On Siegfried Kracauer's "Georg" - Carl Skoggard & Rob Ryder

Tuesday, November 7, 2017 - 6:00pm - 7:30pm
Event Presenter/Author: 
Carl Skoggard

Carl Skoggard discusses his translation of Siegfried Kracauer's Georg. He will be joined in conversation by Rob Ryder. 

At the Co-op


About the book: Best remembered today for his exploration of early German cinema (From Caligari to Hitler: A Psychological Study of the German Film), Siegfried Kracauer (1889-1966) was the editor for cultural affairs at Germany’s leading liberal newspaper during the Weimar Republic until its disastrous end. His Georg is a panorama of those years as seen through the eyes of a rookie reporter working for the fictional Morgenbote (Morning Herald). In a defeated nation seething with extremism right and left, young Georg is looking for something to believe in. For him, the past has become unusable; for nearly everyone he meets, paradise seems just around the corner. But which paradise? Kracauer’s grimly funny novel takes on a confused and dangerous time which can remind us of our own. The style is briskly cinematic.

About the translator: Carl Skoggard was trained as a musicologist and for many years served as an editor for the music bibliography Repértoire International de la Littérature Musicale (RILM), New York, where he was responsible for German materials. His translation of Ein Jahr in Arkadien, an 1805 gay fiction by Duke August of Saxe-Gotha and Altenburg, appeared in 1999 as Year in Arcadia. More recently he was also the staff writer for Nest: A Quarterly of Interiors, an award-winning magazine created by his partner Joseph Holtzman.

Over the last decade Skoggard has prepared translations with extensive commentary for the three major autobiographically-oriented writings of the German-Jewish philosopher and cultural theorist Walter Benjamin. These include Berliner Kindheit um 1900 (Berlin Childhood circa 1900), Berliner Chronik (The ‘Berlin Chronicle’ Notices), and a bilingual edition of Benjamin’s Sonnets, which has made this little-known but important body of poetry available to readers of English for the first time.

Skoggard’s latest project, is a translation of Siegfried Kracauer’s Weimar novel Georg. This is a brilliantly cinematic, darkly comic evocation of that troubled era. Skoggard lives in Valatie, New York, with Holtzman and assorted animals.

About the interlocutor: Rob Ryder is currently Visiting Professor of Instruction at Northwestern University. From 2014-2017 he was the Director of the Basic Language Program in the Germanic Studies Department at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Previously he spent two years as a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the International Graduate Centre for the Study of Culture (GCSC) in Germany, was a Visiting Professor at the University of Chicago, and in 2009 completed his PhD in German and Comparative Literary Studies at Northwestern University. He received his MA in Comparative Literature from the University of Western Ontario in London, Ontario.

Ryder delivered a talk on Siegfried Kracauer’s notion of materiality in film (particularly film sound) in 2015, and reviewed Miriam Hansen’s book Cinema and Experience. His interests derive from the aesthetic and media theory of the Frankfurt School, including Kracauer, Arnheim and Adorno, and especially Walter Benjamin. He was the editor of the Benjamin volume of Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism (Spring 2016), but have also published articles on Ludwig Tieck, Günter Eich, and Pierre Klossowski, and given talks on Franz Kafka, Roland Barthes, and Alexander Kluge. His first monograph, Hearing Otherwise: The Acoustical Unconscious from Walter Benjamin to Alexander Kluge is under review at Northwestern UP.

Event Location: 
The Seminary Co-op Bookstore
5751 S Woodlawn Ave
Chicago, IL 60637