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 2013, LS 6 Week Session, Summer 2014 Language Schools, LS 6 Week Session, Summer 2015 Language Schools, LS 6 Week Session, Summer 2016 Language Schools, LS 6 Week Session
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, LS 6 Week Session, Summer 2016 Language Schools, LS 6 Week Session
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, LS 6 Week Session
GRMN6681 - 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 2014 Language Schools, LS 6 Week Session