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Workshop in the History of Material Texts

Carlos Spoerhase (Bielefeld University), "Failed Formats: Goethe’s Literary Anthology for the German People"

Image of Carlos Spoerhase

Monday, January 31, 2022, 5:15pm, via Zoom*

*For Zoom information, please please contact Aylin Malcolm.

Our speaker writes:

What is the format of literature? Many scholars have recently revisited the question of literature’s material formats and their effects on the handling of literary texts. Based on the extant manuscripts from Goethe’s 1808/1809 efforts to draft a literary anthology for the German people, I will try to reconstruct Goethe's understanding of “format” and show how his reflections on format were central to his ambitious project. Goethe’s observations on the material dimensions of his never completed anthology demonstrate his keen awareness of the powerful effects of literature’s formats.

About our speaker:

Carlos Spoerhase is a literary theorist and Professor of German Literature at Bielefeld University. He studied German literature, philosophy, and history of political thought (Promotion in 2006 and Habilitation in 2016, both from Humboldt University of Berlin). He has held visiting positions at The Johns Hopkins University, King’s College London, the University of Pennsylvania, and Princeton University. He is one of the editors of “Deutsche Vierteljahrsschrift für Literaturwissenschaft und Geistesgeschichte” and a member of the editorial committee of “Zeitschrift für Ideengeschichte”. His research and teaching comprises literature from the 17th to the 21st century, intellectual history, history of knowledge, history of the book, media studies, and social theory. His last book focused on format theory and the history of material texts in the 18th and 19th century (Das Format der Literatur, 2018). He takes a wider interest in the history and theory of the humanities and is currently finishing a co-authored book that examines the humanities as everyday practices of intellectual labor (Geistesarbeit, 2022).

This talk will be held via Zoom (please contact us for details). All are welcome. If you would like to receive details on future talks, please sign up for our listserv using this link or visit the Workshop website.

The Workshop in the History of Material Texts is supported by the School of Arts and Sciences through the Department of English and hosted by the Penn Libraries. The co-directors of the seminar are Professor Zachary Lesser (English), Jerry Singerman (Penn Press, Emeritus), and John Pollack (Kislak Center, Penn Libraries).

Associated with the workshop is the book series in Material Texts published by the University of Pennsylvania Press, which includes many monographs that have emerged from presentations given at the workshop over the years.

For more information, please contact Aylin Malcolm.