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Rodig Lecture Series

The Rodig Lecture Series is dedicated to the memory of the late Dr. Oscar R. Rodig, Jr. R51, who studied Chemistry and German at Rutgers, and Erika Rodig Rosera D62, who studied History and German at Douglass College. The series is generously funded by an annual gift from Mrs. Lillian Rodig Maxwell. Each semester, the German Department hosts a scholar for a campus visit that includes a public lecture, a seminar presentation, and informal meetings and meals with students and friends of the department. The past and upcoming Rodig lecturers are listed below.

rodig seminar sp 2014

Professor Helmut Müller-Sievers and Mrs. Lillian Rodig Maxwell

Rodig Lecture - 2018

Fall 2017

Professor Frauke Berndt (University of Zürich)

Rodig Lecture:
The Curse of Medea
Wednesday, November 1, 4:30pm-6pm
Academic Building, Room 2400

Rodig Seminar:
Paradigmatic Figures of Psychoanalysis: Medea and her Sisters
Thursday, November 2, 10am-12pm
Comparative Literature Seminar Room
Academic Building, Room 4052

Fall 2016

Professor Gertrud Koch (The Free University Berlin/Brown University)

Rodig Lecture:
Benjamin's Mass at the Cinema: Benjamin as reader of E.T. A. Hoffmann and E.A. Poe, Deleuze, and Metz 
Thursday, October 6th, 4:30pm-6:30pm
Alexander Library
Pane Room

Rodig Seminar:
Harun Farocki and Labour in a Single Shot
Friday, October 7th, 10:00am-12:00pm
Academic Building- 1252, West Wing

Spring 2016

Professor Eva Horn (Vienna University)

Rodig Lecture:
Climate and Culture: Thinking the Anthropocene, ca. 1800
Thursday, April 14, 4:30pm
Alexander Library
Teleconference Lecture Hall

The current debates revolving around the concept of the Anthropocene tend to lack a historical genealogy. In spite of some suggestions (such as Stoppani, Vernadski, or Teilhard de Chardin), the awareness of humankind's profound impact on the global climate and the Earth's life system is often deemed to be a relatively new insight. This lecture proposes to take a look at climate theories of the 18th century in order to reass this notion and to avoid the shortcomings of the current debate. By examining the relationship between climate and culture, writers such as Montesquieu, Buffon, and Herder establish a theory of how human cultures and their natural conditions of existence are being negotiated. As early as by 1778, Buffon and Herder begin to grasp the role of humans in shaping and transforming climate. Especially Herder should thus be seen as an early thinker of environmental reflexivity, anticipating and questioning the cultural and anthropological implications of the Anthropocene. His theory of humankind's place in nature may help us to better understand the "anthropos" involved in this concept.

Rodig Seminar:
The Anthropology of Climate
Friday, April 15, 10:00am
German House Seminar Room

Excerpts from:
Aristotle, "Politics VII, 7"
Crutzen, "The Geology of Mankind"
Herder, "Outlines of a Philosophy of the History of Man"
Hippocrates, "On Waters, Airs, and Places"
Montesquieu, "The Spirit of the Laws"

English Translations German Originals
pdf "The Outlines of a Philosophy of the History of Man" (2.86 MB) pdf "Ideen zur Philosophie der Geschichte der Menschheit" (399 KB)
pdf "On Airs, Waters, and Places" & "Politics VII" (236 KB)  
pdf "The Spirit of the Laws" (481 KB)  
pdf "The Geology of Mankind" (202 KB)  

Please be aware that pictures will be taken at these events and Rutgers reserves all rights to use these photographs in any medium for educational, promotional, advertising, or other purposes that support the mission of the university.

Fall 2015

Professor Rolf-Peter Janz (Freie Universität Berlin)

Rodig Lecture:
Laughter - Promoted and Verboten
Thursday, October 15, 5:00pm
Alexander Library
Teleconference Lecture Hall

Laughter comes in many forms. There's made or diabolical laughter, black humour, laughing till we cry, shaking with laughter, and so on. Kant describes it as "the affect that agitates the intestines and the diaphragm." A non-verbal expression of the body, laughter is a topic that has challenged philosophers from Aristotle to Nietzsche, Helmuth Plessner to Hans Blumenberg. These writers ask, how and why do we laugh, at what and about whom do we laugh, etc. Why, to quote an example from Jean Paul, are we inclined to laugh when we read that somebody, instead of falling on his knees, falls on his kneecap. We laugh because we become aware of a difference, the difference between a solemn act of devotion and banal anatomy. Other questions addressed in the lecture include: What is the social function of laughter? Is it subversive or harmless? Why and when is laughter forbidden, and by whom? Drawing on Nietzsche, Blumenberg, and others, the lecture will examine whether some of the theoretical notions they developed can help us to analyze scenarios of laughter in Heine’s “The Rabbi of Bacherach” and in Kafka’s “A Report to an Academy.”

