Graduation Year

2015

Graduation Month

May

Document Type

Professional Paper - Campus Access Only

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts

School or Department

Modern and Classical Languages

Major

German

Faculty Mentor

Liz Ametsbichler

Faculty Mentor Department

Modern and Classical Languages

Keywords

Goethe, Novalis, German Romanticism

Subject Categories

Arts and Humanities | German Language and Literature | German Literature

Abstract

German authors like Johann Wolfgang von Goethe and Friedrich von Hardenberg, known as Novalis, left behind important literary and scientific legacies that helped shape the way the world considers nature. Both of these authors have backgrounds in science – Goethe as someone who highly regarded scientific observation and study, especially in the field of botany, and Novalis as a scientist skilled in mineralogy, physics, chemistry, mathematics, and physiology – and their appreciation of science comes through in much of their writing, especially with regards to how each author writes about nature. Their treatments of nature, while different from each other, both go against the traditional Enlightenment approach to nature, which was that it was something to be observed, catalogued, and subsequently controlled. In his early work Die Leiden des Jungen Werthers, Goethe uses nature as a tool to mirror the moods and emotions of his title character. Werther has an intensely personal connection with the natural world around him, and this kind of relationship with nature was quite novel at the time. Novalis, who greatly admired Goethe’s writing and his background in science, approached nature in a very quintessentially romantic fashion. His fragment novel Heinrich von Ofterdingen places nature at the forefront of his main character’s spiritual and poetic transformation. In this work I will analyze both works from the perspective that the authors’ scientific backgrounds helped shape their treatment of nature as well as shape the view of nature for every generation after them.

Honors College Research Project

Yes

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© Copyright 2015 Tylyn D. Newcomb