Galin Tihanov, Ph.D., D.Phil.
Professor of Comparative Literature and Intellectual History
The University of Manchester
Born in 1964 in Lovech, Bulgaria
Studied Slavic Studies, English, and Cultural History at Sofia University and Oxford University
The Post-Romantic SyndromeWhile holding the Fellowship, I will be working on a book with the above title. The book is an interdisciplinary study in intellectual history. The main argument is that 20th-century German thought was largely a response to an intellectual agenda that survived the demise of German Romanticism as an artistic current. This agenda was revived in a social climate that had rendered Romanticism (and the solutions it had suggested) impossible, while preserving the validity of its anxieties and giving rise to a specific post-Romantic ideological discourse that marked much of the late Wilhelmine and the entire Weimar period and persisted in various forms beyond World War II.
The title of the book captures two facts. First, that the scene of 20th-century German philosophy, social and economic thought and cultural theory was shaped and largely dominated by the resurrection and proliferation, in strongly modified fashion, of essential aspects of the Romantic intellectual agenda. Second, the fact that 20th-century German philosophy, social and economic thought and cultural theory, even when trying to escape the orbit of Romantic thought (by severely criticising Romanticism), remained riveted to it, thus reproducing a syndrome of enduring dependence.
The book proceeds from a firm evidential basis and incorporates, whenever appropriate, the results of archival research that help to reconstruct a much fuller and nuanced picture of German philosophy, social thought, and cultural theory in the twentieth century. Whenever appropriate, I also draw on Russian, French and English material so that a truly comparative perspective is sustained, thus always keeping the German case in perspective.
Tihanov, Galin. The Master and the Slave: Lukács, Bakhtin, and the Ideas of Their Time. Oxford: Clarendon Press and New York: Oxford University Press, 2000.
__. "Why Did Modern Literary Theory Originate in Central and Eastern Europe? (And Why Is It Now Dead?)" Common Knowledge 10, 1 (2004): 61-81.
__. "Robert Musil in the Garden of Conservatism." In A Companion to the Works of Robert Musil, edited by Philip Payne, Graham Bartram, and Galin Tihanov, 117-148. Rochester, NY: Camden House, 2007.
Tuesday Colloquium, 02.03.2010
The Post-Romantic Syndrome
At the heart of this paper is an attempt to understand how discourses and ideas are transposed in time, indeed how entire domains of previously constructed ideological meanings get relocated and operate in the tissue of historically evolving cultures. I offer a case study of this complex and evasive process: post-romanticism as a discursive formation that modifies the Romantic legacy and responds to it from the perspective of new, previously unknown, social, economic, and political challenges.
Post-romanticism was constituted in the public space in large measure as a continuous debate on the relevance of Romanticism not only as a literary and artistic period but as a set of intellectual attitudes that render the very notion of period narrow and inadequate. I will begin by explaining the premises and the title of my talk. Then I will try to illustrate my principal argument by looking at a few examples. While the book, from which this talk forms a part, discusses literature, sociology, political philosophy, aesthetics, and the history of economic thought, with reference primarily to Germany, but also with some evidence from locations as varied as the Soviet Union, Austria, France, and Haiti in the 20th century, for today's presentation I have chosen to draw my examples from the debates on work, capital, and property in Germany and Austria during the first third of the 20th century. In analysing these examples, I hope to substantiate the case for the continuous after-life of Romanticism in the various guises of post-romanticism, thus reconstructing the history of a complex discursive formation that was re-negotiating past intellectual agendas and energies. The authors I discuss in a bit more detail are Edgar Salin, Adam Müller, Werner Sombart, Sigmund Rubinstein, and Ernst Jünger.