar we will read and discuss key texts written by some of the most significant medieval figures in this tradition. We will focus on forms and styles of writing; problems of negative and affirmative theology; and configurations of speculative, affective, and sensual moments. During a second phase of the seminar we will turn our attention to baroque mysticism (Angelus Silesius and Jacob Böhme). Based on the class discussion and on individual student interests, we will then explore the ways how these texts have been read by 19th and 20th century authors and how they allow us to think about the formation and transformation of modern concepts of the sacred, subjectivity, affect, critique, and agency. Depending on student interests, we will decide on a final version of the syllabus at the first meeting of class. All texts will be available in original languages and in English translation.

Th 2-5, 282 Dwinelle,Class Number 30951 (German), Class Number 31537 (Comp Lit)

Section times and locations in the Schedule of Classes