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Musical Pleasure and the Materiality of the Literary

Thursday Lecture Series

dateOctober 27, 2011 timeThursday, 12:15pm EDT location The Heyman Center, Second Floor Common Room, Columbia University
  • Free and open to the public

The literary discourse inaugurated by the Jena Romantics situated music in a place of privilege within the modern system of fine arts. After the Romantics’ aesthetic revolution, instrumental music was perceived to be the medium that superseded language in its capacity to convey a supersensible basis of freedom that remained inaccessible to empirical knowledge. Reframed in a master literary trope, the sensuous pleasures elicited by music came to epitomize the fusion of the prosaic and the sacred that the early Romantics sought to attain. This talk discusses the epistemic significance of that literary trope in Friedrich Schlegel’s Lucinde, an allegorical novel published in 1799 that stirred a fierce controversy (detractors included Hegel and Kierkegaard) due to the metaphysical reflections on the pleasures of sexual intercourse that Schlegel made central to the novel’s narrative.