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Hölderlin – Poetry and Modernity

Lecturer: Mark Hewson

Originally Taught: Summer School 2016

This course will give an introduction to the poetry and thought of Friedrich Hölderlin (1770-1843). Seen as a minor figure throughout the 19th century, Hölderlin was the subject of a wave of new interest at the beginning of the 20th century. Following this re-discovery, Hölderlin became one of the key references in the discourse on modern poetry, especially in Germany but also more widely. This was in part due to his late reception and his tragic life-story (lack of recognition, mental illness), but also because his work dramatizes the situation of poetry in the modern age, which he depicts as the "world-night", the time of the absence of gods.

This course will begin by studying Hölderlin's novel, Hyperion. In order to get a sense of the intellectual situation to which his work responds, some time will be given to the aesthetic writings of Schiller, which formulate many of the questions that will occupy Hölderlin, as well as his philosophical contemporaries, such as Hegel and Schelling.

In the second part of the course, we will study a series of Hölderlin's major poems

The course will give some indications on philosophical discussions of Hölderlin (e.g. Heidegger), but it will be primarily literary-historical and intellectual historical. A particular theme will be the interaction of modernity and poetry. To what extent does the end of religion mean the end of poetry, to what extent does it reveal it as it is? And to what extent does the situation of poetry have a place in understanding what is meant by this notion of "modernity"?

Participants would do well to read at least the first half of the novel Hyperion in preparation for the first class.

Course Schedule

1. Schiller "The Theosophy of Julius", "The Gods of Greece". Hölderlin Hyperion.

2. Schiller "Letters on the Aesthetic Education of Man", "On Naïve and Sentimental Poetry". Hölderlin Hyperion.

3. Hölderlin "To the Germans", "Rousseau", "The Blind Singer". Heidegger "Hölderlin and the Essence of Poetry".

4. Hölderlin "The Poet's Vocation", "Bread and Wine".

5 Hölderlin "Nature and Art, or Saturn and Jupiter", "The Homecoming", "The Unique".

Additional (optional) Readings

Martin Heidegger Hölderlin's Hymns (1934-1935 lecture course)

Georg Lukács "Hölderlin's Hyperion"

Maurice Blanchot "Hölderlin's Sacred Speech", "Madness par excellence"

Theodore Adorno "Parataxis"

Paul de Man, "Process and Poetry", "Heidegger's Exegeses of Hölderlin"

Jean-Luc Nancy "Hyperion's Joy".

Alain Badiou "The Age of the Poets" in Manifesto for Philosophy