Reports of Participants
The idea of spending two weeks in Weimar was reason for both exhilaration and anxiety, and my nervousness naturally increased the closer the date of the “International Summer School” came. As an restless “pre-summerly”, who – in addition to the obligatory reading list – usually sat poring over biographies of Goethe and Schiller at night, I found encouragement in a letter:
“I fully recognise,” Schiller wrote to Goethe in 1799 with regard to Weimar, “that I should not expect the influence of society there to be very fruitful, but meeting with you, some contact with Meier, the theatre and a certain reality of life, which the lingering crowds must surely offer me, will have a beneficial effect on me and my activities.” [Schiller to Goethe, 24 August 1799; Goethe-und-Schiller-Archiv Weimar]
And so it was for me, and it was one of the pleasant surprises in the weeks full of input, investigation and immersive Goethe and Schiller tours through the “Cosmos Weimar” that this “certain reality of life” of diverse encounters proved to have an exceedingly “fruitful” and “refreshing” effect on our minds. “Fruitful” not only because of the intensive hours in the seminar, but especially because of the conversations we had with the lecturers and the exchange with the other doctoral candidates, who – if not immediately – eventually became likeminded colleagues and ultimately friends.
If the classics cult drew any criticism in the seminar, it was because its methods were biased and portrayed unequals as equal, yet it did produce the very happy result of allowing us “summerlies” to debate in consensual polyphony for two weeks about what these things were and whether they should be categorised as equal or unequal.
Viktoria Walter from Munich works as a research associate in the project “Narragonien digital” at the University of Würzburg and as a manuscript editor for the C.H. Beck Verlag. She earned her master’s degree in Modern German Literature and Political Science and is currently writing her dissertation on “Political Narratives in Schiller’s Dramas”.