Topics in Literature and Contemporary Theory

2022-23 Topic: Between the Humanities and Social Sciences: German Theory in the 1960s

The various larger and smaller debates of the pivotal moment of 1960s West Germany remain highly relevant to our own time, offering themselves to archeological rediscovery and reconsideration of intellectual strengths and shortcomings, lost threads and upshots. The German 1960s demands to be reread, for example, in connection to recent discussions in, for example: the history of science; “postcritique”; the digital humanities and computational literary scholarship; the attendant renewed interest in methodological questions, including, from the side of the humanities, the history and future of textual study; the divide between “continental” and “analytical” philosophy; the current global political situation (which again puts extreme pressure on the humanities and social sciences to define their specific contributions, their implicit and explicit political stances, the equitability and accessibility of their institutions); the desire (certainly not universal) to reverse the methodological hardening of the fronts between the philosophical, philological and hermeneutic humanities vs. the data-driven social sciences.

The primary and secondary readings will be decided collectively by the group. However, possible authors and topics might include: Adorno, Arendt, Blumenberg, Gadamer, Gehlen, Habermas, Heidegger, Horkheimer, Husserl, Jauss, Koselleck, Löwith, Luhmann, Szondi, Taubes, Weber; the research group Poetik und Hermeneutik, secularization, logical positivism, the “positivism dispute” (Positivismusstreit), 20th-century sociology, philology and literary criticism, philosophical anthropology, philosophical hermeneutics, phenomenology, theories of technology, polemics and controversies.