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.
Courses offered in the past four years.
▲ indicates offered in the current term
▹ indicates offered in the upcoming term[s]
GRMN6610 - 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 2012, Summer 2013, Summer 2014 Language Schools, Summer 2015 Language Schools, Summer 2016 Language Schools
GRMN6646 - Celan & Bachmann
Paul Celan - Ingeborg Bachmann
Celan and Bachmann are two of the most important authors of the second half of the 20th century. Almost exact contemporaries, they made significant contributions to the development of the literature of the Federal Republic, and their longstanding personal relationship can at least partially explain the aesthetic similarities between their works.
The goal of the seminar is to gain familiarity with the two authors’ works, by means of intensive close readings, as well as with their theoretical writings. Selections of Celan’s poetry, from Der Sand aus den Urnen to Schneepart will be discussed along with poems from Bachmann’s poetry collections Die gestundete Zeit and Anrufung des Grossen Bären, her short prose fiction (e.g., Simultan), and the novel Malina. Selections from their respective theoretical works (Bachmann’s Frankfurter Vorlesungen and Celan’s speeches upon accepting the Bremen and Büchner literary prizes) will also be considered. Letters and films will shed light on the biographical background and illustrate relationships to other writers. The course will, then, not only study the works of the two authors, but also offer new insights into their position in German literature of the 20th century.
Required texts: Paul Celan: Ausgewählte Gedichte / Zwei Reden. Nachwort Beda Allemann. Suhrkamp Verlag, Berlin; Ingeborg Bachmann: Gedichte, Erzählungen, Hörspiel, Essays. Pieper Verlag, München; Wolfgang Emmerich: Paul Celan (rororo Monographien), Rowohlt Verlag; Hans Höller: Ingeborg Bachmann (rororo Monographien), Rowohlt Verlag. Literature
GRMN6652 - 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 2013, Summer 2016 Language Schools
GRMN6680 - 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
GRMN6681 - Seminar: Faust
Goethes Faust: text – interpretation - reception
Goethes Faust is considered to be a pivotal work of German literature. For about 200 years it has remained in the public consciousness and maintained in the public an amazing vigor and actuality. 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 Goethes Gesamtwerk. Film versions of famous Faust productions will be compared, and different critical responses to Faust will be explored as well as the “modernity” of the play.
Required texts: Johann Wolfgang von Goethe: Faust: Der Tragödie Erster Teil (Reclam Nr.1.); Ulrich Gaier: Kommentar zu Goethes Faust (Reclam Nr. 8183) Literature
Summer 2014 Language Schools
GRMN6901 - Research Paper