2007 OS Literature and Our PostSecular Condition

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Re-Scheduling our Seminar from Monday, April 30, onwards

Please Note: From Monday, April 30, 2007, onwards, our seminar will be taking place at the new time of Monday, 10-12 h. Our venue will remain the same: A10 1-121a. Note also: The meeting on Wed, April 25, at 18-20 h will still take place as planned.

Course Description

Oberseminar / Kolloquium Kirchhofer (mit Simons): Literature and our (Post)Secular Condition, Mi 18-20

Our point of departure will be the sudden and massive critical interest which the topic of religion has found lately. Is religion really about to “replace the triumvirate of race, class and gender as the center of intellectual energy in the academy” as Stanley Fish has predicted? Will the ‘postmodern condition’ give way to a ‘postsecular condition’? And what might be the consequences for the secular self-conception of Western societies and for the role which literature has had in this self-conception? Our seminar offers an opportunity to address these questions both in a current and a historical perspective. We will look at the recent theoretical attention which the religious and the secular have received (the choice ranges from Foucault, Derrida or Habermas to ethnologists like Talal Asad), but we propose also to explore historical perspectives that extend between Jonathan Swift’s A Tale of a Tub (1704) and Salman Rushdie’s Satanic Verses (1988). Our precise programme will be agreed on at the beginning of the semester. This course is open to students who have an interest in current issues in criticism and theory. It may also be used in order to prepare one topic for an oral exam. Please note: enrolment is not via Stud.IP. Please register in person.

April 25, 2007

April 30, 2007


May 7, 2007

May 14, 2007

May 21, 2007

Christopher Saur, a German Printer in Philadelphia.

June 4, 2007

Wiliam Blake's Milton

June 11, 2007

George Eliot's Middlemarch and Auguste Comte, Session 1

June 18, 2007

George Eliot and Auguste Comte, Session 2

The "Calendrier..." can be found in a cleaned version here - at least it is better legible and seems identical after a short glance: Le calendrier positiviste --Nico Zorn 23:34, 16 June 2007 (CEST)

June 25, 2007

Salman Rushdie's Satanic Verses, Session 1

As you might have heard, Salman Rushdie has been knighted recently. His knighthood has attracted several controversies. If you are interested in that, here are some links to some recent Guardian articles. These are organised chronologically:

  • "Literary world applauds Rushdie knighthood":


  • "Rushdie knighthood 'justifies suicide attacks'":


  • "Rushdie honour insults Islam, Iran says":


  • "Rushdie knighthood rekindles 18-year-old controversy":


  • "Rushdie furore stuns honours committee":


  • Letters: "Fatwas and literary freedoms":


  • "Reid cites Life of Brian over Rushdie award":


July 2, 2007

Salman Rushdie's Satanic Verses, Session 2

July 9, 2007

Salman Rushdie's Satanic Verses, Session 3

July 16, 2007

Jacques Derrida's Religious Thinking

Reading Materials