Literary Morphology. Theories of Dynamic Form before and after Goethe
Seminar auf der 42. German Studies Association Annual Conference in Pittsburgh (USA)
In Kooperation mit Ross Shields (Columbia University)
Morphology reimagines form as a dynamic category – this is true not only of the internal structure of individual organisms, but also of the genera composed of those individuals. This seminar will explore the potential of morphology to conceive of literary works and literary genres in dynamic terms. To this end, we will compare Goethe’s science of morphology with concepts of dynamic form advanced before and after Goethe: from early-modern philosophy (e.g., Spinoza, Baumgarten) to 20th-century theories of language and literature (e.g., Wittgenstein, Formalism, morphologische Literaturwissenschaften). By juxtaposing these theories and philosophies, we will ask (among other things): How can the study of literature contribute to a general concept of dynamic form? To what extent can morphology account for the historical and political contexts of literary production? What are the possibilities and limits of morphological approaches in literary analysis?