30031 - German Literature 1 (LM)

Course Unit Page


This teaching activity contributes to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals of the UN 2030 Agenda.

Quality education

Academic Year 2019/2020

Course contents

Aphorism and essay writing

Georg Christoph Lichtenberg (1742-1799), an experimental physicist, was educated and lived in Göttingen, one of the XVIII century’s science de l’homme capitals. The bright novelty of the writings of this scientist, an author of dreams and observations on dream, was born on the terrain of a wide spanning erudition. The recommendation «Ich empfehle Träume nochmals» (The waste books, Notebook F) underpins drives of a multiple nature, which are reciprocally interacting, and are inscribed in the larger picture of European Enlightenment. Lichtenberg's Waste Books have been greatly admired by writers as different as Tolstoy, André Breton and Elias Canetti. Canetti's Aufzeichnugen owe much to Lichtenberg. Canetti admired him because “er nichts abrunden mag [...] so hat er das reichste Buch der Weltliteratur geschrieben”. Finally the course will examine Durs Grünbein’s essays, perhaps the richest and most fascinating in the landscape of contemporary German language essayism


Lichtenberg, Sudelbücher e Aufsätze (scelta dall'edizione critica di G.C. Lichtenberg, Schriften und Briefe, a cura di W. Promies, Hanser Verlag). Einige Betrachtungen [...] nebst einem Traum, in Aufsätze, pp. 107-111. G.C. Lichtenberg, Sulla fisiognomica, con testo a fronte, a cura di G. Cantarutti, La Scuola di Pitagora editrice, Napoli 2017, e, per non frequentanti, il volumetto di G. Sautermeister, Georg Christoph Lichtenberg, Beck, München 1993. Sul sogno in Lichtenberg: G. Cantarutti,"Raccomando ancora una volta i sogni", in "Intersezion", 1 (2012), pp. 49-70 oppure W. Mauser, G.C. Lichtenberg, Rombach 2000, pp. 75-115. Nel volume Teoria e storia dell'aforisma, Mondadori 2004, le pp. 78-105 oppure nel volume Lichtenbergs literarisches Nachleben, di D. Lamping, Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht 1992, le pp. 126-128, 134-138, 154-162, 170-172 + la voce Aphorismus nel Reallexikon der deutschen Literaturwissenschaft.

E. Canetti, Die Provinz des Menschen, Fischer Taschenbuch, S. 161-162 u. S. 263 (Lichtenberg)

D. Grünbein, Gedicht und Geheimnis, Suhrkamp 2007 (pp. 34-45; 113-126; 135-172), Die Bars von Atlantis, Suhrkamp 2009 (pp. 7-60) e I bar di Atlantide e altri saggi, Einaudi 2018 (pp. 140-147).

Some of the material and extracts discussed during the course will be published in “Materiale didattico online”.

Teaching methods

Seminar lessons. An active partecipation of the students is required.

Assessment methods

The students must be able to contextualize the literary works. They must have read all the primary sources and all the critical texts in the syllabus and must be able to use an appropriate critical language to analyse them, avoiding impressionistic and/or superficial criticism. Students will be required to write an essay on a topic connected with the course to be discussed during the exam.

Office hours

See the website of Giulia Cantarutti