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  • 1.
    Bengtsson, Staffan
    Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Arts, Department of Literature.
    ›Beredsamkeit‹ in Lessing’s Zur Geschichte und Litteratur: A Reply to Herder2014In: Rhetorik: ein internationales Jahrbuch, ISSN 0720-5775, E-ISSN 1865-9160, Vol. 33, p. 42-79Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Towards the end of Ueber die neuere Deutsche Litteratur (On Recent German Literature) (1767), Johann Gottfried Herder publicly makes the call that homiletics is in need of a »completely different kind of eloquence«. Ciceronian eloquence in Germany did not have any public space except from the pulpit, and the eloquence from the pulpit made the public passive, because the preacher pronounced sentences like a judge in a court. Herder turned instead to the Bible as a book that is in need of interpretation, to literature as a public arena where different opinions could meet, to the reader as a detective, and to the story of creation as the secret model by which to create an all-embracing perspective from a diverssity of viewpoints. Herder took a series of isolated judgments (fragments) from leading journals of his day and shaped these broken pieces into puzzle pieces (fragments in a new sense) which can be put together as a panoramic image of recent German literature. Although it challenged the division between painting and poetry of Laokoon, Lessing adopted this form of presentation in his new work Zur Geschichte und Litteratur (On History and Literature) (1773-1777), but retorted on a grander scale by presenting puzzle pieces (fragments) in the form of manuscripts of the Herzog August Library, which together presented a much grander panorama of the history of literature. At this time, Herder, Goethe and Lessing could be seen as an informal group of writers bound together by a similar form or style of presentation.

  • 2.
    Bengtsson, Staffan
    Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Arts, Department of Literature.
    Brev från en vän jag kallar ”min Roußeau”: En typografisk läsning av tre tidiga fragment av Thomas Thorild2017In: Kritik och beundran: Jean-Jacques Rousseau och Sverige 1750-1850 / [ed] Jennie Nell & Alfred Sjödin, Lund: Ellerströms förlag, 2017, p. 222-267Chapter in book (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Letters from a friend I call ”my Roußeau. A typographical reading of three early fragments of Thomas Thorild

    In 1780s the Swedish poet and philosopher Thomas Thorild (1759-1808) anonymously published three ”fragments” in two different newspapers: ”Fragment”, ”Fragment of a letter” and ”Yet another fragment, stolen from a letter from one of my friends”. Although they were published separately, the three fragments evidently belong together as regards both content and form. A note appended to the second poem, signed by the anonymous ”sender” (Thorild) points out a friend called ”my Roußeau” as the author of these letter fragments, who we know is identical with Thorild’s close friend Anders Hylander (1750-1830), reader in Oriental languages. But the fragments name a certain Arist as recipient of the letters, and we know that this was Thorild’s pseudonym for Hylander, so this reverses the relationship, making Thorild the author called ”my Roußeau” and Hylander the publisher. This distinction between publisher and author is significant because the fictitious framework and the frequent occurrence of ellipsis dashes give the impression that the fragments are compilations of short fragments from different letters, which gives the publisher a highly active role. The letters can thus be said to have been written by a ”Rousseau”, but returned by a publisher to this ”Rousseau” after much revision.

    The first fragment is a memoir of a young woman’s natural and unpretentious  virtue and beauty, in contrast to the paragons of decency and the vanity of fashion surrounding her. The second fragment is a panegyric to the beauty of nature as a techer of virtue, and the third fragment returns in thought to the woman in the first fragment and the memory of a present he had received from her containing the gifts of nature. The emotional tone, the praise of nature, simplicity, innocence, and virtue indicates that Rousseau’s epistolary novel Julie, ou la nouvelle Héloïse (1761) was a source of inspiration.

