DAAD Faculty Summer Seminar 2015
About
“Nature in Thought and Image: The Ecological Imagination from Romanticism to the Present”

The atmospheric chemist Paul Crutzen (Max Planck Institut für Chemie, Mainz) has famously argued that the earth and its denizens now dwell in the anthropocene: the era of decisive human impact on geological history. With this term, Crutzen brought to expression a “green” awareness that has had widespread political and theoretical consequences, especially, but not exclusively, in Germany. The 2015 DAAD Summer Seminar will address the consequences of this development within the field of German Studies.

Our approach will be interdisciplinary and historical. We shall examine three phases in the modern “history of nature,” attending to crucial artistic, literary, and theoretical contributions within each phase. Our starting point will be the period around 1800, the age of Romanticism in a broad sense of the term, acknowledged both by historians and by contemporary ecologists as a crucial source of holistic ecological concepts. A primary point of reference will be the work of Alexander von Humboldt, with readings in his Kosmos as well as his report on his South American journey. But we will also examine selected scientific writings by Goethe, Schelling, and Ritter. Our artistic or visual case study for this period will center on the landscape paintings of Caspar David Friedrich. The second phase of the Seminar will consider the representation of nature in roughly the first half of the twentieth century. Here the thought of Umwelt as formulated by the theoretical biologist Jakob von Uexküll as well as its reception in philosophical anthropology (Plessner, Jonas, Portmann) will provide one major point of reference, but we shall also attend to the rethinking of the notion of physis and the critique of technology in the work of Martin Heidegger. Our major artistic example for this phase of the seminar will be Paul Klee, whose work is rooted in an encompassing view of natural-artistic processes. Finally, we shall turn to the “contemporary” situation. Here our starting point will be the political-ecological-artistic enterprise of Joseph Beuys. Another topic will be the “aesthetics of nature” as developed by philosophers such as Martin Seel and Gernot Böhme. On the political front, we shall consider Das grüne Manifest (1978) and the difficulties of “ecological communication” (Niklas Luhmann) in modern society. We will conclude with a discussion of the possibilities of “ecocriticism.”

The major aim of the seminar is to foster reflection on the concept and image of “nature” among literary scholars, historians, art historians, and philosophers working in the area of German Studies. A secondary purpose will be to create a web-based archive of texts, images, and bibliographical references that can usefully be drawn on for future teaching and research.

Proposed Guest speakers: Christine Mehring (Art History, University of Chicago); Robert Pippin (Philosophy, University of Chicago).

The seminar will take place July 1-August 12, 2015, at the University of Chicago.

Seminar Director: David E. Wellbery
LeRoy T. and Margaret Deffenbaugh Carlson University Professor
Germanic Studies, Comparative Literature, Committee on Social Thought
University of Chicago

Program: The program will combine regular seminar meetings and discussions with presentation of participants’ research and occasional guest lectures. Seminar meetings will be conducted in English; advanced reading knowledge of German required.

Tuition: There is a $50 fee; participants are eligible for a stipend.

Eligibility: Participation is open to faculty members in the Humanities and Social Sciences at colleges and universities in the U.S. and Canada. Applicants who have received their Ph.D.s within the past two years but do not yet hold faculty appointments are encouraged to apply. Graduate students and Ph.D. candidates are not eligible. Participants are expected to have an active interest in German intellectual and cultural history and must be citizens or permanent residents of the U.S. or Canada.

Application Deadline: March 1, 2015. All application materials to be addressed to:
Prof. David E. Wellbery
Department of Germanic Studies
University of Chicago
Classics Building, Room 25F
1050 East 59th Street
Chicago, IL 60637
Tel.: (773) 702-8494
Fax: (773) 702-5902
E-mail: wellbery@uchicago.edu

For further information about seminar content, please contact:
Prof. David E. Wellbery
Department of Germanic Studies
University of Chicago
Classics Building, Room 25F
1050 East 59th Street
Chicago, IL 60637
Tel.: (773) 702-8494
Fax: (773) 702-5902
E-mail: wellbery@uchicago.edu

For other seminar-related questions, please contact Olga Petrova at Cornell University’s Institute for German Cultural Studies.

Olga Petrova, Assistant to the Director
Institute for German Cultural Studies
Cornell University
726 University Avenue
Ithaca, NY 14850
Tel.: (607) 255-8408
Fax: (607) 255-1454
E-mail: ogp2@cornell.edu

Eligibility Requirements
Tuition
Terms of Award
Seminar Requirements
Application Guidelines

Download Applications
Eligibility Requirements
  • Faculty members of accredited US and Canadian institutions of higher education are invited to apply.
  • Preference will be given to candidates who have not previously attended one of the summer seminars or received a DAAD grant within the past three years.
  • Applicants must be citizens or permanent residents of the United States or Canada. Permanent residents must have been affiliated with a United States or Canadian institution in full-time employment for at least five consecutive years, German nationals for at least six years.
  • Participants are expected to have an active interest in German intellectual and cultural history.
  • A reading knowledge of German is advisable.
Tuition
There is a $50 course fee.
Terms of Award
DAAD awards a small number of grants to cover tuition, travel and room and board during the seminar. The duration of the seminar is typically four to six weeks.
Seminar Requirements
Participants are required to attend all seminar sessions and to participate actively in the work of the seminar. Work-in-progress of participants and guests will be discussed. A written report is expected within four weeks of the end of the seminar.
Application Guidelines
All parts of the application must be typewritten or computer-generated and submitted in duplicate (original and one copy).

Please do not staple any of the application materials.

A complete application consists of the following parts:
  • DAAD application form entitled "Interdisciplinary Summer Seminar in German Studies.” Please answer all questions on the form, even if you refer to additional material
  • Curriculum vitae
  • Complete list of publications
  • A detailed statement explaining why the applicant wants to attend the seminar
  • One letter of recommendation

All application materials to be sent to Prof. David E. Wellbery at the University of Chicago.
Deadline  
The deadline is March 1, 2015.
Questions?  
All application materials to be addressed to:
Prof. David E. Wellbery
Department of Germanic Studies
University of Chicago
Classics Building, Room 25F
1050 East 59th Street
Chicago, IL 60637
Tel.: (773) 702-8494
Fax: (773) 702-5902
E-mail: David E. Wellbery [wellbery@uchicago.edu]

For further information about seminar content, please contact:
Prof. David E. Wellbery
Department of Germanic Studies
University of Chicago
Classics Building, Room 25F
1050 East 59th Street
Chicago, IL 60637
Tel.: (773) 702-8494
Fax: (773) 702-5902
E-mail: David E. Wellbery [wellbery@uchicago.edu]

For other seminar-related questions, please contact Olga Petrova at Cornell University’s Institute for German Cultural Studies.

Olga Petrova, Assistant to the Director
Institute for German Cultural Studies
Cornell University
726 University Avenue
Ithaca, NY 14850
Tel.: (607) 255-8408
Fax: (607) 255-1454
E-mail: Olga Petrova [ogp2@cornell.edu]