Published: Jan. 13, 2020 By

Helmut Müller-Sievers, a professor in the Department of German and Slavic Languages and Literature, has been selected to receive the 2019 Distinguished Research Lectureship. The Lectureship is among the most esteemed honors bestowed by the faculty upon a faculty member at the University of Colorado Boulder.

Each year, the Research & Innovation Office (RIO) requests nominations from faculty for the Distinguished Research Lectureship, and a faculty review panel recommends one or more faculty members as recipients. 

About Professor Müller-Sievers  

Helmut Müller-Sievers is a professor in the Department of German and Slavic Languages and Literature, and courtesy professor of English and Classics. From 2010—2019, he was Eaton Professor of Humanities and the Director of the Center for Humanities and the Arts. He earned his PhD in German and the Humanities Special Program at Stanford University in 1990, and taught at Northwestern University from 1990—2009, where he was director of the Kaplan Center for the Humanities until 2002, as well as the director of the Program in Comparative Literary Studies until 2006. 

Professor Müller-Sievers has held fellowships at the National Humanities Center, the Max-Planck Institute for the History of Science in Berlin, the Institute for Cultural Research in Vienna, the J. Paul Getty Research Institute, and the Kollegforschergruppe BildEvidenz in Berlin. He is the author of five books—most recently The Science of Literature (de Gruyter 2015)—some fifty articles, and has translated three books. 

About the talk: Engineering Literature: Johann Wolfgang Goethe and the Novel Machine

If you go

Professor Müller-Sievers talk: Engineering Literature: Johann Wolfgang Goethe and the Novel Machine

  • Tuesday, March 17, 2020 at the CASE Auditorium
  • 4 p.m. lecture with reception to follow at about 5 p.m. 

RSVP Requested

In the late 18th century, two phenomena emerged in close proximity: realist novels and autonomous machines. Each claimed to be the other’s opposite: novels, organic products of inspiration that can be enjoyed in a reader’s free time; machines, assemblies of solid parts that transmit motion and perform work. Two new sciences emerged alongside them—hermeneutics as the theory of literary interpretation, and engineering as the theory of building machines—and two new figures stepped onto the cultural stage: the fabulously prolific and wealthy novelist, and the audacious and reckless engineer. In many ways, our present universities are still built around the consequences of this divergence. 

In this talk, Engineering Literature: Johann Wolfgang Goethe and the Novel MachineHelmut Müller-Sievers will go back to the origins of this divergence in the late 18th century and show how the concerns of novelists and engineers were once closely aligned—that novels were understood to be machines as much as machines could be subjected to literary interpretation. At the center of his remarks will be the German poet Johann Wolfgang Goethe (1749 – 1832).

2020 Distinguished Research Lecture Call for Nominations

Nominations for the 2020 Distinguished Research Lecture may be submitted from Monday, Feb. 24 – Monday, April 6.

The lectureship honors a tenured faculty member, Research Professor (Associate or full) or Adjoint Professor who has been with CU Boulder for at least five years and is widely recognized for a distinguished body of academic or creative achievement and prominence, as well as contributions to the educational and service missions of CU Boulder.

Please visit the Distinguished Research Lectureship web pages for detailed information about the lectureship, eligibility and the nomination process. Nominations for the 2020 Distinguished Research Lectureship may be submitted starting Monday, Feb. 24.