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“Russian Spy,” “German Voltaire,” “Fickle Genius”: August von Kotzebue as a Problem for German History and Literature
January 20 @ 5:00 pm - 7:00 pm
The author of over two-hundred plays, August von Kotzebue (1761-1819) was one of the most prolific and successful writers of his day. Yet Kotzebue’s career was shadowed by controversy and bitter disputes, which culminated in his assassination by the student radical Carl Sand. After his death, Kotzebue was largely forgotten by literary history and, despite some recent interest, he remains understudied. This talk argues that a reconsideration of Kotzebue’s turbulent life and complex legacy has the potential to reshape our understanding of the so-called Goethezeit, pointing to new interpretations of the intellectual and political history of this era.
George Williamson is Associate Professor of History at Florida State University. He is the author of The Longing for Myth in Germany: Religion and Aesthetic Culture from Romanticism to Nietzsche (University of Chicago Press, 2004), as well as articles and book chapters on German religious history, Schelling’s theory of race, debates on the historicity of Jesus, and the death of Kotzebue and its aftermath. His current book project is entitled August von Kotzebue (1761-1819): A Political History.