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Full-Text Articles in Modern Languages

The Dark Pastoral: A Trope For The Anthropocene, Heather I. Sullivan Jan 2017

The Dark Pastoral: A Trope For The Anthropocene, Heather I. Sullivan

Modern Languages and Literatures Faculty Research

Denoting our current age as the Anthropocene, or the era of planet-wide human impact, scales up human agency beyond the usual biological capacity of all living things to alter their surroundings to a geological force. Human activities have altered vast areas of the Earth's terrestrial surfaces, spread industrial particulates across the globe, and impacted the planetary climate with increased release of carbon dioxide that then increases oceanic acidity bleaching entire coral reefs. The biosphere's land, air, and water have all changed with the increased release and use of energy. Once again, a species of living things has become ...


Nature And The "Dark Pastoral" In Goethe's Werther, Heather I. Sullivan Oct 2016

Nature And The "Dark Pastoral" In Goethe's Werther, Heather I. Sullivan

Heather I Sullivan

Celebrating the natural harmony of the stream, grasses, and the beautiful wellspring where the peasant girls come to fetch water in Die Leiden des jungen Werthers (The Sorrows of Young Werther, 1774), Goethe’s eponymous hero embraces pastoral nature with a passion. He partakes in a traditional pastoral setting of rustic, idyllic landscapes rife with “simple” peasant folk, happy children, and agricultural pursuits far from the complexities of urban or courtly life—at least in the first part of the novel. This idealized pastoral framework with its peaceful green hills and valleys appears isolated from—or, more precisely, abstracted from ...


Dirty Traffic And The Dark Pastoral In The Anthropocene: Narrating Refugees, Deforestation, Radiation, And Melting Ice, Heather I. Sullivan Jul 2016

Dirty Traffic And The Dark Pastoral In The Anthropocene: Narrating Refugees, Deforestation, Radiation, And Melting Ice, Heather I. Sullivan

Heather I Sullivan

“Dirt is essentially disorder [....] Dirt offends against order,” asserts Mary Douglas in her 1966 anthropological text on “purity and pollution.” Dirt disturbs order; hence dirt is that which is disorderly and “out of place.” Similarly, according to Greg Garrard’s Ecocriticism (2012) the term pollution describes a cultural norm denoting something out of place: pollution, he writes, “does not name a substance or class of substances, but rather represents an implicit normative claim that too much of something is present in the environment, usually in the wrong place.” This definition of pollution and dirt as “something out of place,” however ...


Threatening Animals?, Heather I. Sullivan Jul 2016

Threatening Animals?, Heather I. Sullivan

Heather I Sullivan

Threatening predators and pernicious beasts continue to play significant roles in the human imaginary even as human threats to other species increase exponentially in the age of Anthropocene. While posthumanist animal studies and material ecocriticism sync human and other animals within the biosphere’s living interactions, our shared material reciprocity is currently skewing ever more towards the human threat to other species – and so to ourselves as co-dependents. This essay explores the meaning of “threatening” and “threatened”. Five German texts presenting human-animal interactions in the Anthropocene’s span by Goethe, Kafka, Stifter, Duve, and Trojanow unsettle expectations of threats. In ...


Agency In The Anthropocene: Goethe, Radical Reality, And The New Materialisms, Heather I. Sullivan Jul 2016

Agency In The Anthropocene: Goethe, Radical Reality, And The New Materialisms, Heather I. Sullivan

Heather I Sullivan

Our current era has been termed the Age of the “Anthropocene,” or the human- inflected geological era. This essay addresses the implications of human impact on the Earth as a form of “radical reality” by addressing the broad spectrum of human and non-human agency. The analysis follows a three-step process: it begins with an introduction to the new materialisms and distributed agency in contrast to Howard Tuttle’s notion of “radical reality” based on human consciousness. It then explores the agency of nature’s “vibrancy” in the debate occurring early in the Anthropocene (during Goethe’s lifetime) between “vitalism” and ...


Threatening Animals?, Heather I. Sullivan Jun 2016

Threatening Animals?, Heather I. Sullivan

Modern Languages and Literatures Faculty Research

Threatening predators and pernicious beasts continue to play significant roles in the human imaginary even as human threats to other species increase exponentially in the age of Anthropocene. While posthumanist animal studies and material ecocriticism sync human and other animals within the biosphere’s living interactions, our shared material reciprocity is currently skewing ever more towards the human threat to other species – and so to ourselves as co-dependents. This essay explores the meaning of “threatening” and “threatened”. Five German texts presenting human-animal interactions in the Anthropocene’s span by Goethe, Kafka, Stifter, Duve, and Trojanow unsettle expectations of threats. In ...