    Certain written references by Thorild to Julie, intended for two of their mutual friends, one for Johan Lundblad (1750-1820) and the other for Sven Erland Heurlin (1758-1827), provide a supplementary framework to the fragments. A reference that is common to both leads us to the 12th letter in Part I, where Rousseau discusses the art of reading: the value of ”reflecting” on what one has read, how important it is ”to talk over the subjects on which we have been reading”, to proceed ”by exercising our sight as well as feeling”, that taste is ”the microscope of judgement” which ”brings small objects within reach”. Another letter leads to a letter in Part 2 written ny Saint-Preux to Julie, entitled ”Fragments”, three fragments showing some general similarities in content to Thorild’s fragments, but above all sharing not only the title but also the frequent use of suspension dots (points de suspension).The two references seem to suggest that the dots are the kind of ”small object” that are worth talking over, reflecting on, and allowing ”the microscope of judgement” to bring ”within reach” of ”taste”.

    A closer study shows that Thorild’s equally conspicuous use of ellipsis dashes in his fragments also points in a different direction, namely, to Johann Gottfried Herder’s (1744-1803) use of dashes and other typographical markers to indicate a particular dialectical reading intended to represent the figurative form of writing and thinking that he belived the biblical creation story was based on. This use of dashes occurs already in Herder’s debut work, Fragmente (1767). Here he has assembled fragments from a recently discontinued periodical called Briefe (Letters) (1759-1765), compiled in three collections which he presented as an appendix to the extint periodical. Herder took fragmens from these letters, but reworked them so that they fit together in the collections as parts belonging to a common whole, as if the three collections were merely larger fragments of the same whole. herder’s dashes mark fragments that function as components in a visual organization of the language material which serves as an alternative to customary punctuation with its arrangement of the elements in a discursive logic. In this way a pictorial dimension is incorporated in the reading which is comparable to the visual presence of the body in the speech situation. This expanded manner of using punctuation unknowingly responds to a wish expressed by Rousseau in his Essai sur l’origine de langues (1754, but published only posthumously in 1781), where he discusses whether punctuation could be used more efficiently in written language to mark the kind of emphasis that can be heard and seen in spoken language.

    In Rousseau’s ”Fragments” the suspension dots are used to imitate the interrupted speech of a person so overwhelmed with emotion as to be unable to find words for everything. They represent the feelings that are on display in such a speaker’s body, accompanying the discursivity of spoken words. Written words cannot be accompanied by any similar display, but the suspension dots remind the reader of this visual dimension of embodied speech, who can now imagine and add this form of expressiveness to the text. Herder’s fragments function instead as clauses in a dialectical reading which enables a reorganization of a sequence of text into the simultaneity of a text image, which compete with the clauses that logical punctuation arranges in accordance with the discursivity of language. The essay compares Rousseau’s and Herder’s use of punctuation as a means to introduce a visual dimension in written text, and the applicability of the two techniques to Thorild’s fragments. 

  • 3.
    Bengtsson, Staffan
    Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Arts, Department of Literature.
    Challenging Linearity: Finding the Perspective of Herder’s Aelteste Urkunde des Menschengesclechts2010In: Herausforderung Herder / Herders as Challenge: Ausgewählte Beiträge zur Konferenz der Internationalen Herder-Gesellschaft Madison 2006 / [ed] Sabine Groß, Heidelberg: Synchron Wissenschaftsverlag der Autoren, 2010, p. 281-330Chapter in book (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    The article argues that all posthumous editions of Herder’s Aelteste Urkunde des Menschengeschlechts, vol. I (1774) are based on an unauthorized impression of the first edition (a ›normalized‹ version initiated by the printing house Breitkopf and the publisher Hartknoch) and that a previously unknown impression – marred by what appear to be striking printing errors and irregularities – must be the original version that was authorized by Herder. It also shows the important role typography and layout play in this work and the extent to which our understanding of the text is affected by the degree to which, for Herder, form of argument and material shape of the text are interrelated. Ultimately, it argues for a way of reading Herder that is attuned to the author’s subversion of linearity.

