May 13, 2014
Tuesday, 5:00 pm
306 Royce Hall
Sarah Pourciau, Princeton University
"Ja, ich will": Hugo von Hofmannsthal and the Problem of the Future Tense
The end of the 19th century coincides, in the German-speaking world, with the end of a teleological approach to time that views history as a journey toward future fulfillment. Hugo von Hofmannsthal's famous Sprachkrise, the talk will argue, can best be understood against the backdrop of this fundamentally Geschichtsphilosophical predicament, as a problem with the future tense. The question of how to say yes (or "I do") to a tempus that need bear no meaningful relationship to the will--of the individual, the community, or the universal world spirit--determines the grammar of doomed aristocrat-poets from Lord Chandos to Graf Bühl.
Sarah Pourciau received her PhD in German from Princeton University in 2007; she also has an MA in Jewish Studies from the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York (2001). She joined the faculty of the Princeton German Department in 2009 after two years as a Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow at Stanford University. She has recently completed a book entitled The Soul of System: Sprachgeist and the Roots of Language Science, which explores the 19th century emergence and 20th century transformation of a "scientific" or "systematic" approach to language. Her general research and teaching interests include the history of philosophy, the history of theology, German-Jewish intellectual history, and the relationship between literature and science. Pourciau has been awarded grants from the Humboldt Foundation, the Portor Ogden Jacobus Foundation, the Whiting Foundation, and the DAAD. She has published articles on Immanuel Kant, Theodor W. Adorno, Carl Schmitt, Erich Auerbach, Peter Weiss, and Martin Heidegger.