10:00 - 10:30 am – Welcome & Sign In
10:30 am – Film The Devil and Daniel Webster
(Dir. William Dieterle, 1942)
12:30 pm – Catered Oktoberfest lunch served in the GoetheForum
1:30 pm – Lecture “Goethe’s Faust
and the Sins of America: Wilhelm Dieterle’s 1942 Film The Devil and Daniel Webster
Simon Richter, courtesy Simon Richter
Professor Simon J. Richter, University of Pennsylvania
Stephan Vincent Benet’s beloved tall tale about the devil and Daniel Webster seems like a piece of pure America. There is, however, a whiff of the Old World about the story of a farmer who makes a pact with the devil, even if a larger-than-life American hero outwits Old Scratch in a famous trial scene. Perhaps this is what attracted the accomplished émigré film director Wilhelm Dieterle, who had, after all, learned filmmaking from F. W. Murnau and even played the part of Valentin in Murnau’s adaptation of Goethe’s Faust
. Close analysis of the film and archival research reveal that this 1942 film inventively adapts Goethe’s Faust
(parts 1 and 2) in order to put America on trial, not in order to condemn it, but to test its moral mettle at a point when the US had not yet entered World War II. The fact that Dieterle sought feedback for his endeavor from his friend Max Horkheimer, founder of the Frankfurt School, and the members of the institute for Social Research in New York makes the film all the more interesting.
As we celebrate the 75th anniversary of Casablanca
and remember Lubitsch’s ground-breaking anti-Nazi film-comedy To Be or Not to Be
of the same year, it’s good to remember that Dieterle’s film also belongs in that company.
is Professor of German at the University of Pennsylvania. His research and teaching focus on German literature, film, and the environmental humanities. His most recent book is What Lolas Want: Women, Pleasure, Film
in which he offers a multifaceted account of the “Lola film” from Marlene Dietrich to Franka Potente. He is currently working on a project concerning the curious afterlife of William of Orange and Philipp II in German literature between 1933 and 1953.
Organized by the American Goethe Society.
Cost (including lunch): $30 members and their guest(s), $35 non-members, $10 students
Registration and advanced ticket payment required no later than 10/17/2017.
Please send a check payable to AGS to: Dr. Julie Koser, AGS Treasurer, University of Maryland, 3215 Jimenez Hall, College Park, MD 20742
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