The Soul and Its Forms in Modern Times: The Yale Hermann Broch Symposium

Friday, April 15, 2011 - 1:00pm to Saturday, April 16, 2011 - 5:00pm

Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library

In crucial aspects of his literary work and his philosophical, psychological, and political thinking, the Austrian writer Hermann Broch was both representative and idiosyncratic, typical of 20th-century European modernism and yet an exception as well. This is particularly true of the ways in which conceptual thinking and literary experimentation are intertwined in Broch’s work. As the author of pioneering novels such as Sleep Walkers or The Death of Virgil as well as of theoretical essays on philosophy, political, economic theory, and mass psychology, Broch presents us with an interesting problem: To what extent did his literary writing put into practice a more general theoretical attitude? Was his conceptual framework consistent with the challenges and goals of modernism and modernist writing?

The state of the novel in the first half of the last century is undoubtedly at the heart of the matter. Writing the novel and the theory of the novel—the complex and difficult configuration of what György Lukács once termed ‘the soul and the forms’—were emblematic for the practice of a writing between literature proper and the various fields of experimental thinking in particular in the context of psychology, anthropology, and political theory.

In order to shed light on this modernist constellation, the discussion is set up in three panels: 1. The Psyche and the Political. In this panel we would like to conduct a debate on the larger Austrian, German, and European context in which Broch’s thinking on psychological and political issues developed. 2. Style and Empire. Under this heading we invite speakers to concentrate on Broch’s Death of Virgil, the configuration of the stylistic experimentation in the novel and its theme of the Roman Empire (and by extension empire in general). 3. Writing in the Context of European Modernism. In this final panel we would like to broaden the scope to include the larger European context in which Broch’s specific form of the novel developed.

Friday, April 15, 2011
Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, 121 Wall Street
2:30-2:45Welcoming Remarks
3:00-5:30Panel 1: The Psyche and the Political
Moderator: Seyla Benhabib (Yale)
 A Theory of Survival
Tiphaine Samoyault (Sorbonne IV, Paris)
 Diagnoses of the “Crisis of Civilization” in Europe, 1914-1945: Toward a
Placement of Broch in the Political and Intellectual Cartography of the Age

Austin Harrington (University of Leeds)
 Between Literature and Science: Situating Hermann Broch's
Political Psychology in the History of Crowd Semantics

Christian Borch (Copenhagen Business School)
 Breaking the Spell of Sovereignty: On the Figures of Leader and
Anybody in Broch’s Political Theory and
The Death of Virgil
Patrick Eiden-Offe (Konstanz University)
Saturday, April 16, 2011
Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, 121 Wall Street
9:15-9:45Light Breakfast
10:00-12:30Panel 2: Death of Virgil: Style and Empire
Moderator: Rüdiger Campe (Yale)
 "Die Menschlichkeit des Staates": Roman Security in The Death of Virgil
Michèle Lowrie (University of Chicago)
 An Eminently Democratic Mission: Literary Translation as Political Action
Vincent Kling (LaSalle University)
 Broch's Death of Virgil as a specular Novel
Ioana Vultur (EHESS, Paris)
 Finale. Hermann Broch's Death of Virgil and the
Tradition of 'Last Literature
Kirk Wetters (Yale)
12:30-2:00Lunch (on own)

Panel 3: Writing in the Context of European Modernism
Moderator: Haun Saussy (Yale)

 Joyce's Unlikely Attraction: Curtius, Broch et Eiusmodi Similes
Anselm Haverkamp (NYU)
 Parody Lost: Broch's Sleep Writing and the Power of the Style of Thought
Rudolf Helmstetter (Erfurt University)
 This Infinite Lack in Symbolic Being. Hermann Broch: The Novel
as a Medium of Cultural Analysis

Wolfgang Müller-Funk (Vienna University)
 Hermann Broch on the Repercussions of the Modern Era
Paul Michael Lützeler (Washington University, St. Louis)







Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library
121 Wall Street | New Haven, CT 06511
Campus Map

Tel: (203) 432-2977    Fax: (203) 432-4047

USPS: Mailing Address and Information


Beinecke events & news email list subscription



Monday 10 am - 7 pm
Tuesday-Thursday 9 am - 7 pm
Friday 9 am - 5 pm
Saturday (Exhibitions only) 12 pm - 5 pm
Sunday (Exhibitions only) 12 pm - 4 pm

Holiday Schedule and Closed Collections Schedule