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

Upcoming Rodig Lectures

No events

Fall 2022

Professor Fritz Breithaupt (Indiana University)

Rodig Lecture:

Serial Reproduction of Narratives: Vulnerability in the Grimm Fairy Tales
Thursday, October 13, 2022, 4:30pm-6pm
Academic Building, Room 4052 (West Wing)

Psychologists use the term “serial reproduction” to describe a technique of repeated retellings as in the telephone game to distill the basic mental schema of stories and communication. What happens when people retell stories in communication chains? The talk will first present experimental data of story retelling, and then focus on the famous collection of the German folk tales by the Grimm Brothers that had been communicated orally for generations before the Grimms collected them. In these tales, the vulnerability of the protagonists emerges as a weapon that leads them to a victorious end.


Rodig Seminar:

Reading Trauma: E.T.A. Hoffmann’s Mademoiselle de Scuderi
Friday, October 14, 2022, 10am-12pm
Academic Building, Room 4050 (West Wing)

What happens when one retells memories? What transformations occur in retelling and reexperiencing? And more targeted: When and how can such memories become traumatic? In this seminar, we will discuss the narrative mechanism of traumatic repetition, and we will do so by means of a close reading of short passages by the German Romantic writer E.T.A. Hoffmann from Mademoiselle de Scuderi and The Sandman. Prior exposure to German Romanticism and these texts is not required.

*Please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for copies of the readings for Friday's Rodig Seminar.





Fritz Breithaupt is Provost Professor at Indiana University in Germanic Studies and Cognitive Science. His research includes German and European literature and philosophy since the 18th century, Goethe, history of money, cognitive approaches to literature, empathy, and narrative thinking. His recent books are The Dark Sides of Empathy (Cornell University Press, 2019) and Das narrative Gehirn/The narrative Brain (Suhrkamp, 2022), the non-fiction book of the month in Germany for August 2022. He is the director of the Experimental Humanities Lab.




Spring 2020

Professor Juliane Rebentisch (Princeton University / Hochschule für Gestaltung in Offenbach/Main)

Rodig Lecture:

Politics and Theater after Hannah Arendt
Thursday, February 20, 2020, 4:30pm-6pm
Academic Building, Room 4052 (West Wing)

According to Hannah Arendt, theatre is the political art par excellence. In fact, Arendt advocates a concept of the political that is intimately linked to forms of appearance, rhetoric and emergence of the person on the public stage. The lecture will critically examine these motifs and ask about their topicality. 

Rodig Seminar:
Invisibility as a Political Problem (after Hannah Arendt)
Friday, February 21, 2020, 10am-12pm
Academic Building, Room 4052 (West Wing)

Arendt's philosophy of appearance is wrested from the problem of disappearance and invisibility - under totalitarian regimes, under conditions of slavery and poverty. To better understand the intuition behind Arendt's persistent adherence to the notion of a freedom that coincides with the establishment and maintenance of a plural public space of appearance in which it can be realized, one must take into account the negative experiences against the backdrop of which this idea takes on its polemical value.


Hannah Arendt, On Revolution [1963], London: Faber & Faber, 1963, pp. 53-110.  pdf Arendt On Revolution (3.48 MB)
Hannah Arendt, “The Decline of the Nation-State and the End of the Rights of Man”, in The Origins of Totalitarianism [1951], London: Penguin Books, 2017, pp. 349-396.  pdf Arendt Decline of the Nation State (2.24 MB)
Hannah Arendt, “Total Domination”, in The Origins of Totalitarianism, pp. 573-603.  pdf Arendt Total Domination (1.45 MB)

Rebentisch Juliane v2Juliane Rebentisch joined the Princeton Department of German as a Permanent Visiting Professor in the Fall of 2019. She is the author of Ästhetik der Installation [Suhrkamp, 2003; 7th edition 2018, with translations in English (Sternberg) and Spanish (Caja Negra)], Die Kunst der Freiheit [Suhrkamp 2012, 3rd edition 2019, with translations in English (Polity), and - of the part on Hegel - in Italian (Inschibboleth Edizioni)], Theorien der Gegenwartskunst [Junius, 2013, 4th edition 2015]. She has edited a number of volumes on subjects that range from queer subculture and the philosophy of language to negativity and the affects of capitalism, from the problem of progress in contemporary art and the (non-)discipline of aesthetics to the epistemology of irrationality and paradoxes of equality. Currently, she is working on a short book that will discuss Hannah Arendt’s notion of the public realm as a space of appearance in a contemporary horizon.

In Germany, Juliane Rebentisch is Professor of Philosophy and Aesthetics and Vice President at the Hochschule für Gestaltung in Offenbach/Main. She was awarded the Lessing Prize of the city of Hamburg (2017). In 2018, she was a fellow at the Institute for Advanced Study in Constance and a guest of honor at the Villa Massimo in Rome. Prof. Rebentisch offers courses in aesthetics, critical theory, ethics, political philosophy and contemporary art. Her research focuses on the various intersections between aesthetics, ethics, and political philosophy.