Agency In The Anthropocene: Goethe, Radical Reality, And The New Materialisms, Heather I. Sullivan Jan 2016

Agency In The Anthropocene: Goethe, Radical Reality, And The New Materialisms, Heather I. Sullivan

Modern Languages and Literatures Faculty Research

Our current era has been termed the Age of the “Anthropocene,” or the human- inflected geological era. This essay addresses the implications of human impact on the Earth as a form of “radical reality” by addressing the broad spectrum of human and non-human agency. The analysis follows a three-step process: it begins with an introduction to the new materialisms and distributed agency in contrast to Howard Tuttle’s notion of “radical reality” based on human consciousness. It then explores the agency of nature’s “vibrancy” in the debate occurring early in the Anthropocene (during Goethe’s lifetime) between “vitalism” and ...


Bedecke Deinen Himmel, Zeus! Goethe And The Quest For Individual Sovereignty, Anthony D. Magestro Sep 2015

Bedecke Deinen Himmel, Zeus! Goethe And The Quest For Individual Sovereignty, Anthony D. Magestro

Journal of Undergraduate Research at Minnesota State University, Mankato

This project examines Johann Wolfgang von Goethe’s Die Leiden des jungen Werther (The Sorrows of Young Werther, 1774) and his early poetry and their influence on the German literary movement of Sturm und Drang (Storm and Stress, 1770-1785). As a reaction to the rise of rationalism, Goethe’s texts embody the value of raw, subjective emotion versus logical, objective understanding of the preceding Enlightenment period. Through his literature, Goethe challenges the status quo of absolute rule of church and state as well as humanity’s relationship with God: are we bound to the laws of the Almighty’s design ...


Nature And The "Dark Pastoral" In Goethe's Werther, Heather I. Sullivan Jan 2015

Nature And The "Dark Pastoral" In Goethe's Werther, Heather I. Sullivan

Modern Languages and Literatures Faculty Research

Celebrating the natural harmony of the stream, grasses, and the beautiful wellspring where the peasant girls come to fetch water in Die Leiden des jungen Werthers (The Sorrows of Young Werther, 1774), Goethe’s eponymous hero embraces pastoral nature with a passion. He partakes in a traditional pastoral setting of rustic, idyllic landscapes rife with “simple” peasant folk, happy children, and agricultural pursuits far from the complexities of urban or courtly life—at least in the first part of the novel. This idealized pastoral framework with its peaceful green hills and valleys appears isolated from—or, more precisely, abstracted from ...


Dirty Traffic And The Dark Pastoral In The Anthropocene: Narrating Refugees, Deforestation, Radiation, And Melting Ice, Heather I. Sullivan Jan 2014

Dirty Traffic And The Dark Pastoral In The Anthropocene: Narrating Refugees, Deforestation, Radiation, And Melting Ice, Heather I. Sullivan

Modern Languages and Literatures Faculty Research

“Dirt is essentially disorder [....] Dirt offends against order,” asserts Mary Douglas in her 1966 anthropological text on “purity and pollution.” Dirt disturbs order; hence dirt is that which is disorderly and “out of place.” Similarly, according to Greg Garrard’s Ecocriticism (2012) the term pollution describes a cultural norm denoting something out of place: pollution, he writes, “does not name a substance or class of substances, but rather represents an implicit normative claim that too much of something is present in the environment, usually in the wrong place.” This definition of pollution and dirt as “something out of place,” however ...


Faust’S Mountains: An Ecocritical Reading Of Goethe’S Tragedy And Science, Heather I. Sullivan Jan 2012

Faust’S Mountains: An Ecocritical Reading Of Goethe’S Tragedy And Science, Heather I. Sullivan

Modern Languages and Literatures Faculty Research

Ecocriticism's environmental perspective views human beings, bodies, and culture as participants in ecological interactions and exchanges with the rest of the energetic and material world, including both biotic and abiotic forms. This ecocritical essay assesses how Goethe portrays Faust's mountain experiences in both part I and part II (1808, 1832) of the tragedy as engagements with physical matter rather than with spiritual inspiration. Indeed, by using ecocriticism to study Goethe's science as the context for the play, we see that Faust's many mountains are more than a setting; they actively destabilize his — and our — assumptions about ...


Ecocriticism, The Elements, And The Ascent/Descent Into Weather In Goethe’S Faust, Heather I. Sullivan Jan 2010

Ecocriticism, The Elements, And The Ascent/Descent Into Weather In Goethe’S Faust, Heather I. Sullivan

Modern Languages and Literatures Faculty Research

The ostensibly religious and ethical significance of Faust's final ascension after his death tends to distract, if not blind, readers to other possible implications of that upwards movement and to the idea that he may continue and return "back to earth." The assumption that heavenly powers reward Faust leads to the claim that Goethe's tragedy validates the quest of "land developers" or those who would strive regardless of the consequences. I propose, in contrast, that we read Faust's "final" ascension alongside Goethe's weather essay, "Witterungslehre 1825," and thereby note that this upward motion is not necessarily ...