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Durham University

School of Modern Languages & Cultures

Events in Modern Languages & Cultures

'Contracts and Games: Goethe's criticism of modern statehood' to be given by Dr Claudia Nitschke, Durham University

6th March 2014, 20:30, Senate Suite, University College, Durham University

Towards the end of the eighteenth century, German literature begins to focus on the emerging contradictions and the interdependency of state and citizens. In the well-established tradition of Reichspublizistik (historically emanating from the tension between Imperial Estates and the emperor after the reformation and the Thirty Years' War), literary texts evaluated politics in the context of statehood and power. These reflections were tied to a general conceptualisation of statehood in the European context, but also referred to the German situation specifically. This paper will focus on Goethe's 'Götz von Berlichingen' as a far-reaching analysis of the problems Germany encountered in that period. Surprisingly, the drama opposes the process of law codification and suggests that the notion of a social contract in the pragmatic context of state theory quintessentially redefines concepts of statehood and society.

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