Rodig Seminar:
Laughter - Promoted and Verboten
Friday, October 16, 10:00am
German House Seminar Room

Readings: Heinrich Heine,  "The Rabbi of Bacharach" [59] (1840), from The German Classics of the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries: Masterpieces of German Literature Translated into English
Franz Kafka, "A Report to the Academy" from Kafka's Selected Stories (2007)
Friedrich Nietzsche,  "Origin of the Comic" from Human, All Too Human 

English translations German originals
pdf "The Rabbi of Bacharach" (120 KB) pdf "Der Rabbi von Bacherach" (3.58 MB)
pdf "A Report to the Academy" (2.64 MB) pdf "Ein Bericht für eine Akademie" (1.90 MB)
pdf "Origin of the Comic" (299 KB) pdf "Herkunft des Komischen" (422 KB)

Readings for the seminar will be available the week beforehand at 172 College Avenue or can be downloaded above.

Professor Rolf-Peter Janz is Professor Emeritus in the German Department at The Free University Berlin. His most recent publications include Schwindelerfahrungen: Zur kulturhistorischen Diagnose eines vieldeutigen Phänomens (2003) and Labyrinth und Spiel: Umdeutungen eines Mythos (2007), along with numerous articles on Schiller, Kleist, Büchner, Kafka, W. Benjamin, and others. His scholarship covers the literature and aesthetics of Classicism and Romanticism, Fin de Siècle Vienna, and the Weimar Republic, as well as the reshaping of Greek myths in 20th-century literature. His current research focuses on the connection between the sublime and the ridiculous, and on text-image relations.

Spring 2015

Professor Elisabeth Weber (University of California, Santa Barbara)

Rodig Lecture:
Lions and Slit Umbrellas: Encounters with the Impossible in Sibylle Lewitscharoff’s Blumenberg and other texts.
Thursday, April 16, 5:00pm
Alexander Library
Teleconference Lecture Hall
pdf Flyer (362 KB)

"Big, yellow, breathing: without a doubt, a lion." Sibylle Lewitscharoff's 2011 novel Blumenberg opens with the philosopher Blumenberg encountering a lion, in his office, in the middle of the night. What does "Being there" ("da sein," not "Dasein") mean for a philosopher when it materializes as a lion? This lecture proposes to explore possibilities of fiction in and beyond its conversation with philosophy. If, as Jacques Derrida asserts, the necessity to think what is "most irreducible" about our era implies that thought be maintained in a relationship with the "structural limits of mastery," the encounter with the lion raises necessary questions.

Rodig Seminar:
Heroes, Stars, Communities: Franz Kafka's "Josefine the Singer, or the Mouse Folk"
Friday, April 17, 2015, 10am
German House Seminar Room
Readings: Franz Kafka: The Complete Stories, pdf "Josefine the Singer, or the Mouse Folk" (2.05 MB)
Reading Kafka, pdf "An Introductory Talk on the Yiddish Language" (340 KB)
pdf Flyer (398 KB)

Readings for the seminar will be available the week beforehand at 172 College Avenue or can be downloaded above.

Professor Elisabeth Weber teaches German and Comparative Literature at the University of California, Santa Barbara. She is the author of Persecution and Trauma. On Emmanuel Levinas' Otherwise than being or beyond essence, and of Questioning Judaism, a collection of interviews with French intellectuals and philosophers. She has edited several works by Jacques Derrida. Most recently, she edited the volumes Living Together. Jacques Derrida's Communities of Violence and Peace, and, together with Julie Carlson, Speaking about Torture (New York, Fordham University Press, 2013).

Fall 2014

Professor David Farrell Krell (DePaul University)

Rodig Lecture:
Ecstasies of Time
Thursday, October 16, 2014, 4:15pm
Max Multi-Purpose Room
Zimmerli Art Museum

 Prof. Krell's lecture will explore a pivotal dimension of Heidegger's 1927 major work, Sein und Zeit (Being and Time), which is often overlooked: the puzzling, yet intriguing, account of ecstatic temporality. According to Krell, the interpretation of ecstatic temporality remains one of Heidegger's greatest achievements.