  • 4.
    Bengtsson, Staffan
    Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Arts, Department of Literature.
    Cultural Science and the Repertoire of Works: Herder’s Plastik as a Hands-on Experience2016In: J. G. Herder: From Cognition to Cultural Science / Von der Erkenntnis zur Kulturwissenschaft / [ed] Beate Allert, Heidelberg: Synchron , 2016, p. 397-446Chapter in book (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Today’s cultural science is generated more by a critical outlook we have today (values we want to defend, interests we want to pursue) than something that develops by an emphatetic reading of a repertoire of works, with less control over the outcome, but more open to surprising disclosures. Herder’s work Plastik (1778) includes at the back a list of 27 printing errors called ”Verbesserungen” (improvemnets) and was moreover delivered with seven cancel leaves (corrected leaves intended to replace the corresponding leaves in a book on account of their spelling or typing errors) that were to be pasted in by the bookbinder. We had formerly no report on what faults these cancels were actually correcting. An investigation gives a surprising result. The faults were very few (only one or two on each leaf), mostly insignificant, not more serious than the errors in the list of errata. Furthermore, the spelling of the words that the cancels correct are fluctuating in the text anyway. Finally, analysis shows that the cancels must have been printed on the same sheet as the list of the errata. Reflection on these seven cancels, how the book was made and a comparision with the surviving manuscript lead to the conclusion that the seven leaves together form like a booklet in the book, a summary that the reader has to fold with his/her own hands, and the corrected words stand out as keywords in this booklet. The seven leaves can be read according to the ”Schöpfungshieroglyphe” of Herder’s earlier work Aelteste Urkunde des Menschengeschlechts (1774). Ostensibly, the book is about the senses of touch and sight in relation to sculpture, but with the analysis of the cancels at hand we realize that it is just as much about the senses of touch and sight in relation to the book Plastik we are reading. If the ’faulty’ leaves (cancellata) have already been removed, and the ’corrected’ leaves (cancellantia) pasted in on the remaining stub, the reader must use his/her feeling finger to detect the booklet in question. References in Plastik suggest that Ueber die neuere Deutsche Litteratur (1767), Aelteste Urkunde des Menschengeschlechts, and Plastik were conceived as a prominent trio in Herder’s oeuvre suspended from the concepts of acoustics, optics, and anaglyphics. Cultural Science, in order to be true to its own premisses, needs to encompass a concept of reading that swings between critical and emphathetic reading.

  • 5.
    Bengtsson, Staffan
    Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Arts, Department of Literature.
    Dichtung und Wahrheit als ”Andenken verlorner und verschollener Wagnisse”: Ein Blick auf Goethes Werk aus ursprünglicher Perspektive2018Book (Refereed)
  • 6.
    Bengtsson, Staffan
    Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Arts, Department of Literature.
    »Eine ganz andre Beredsamkeit«: A Reader’s Guide to Ueber die neuere Deutsche Litteratur2014In: Herders Rhetoriken im Kontext des 18. Jahrhunderts: Beiträge zur Konferenz der Internationalen Herder-Gesellschaft: Schloss Beuggen nahe Basel 2012 / [ed] Ralf Simon, Heidelberg: Synchron Wissenschaftsverlag der Autoren, 2014, p. 387-410Chapter in book (Refereed)
  • 7.
    Bengtsson, Staffan
    Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Arts, Department of Philosophy.
    Herders hieroglyf: Om den okända metoden i hans författarskap2004Doctoral thesis, monograph (Other academic)
    Abstract [en]

    The dissertation addresses the problem if Johann Gottfried Herder had a method when he composed his works. The overwhelming majority of scholars says no and describes him as a restless author who reworks manuscripts; digressing and repeating himself; leaning on others rather than writing a monographic work on his own – someone who does not write complete and structured works, and therefore is seen as a precursor in history rather than occupying a place in it.

    This thesis claim that Herder’s work is structured in minutest detail, and demonstrates how Herder uses typographic marks to guide the reader through his dialectical text-structure.

