GER 322-02 “Music in Literature & Philosophy, 1800-1947” – W 4:40-7:10pm Old Chem 119
Drawing on a variety of musical, literary, and discursive works, this seminar will explore how different conceptions of aesthetic form, as well as their socio-cultural function and metaphysical underpinnings. We will consider three paradigms of form: 1) organic form in Beethoven’s middle and later period, in conjunction with Goethe’s botanical writings; 2) form as intensification (Steigerung) in Schopenhauer, Wagner, as well as Nietzsche’s critique of that model in “The Case of Wagner”; and 3) form as constructivism in the atonal and serial works of Schoenberg, Adorno’s Philosophy of Modern Music, and Thomas Mann’s Doctor Faustus. The course will be taught in English; German Graduate students are expected to read all materials in the original German; yet all readings will also be available in English. (Taught by Professor Pfau) See a flyer for the course Music in Literature & Philosophy.
LIT 264S/ART HIST 253S “The Symbolist Movement in the Arts and European Thought” – Th 3:05-5:35pm Nasher 119
Investigates the relationship linking Symbolist aesthetics and practice with currents in European philosophy in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The reaction against Positivism; aesthetic idealism and the Platonic tradition; the influence of Schopenhauer and Nietzsche on artists and writers; Symbolism and mysticism (Theosophy, Rosicrucianism, the occult); Symbolism and the Catholic revival; Art nouveau and theories of psychology; the anarchist impulse. Emphasis on visual arts in France, England and Germany; focus on the relationship between word and image in Symbolist poetics.” (Taught by Professor McWilliam)
LIT 272S/ENG 272S “Wittgensteinian Perspectives on Literary Theory” – Tu 4:25-6:55pm Room TBD
The first part of the course will focus on three different visions of language: the visions, respectively, of Ferdinand Saussure and the post-Saussurean tradition, of neo-pragmatism (Stanley Fish, Walter Benn Michaels), and of ordinary language philosophy, (the so-called “new Wittgenstein”, focusing on the works of Ludwig Wittgenstein, J. L. Austin, Stanley Cavell). Key questions will be: What is language? What is the relationship between language and the world? Is meaning always reached through interpretation? What is the relationship between a vision of language and politics?
In the second part of the course we will try to get clear on the role different visions of language play in literary theory and aesthetics. Although we will read materials from each of the three traditions, the emphasis will be on the contribution ordinary language philosophy has to make to questions concerning, for example, authors and intentions, philosophical reading and suspicious reading, the subject and the other, sex and gender, the nature of fictional characters, realism and representation. (Taught by Professor Moi)
ENG 271CS “Towards a Phenomenology of Belief: Coleridge, Newman, Hopkins” – M 6:15-8:45 pm Room TBD
From Hobbes’ Erastian and Locke’s anti-ecclesiastic arguments on belief and toleration, via Rousseau’s utopian quest for a wholly authentic mode of experience untainted by institutions and mediations, to the Romantics’ formally innovative attempts at prying open the “hiding places of … power”: hermetic and self-authorizing forms of belief increasingly serve to shelter the solitary individual from many of secular modernity’s more vexing implications. The tropes in which those troubling consequences tend to be summed up are familiar enough: viz., dissociation of sensibility, nihilism, materialism, necessitarianism, anomie, melancholy, alienation and a garden variety of Freudian and post-Freudian psychopathologies.
Yet precisely this apotheosis of the inner life as a self-enclosed, ineffable, and self-authorizing totality also invites new forms of philosophical scrutiny of the core premise: viz., that religion can be pared down to the role of belief, that belief in turn is a strictly subjective, intensely personal “state”—non-discursive, existing independent of, even in antithesis to, institutional, sacramental, and doctrinal frameworks, practices, and habits. Not by accident, Kant, Goethe, Hegel, Coleridge, and J. H. Newman would thus subject the various paradigms of the Moral-Sense school; of Pietism’s cult of the “beautiful soul,” Sentimentalism, antinomian radicalism (Swedenborg; Blake), and Romantic mysticism (Novalis’ Catholicism; Schleiermacher’s Protestantism ‘lite’) to rigorous and often incisive critique.
In questioning the anti-rational tendencies of these fideist movements, a principal objection appears to be that the modern conception of belief as (supposedly) a non-cognitive and incommunicable emotion runs counter not only to Anselm’s fides quaerens intellectum but also fails to grasp the phenomenology of human consciousness. Might one not instead conceive of certain types of affect as encryptions of a distinct, deep-seated rationality—what Newman calls a “view” or what, speaking of individual conscience, Coleridge calls those “notices” of “reason mutely prophesying its future advent” (Coleridge)? Is the nature of belief and its seemingly affective phenomenology truly that of a temporal punctum, or does it instead point to the inner life as a complex, temporal, and narrative progression? For that matter, is the view of emotion as a strictly hedonistic and self-consuming event—a transient and inarticulate passion of the kind Hobbes, Locke, and Hume had successively posited—even coherent and sustainable in the terms in which it has been (and even now continues to be) advanced?
Our focus in this course will be on how the late- and post-Romantic critique of this conjunction of emotion with belief in the work of S. T. Coleridge, J. H. Newman, and G. M. Hopkins. We will begin with a study of Coleridge’s account of will, conscience, and personin his Aids to Reflection and in selections from his (posthumous) Opus Maximum. Our discussion here will also draw on selections from Robert Spaemann, Douglas Hedley, and Mary Ann Perkins. – From there we shall move on to J. H. Newman’s University Sermons and his powerful forensics of religious belief and certitude in the Grammar of Assent (1870), arguably the nineteenth century’s most ambitious and influential attempt to broaden the scope of rational inquiry beyond the constraints of the British empirical tradition. We may also try and consider some striking affinities between Newman’s Grammar and Franz Brentano’s 1874 Psychology from an Empirical Point of View. – The final section of the seminar will explore G. M. Hopkins’ poetry and prose (diaries, notebooks, short essays), which reaffirms the deep connection between religious belief and the world as an inexhaustible source of the most concrete and minute phenomena; merging inner and outer (“inscape” and “outscape”) in a proto-Modernist and truly sui generis style, Hopkins’ poetry and prose present object-experience and self-awareness as mutually supportive and ordered towards one another.
As we shall find, all three writers share an abiding concern with formulating a phenomenology of religious experience and, hence, a concern with constructing the inner life in a language neither hamstrung by rationalist and empiricist epistemologies nor diluted by a grandiose expressivity such as purports to render (putatively) self-certifying and ineffable, private sentiments. Students should have read Solokowski’s Introduction to Phenomenology prior to the beginning of class, and some familiarity with Marion’s Being Given is also recommended by the time that we embark on our readings of Newman and Hopkins. (Taught by Professor Pfau)