Upcoming talk: "Enlightened Citizenship in Lessing’s Emilia Galotti (1772) and Mozart’s Lucio Silla (1772)"



"Enlightened Citizenship in Lessing’s Emilia Galotti (1772) and Mozart’s Lucio Silla (1772)"
With Dr. Carl Niekerk, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

Wednesday, May 15
4:00 pm
912 Sproul Hall

This talk looks at Lessing’s tragedy Emilia Galotti and Mozart’s “opera seria” Lucio Silla, which both premiered in 1772, as case studies in defining the relationship between Enlightenment and public citizenship.  My reading seeks to identify the political dimension of both dramas—a dimension that does not manifest itself in the form of a proposed political program, but rather through the dilemmas faced by the (female) protagonists in both dramas and the solutions they propose.  Both dramas open up a space for what can be perceived and articulated as relevant in the public domain. This paper also asks the question how we are to interpret the role of specific genres (tragedy and opera seria) in relation to society.  Taking a number of ideas of Jacques Rancière as its starting point, the paper proposes a new way of reading the political in relation to the aesthetic in the late eighteenth century. Finally, the comparison between Lucio Silla and Emilia Galotti is used for a series of deliberations on the state of comparative literary and cultural studies today.

Carl Niekerk is professor of German, French, Comparative and World Literature, and Jewish Studies at the University of Illinois / Urbana-Champaign.  He recently edited a volume on the German Radical Enlightenment (Brill 2018) and, together with Cori Crane, a collection of essays on Kurban Said's 'Ali and Nino" (Camden House 2017).  He is the editor of the German Quarterly and the Lessing Yearbook.  

Part of the German Colloquium Series