Fall 2018

Professor Elisabeth Strowick (New York University)

Rodig Lecture: 

Scenes of Force: Freud, Stifter, Austin
Thursday, November 15, 2018, 4:30pm-6pm
Academic Building, Room 4052 (West Wing)

In a constellative reading of literature, psychoanalysis, and speech act theory, my lecture develops a notion of the scenic, which profiles the scene as the site of force [Schauplatz von Kraft]. Scenic force is evident in the proliferation of the writing- and castle-complex in Stifter's Narrenburg, as “Spannung” (tension, suspense) in the dream of Freud's Wolfman, as “sea-change” in Austin's exclusion of literary-theatrical speech acts. Here, force is understood decidedly in terms of representation theory, as a force of representation that asserts itself as a scenic force. Distinct from notions of the scene that are oriented towards unity, closure, and stability, the dynamics of scenic force analyzed here introduce a thinking of the scenic to figures of seriality, belatedness, suspense, and doubling, as well as the spectral scene effects which result from them.

Rodig Seminar:
Towards a Literary Epistemology of Suspicion: Kafka’s Clues
Friday, November 16, 2018, 10am-12pm
Academic Building, Room 4052 (West Wing)

Modernity gives rise to various forms of suspicion, including modern forms ofresentment and practices of self-discipline (a suspicion of oneself), as well as to an epistemology of suspicion as it is developed in the modern human sciences. Arguably, one of the most sophisticated analysts of the modern dispositive of suspicion is Franz Kafka. In the seminar, we will discuss Kafka’s literary epistemology of suspicion and usage of clues within a broader cultural-historical framework spanning from Nietzsche’s analysis of resentment and Freud’s psychoanalysis to Foucault’s “microphysics of power” and what Carlo Ginzburg calls the “paradigm of clues.”


FinkElisabethStrowickFoto2Elisabeth Strowick is Professor of German and Acting Chair of the Department of German at New York University. Before joining NYU, Elisabeth Strowick was Professor of German, Chair of the Department of German and Romance Languages and Literatures, and Co-Director of the Max Kade Center for Modern German Thought at the Johns Hopkins University. She held several academic positions at universities throughout the United States (Yale, Vanderbilt), Germany (Center for Literary and Cultural Research, Berlin, Hamburg) and Switzerland (Zurich, Basel). Professor Strowick's areas of expertise are German literature, culture, and thought from the 19th century to the present, with a special emphasis on literary theory, psychoanalysis, aesthetics, rhetoric, and the poetics of knowledge. She is the author of Passagen der Wiederholung. Kierkegaard – Lacan – Freud (Metzler 1999) and Sprechende Körper – Poetik der AnsteckungPerformativa in Literatur und Rhetorik (Fink 2009). Professor Strowick has (co-)edited numerous volumes and special issues of peer-reviewed journals, such as the MLN special issue “Literature and the Sense of Possibility” (2010), a special issue of the journal Monatshefte on “Observation in Science and Literature” (2013), the volume Wirklichkeit und Wahrnehmung: Neue Perspektiven auf Theodor Storm (2013), and the MLN special issue “Curse and Modernity” (2016). Her book Gespenster des Realismus: Zur literarischen Wahrnehmung von Wirklichkeit will be published with Fink this Fall.




Spring 2018

Professor Geoffrey Winthrop-Young (University of British Columbia

Rodig Lecture: 
Ersatz Nation and Resurrected Species: On the Use of Speed in the Third Reich
Thursday, April 5, 2018, 4:30pm-6pm
Academic Building, Room 4052

Rodig Seminar:
War, Catastrophes, and the Taming of Times: Notes of Spengler and Kittler
Friday, April 6, 2018, 10am-12pm
Academic Building, Room 4052

cropped Geoffrey Winthrop Young DSC0836Geoffrey Winthrop-Young is Professor and Head of the Department of Central, Eastern and Northern European Studies at the University of British Columbia/Vancouver and teaches in the German and Scandinavian programs. Among his recent publications are Kittler and the Media and a co-edited Theory, Culture & Society volume on Cultural Techniques.  He is currently working on two books, a history of German theories of technology from the 19th century to the present and an study of evolution, catastrophism and media palaeontology. 




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


Frauke Berndt is Full Professor for German Literature at the University of Zurich (Switzerland) since 2015, after having held positions in Frankfurt am Main and Tuebingen. She was Visiting Professor at The University of Chicago, Indiana University Bloomington, University of Oregon, and Vanderbilt University. Currently, she is leading an international research group that investigates ethical practices in 18th century aesthetic theory. Her recent publications have been on aesthetics, rhetoric, and psychoanalysis.


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)