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The Biedermeier Goethe: Altersstil and Zeitalterstil

Jane K. Brown, Joff Hanauer Distinguished Professor for Western Civilization Emerita

Friday, February 9, 2018 - 2:30pm
Denny Hall (DEN) 359

Jane K. Brown
Joff Hanauer Distinguished Professor for Western Civilization Emerita, Germanics and Comparative Literature


This talk argues that Goethe's late style (Altersstil) should not be thought of as an individual phenomenon. Instead, from the turn of the nineteenth century on Goethe was writing in and giving shape to a changing historical context. Indeed he was the early great practitioner of what can still be usefully called the German Biedermeier, or in European terms, late Romanticism. It will show how Goethe's works from about 1803 on fit the categories of the Biedermeier as defined by its leading scholars, Friedrich Sengle and Virgil Nemoianu. It will then show how two popular works on the 19th century, Karl Immermann's Die Epigonen and Johann Peter Eckermann's Gespräche mit Goethe transmitted his "Biedermeier style" to the late Romantics in Germany.

Reception to follow.

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