Rodig Seminar:
Ecstasies of Time
Friday, October 17, 2014, 10am
German House Seminar Room
Readings: Being and Time "Dasein and Temporality" §65 370-380
Sein und Zeit "Dasein und Zeitlichkeit" §65 323-330

Readings for the seminar will be available in English and German the week beforehand at 172 College Avenue or can be dowloaded below.
pdf Being and Time      pdf Sein und Zeit

Professor David Farrell Krell is the Brauer Distinguished Visiting Professor of German Studies at Brown University, as well as an Emeritus Professor of Philosophy at DePaul University. His work is concerned with the areas of early Greek thought, German Romanticism and Idealism, Nietzsche, Heidegger, Merleau-Ponty, and Derrida. Three of his most recent academic works are a translation and critical edition of Hölderlin's Der Tod des Empedokles (SUNY, 2008), Derrida and Our Animal Others (Indiana, 2013), and Phantoms of the Other: Four Generations of Derrida's Geschlecht (SUNY, forthcoming in 2015). Krell has also published a number of short stories and three novels.

Spring 2014

Professor Helmut Müller-Sievers (University of Colorado-Boulder)

rodig lecture sp 2014

 Fall 2013

Professor Avital Ronell (New York University)

Rodig Lecture:
“Ach!” The History of a Complaint
Thursday, October 24, 2013, 4pm
Max Multi-Purpose Room
Zimmerli Museum

 How does one register a complaint? Who has the right to complain? Does the complaint issue from a place of impotence or does it have the potential to move mountains—or, more scaled down, can it arrive at any destination whatsoever? Perhaps the complaint serves as an utterance reserved for minoritized stances or diminishments—or are these precisely banned from complaining, raising objections? Does authority deign to complain, and can power dispense with the urge to complain? “Stop complaining, woman!” loops through internal sound systems, misogynist and unhinging. Do real men complain? Or is the complaint not radically incompatible with the worldly thrusts of any lean mean fighting machine? What about the *silent *complaint? So many questions, so little time.

(*The presentation takes into consideration modalities of complaining in Goethe, Kleist and Heidegger, tracking scenes of grievance, protest, sobbing, and insurrection.*)

Rodig Seminar:
On Being *All* Alone: Kafka's "Letter to Father"
Friday, October 25, 2013, 10am
German House Seminar Room

Avital Ronell taught at the University of California at Berkeley from 1984-1995 and at New York University from 1995 to the present. She taught an annual seminar in Literature & Philosophy at NYU with Professor Jacques Derrida and has taught with Professor Helene Cixous at Université of Paris VIII. Her books include: The Uber Reader: Selected Works of Avital Ronell (Ed. Diane Davis. 2006); The Test Drive (2005); Stupidity (2001); Finitude's Score: Essays for the End of the Millennium (1994); Crack Wars: Literature, Addiction, Mania (1992); The Telephone Book: Technology, Schizophrenia, Electric Speech (2001), and more. Professor Ronell gave 9 performances at the Centre Pompidou in Paris, beginning with a discussion and film premiere with Werner Herzog and including a performance by Judith Butler. She wrote and performed in a play in Berlin at HAU 3: "What Was I Thinking? A Special Colloquy."

Spring 2013

Professor Vivian Liska (University of Antwerp)

Winter 2013

Professor John Hamilton (Harvard University)

Spring 2012

Professor Gerhard Richter (Brown University)

Fall 2011

Professor Carol Jacobs (Yale University)

Spring 2011

Professor Claudia Brodsky (Princeton University)

Fall 2010

Professor Tony Kaes (University of California-Berkeley)

Spring 2010

Professor Thomas Elsaesser (University of Amsterdam, Emeritus)

Fall 2009

Professor P. Michael Lützeler (Washington University)
"The Writers' Europe: An Imagined Community" (pdf)

Spring 2009

Professor Sam Weber (Northwestern University)
"From Reflection to Repetition: Medium, Reflexivity and the Economy of the Self" (pdf)

Fall 2008

Professor Elisabeth Bronfen (University of Zurich)

Spring 2008

Professor Leslie Adelson (Cornell University)

Fall 2007

Sterling Professor Emeritus Peter Gay (Yale University)

Spring 2007

Liliane Weissberg (University of Pennsylvania)

Fall 2006

Richard T. Gray (University of Washington)

Spring 2006

Nicholas Boyle (Magdalene College, University of Cambridge)

Fall 2005

Rüdiger Campe (Johns Hopkins University)

Spring 2005

Professor David E. Wellbery (University of Chicago)

Fall 2004

Professor Robert C. Holub (University of California, Berkeley)

Spring 2004

Professor Martin Jay (University of California, Berkeley)

Fall 2003

Professor Judith Ryan (Harvard University)

Spring 2003

Professor Ritchie Robertson (Oxford University)

Fall 2002

Professor Eric Santner (University of Chicago)

Spring 2002

Professor Benjamin Bennett (University of Virginia)

Fall 2001

Sabine Hake (University of Pittsburgh)

Spring 2001

Professor Eric Rentschler (Harvard University)

Fall 2000

Professor Tony Kaes (University of California-Berkeley)

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