Radical and Moderate Sturm and Drang (MLA 2020)
Lessing Society Panel
Modern Language Association (MLA), Seattle, Jan 9-12, 2020
Radical and Moderate Sturm und Drang
Jonathan Israel's provocative distinction between radical and moderate Enlightenments has been recently and profitably explored in the context of the German 18th century (Radical Enlightenment in Germany: A Cultural Perspective, ed. Carl Niekerk, Leiden: Brill, 2018). The Sturm und Drang movement, traditionally described as a violent break with Enlightenment values and goals, would seem to resist classification in Israel's scheme. But in fact many of the authors associated with Sturm und Drang carry on Enlightenment projects to their logical conclusions. The young writers of the 1770s are certainly radical in their virulent reaction against the French philosophes and neoclassical tendencies in German art, as well as in the sheer shock value of their subject matter (from infanticide to castration). Yet a closer look at the implications of their works reveals more moderate--reactionary even--tendencies (from the aristocratic privilege of Goethe's Goetz to the mild reform projects of Lenz's Country Pastor). We invite proposals that explore Sturm und Drang texts through the perhaps non-exclusive aspects of their radical break with--or moderate reformation of--what had come before. Papers concerning the mutual reception between Sturm und Drang and leading figures of the German Enlightenment (e.g., Lessing's sensitive but critical reading of Werther) would be particularly welcome.
Deadline for submissions: Wednesday, March 20, 2019