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 reader will be made available. Literature
Summer 2012, Summer 2013, Summer 2014 Language Schools, Summer 2015 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-Cult Metro: 1900-2000
Berlin – A Cultural Metropolis: 1900-2000
Twenty years after the wall fell, Berlin is unexpectedly on its way to becoming one of Europe’s most popular major cities. To be sure, the current hype surrounding Berlin is not based on a mature urban mythology, as is the case with Rome, London, or Paris; the city’s changes in identity were too rapid for that to be the case: “royal capital” and “capital of the Reich,” “city with four sectors,” divided city, “state in the Federal Republic” and “capital of the GDR” as well as—after extensive debate—“capital of the Federal Republic.”
The course explores selected chapters from different periods and areas of Berlin’s cultural history such as Berlin expressionism; die Goldenen Zwanziger Jahre; clubs, cabarets and revues; Berlin as Cinematic center of Germany; Jewish Life in Berlin; Literatur Cafés; Berlin during the 3rd Reich; art districts (Prenzlauer Berg and Kreuzberg); the building and fall of the wall; and the cultural profile of present-day Berlin. In addition to literary texts, examples are drawn from the fine arts, music and film.
A reader will be made available. Area Studies
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