Hans-Michael Speier

German School Faculty

Michael Speier is a literary scholar, poet and translator, living in Berlin. He holds the Staatsexamen and the Ph.D. in German Literature from the Freie Universität Berlin. Having taught at the Freie Universität Berlin, the University at Leipzig, and several U.S. universities (Dartmouth College and Georgetown University among them), Michael Speier is also Adjunct Professor at the German Department of the University of Cincinnati. In addition to having published a number of anthologies and translated modern English, French, and Italian poetry, he is the founding editor of the Paul-Celan-Jahrbuch and the literary magazine Park. Michael began teaching in the language school in 1998.
His primary scholarly interests include symbolism, expressionistic prose, translation theory and practice, the image of the city in literature, and modern poetry, especially Paul Celan. His teaching interests also include creative writing. The author of numerous articles and reviews, he has written or edited the following books: Die Ästhetik Jean Pauls (1979), Kehr um im Bild (with Dieter Straub, 1983); Im Übersetzen leben. Übersetzen und Textvergleich (with Klaus Berger, 1986); Berlin!Berlin! Eine Großstadt im Gedicht (1987); Poesie der Metropole (1990); Berlin mit deinen frechen Feuern (1998); Interpretationen: Gedichte von Paul Celan (2002), Berlin, du bist die Stadt (2011).

He has published nine volumes of poetry (most recently: WeltRaumReisen, 2007, HauptStadtStudio, 2012, Lessings Laptop, 2015). His work has appeared in over 50 anthologies and has been translated into twelve languages. In 2007 he received the Schiller Award (Weimar). He was awarded the "Literaturpreis der A + A Kulturstiftung" in Spring 2011.



Course List: 

Courses offered in the past four years.
indicates offered in the current term
indicates offered in the upcoming term[s]

GRMN 6610 - Intro Literary Analysis      

An Introduction to Literary Analysis (“Schreibprozesse”)

This course combines creative writing in German with literary theory and will help develop aesthetic sensibilities by looking at sample literary texts and the methods they use to create their effects. What do metaphors, allegories, poems, stories, or dramatic scenes of others ‘feel’ like if they are read or if they are written by oneself? What makes images into a poem, or a text into a film? The study of the (literary) metaphor, the tonal quality of poetic speech, and the processes involved in transposing one medium into another will help students explore their own literary-creative potential.

A course reader will be made available.* Literature

Summer 2015 Language Schools, LS 6 Week Session, Summer 2016 Language Schools, LS 6 Week Session, Summer 2017 Language Schools, LS 6 Week Session, Summer 2018 Language Schools, LS 6 Week Session

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GRMN 6652 - Berlin-Lit & Culture 1915-2015      

As a modern city, Berlin, with its fractured history, occupies a special place amongst German metropoles. This hold especially true for Berlin’s trials and tribulations in the 20th century. In this course, we will look at this period and study in-depth reflections and responses to the city in literature, music, and the visual arts. Topics will include: Expressionism, both in literature and the visual arts; the “Golden Twenties” with their cabaret culture and burgeoning film industry; Jewish life in Berlin; Berlin under Nazism; the building and fall of the Berlin Wall and their reflection in literature; German reunification and its cultural repercussions; the “Neue Mitte” and the cultural and literary profile of Berlin today; and changing depictions of the city in contemporary texts. Authors will include Jakob van Hoddis, Gottfried Benn, Bertolt Brecht, Alfred Döblin, Erich Kästner, Kurt Tucholsky, Carl Zuckmayer, Lion Feuchtwanger, Sarah Kirsch, Günter Grass, Rolf Hochhuth, Tanja Dückers, Inka Parei, Hans-Ulrich Treichel, and Gerhard Falkner, and others.

A course reader will be made available.* Literature

Summer 2016 Language Schools, LS 6 Week Session

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GRMN 6670 - Ingeborg Bachmann:Life&Ouevre      

Ingeborg Bachmann's Literary World

Ingeborg Bachmann (1926 -1973) has become a myth in German post-war literature. Her divaesque public appearances and her early fame, her love affairs with authors like Paul Celan and Max Frisch, and her mysterious, tragic death have all contributed to this glamorous image. In this seminar, we will examine her multi-faceted work, her poems as well as her radioplays, her stories as well as her novel Malina (and its cinematic adaptation), and we will include in our discussions selected speeches and essays. The focus of our course work will be on in-depth reading, precise analysis, and interpretation. Bachmann’s treatment of versification and narrative theory, her work’s literary historical context, and the problem of gender, so central to her thinking, will inform our readings. Letters and filmic material will shed further light on her biography and her relationship to other authors.
Required texts: Ingeborg Bachmann, Sämtliche Erzählungen (Piper); Bachmann, Malina (Suhrkamp); Bachmann, Der gute Gott von Manhattan (Piper); Hans Höller, Ingeborg Bachmann (Rowohlt). Literature

Summer 2018 Language Schools, LS 6 Week Session

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GRMN 6680 - German Romanticism      

The Romantic movement, with its emphasis on emotion, imagination and a sensitivity to nature, was at its height from the late 18th century to the mid 19th century, but its legacy lives on to our day. This course will take the fairy tale as its point of departure and move toward an understanding of the totality of the Romantic epoch and its artistic and philosophical output in its historical and cultural context. The study of Romantic poetry, prose, painting, music, and forms of sociability will help understand the “Romantic mind” and its philosophical underpinnings (“Universalpoesie”, irony, mysticism etc.). Literature

Summer 2015 Language Schools, LS 6 Week Session

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GRMN 6681 - Seminar: Faust      

Goethes Faust: text – interpretation - reception

Goethe’s Faust is considered to be a pivotal work of German literature. For about 200 years it has remained in the public consciousness and has retained an amazing vigor and relevance, making it a foundational text in German thought and culture. Faust, a self-determined hero on an eternal quest for the perfect moment, engages productively with the world of ideas, of technology, of progress—this tragedy’s protagonist represented nothing less than an exemplary man well into the 20th century. As modern Western societies now struggle with the demands and effects of such restlessness, Faust’s fate is no longer read as a model but as a cautionary tale about man’s inability to pause and recalibrate through contemplation.

The major focus of this seminar about Faust I is a careful analysis of the text which will consider structure, style, language as well as aspects of versification and dramaturgy. Origin and sources will be discussed as well biographical and historical background and the place of the drama in Goethe’s Gesamtwerk. We will compare film versions of famous Faust productions, and explore different critical responses to Faust, which will help contextualize the play and cast light on its ongoing relevance and modernity.

Required texts: Texts will be available for purchase at the College Bookstore. Literature

Summer 2017 Language Schools, LS 6 Week Session

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The German School

Sunderland Language Center
Middlebury College
F: 802.443.2075

Mailing address
German School
14 Old Chapel Road
Middlebury College
Middlebury, VT  05753

Tina Ellison, Coordinator