    Herder uses a four-step dialectic. It starts from a center-position with a confused issue, which is analyzed and put together again. The second position analyses one aspect of the issue at hand in one direction and the third in an opposite direction. These consecutive steps in the reading process could be regarded as simultaneous parts of an image. The fourth fuses and simultaneously changes them into a new center-position, which presents the issue in a new form.

    This four-step movemen can be repeated in a series of such movements. The fourth position turns then into a new starting-point. The issue is further analyzed. Positions two and three continues the perspective of foregoing two and three. The fourth position brings together.

    The first part gives a representive overview of the research on Herder. Special attention is givien to editions, and how they leave out typographic marks important for understanding the text’s structure. Research is characterized as a turning away from Herder’s works, either to handwriting or to a tradition which Herder only partly belongs to. Herder is instead situated in aesthetics – his “human philosophy”. The second part analyzes The Oldest Document of the human race.

  • 8.
    Bengtsson, Staffan
    Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Arts, Department of ALM, Aesthetics and Cultural Studies.
    Konstens värde i Adornos Ästhetische Theorie1998In: Nordisk Estetisk Tidsskrift, ISSN 0284-7698, no 17, p. 5-18Article in journal (Other academic)
  • 9.
    Bengtsson, Staffan
    Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Arts, Department of Literature.
    Querdenker der Aufklärung. Studien zu Johann Georg Hamann2016In: Monatshefte, ISSN 0026-9271, E-ISSN 1934-2810, Vol. 108, no 4, p. 648-650Article, book review (Other academic)
  • 10.
    Bengtsson, Staffan
    Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Arts, Department of Literature.
    The Formation of »Geist« in Vom Geist der Ebräischen Poesie2008In: Urpoesie und Morgenland: Johann Gottfried Herders Vom Geist der Ebräischen Poesie / [ed] Daniel Weidner, Berlin: Kulturverlag Kadmos, 2008, p. 93-112Chapter in book (Refereed)
  • 11.
    Bengtsson, Staffan
    Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Arts, Department of Literature.
    The Material Being of Herder’s ’Versuch über das Sein’2017In: Herder’s Essay on Being: A Translation and Critical Approaches / [ed] John K. Noyes, Camden House, 2017Chapter in book (Refereed)
  • 12.
    Bengtsson, Staffan
    Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Arts, Department of Literature.
    Von Deutscher Baukunst: Über eine deutsche Kunst, Texte zu bauen2014In: »Darum ist die Welt so groß«: Raum, Platz und Geographie im Werke Goethes / [ed] Mattias Pirholt & Andreas Hjort Møller, Heidelberg: Universitätsverlag Winter, 2014, p. 107-156Chapter in book (Refereed)
    Abstract [de]

    Durch eine nichtlineare Schreibweise gelingt es Goethe eine Art Design bautechnisch zu entdecken und schreibtechnisch zu schöpfen, welches sich in beiden Fällen an der Oberfläche ablesen lässt. Die Bausteine im Werk (Stücke, Sektionen) weisen als Form eine Intentionalität auf, in der die betreffenden Texteinheiten (Stücke, Sektionen) eine gewisse Position im Verhältnis zu den anderen Texteinheiten (peripher oder zentral) einnehmen, deren Inhalt zwar interpretiert werden muss, deren Interpretation aber in gewisser Hinsicht auch von der gleichen Form begrenzt wird. Die Schreibweise des Essays, die wir Stil nennen können, ist unabhängig von den verschiedenen Schreibweisen, die wir mit dem Goethe des Sturm und Drang bzw. der Klassik verbinden und die wir üblicherweise Stil nennen.

  • 13.
    Bengtsson, Staffan
    et al.
    Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Arts, Department of Literature.
    Clairmont, HeinrichNorton, Robert E.Schmidt, JohannesWagner, Ulrike
    Herder and Religion: Contributions from the 2010 Conference of the International Herder Society at the University of Notre Dame, South Bend, Indiana2016Collection (editor) (Refereed)
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