Published: Feb. 16, 2021

Helmut Müller-Sievers, a professor in the Department of German and Slavic Languages and Literature, will deliver a virtual lecture, “On Common Ground­—Goethe, the Modern Novel, and the Diversity of Experience,” at 4 p.m. on March 10, 2021.


If you go

Professor Müller-Sievers talk: On Common Ground—Goethe, the Modern Novel, and the Diversity of Experience

  • Wednesday, March 10, 2021
  • Online via Zoom at 4 p.m. 

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Müller-Sievers was selected to receive the 2019 Distinguished Research Lectureship, which is among the most esteemed honors bestowed by the faculty upon a faculty member at the University of Colorado Boulder. This lecture, originally scheduled for March of 2020, was postponed when campus transitioned to fully remote operations.

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: On Common Ground­—Goethe, the Modern Novel, and the Diversity of Experience

In this talk, Professor Müller-Sievers will take the case of Johann Wolfgang Goethe (1749–1832) to argue that the modern novel is not primarily a vessel of knowledge but a vehicle of experience. Writing at the threshold of the industrial age, Goethe laid bare the technical implications of modern prose narratives and opened up the possibility of understanding reading novels as a paradigm for the diversity of human experience.

Drawing on William James’ notion of “pure experience” in addition to Goethe, Professor Müller-Sievers will discuss how reading and attending to novels—but also to other long narrative forms, like graphic novels and TV series—gives us access to layers of experiencing that are common to all practices of knowledge, whether they happen in the classroom, in the field, or in the lab. The university—the campus university in particular—is where such experiencing can take place, for students and faculty alike.

About the Distinguished Research Lectureship

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.  

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. Each recipient typically presents a lecture in the fall or spring following selection and receives a $2,000 honorarium.