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Queen's University

GRMN 423*

Goethe and his Age

In this course, we are going to explore the period from roughly 1770, the beginning of Johann Wolfgang Goethe's literary production, to his death in 1832. What is in short called „Goethezeit" covers several important movements in German literary history. It reflects on the Aufklärung and its antipodes Rationalismus and Empfindsamkeit, captures Sturm und Drang, and in the end also looks at the beginning of the Romantik. Central to the epoch is the Weimarer Klassik, with Goethe and Schiller as its towering representatives.

Throughout the semester, we will read three texts: Goethes Die Leiden des jungen Werther, which is the onset of the modern love novel, Schillers Wilhelm Tell, the struggle for justice and freedom in Switzerland, and Goethes Faust, the drama on the outreaching mind and its ethical boundaries. Additionally, we will consult shorter texts of the period, in order to gain an insight into the happenings of the time, which set the terms for the ideas and the literature to come.


Term paper (500 words), poster presentation, final exam (3 hours).


1.0 credit from GRMN 205, 210, 308*, 309*, 310*, 311* or equivalent.


GRMN 323*

Kingston, Ontario, Canada. K7L 3N6. 613.533.2000