Bernhard Malkmus

Bernhard Malkmus, Assistant professor of German, Ohio State University

malkmus.1(at)osu.edu

Project:

Current projects include:

  • traditions of German Kulturkritik and ecological thinking
  • the ethics and poetics of cultural landscape in the long nineteenth century
  • the literary and conceptual heritage of Erwin Chargaff and the journal Scheidewege

Abstract for the Keynote Lecture, EH Conference, University of Washington, 2012

“Geography and Landscape Stimmung”

This paper engages with recent attempts to reinvigorate categories of space and spatiality in the humanities and their implications for an environmental approach to the humanities. I will contextualize these attempts within other modes of thinking that re-emphasize either the material nature of culture or the visceral nature of experience and thus can be broadly seen as counter-movements to semiotic theories of culture. I am particularly interested in highlighting the paradox at the heart of this “spatial turn”: (a) the desire to (re)invest the humanities in the psychological, social and ecological realities of a time that has lost the naivety of post-historical rhetoric, and (b) the attempts to establish “space” as a new quasi-scientific master category “beyond” the humanities. I am seeking to explore the theoretical potentials and problems of “geographic materialism” and other facets of theorizing space by discussing seminal theoretical works and by pitching them against the complexity of the notion “landscape”. The discussions about landscape, in particular about wilderness vs cultural landscape, during the nineteenth century will serve as a heuristic backdrop for testing the ideas and sustainability of the “spatial turn” in general.