Photo of Matisse's Dance, 1910

Upcoming Events

ECS Spring 2014 Lecture
Wednesday, March 26 - 2:00 P.M. - location Mandel Center Reading Room 303
"Reading Franz Rosenzweig's Little Book," by Hilary Putnam, Professor of Philosophy emeritus, Harvard University - co-sponsored by the History of Ideas Program

Tragedy and the Tragic in German Literature, Art, and Thought

A Three-Day Symposium
Keynote by Büchner Prize winning Author Felicitas Hoppe


Thursday, March 13, 2014 7:00 pm
Friday & Saturday, March 14-15, 10 am - 5 pm
Goethe-Institut Boston, 170 Beacon Street, Boston
(617) 262-6050

Do we live in tragic times? “America has everything –”, wrote Max Frisch, “except only one thing: a relationship to the tragic.” Is the tragic something to be pursued, like life, liberty – and happiness? Is tragedy the pursuit of unhappiness? Should we worry, should we be happy – when people pursue the tragic? Did Frisch hit the nail on the head – and miss the point? Does German culture have everything – except a healthy relationship to happiness? Is the pursuit of happiness an American way of relating to the tragic? Does tragedy express resignation in the face of things unchangeable, or a sorrow-driven rebellion against the way things are, against the way we are? Are we talking about metaphysics and art when we should be talking about ethics and politics? 

The symposium will be a search to define for today a phenomenon that shed light in and on ancient Greece. Does tragic art continue to shed light — does it remain a force of enlightenment — or has it only cast its shadow on times since, more as a sign of resignation and renunciation than illumination? What sense can we make of tragedy? What sense can tragedy make of us? 

The conversation on tragedy — with many invited participants but open to the public participation — will begin on Thursday evening with a keynote address by Büchner Prize winning novelist Felicitas Hoppe. 


Steve Dowden (Brandeis University) 

Thomas Quinn (Independent Scholar)

Sabine von Mering (Brandeis University) 

Meike Werner (Vanderbilt University)


Isabel Ballan (Brandeis University) 
Jeffrey Bernstein (College of the Holy Cross) 
Joshua Billings (Yale University) 
John Burt (Brandeis University) 
Wolfram Ette (University of Basel) 
Anke Finger (University of Connecticut) 
Rachel Freudenburg (Boston College) 
Gesa Frömming (Wellesley College) 
Abigail Gillman (Boston University) 
Jessica Gokhberg (Brandeis University) 
Eugene Goodheart (Brandeis University) 
Jennifer Anna Gosetti-Ferencei (Fordham University) 
Barbara Hahn (Vanderbilt University) 
John T. Hamilton (Harvard University) 
Karsten Harries (Yale University) 
Lauren Hobler (Brandeis University) 
Felicitas Hoppe (Novelist, Essayist) 
Susanne Klingenstein (MIT) 
Joseph Lawrence (College of the Holy Cross) 
Vanessa Lubiner (Brandeis University) 
James McFarland (Vanderbilt University) 
Tara Metal (Bookseller) 
Klaus Mladek (Dartmouth University) 
Karen Painter (University of Minnesota) 
Evan Parks (Independent scholar) 
Robert Pirro (Georgia Southern University) 
Laura Quinney (Brandeis University) 
Gerhard Richter (Brown University) 
Mark Roche (University of Notre Dame) 
Syliva Schmitz-Burgard (College of the Holy Cross) 
Kathrin Seidl (Brandeis University) 
Howard Senzel (UMass Dartmouth) 
David Sherman (Brandeis University) 
Gregor Thuswaldner (Gordon College) 
Helmut Walser Smith (Vanderbilt University) 
Pu Wang (Brandeis University) 
Alexander Weick (Brandeis University) 

More Information: Steve Dowden:
Co-presented by Brandeis's Center of German and European Studies and the Goethe Institut Boston with generous support from the DAAD and the Max Kade Foundation.

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The European Cultural Studies Program (ECS) offers students the opportunity to study English and continental literature in translation in conjunction with one or more related disciplines: fine arts, history, music, philosophy, politics, sociology and theater arts.

ECS is for those students who feel intellectually adventurous, who want to explore the interrelationships of literature with various other disciplines in order to gain a broader perspective of what constitutes "culture." With the advent of an ever-changing Europe, students in ECS will be better prepared, in all areas, to keep abreast with current and future events.

Many of our students spend some time abroad to get a feel for the cultures in which they are most interested. ECS majors have gone on to graduate school (in history, politics, English and other fields), law school, business school and advanced programs in international studies.