Saturday, October 25, 2014

Atkins Goethe conference in Pittsburgh

The first visit I made after my arrival in Pittsburgh was the University of Pittsburgh's Hillman Library, site of a very impressive exhibit of rare materials, including early editions of Goethe's own works or of works that he might have known and that served as sources of poetic inspiration, and of works by contemporaries. There were also some manuscripts, coins, drawings, and etching, and paintings. Here is the flyer from the event, with a contemporary watercolor satirizing the reception of Werther among readers in England, in this case a servant girl.

Friday, the first morning of the conference (here is a link), was opened by current president of the Goethe Society of North America, Clark Muenzer, who humorously detailed Goethe "connections" in the Pittsburgh environment. The closest contact Goethe had with this area was via his familiarity with the travels of Prince Bernhard of Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach who visited the state during his travels in the U.S. in 1825-26. In his account of his American travels, the prince described the Rappite community of German pietists who made their final home in the New World in a place they names "Economy," now Ambridge, Pennsylvania.

Clark's lightheartedness was followed by a panel of three previous presidents speaking on a serious topic: "Goethe and the Humanities." They were Ellis Dye, Simon Richter, and Astrida Orle Tantillo. I am not going to add my two cents to that subject here, although I did address it in my own presentation in the afternoon.

More later.

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