Assembly and its Other in German Romantic Literature and Thought

BookAssembly and its Other in German Romantic Literature and Thought

Assembly and its Other in German Romantic Literature and Thought

The Inexhaustible Gathering

Romantic Reconfigurations: Studies in Literature and Culture 1780-1850, 16


November 1st, 2022





This collection of essays turns on a shift in Romantic studies from viewing wholeness as an absolute value to critiquing it as a limiting construction. Wholeness and its concomitant sense of harmony, rather than a natural given, is a construct that was assembled and disassembled, theorized and criticized, by diverse authors and artists in a wide variety of disciplines and socio-historical contexts, and instrumentalized for diverse purposes. The plurality of these constructions – that Goethe’s Urpflanze, for example, is not synonymous with Friedrich Schlegel’s universal progressive poetry – is but one manifestation of how “assembly” strives but fails to be absolute. The “other” of assembly referenced in the title suggests two divergent but inseparable tendencies: firstly, how a construction can take on the appearance of a natural given; and secondly, how assemblages of wholeness harbor within themselves their own principle of disarticulation. These two tendencies underlie the “inexhaustible” character of Romantic “gatherings”. As a construction passes itself off as nature, the natural fails to account for itself as a whole. The scope of this volume encompasses the establishment, mapping, and interrogation of assembly and its other in German Romanticism through interdisciplinary studies on literature, aesthetics, philosophy, drama, music, synaesthesia, mathematics, science, and exploration.”

Author Information

Robert E. Mottram is Visiting Assistant Professor of German at Whitman College. Christopher R. Clason is Emeritus Professor of German at Oakland University. He is the editor of E. T. A. Hoffman: Transgressive Romanticism (2018) and co-editor of Romantic Automata: Exhibitions, Figures, Organisms (2020), Romantic Rapports: New Essays on Romanticism Across the Disciplines (2017) and Literary and Poetic Representations of Work and Labor in Europe and Asia during the Romantic Era (2011).

Table of Contents

Section TitlePage
Part I. Romantic Assembly Across the Thresholds of Theory and Discipline
Chapter 1: From the Fluid to the Crystal: Goethe’s Metamorphosis and Fichte’s Science of Knowing
Beate Allert
Chapter 2: Alexander von Humboldt, the Naturgemälde, and Ansichten der Natur: Assembling Nature between Sensuality and Science
Christopher R. Clason
Chapter 3: 'I cannot explain myself further on this matter': Maimon’s Perplexed Differentials
Joshua Wilner
Part II. Romantic Assembly of Music and the Stage
Chapter 4: Bringing Universal Truths into Dialogue: Novalis on Leibniz’s Encyclopedistics and the Language of Nature
Alexis B. Smith
Chapter 5: Schlegel, Tieck, and Staël: Assembling Shakespeare as Weapon in the Napoleonic Culture Wars
Frederick Burwick
Part III. E.T.A. Hoffmann and the Romantic Assembly of the Senses
Chapter 6: Romantic Reflections and Reconfigurations: Intertextual (Dis-)Assembly in E. T. A. Hoffmann’s ‘Die Abenteuer der Sylvester-Nacht’
Christina Weiler
Chapter 7: The Theatricality of Perception: Staging Aesthetic Education in E.T.A. Hoffmann’s ‘Des Vetters Eckfenster’
Robert E. Mottram
Chapter 8: Reassembling the Sensorium: Romantic Synaesthesia in Friedrich Schlegel’s Literary Theory and E.T.A. Hoffmann’s Intermediality
Margaret Strair